Monday, 5 September 2011

The Lies Of Locke Lamora

(Very minor spoilers follow)

Maybe it was the quote from him on the front cover, but I read Scott Lynch's debut novel feeling repeatedly reminded of George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire.

That, of course, is no mean praise, and Lynch's prose is certainly no pale imitation.  There's just something in all the political wrangling, the street-level view of grand events, and (most especially) the loving descriptions of food that ring a rather distinctive bell. 

(That, and the fact that this is (inevitably) the first part of a seven part series that (equally inevitably) isn't finished, and hasn't been updated in years; though this book at least works just fine as a standalone story).

There's also the characterisation to consider.  Whilst Locke Lamora is a somewhat stunted youth rather than an actual dwarf, and his parentage (so far as we know) is decidedly far less noble, one could do worse for an understanding of what this book offers than imagining Lynch woke up one morning and thought "Let's just have a whole book's worth of Tyrion."

The Lies of Locke Lamora is somewhere around 70% Tyrionesque wit and cunning, 20% the Artful Dodger, and 5% each of House of Cards and The Real Hustle, all set in one of those rarest of locations - somewhere simultaneously familiar and fantastical (think Venice if it had been built by long-dead aliens with a fondness for glass and sharks) which allows itself to be unfurled and explored slowly, rather than requiring clumsy tours early into the action.  It's pacey, clever (sometimes exceptionally so), and stuffed full of interesting characters (both real and faked), and captures very well (again, this is reminiscent of Martin's work) the clash of multiple political factions, in which the very worst of enemies can end up unknowingly helping each other as they both gun for the same third party.

Simply put: it's brilliant (and funnier than Martin, too).  Buy it immediately.


Jamie said...

Didn't know you were reading this; I've been meaning to for a while. I.e. it's on the (unutterably vast) list...

Midget_Yoda said...

An absolute corker of a book. The sequel is, to add to your list of inevitables, not quite up to the same standard but remains a worth while read.

I just hope that the wait for the third (due out in November) will be a return to the quality of Lies.

I've never read any Martin but if the parallels are as you say then I might dip my toe in the waters...

SpaceSquid said...

Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords are all exceptionally good (though the first two are a bit slow to get going). Dance with Dragons and (especially) Feast for Crows are a bit bloated and uneventful, but still very good reads.

Of course, whilst I don't know how Red Seas... ended (i.e. if it's as self-contained as Lies... was), the degree of "Dammit, what happens next?" one experiences with regards Martin can be deeply frustrating, especially given the current gaps between releases.