Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

51tpIK8K+tL._SL250_The Lies of Locke Lamora nuclear missilenuclear missile

Two nuclear missiles
(2 out of 4 rating)

The good news: this novel has a great story. The bad news: most of that story is in the last third of the book.

The Spoiler Dragon

The book gets off to a promising start, as a young orphan boy (Locke) falls in with a gang of thieves, but quickly begins to drag as the thieves plot an elaborate con job that ultimately goes nowhere. I understand traditional fantasy publishers require hefty tomes, but if I’m going to wade through one, I need something special to hold my interest.

Apparently in an attempt to disguise the slow pace, the story begins to jump forward and back in time. This became so distracting that if I had been reading a paper book, I would have cut it apart and tried to piece it back together in chronological order. There were even times when the bouncing around made the story less interesting — when an older orphan boy joins the gang, he seems destined to be a major antagonist for Locke, but it had already been revealed that the two become best buddies. Noticeably, when the story picks up steam in its last third, the chronological jumps cease.

The story takes place in a city reminiscent of medieval Venice, but it’s a “grimdark” setting: public executions of child thieves, orphans routinely sold into slavery, families committing revenge murders against each other. The middle classes are preyed upon by nobles from above and gangs of criminals from below, and the government allows the gangs to operate freely as long as they don’t target the nobles. Most of the named characters are bad, terrible, or horrible people.

Locke’s behavior seems incongruous near the end of the book, when he risks his life to warn his enemies (in person) of an impending danger, even though he’s found scheming ways to accomplish his other goals throughout the book. At the story’s conclusion, he swordfights a combat-experienced pirate, despite having no background in swordfighting and knowing a number of experienced fighters who also want the pirate dead.

I picked up the second book in the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies, in a buy-one-get-one-free sale, so I’ll give it a shot eventually, but first I need a long vacation from this fantasy world.


  1. Clayton the Page Turner · · Reply

    See I really enjoyed this book but at the same time I can see the issues you had with it. I don’t think I would ever go back and read it again. The second and third ones are much more interesting, as they don’t involve a lot of flashbacks.

    1. If my theory is correct, then fewer flashbacks probably means better plot pacing. Glad to hear it.

  2. I find the variety of reading tastes so interesting. We’re all so different! I really like Lynch and this is one of my favorite fantasy reads. I love the tongue in cheek humor and the relationships. The second book I liked just as well; the last one a bit less. I’m waiting for the next which is taking too long!

    1. Yes, he’s definitely capable of writing a great story. The bloated midsection with the flashbacks/forwards was just tough for me to get through. Hopefully I’ll post a more positive review of the sequel.

      1. I read it a while ago, so perhaps just don’t remember struggling through that part. I definitely liked it enough to keep going 🙂

  3. I enjoyed the first and second books much more than the third.

    1. Well, if I’m not thrilled with book 2, I may not continue, then.

  4. So, I might be the weirdo here, but I loved the flashbacks. I thought they were an interesting way to develop characters and often foreshadowed each other. But, the first book is very chapter driven, with little action until the end.

    The second one was my least favorite, mainly because the flashbacks are cut way back. They’re only in the first section of the novel, and the rest is present action.

    Interesting how all of us can have such varying opinions!

    1. Well, this book averages over 4 stars at a number of sites, so I don’t think you’re the weirdo….

  5. That’s supposed to say “character driven”, stupid “smart”phone…

  6. I can understand the reasoning in showing two kids as rivals when it’s known they’re friends in the future — that ought to shift the tension to “how does their relationship change?” — although it does suppose that this feels like it could be an urgent question for that to work.

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