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The Lies of Locke Lamora    by Scott Lynch order for
Lies of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Locke Lamora has been an accomplished thief and brilliant con artist from a very young age. It's dizzying trying to keep up with his plots and antics in The Lies of Locke Lamora, whose author has conceived a marvelous and unique new fantasy world, one that I hope we get the opportunity to enjoy through many more books.

The action takes place in the city of Camorr, and Locke's saga begins when, as a small, scrawny five-year-old, he inserts himself into a group of young orphans bought by the city's Thiefmaker (think Oliver Twist) after a dread disease, the Black Whisper, kills their families - these kids are the lucky ones, the remainder are sold into slavery. But Locke grows too hot to handle for the Thiefmaker - he's too good at what he does, he steals too much, and he's not circumspect. So he's sold again, this time to the Eyeless Priest, Chains, who serves the thirteenth god, the Crooked Warden, patron of thieves and malefactors. Chains is building his own stable of talents to carry out sophisticated confidence games - a small group of children with varied innate skills for whom he organizes a 'thorough and vigorous' education.

After Chains' death, Locke leads his Gentlemen Bastards - the wily Sanza twins, mathematician and brawler Jean Tannen, and young Bug (the remaining member of the group, Sabetha, is mysteriously elsewhere). They are 'drawing a bead on one of the most powerful men in the city.' But while Locke's small band carries out the initial stages, other plotters watch them, and their plans are dark and vengeful. Locke owes allegiance to Capa Barsavi, the city's long-time underworld boss, but the latter has no idea of the scams he runs or of the amount the Gentlemen Bastards make from them. Suddenly, Capa's people are under attack by the unkillable Gray King, who has a Bondsmage working for him. The Bondsmagi of Karthain have built a monopoly on sorcery, charge a fortune for their services, and eradicate the friends, family and associates of anyone who kills one of their number.

The Gray King manipulates Locke in his play for power, at a high cost to the Gentlemen Bastards. The elderly Spider - who runs the Duke's spy service, through Midnighters, and knows of Locke only as the Thorn of Camarr - becomes aware of his latest con game and plans to get her hands on him. Betrayal sends Locke on the run from all parties, up against all-powerful enemies, without resources, but determined to make a death-offering 'that will make the gods themselves take notice ... An offering in blood and gold and fire.' Locke succeeds brilliantly, and our heroes sail into the sunset - and I hope, into another adventure soon! Scott Lynch makes a spectacular debut in The Lies of Locke Lamora, one that propels him into the first rank of fantasy masters. Don't miss it.

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