As much as I love the fantasy and sci-fi genre, I very rarely read fantasy/sci-fi books. However, I recently stumbled across the cover for The Thieves Republic, the third novel in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series. It got me interested in the series, but I knew I couldn’t start at that book, so I picked up the ebook version of the first in the series, The Lies of Locke Lamora.
The story has two plots — one where Locke and the rest of his gang of thieves are children and learning their craft via the con artist/priest, Father Chains. The other revolves around Locke and the gang as full-grown adults, at the beginning of one of their cons. For the most part the two plots are fairly separate from each other, but they do intersect a few times in revealing and sometimes extremely amusing ways. The “adult” plot is more the main focus of the book. Locke and his gang of thieves called the Gentleman Bastards are beginning an elaborate con to steal a bunch of gold from one of the local dons. Locke is extremely bright when it comes to these ploys, so things are going without a hitch. However, soon Locke is pulled into a plot between Capa Barsavi (kinda like Camorr’s head mobster “godfather”) and the Gray King, a mysterious figure who’s killing off all of Barsavi’s most trusted gang leaders.
That’s when everything goes sideways for Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards. But I won’t spoil the what and how.
The books is very well written and a page turner. The plot is exciting, the characters real and believable, and the prose engaging. It feels like one part mobster story and one part Ocean’s 11, blended together with a unique fantasy realm. There is some magic in this world, but it’s use is limited to bondsmages, and while magic plays an important role in a few scenes, it’s used to create chaos and problems for Locke instead of a source of easy outs for him and his band of thieves. There are also several “interludes” in the story, separate from the main and secondary plots of the book, which shed light on the culture of Camorr and it’s people, and often in very humorous mini-stories. They’re some of my favorite parts of the book.
My only real negative is that I found the prologue to be way too long for my liking. It made more sense why it was thus written as the book went along, but as I was reading the beginning I was wondering if this story was only going to be about children thieves. Thankfully, it wasn’t. It’s a small gripe in an otherwise stellar debut novel.
Highly recommend this book to folks who enjoy well-written fantasy books, especially revolving around thieves and con artists. I’ll definitely will be continue reading the second two sequels in the near future.