Midway through this book, things took a sudden turn. And I loved it.
I mean, I was enjoying the book thoroughly up until then anyway. Con men in a fantasy city, getting to see people smart and fairly amoral, but who take care of their own turn the tables on the rich and powerful? If it's well-written (and this is), count me in! I love capers with a deep and abiding passion.
(Seriously, Crown Conspiracy, learn from this. Your capers were not as interesting, and your dialogue terrible. Scott Lynch knows how to do this stuff right
And Locke Lamora is such an engaging character! We're first introduced to him when he's a conniving child, but reckless, and creating unforeseen havoc in his wake. He is thrown out of a group of young pickpockets, and apprenticed to a mysterious thirteenth God that most of the devotees of the Twelve know nothing about - the one who protects thieves and conmen like him. We also meet his young compatriots, a pair of thoroughly lovable twins, a stocky young man who becomes Locke's closest friend, and apparently, a young woman Locke falls head over heels with. She doesn't actually appear in this book, but I have faith she'll show up at some point.
In the "present," Locke and his compatriots are immersed in an elaborate and fascinating scam of one of the richest nobles in the city. (I'd like to stress how wonderfully drawn all the Gentlemen Bastards are.) While passing themselves off as mere thieves, they work below the notice of the local crime lord, Capa Barsavi.
And then shit gets real. I was loving the deft touch, but then it suddenly took an entirely warranted darker turn, bad things happened to characters I cared about, and they kept on happening. Locke gets caught tighter and tighter in a vice, and there were points where I wasn't sure how he'd get out of it. Or who else would be left alive by the time he did.
That's what takes this to another level. This is a great story, with wonderful characters, and intriguing world that is drawn in strokes that are never heavy-handed, but which intrigued me. And it is also something more, a tale of power and revenge, of being in the worst possible position and having to find a way out, but not without great personal cost. There is violence and death and some fairly gut-roiling scenes, be warned.
So if you love capers, you'll like this book. But if you want consequences that are real and dire and urgent, you'll love this book.
I can't wait to read the next one.
Crossposted to Smorgasbook