Saturday, March 17, 2012

Read-Along: The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch, Part 2

This is the second 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 I'm focusing on the segment from Chapter 3 to the Interlude "The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse".  The story is getting rapidly more complicated.  What appeared at first to be a simple story of con artistry now involves a mysterious, possibly supernatural murderer known as the Gray King, and the awkwardness of an organized crime boss instructing Locke to court his daughter.  I can't wait to read next week's section, to see how all of this develops! 

Now for the discussion questions:

1   1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game - and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!

He’s pulling it off so far, but I don’t know how the Gray King and the issues with Capa Barsavi, who believes Locke is a simple thief, will affect the game.  It does seem a perfect con; his ‘Midnighter’ character can vanish at any time, and Don Salvara has no way of ever seeking him out.  I think that his involvement with Capa Barsavi is going to become a serious complication in an already complicated game.

2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?

Definitely.  Mixing drinks has always seemed fun to me—sort of a mixture of chemistry and cooking—and the descriptions make me want to buy some ingredients and try to recreate them all.  I don’t know if I’d want to drink them, though.  The ginger scald sounds dreadful.

3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?

It seems like Sabetha is Locke’s ex-lover.  From Locke’s childhood, we’ve been told she was crazy and arrogant, and she had been sent somewhere to learn a lesson.  It was also implied that she was pretty. From Locke’s adulthood, we know that they had some kind of relationship, and that it ended very badly.  We also know that she’s ‘the only one in Locke’s heart’.  I hope we eventually get to meet this Sabetha, who seems capable of affecting the story even while absent!

4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?

Yes, I think that is the creepiest supernatural element so far in the story.  Something similar to ‘Wraithstone’ shows up often in fantasy stories (like the Dementor’s Kiss in Harry Potter, or the Tranquil in Dragon Age), but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying.  I think this kind of thing may show up so often in fiction because the loss of ‘self’ is such a deep-seated human fear.  It’s only used on animals in Camorr, but that does not make it any less disturbing to me.

5) I got a kick out of child Locke's first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?

I could definitely see those two together.  I kind of want it to happen.  However, I don't think Nazca and Locke will end up married.  My guess is that he’ll stay too hung up on Sabetha, and she will continue to be uninterested in him romantically.  They’ll come up with some elaborate plan to get him out of it.  All I can come up with so far involves Nazca pretending to ‘cheat’ on Locke.  It would have to be Nazca, because I’m pretty sure there would be serious consequences if Locke did anything to slight Capa Barsavi’s daughter.

6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?

It’s unclear right now, but I think either alchemy or some other kind of magic is afoot.  The dead garrista’s guards sincerely seemed not to remember what happened the night before, so something must have been done to their memories.  If the Gray King can kill that garrista, in the middle of all his guards, I don’t think staying on their fortified ship will keep the Barsavi's any safer than they would be on the streets.

7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can't 'create' the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke's solution to this conundrum?

I was surprised by the simplicity of the solution.  Acquiring the corpse was hardly a con at all; they just used a bribe.  It’s possible the bribe would not have worked if Locke had not had a sob story and a religious affiliation, but it still seemed a surprisingly easy task.  His recovery of the bribe money, however, was hilarious.  That particular scam is one that will only work while Locke’s a cute little kid, though we see an echo of it in his ‘introduction’ to Don Salvara.



  1. The Midnighters scam is such a brilliant touch. Telling the Salvara's they're being conned but they have to keep letting themselves be conned. It's so brilliant because without that aspect the Salvara's may have become suspicious and the game would have been up. Now they know and the game has to continue.
    I never really thought about how simple Locke's solution to the fresh corpse dilema was - bribery like you say although he did manage to cover his costs.
    Lynn :D

  2. Well, I don't know if I should write this not to put in any spoilers (I've read a bit further, but just a bit), but you guessed correctly on the no 6.
    At that moment I thought it was a bit strange but didn't make the same leap. :)

  3. I am really enjoying the elaborate cons that Locke and his Gentleman Bastards are doing. Locke really pulls out all the stops in his cons.

  4. I really liked your answer to number 4. I hadn't thought of that connection, but your are so right: to lose one's 'self' is a terrifying prospect. How many of us think that we would rather die than suffer from advanced dementia?

  5. true, all he did to get the corpse was bribe a clerk. And he could have left it at that, gone home, and called it a day, right? yeah right he could have just left it at that!! Leave it to Lynch to turn a slightly gross story about stealing a corpse into something so hilarious!

    I don't think Nazca and Locke would make such a good couple, but she's a sort of mob princess, and if Locke is the only suitor her father approves of, then they are kind of stuck with each other. it's not like Sabetha is going to march on the stage and say "bitch, he's mine!"

  6. @Lynn Yeah, and aside from playing two roles, it actually makes things easier for the Gentlemen Bastards. They don't even have to pretend to be setting up an expedition, because everyone involved knows it's a con!

    @Ines Hm, if something happens to Capa Barsavi, that would solve Nazca and Locke's problem, though probably not in the way they would prefer. Or maybe I misinterpreted your hint :). I'm really curious to find out who or what is behind the Gray King!

    @Ken Yeah, me too. I think if a con is too simple, Locke doesn't enjoy it, so everything has to be wonderfully elaborate!

    @Sue I think I would rather die :(. And it's equally terrifying to think of that happening to my loved ones. I haven't had to experience that yet in my life, and I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to look into the eyes of someone you love and not see them looking back.

    @Redhead Yeah, I was kind of like, "Is that all?" when he bribed the clerk, but then the pickpocket scene was wonderful! I still think Nazca and Locke will get out of the marriage thing somehow, but then again I haven't read the book :). I like the idea of the two of them as a couple-- I could see Nazca playing the 'straight man' to Locke's antics, and I think the combination of Locke's ingenuity and money and her political power would be a sight to behold. However, they have ruined my matchmaker plans by not being romantically interested in each other at all :).

  7. OK, my hint didn't work out as well as I hoped. :)
    I was going more in the alchemy direction with it.

  8. Oh! I think there were two ways I could have taken the hint, and I picked the wrong one. :)

    1. I see that now as well (the two possibilities). :)
      Sometimes I really am not very clear in expressing myself.