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In this book, Lynch explores the fantasy standard of the "theives' guild" with new perspective. Rascally youth Locke Lamora is too good a thief and con-man for his own good. In a desperate attempt to get rid of Locke and the trouble he brings like a lightning rod, the head of his thieves' guild pawns him off on a more exclusive master, a pretended holy man and con-man of the highest order. After the rigorous training of his youth, Locke comes into his own as the creative center of a group of Gentleman Bastards, an intimate circle of con-men and friends with the talent to fool the upper ranks of city elite for the promise of incredible fortune—but not without high stakes.
The Lies of Locke Lamora shows an emerging breed of more subtle genre crossovers. While low on magic, this book still offers the action and adventure fantasy fans have come to enjoy, as well as a sharp and fresh-voiced wit in character interaction and caper spirit more familiar to the mystery/crime/spy genre. Fans of contemporary fantasy, however, will find enough familiarity—creative violence and a prodigious youth bound for greatness. While Lynch does follow one of the most tried and true fantasy standards (and one of my greatest pet peeves) by telling the story of Locke's boyhood and training in his life's work, he gives it greater relevance and keeps it from bogging down the forward pace by telling the story of Locke's thiefly education in short interludes interspersed with the main story of Locke's grande caper as an adult with the Gentleman Bastards. I must also applaud him for his originality in world-building, both in terms of approach and choice of milieu. The world of this fantasy is an early modern city, not the standard medieval castle. The choice of details he uses to characterize his world are original in the sensory atmosphere they create, focusing more attention on appealing to senses other than sight.
While fantasy fans will certainly enjoy this new epic tale, it should also appeal to fans of adventure fiction more generally, creating as it does a new twist on fantasy akin to a historical spy thriller.
Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.