Sunday, March 25, 2012

Read-Along: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Part 3

This is the third 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 between Chapter 5 through the Interlude called "The Half Crown War".  This one's a little late, thanks to a busy Saturday and the fact that I seemed to have a lot to say this week.  A lot of the following is wild speculation, so all of you people who've read the book can feel free to mock me in the comments! :)

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books.  From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using?  Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage's powers?

In a way I like the magic that Lynch is using, but I dislike its lack of limits.  Because the Bondsmagi are so secretive, we know nothing about the rules of the magic system or exactly what it makes one capable of doing.  I know there was that discussion of how bondsmagic doesn’t block bruises or punches, but I think that’s dubious information at best.

At this point, I would say that, without outside help, Locke’s group has no way around the Bondsmage’s power.  This is mostly just because they don’t really know anything about the limitations of the Bondsmage's magic.  Locke knows a lot about how people perceive and interact with Bondsmages, but he knows essentially nothing about their power, save that it is considerable.  However, the one obvious way both the Capa and Locke could have gotten around the Falconer’s powers is to hire a Bondsmage of their own.  They’re both rich enough, so it’s beyond me why this never seems to have occurred to either of them.  

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.

I really don’t know.  Before Nazca died, I thought it might have been Capa Barsavi, but I don’t know if I could believe he would kill his own daughter.  I have a few theories based on wild speculation, though.

Perhaps Nazca is the Grey King!  In that case, she’s now faked her own death twice, though I have no idea how she would have faked her corpse.  Maybe she wants to take control of her father’s criminal underworld, but she knows she won’t be able to do so by normal means.  This is all an elaborate plot to take her father’s place.  If she knew about Locke’s activities as the Thorn of Camorr, she may well have decided he deserved execution, thus setting him up the way she did.

For my second wild theory, perhaps Father Chains is the Grey King, and he didn’t really die!  We don’t really know anything about his death at this point, so maybe it was all mummery.  Maybe he’s been behind the scenes all this time, orchestrating his takeover of Camorr. Obviously he knows all about Locke’s activities, and perhaps his ‘sewing up’ of the Gentlemen Bastards is yet another test, in order to see if the Bastards are capable of dominating the city.

2.5 (since 2 wasn't really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)

I did not see that coming at all.  I mean, she had a clear role in the story, there was going to be some drama with her and Locke… I was completely blindsided.  Furthermore, she was the only major female character in the story, so I naively I assumed that would lend her some immunity.   At this point, I’m expecting the worst.  Maybe Locke will die, and the rest of the trilogy will be about Jean?  Seriously, I think that Locke is pretty much the only character who is “safe” now.  As for speculation, I think the Duke will be the next to go.  If I'm going to guess, I'll guess big.

3. When Locke says "Nice bird, arsehole," I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?

I laughed there, definitely.  I loved the juxtaposition of the dry section about how important it was to show proper respect to the Bondsmagi and Locke’s complete irreverence.  I think this was done especially well, because Locke did face many consequences for his flippant attitude.  If he hadn’t been hurt and tortured for it, the whole exchange would have just made the Bondsmage look weak. I know there have been other things that made me laugh, but I can’t think of any particular examples.

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they're "cleverer than all the rest?" Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?

I still think they’re “cleverer than all the rest”.  They have been clearly outplayed by the Grey King and the Bondsmage, but I don’t think that was a result of lack of cleverness.  That was a result of the Bondsmage’s raw power and willingness to use it.  I think that if Locke and Company can learn more about the Bondsmage’s magic and its actual limitations, they can certainly outplay the Grey King. 

However, there is one thing about the situation that confuses me.  Why on Earth didn’t the Gentlemen Bastards just hire their own Bondsmage, once they knew what they were up against?  It’s not like they can’t afford it.  They have over 40,000 crowns just lying in a pile.  Capa Barsavi, in his paranoia, should have considered this as well.

5. I imagine that you've probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the "present" storyline, but I'll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?

Well, for one thing, I think the last Interlude was clearly a reference to the fact that Jean is going to save Locke before he drowns in horse piss.  I’m curious as to whether the man who “tipped off” Capa Barsavi was the Grey King, or whether it was just someone in his employ.  I don’t trust the information about the Bondsmage’s power, since it was obviously a set-up to get Locke killed.  I’m not sure why he wanted to fake his own death, though.  Why build up a reputation just to fake your death?

The only answer so far that makes sense is that the Grey King is targeting a noble, perhaps even the Duke.  If he were targeting any of the Right Folk, there would be no need to lull them into a false sense of security.   He clearly has all of them outmatched.  The only benefit I can see for him in faking his own death would be to keep the rich and powerful (such as Duke Nicovante) from taking him seriously and hiring an army of Bondsmagi. 

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?

I like the characters quite a bit so far.  I appreciate the back-development he’s giving us for various characters (even poor dead Tesso!) through the interludes.  They seem, at least to me, real and fleshed out.

7. Now that you've seen how clever Chains is about his "apprenticeships," why do you think he's doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?

I still don't know if I believe he had any goal at all.  Based on the fact that you questioners keep bringing it up, though, I’m guessing he did J.  Maybe his endgame was taking over Camorr entirely, from both the Capa and the Duke?


  1. A few people have come up with the Nazca being the Grey King theory - I never even thought of that. It's interesting though - of course she is now dead but even so! One of the other commenters mentioned that Locke thought he had a momentary recognition of the Grey King when he met - I'd sort of almost overlooked this - even more intriguing!
    I like the point about Lock or the Capa hiring their own Bondsmage - it makes me wonder though if a Bondsmage would take a job where he would be in conflict with one of his own kind? For that matter you would think Locke could simply offer this Bondsmage more money? But maybe they are bound in some way to their original contract. It's all very intriguing. Can't believe I've actually forgotten so much of this story!
    Lynn :D

  2. Hm, yeah, I remember Locke noting that, now that you mention it. I really want to know who that guy is!

    I don't know about the Bondsmagi. They mentioned something about the high price of Bondsmagi keeping people from hiring them to conduct warfare and such, so I assumed that price was the only thing keeping people from hiring them against one another. I have no idea, though, really. And that's a good point, I'm surprised Locke didn't at least try to buy out the Falconer. He has a lot of money, maybe it would have worked!

  3. I also thought that Nazca fakes her death, not to rule over her father but just because I couldn't believe she was dead. Poor lady... as you said, only Locke is safe now, there's still a lot of time to worry about who's gonna get it next...
    And I don't think they would have hired a Bondsmage, money or not. First, I'm not sure Bondsmagi can fight one against another, and you never know if they would betray you. Plus, Locke is not the kind to use extreme solutions... it's better to be cleaver than to pay a murderer, no?

  4. Yeah, I think my guess with Nazca probably had a lot to do with wishful thinking. She seemed like such a cool character, and that was such an awful way to die.

    You have a good point about the Bondsmage. I guess I just thought it was strange that Locke & Co. didn't even consider it. However, I think they're going to have to be a lot more clever than they have been if they want to beat the Falconer without magic!

  5. Good thinking about hiring a bondsmage but I believe the next one would be too far away in Karthain (or however their stronghold is called) to be of much use quickly.
    And I think Locke believes he can outsmart even a bondsmage so he doesn't need one himself. :)

  6. Sorry I'm so late at commenting. :(

    Like Lynn, I think it's brilliant that so many people are coming up with that Nazca might be the Grey King. It's a great theory, because a lot of the leaders and bad guys and such that we've already met, for the most part they are men. So many Nazca thinks she can more easily take over her father's role if she poses as a man?

    Yeah, the Bastards are really up to their eyeballs in it now. they might clever, but The Grey King is cleverer. Locke and the gents are so used to robbing people they have had the opportunity to watch and spy on and plan around, and the Grey King is such an unknown entity, they don't even know where to start!

  7. @Ines Hmm, yeah. I don't really have a clear idea how far away Karthain is. Lynch might have mentioned it and I just don't remember! Anyway, it will be more exciting to see Locke do it all on his own. :)

    @Redhead I think it would be a great plot twist! Though I admit that part of the theory might have simply been because I want her to not be dead. I have no idea how Locke is going to trick the Grey King, but I can't wait t see!

  8. Oh man! I also thought that Father Chains might have been the Grey King.

  9. It would be a cool plot twist, wouldn't it? I've read the next section now, though, so I'll avoid saying more :).

  10. Sorry that I'm so late to the party. This was a really active discussion, so I'm bummed I didn't get here in time (like a drunk superman or something).

    I really loved some of your theories about the Grey King. I've seen a lot of them, and yours made more sense than most. I also like the part about the Grey King targeting nobles. You just might have a whiff of what's going on there...

    - My Awful Reviews

  11. Thanks! Now that I've read the next section, I know that I was mostly wrong in my guesses :). I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the Grey King is up to!