Saturday, April 7, 2012

Read-Along: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Part 5

This is the fifth and final post for my participation in a read-along of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, hosted by Dark Cargo, @ohthatashley at SF Signal, My Awful Reviews, and the Little Red Reviewer.  What this means is...

Read-Along posts discuss a specific portion ofThe Lies of Locke Lamora and are therefore full of spoilers!  I will do a usual review post once the book is complete.

Today's section is from "Orchids and Assassins" to the end of the novel.  This novel was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to participating in the read-along for the sequel!

1.       The Thorn of Camorr is renowned - he can beat anyone in a fight and he steals from the rich to give to the poor.  Except, of course, that clearly most of the myths surrounding him are based on fantasy and not fact.  Now that the book is finished, how do you feel the man himself compares to his legend?  Did you feel that he changed as the story progressed and, if so, how did this make you feel about him by the time the conclusion was reached?

Well, he doesn’t exactly steal from the rich to give to the poor.  He steals from the rich to pile their wealth in a hole and forget about it!  I think he changed as the story progressed from someone who relied entirely on trickery to someone who was not afraid to use violence if necessary.  I still don’t think he would resort to violence without a very good reason, though.  I also think that Locke eventually started buying into his larger-than-life myth, which is one reason why he tended to overestimate himself towards the end of the novel.   Even Locke was forced to admit that he was not unbeatable when he chose to take on Capa Raza in single combat. 

2.       Scott Lynch certainly likes to give his leading ladies some entertaining and strong roles to play.  We have the Berangia sisters – and I definitely wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of them or their blades plus Dona Vorchenza who is the Spider and played a very cool character – even play acting to catch the Thorn.  How did you feel about the treatment the sisters and Dona received at the hands of Jean and Locke – were you surprised, did it seem out of character at all or justified?

The fight between Jean and the Berangias sisters was very tense.  I think it could have believably gone either way, since all three combatants were highly skilled fighters.  Perhaps Jean had a slight advantage from the fact that the Berangias sisters often fought sharks, where I imagine the strategy is quite different.

I was disappointed by how easily Dona Vorchenza was tricked by Capa Raza, but I guess it just shows the power of the Bondsmagi.  I enjoyed her interaction with Locke, though.  I didn’t see his punch-and-escape coming, though that was certainly bad judgement on her part.  I half-expected the ‘antidote’ she was holding to be fake.  The whole bit with the Satisfaction and the waste barges was hilarious, though. 

3.       Towards the end we saw a little more of the magic and the history of the Bondsmagi.  The magic, particularly with the use of true names, reminds me a little of old fashioned witchcraft or even voodoo.  But, more than that I was fascinated after reading the interlude headed ‘The Throne in Ashes’ about the Elderglass and the Elders and why their structures were able to survive even against the full might of the Bondsmagi – do you have any theories about this? Do you think it’s based on one of our ancient civilisations or maybe similar to a myth?

The true names reminded me of Le Guin’s Earthsea series, but I know the idea of names holding power is much older than that.  I thought that interlude was fascinating, but I don’t have any real theories about the Elders.  Perhaps they were mages that practiced an art that is now lost from the world?  Or maybe, as in conspiracy theories surrounding Earth’s oldest architecture, they were aliens!

4.       We have previously discussed Scott Lynch’s use of description and whether it’s too much or just spot on.  Having got into the last quarter of the book where the level of tension was seriously cranked up – did you still find, the breaks for interludes and the descriptions useful or, under the circumstances did it feel more like a distraction?

Every once in a while, when I turned the page to find an interlude, I would think, “Oh come on, why now?” Overall, though, I loved the amount of detail that Lynch put into Camorr, its people, its history, and its geography, and its culture.

5.       Now that the book has finished how did you feel about the conclusion and the eventual reveal about the Grey King and more to the point the motivations he declared for such revenge – does it seem credible, were you expecting much worse or something completely different altogether?

I was very satisfied by his motivations and goals.  I mentioned last time that I was a little disappointed that all he seemed to want was a gang takeover, but that I thought we didn’t know everything yet.  In the set of questions before that, I commented that I thought he was after the nobles of Camorr, or possibly the Duke.  Lynch also foreshadowed very early that gentling humans using wraithstone would play some part in the later story.  I am absolutely delighted in the culmination of all of these hints, most especially because I didn’t work out exactly how everything fit together before it was revealed.

6.       Were you surprised that Locke, being given two possible choices (one of which could possibly mean he would miss his chance for revenge on the Grey King) chose to go back to the Tower  – especially given that (1) he would have difficulty in getting into the building (2) he would have difficulty in convincing them about the situation and (3) he would have difficulty in remaining free afterwards? Did anyone else nearly pee their pants when Locke and the rest were carrying the sculptures up to the roof garden? 

 I suppose I was not surprised that he took that route.  For one thing, while Locke will use violence when necessary, he’s not cold-blooded.  Once he heard that hundreds of men, women, and children would be gentled by wraithstone, I don’t think he could have turned his back on them.  Also, at this point in the story Locke seemed to be a little high on adrenaline and the idea of his own reputation.  I don’t think, up until the point where Capa Raza was killing him, that Locke even considered the idea that he might fail there.  Also, yes, I was terrified something would go wrong with the statues and everyone would end up gentled (except Locke, somehow).

7.       Finally, the other question I would chuck in here is that, following the end of the book I was intrigued to check out some of the reviews of LOLL and noticed that the negative reviews mentioned the use of profanity.  How did you feel about this – was it excessive? Just enough? Not enough?

There was definitely a lot of profanity, but I didn’t mind it all that much.  All the characters were criminals, after all—petty thieves, strongmen, gangsters and so forth.  I would expect them to have some salty language.   

8.       Okay one further, and probably most important but very quick question – having finished, will you pick up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?



  1. Oh, aliens *wiggles fingers*. Never thought of that!
    I liked that the two fights both with The Grey King and the Berangia sisters seemed to have the possibility that they could go either way. I was glad that the Bernagias got their asses kicked though - but it did look as though it could go either way. What I liked about Locke's fight with the Grey King was that he was totally outclassed and knew it so resorted to tricker - which is after all the area that he excels at.
    Lynn :D

    1. I am one of those detail-oriented folks that likes verification. I think Jean should have double made sure both Berangias were out of the picture. Possible resurgence with a vengeance by one of the sisters?

    2. Oh, I would be so irritated if that happened!

  2. The idea of aliens is a great one :D would certainly make a change from a lot of fantasy where the old race, which is now dying/has died out was once elves. And would make the worlds history very interesting.

  3. I was a bit surprised that it wasn't more well-known that the Bondsmagi drew power from true names. I feel like people wouldn't be so prone to using their own true names if it were common knowledge.

  4. I like your point about the Wraithstone: by planting that information in the book early, he made us realize just how horrific the results of the statues would be.

  5. I love it when authors plant tiny little foundational hints here and there - like being creeped out by a gentled animal.

    The end of the book is just non stop action and tension and omg moments, Locke wasn't the only one on an adrenaline rush, I was on one too! If he runs our of adrenaline, if he decides maybe he doesn't want to be the Thorn of Camorr, he's going to realize how insanely crazy his plan is, and myabe back out.

    from what I remember of my last read of Red Seas, there is more mention of the true names magic, but I don't remember the exact details. I would like to know though, why has Locke been lying about his name this entire time??

  6. @ The fight between the Grey King and Locke was so stressful! I thought maybe Jean would come after him, but given how hurt he was from his own fight with the Berangias sisters, I wasn't sure how much help he would be. I also loved that Locke won through trickery.

    @Kaitharshayr Yeah, I think that would be an interesting twist :).

    @Grace It does seem that way. For instance, in "Earthsea" everyone had a true name, which they only told to people they trusted (like their spouse, or maybe a really really close friend) and use names that they commonly went by. If everyone knows Bondsmagi can control you with your name, it seems like it would make sense for everyone in Lynch's world to do something similar. But then, maybe the Bondsmagi are around so rarely that no one really thinks about it.

    @Sue CCCP Yeah, I don't think it would have been nearly as scary a threat if we hadn't seen gentled animals early on and been given a good idea of what it would do to a person.

    @Redhead Yeah, that whole section was really intense! On Locke's name, I had originally wondered if the Bondsmage or Capa Raza had been in Shades Hill with Locke when he was young. They assumed "Locke" was his true name, and the only reason I could think of for that assumption was that Locke originally introduced himself to the Thiefmaker as "Locke, after my father." I do wonder why he's been lying about his name.... 5 syllables... I'm wondering if he was like Duke Nicovante's son or something.

  7. What's with people and aliens? It can't be aliens, it would be glowing green otherwise! :D
    I don't think I ever considered Locke might fail either, I probably have way too much faith in him or something, but when he's going all out to "save the world" I know he'll manage. Somebody will most likely die on the way, but not Locke!

    1. But aliens are fun :D. I think more than anything, I was worried that Jean wouldn't live through the book... the people around Locke have a disturbing tendency to die horribly!