Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fantasy, gangsters, and confidence games, oh my!

In general, I am a fan of books and movies about cons and conmen. Con stories that are well done are deeply satisfying to me with their twists and turns and convoluted plot lines. Fantasy is another preferred genre, though I find as the years progress I am shying away from the high, Tolkien-esque fantasy, with its clearly defined good and bad, in favor of a grittier fantasy where such lines are blurred. Enter The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first book of the Gentlemen Bastards Series.

Set in the city of Camorr, a dark, fantastical version of renaissance Venice, so full of tricksters, conmen and thieves, it’s amazing anyone has any money at all. Our protagonist, one Locke Lamora, is an orphan, who manages to survive in this inhospitable city through his own guile and some excellent training. The story alternates between the past and the present. We see that in the past, Locke was trained by a con artist and thief-maker extraordinaire, who is the head of the Gentleman Bastards. In the present, Lock is the head of the Gentlemen Bastards and his ambitious little group are going against the rules of the underworld and robbing the aristocracy blind. But other forces are at play and are poised to upset all of Locke's carefully constructed plans.

This is a story of power-plays and naked ambition, of confidence games and swordfights, of petty thieves and ravenous sharks. This is an entertaining romp of a gritty anti-hero with more unique, profanity laced exclamations than I have read in quite some time. If you like you fantasy with a rough edge, then I would certainly give this book a try.

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