Another “why did I wait so long??” book, courtesy of the Evanescent Evin!
I do tend to pithily categorize any number of books as Tamora Pierce but with/for x, but it’s always meant as a true compliment to a woman who I think was doing the work many years before it became hip to do so. So in that vein, I think that these books are Tamora Piece-esque in their jumble of characters and vague setting, but that’s probably where the comparison grinds to a halt.
This is a very well structured world with a gritty, lived-in feel. If you enjoy heists, you will definitely enjoy this book. Found families? Robin Hood retellings? The double edged sword that is the lack of plot armor and easily recognizable arcs? Well I don’t know if people enjoy that last one but it’s certainly novel, which is sometimes in short supply once you’re a regular reader.
Locke Lamora (not his real name) is an orphan turned Fagin’s boy who is promptly sold off to a temple priest when it becomes clear that his scheming and head for plots far outstrips that of any of his orphan peers. So begins the novel, which then gets into its groove once Locke and his gang of disreputable schemers are older. A Count of Monte Cristo-esque upbringing means that the group are conversant in languages, disguises, religious practices, fighting, swords play, and whatever else the plot seems to need. It doesn’t feel quite as blithe given the judicious use of flashbacks to explain exactly how each of the gang comes upon their specific skillset—in a way that feels earnt unlike, in my opinion, Slumdog Millionaire.
The world that Lynch has created is also similarly joyful, with just enough detail spilled between one harebrained scheme to the next to keep you desperate to learn more. There are
twelve thirteen religious priesthoods, a mysterious prior society whose only remnants are indestructible glass buildings, even some magic (but not too much, such that most scrapes need to be escaped through the use of wits rather than complicated magic rules).
This is definitely a book that feels like it’ll end with a thousand unfulfilled threads given how much was going on with mere minutes left. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to stop after just one (see my reading list for the year), the ending of this one is finite enough to be satisfying.