The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1) - Scott Lynch
Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…Set in the alien city of Camorr, and interspersing tales of the past and present, The Lies of Locke Lamora tells the story of thief and confidence man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora. An orphan, sold as a child from one criminal gang to another, Locke narrowly escapes a death sentence after pulling one too many flamboyant tricks under his old master, the Thiefmaker. His new master is the eyeless Priest also known as Father Chains. Neither blind nor a man of the cloth, Chains is a con artist of amazing talent and the head of the group dubbed The Gentleman Bastards. He takes Locke under his tutelage and mentors him along with a small band of young misfits, intensely training them to a proficiency in languages, weaponry, social customs and graces.The gorgeous city of Camorr is reminiscent of an ancient Venice with its watery canals, floating islands and medieval architecture. We get incredible descriptions of the smells, the heat and the strange but beautiful buildings built upon the ruins of the alien race that came before it. There are spiraling towers and misty, fog-filled alleys, narrow glass bridges floating in the air and festival packed streets where all manner and class of people crowd the streets and fill them with fervor and noise. In the midst of all this Scott Lynch builds an layered plot full of brutality and backstabbing, sorcery and double crosses. Spoiling the agreement put in place for centuries before protecting the nobles of Camorr from it's common thieves, Locke and his band create intricate cons robbing the unsuspecting and gullible higher ranks whose shame and embarrassment at being 'had' keep their losses private. They also, quite masterfully, manage to keep their huge success from their don, the Capa Barsavi, overlord of the criminal underground, by masterfully conning him on the other end. The story takes off when a bloody coup threatens the city as several of the gang leaders under Capa Barsavi start showing up dead and the mysterious Grey King takes no pains to hide his involvement. Suddenly Locke and his gang are pawns, intimately entangled in this monumental struggle that will rip apart the world he and the Bastards have built and change the city of Camorr forever. I will warn you: this book is LONG and violent and bloody and also frickin’ hysterical. The Bastards are a close knit group, living as an almost family unit and guarding each other's backs as they've grown to become the men they are. The pleasure and excitement of successfully planning and completing a con almost as satisfying to them as the spoils. And Locke is that hero you can’t help but root for; a born trickster and unstintingly loyal comrade who, we learn has earned his place as the brains of the Bastards operations. He’s earned his living by the seat of his pants and off the easy mark of others and when threatened will take the blade meant for a 'brother'. To the very last page you will be amazed at his courage, his ingenuity and his all around cheek as he fights to stay alive and get his revenge in the face of huge odds. I highly recommend this book and the next installment has moved up on my TBR list as I look forward to recapturing high adventure with Locke Lamora.