Saturday, April 7, 2012

Read Along of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch Part 5

This is the final week of the Read Along . . . *sob* :(

We read to the end of the book . . . *sob* :(

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?

In many ways Locke lives up to the legend of the Thorn perfectly well. The immaculate planning and preparation that he uses is all Thorn, but he is also able to turn seemingly impossible circumstances to his advantage through pure intelligence and confidence. As for his fighting prowess: Locke himself is not terribly gifted, but he has the self-awareness to realize that he needs Jean to fulfill that aspect of the Thorn and the tenacity to take a thorough beating whilst waiting.

I am not sure that he has changed very much as a person since the beginning of the adult section of his life. It seems more like we have been allowed to see the hidden depths within the man. He has had to move out of his comfort zone, which has made him more ruthless, but he is basically the same person. I am not even sure that he has changed all that much since he was a child: I am blown away by the knowledge that such a small boy would take a new name to change his identity. I guess the major change we have seen is that Locke has learned from all his mistakes.

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?

Jean versus the Berangia sisters was a very tense, close fight. It seemed very evenly balanced, but yet again the Bastard was underestimated: to the cost of his opponents. Considering he rarely kills, Jean is frighteningly good at it, especially when he is fighting someone who is overconfident. I could say the same for the Dona: she didn’t expect Locke to attack her, and so miscalculated to the detriment of her teeth. I found this really funny and loved the simplicity of it: it reminded me very much of the famous Indiana Jones scene where Indy is faced by the man twirling two swords and simply shoots him! :D

Both men did what they needed to do, so it seemed perfectly justified to me!

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??

It doesn’t sound like any of our ancient civilizations, or any of the myths I’ve read. It seems more likely that the book is set either a) in our far future, after a cataclysm of some kind when society has regressed to a pre-industrialization stage; or b) in a completely different world, that doesn’t follow all the same rules as ours. Then again, the Elders could have been aliens, who knows?

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?

I liked it on the whole. Without it we could have been left with little chance to draw breath, so to speak. The only one that seemed out of place was the one about the prostitute guilds. All the other Interludes have had a connection to the ongoing story, but I couldn’t spot an obvious one here: unless it was that men shouldn’t underestimate women.

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?

It seems entirely credible, and explains why we had the Interlude about hand ball that showed the Camorri passion for revenge. I had no idea what to expect: by this stage of the book I had given up trying to predict what was going to happen.

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?

Not really. I guess Locke understands that the Secret Peace is a good thing for the whole of Camorr. He might not like the aristocracy, but the city would fall into anarchy without them and the Capa to maintain order. This would be a terrible disaster for everyone. Plus, in some ways it was more of an important revenge than just killing the Grey King: it robbed him of his main objective.

Oh yes, I was rather nervous as they scuttled up all those stairs! :D

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?

Profanity? What the #$%^ do you mean: too much ^&*(%$# profanity????

But to be serious for a moment: I also read a lot of negative comments about the use of too many ‘bad’ words. I guess some people simply cannot tolerate the use of such language in any situation, not matter that it is entirely appropriate in this case. I’m not sure I would ever argue for more profanity, but I think it is naive to expect thieves and villains to avoid rude words: “Oh, I say! Would you mind terribly not poking me in the eye with that dagger, if it isn’t too much trouble, old chap?”

I know that we could have had a new word, like the infamous ‘frak’ on the new Battlestar Galactica series, but I don’t think it was warranted, and it is just a silly way of not saying the word that we all know they are trying to avoid. I remember seeing a version of the film Jagged Edge that had all the f-bombs replaced by ‘frig’. They were badly dubbed, which didn’t help, but also they totally undermined the character of the harden ex-cop PI uttering them: he was not a man who would speak like that. That, to me, is the main argument for or against profanity: is it appropriate for the characters?

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?


Plus Scott needs to publish more books ASAP otherwise I’m going to have Locke-withdrawal jitters!

I would also like to say how very much I have enjoyed this Read Along process: it has been like having a book group meeting every week! Yay!

Also, a big thanks to the hosts and everyone who has read my posts and left comments: I hope to see you all for the RSURS Read Along, Bastards!


  1. Ohh post apocalyptic or alien (which someone else also suggested) for the elderglass? I wondered if it was magically enhanced but I prefer these theories! :) it would make the history for the books very different to the 'normal' fantasy history. Which I think would be pretty neat! :)

    I'd forgotten the interlude about Camorri and revenge.. its a book that's definitely worth a re-read!

  2. The Eldren reminded me of the show Ancient Aliens, which hypothesizes that aliens visited Earth a long time ago and gave people knowledge throughout history.  It's obvious pseudoscience, but it was what I thought of when we started hearing about the Eldren who aren't there anymore but built so many neat things.

  3. I like the magically enhanced theory - it sort of fits in with the whole fantasy element for me but aliens and post-apocalyse are also pretty cool!  I don't suppose Locke did change in himself, I think the change was probably in me in that I liked him more by the end of the story than at the start. He just really showed himself to be a hero - even though he can't fight.  And, yes, the Indiana Jones comparison is an excellent choice.  I've been reading another book which has a lot of comedy elements to it and a lot of references also but in the fighting scenes quite often the main protagonist simply uses an underhand tactic (if you want to describe it that way) in order to win.  Okay it might not be lovely to watch (or read) but after all if you're fighting to the death it's every man for himself!
    I really enjoyed the interludes in that, like you said, they all seemed to contain a lesson which was then immediately applicable to the following element of the story.  Like you, I wasnt sure about the prostitute guild story - I did wonder whether I'd simply read it too fast but even now, other than not underestimating the women, I can't see the relevance as much as some of the others.  Perhaps somebody else can enlighten me?
    Lynn :D

  4. I forgot about prostitutes one. That one I could probably have done without, but the others were interesting, especially the ones with Chains.

    It's funny how the question about profanity is so popular. I found it amusing, and this was a book about criminals, they weren't going to be kind to each other. When it fits with the characters, I have no issue with it. I don't have a problem with it in general but having character curse for no reason makes no sense to me either. Appropriateness is all it. 

  5. Yes: it made me think of the crystal skulls in South America and that whole thing about pyramids being alien landing sites. Great minds think alike! :)

  6. Re-thinking it, I am now certain that the prostitute Interlude was meant to show the consequences of totally underestimating your enemy and overestimating your own power / skill etc. The way in which Jean and Locke dealt with The Falconer, the Berangias, the Donna and the Grey King were all aided by this very important miscalculation.

  7. The magical enhancement would possibly fit in with the alchemy seen in the book: though it is obviously a lost art. Of course, the really scary thing is what happened to the Eldren, and who or what took them out??? 

  8. Ya'll know I love some good profanity.  I'm suddenly wondering if a lot of the negative reviews due to profanity were because people think this is a YA book, which is most certainly, for the love of any gods you may believe in, is NOT.  People were freaked out about the profanity used by street thieves,  but not freaked out by I dunno, the torture, and the threats of killing children??

    At first I was caught off guard with the prostitute interlude, it's like "who cares?", but the point of it was this: never underestimate a woman.  such as the Berangias sisters and Dona Vorchenza.  None of the those ladies are prostitutes or anything close to. . . but again, women in general are not to be underestimated.

    "Plus Scott needs to publish more books ASAP otherwise
    I’m going to have Locke-withdrawal jitters!"and now you know why I read and reread these books so often.  Luckily, Lies has a nice conclusion instead of ending in a cliffhanger, so I can just read it again and again and be incredibly satisfied. If chocolate were a book, it would be this one!!

  9. I haven't read Red Seas Under Red Skies yet so I wonder what will Locke do now? I'm sure he can't be satisfied with his cons any more, he needs an objective. Will he go on to recruit more members into his gang? Maybe the Bondsmagi are after him and he has to run off? Can't wait for the second read along to start.

  10. I wonder why they would think it's a YA novel? I'm guessing they didn't get as far as the torture and so didn't know it was there to complain about! :D

    I agree about re-reading. I have some favorite books that I like to read over and over: it is like putting on some comfy slippers and snuggling up with a cup of cocoa and a packet of cookies: perfect! :)

  11. I can't wait either! Squeeeee!!!!

  12. 'And your mother was a woman with an active social life!'
    It just doesn't have the same impact, does it? I agree that the profanity added to the flavor of this world. 

  13. LOL That reminds me of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' "Your mother smells of elderberries!" :D

  14. I think you hit it with the prostitute part - that's what I got from it, men shouldn't underestimate women. But in this book, it goes both ways, women shouldn't underestimate men either it seems.:)

  15. Yes, the more I've thought about it the more I think it is a lesson in underestimating your opponent, which saves Locke and Jean both :)

  16.  I think Locke will recruit more members and return to his schemes to relieve people of their wealth! All in a new city!

  17. He will spend his life training young boys to become wonderful con men, and then travel back in time and become Chains! 

  18. Its possible they're empire just decayed? :) Perhaps Civil war caused their empire to collapse and they just died out. Who knows I'm not even sure anyone knows just how old the buildings are? 

  19. I admit I noticed the level of swearing early in the book but it quickly faded into the overall tapestry of the story Lynch is telling.

     I read somewhere that is the first of a nine book series from Lynch.  I hope they're all as self-contained as this one.  I enjoy a series that allows for visiting books out of order without being too confused but one that rewards those who read all the novels and recall details. 

  20. As long as they don't have terrifying cliffhangers I am quite happy! :)

  21. I also think that the prostitues interlude was useful for the whole story, not only the first book - I know that Sabetha takes her sweet time to appear but I think we'll see her in book 3, and since we know she's been working with the Lillies it's good to have a bit of background on them. 
    Locke-withdrawal jitters... I'm feeling them already, urg!!


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