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Friday, April 26, 2013

GUEST POST: Scott Lynch — The Man, His Books and What's Yet to Come by Sandra Scholes

INTRODUCTION: The Lies of Locke Lamora was quoted by fantasy author and legend George R.R. Martin as being “A fresh, original and engrossing tale by a bright new voice.” Which is not bad as it was Scott Lynch's first novel bought by Orion Books and published by Gollancz in the UK, and Bantam in the US. The Gentleman Bastard series of novels revolve around thief Locke Lamora, the third volume being The Republic of Thieves which is the long awaited new book set for release this year.

THE STORY: Taken into the care of the Thiefmaker, young Locke Lamora is different from his fellow thieves in the Gentleman Bastards gang; he steals far too much than is good for him, and from the wrong people. Being more light-fingered than most, he needs special care and attention so he doesn't get the Thiefmaker into trouble with the law. Locke doesn't always listen to his master, though, and he has a golden rule to only thieve for himself, no one else. He is a lone-wolf whose parents died in the plague, or so he told the Thiefmaker, but then you don't always believe what Locke Lamora says. And what starts out as a test of skill on the streets of Camorr turns into a fight for their lives...

One thing I like about Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series is that he tells the story with a sense of honesty. The language sounds rough, but it comes across as humorous. For example, the Thiefmaker keeps telling his own band of thieves that they could have a worse time if they were on their own on the streets of Camorr as they are likely to be at the mercy of whoremongers. This adds realism to a fantasy story that feels realistic all the way through. He tells them what will happen if one of them is captured by their target—it involves a noose, and they make sure they never let anyone touch them when they are out. As the thieves won’t be on their own, he tells them all the tricks of the trade, pick pocketing, and thieving in general. The children under the Thiefmaker's care aren't naive, but they are innocent, and the Thiefmaker uses that to his advantage. For older readers, he will no doubt remind them of Fagin from Oliver Twist, saying “My loves,” a great deal. Most of the men Locke encounters are treacherous and dangerous and there are cruel people at every turn. Lynch uses many traps for the unwitting characters—drug abuse isn't only in modern day; he has Gaze addicts who drop a liquid into their eyes so they can see visions.

Locke isn't a fool, even at a young age, and narrowly avoids being killed by his former master for murdering two other members of the gang. He acts compliant, but there is something unusual about him, and his former master had picked up on that, and this is the reason he sells him to a priest called Father Chains who makes a living from pretending to be a seer and a priest, but he is nothing of the sort, more like a beggar in disguise who has a lot of followers. Chains was given a shark's tooth for the boy, so that if he presented him with any problems, he could kill him and no one would bat an eyelid. This would be the sort of action one would expect of someone like the Thiefmaker, but Chains isn't like him; he thinks it would be a shame to waste a boy's talents for thievery.

Scott Lynch does have a great sense of humour, and that shows in the novel and his others, though he is also effective at reinventing a popular city like Venice, and giving it another name, with streets and places, but keeping the gondolas and Italian sounding names. He also seems to enjoy creating a darker side to those streets; Locke and his Gentleman Bastards have to keep an eye on those who would betray and even kill them as several thieves have been murdered already, hung up as if a warning to others.

Red Seas Under Red Skies is Scott Lynch’s second novel in the seven volume series and had Locke escaping the Bondsmagi with Jean Tannen, where they come to Tal Verrar to plan a heist on a gambling establishment called the Sinspire. This will at once remind readers and movie goers of Ocean's Eleven. It is a daring plan to be sure, but one that might cost him his life and Jean's for no one has ever robbed the place. This is the standard plot, but there is another; the two of them become embroiled in a plot to bring the pirates of Zamira Jakasha to justice. So far Locke has escaped the Bondsmagi, who will never forgive him for humiliating them and living to tell the tale, and to make the story more interesting, they are in hot pursuit of Locke and his friend to the very end.

This novel is several in one, as it is part escape story, part Ocean's Eleven, and veers off into the realms of being a pirate tale. It might be strange to take it all in, but Scott Lynch manages to keep the readers hooked to the pages—all 576 pages in fact, so it could be said he is fast becoming the Stephen King of fantasy.

The Republic of Thieves, the third novel in the series, is yet to be published, but as the other two books are intriguing and engaging reads, we will just have to wait and see what Scott Lynch brings us.

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence:

The Lies of Locke Lamora (June 2006)
Red Seas Under Red Skies (July 2007)
The Republic of Thieves (October 2013)
The Thorn of Emberlain (Pending)
The Ministry of Necessity (Pending)
The Mage and the Master Spy (Pending)
Inherit the Night (Pending)

THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend...

October 8, 2013 marks the North American Hardcover (Preorder HERE) publication of The Republic of Thieves via Del Rey. The UK version (Preorder HERE) will be published on October 10, 2013 by Gollancz.

Subterranean Press will also be producing a Signed Numbered Hardcover copy of The Republic of Thieves which is limited to 500 copies, and a Signed Leatherbound copy housed in a Custom Traycase and limited to 26 copies. This Subterranean Press edition of The Republic of Thieves will feature artwork (see above) by Edward Miller and is slated for release in late 2013. The books can be preordered HERE.


Like many fellow authors, Scott Lynch had various jobs before he became a writer—waiter, office manager, dishwasher and web designer among many others before he realized his freelance writing jobs would lead him to something better and more rewarding. In his spare time he is a volunteer fire-fighter—Minnesota and Wisconsin trained—so he does like an element of daring courage. For more information on Scott Lynch and the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, please visit the Official Scott Lynch Website.


Back in 2006, Sandra Scholes ditched her career in book and interior illustration for writing, and decided it wasn’t a good idea to look back as too many people were relying on her to edit pieces and get them sent for publication. During the past six and a bit years, she has written reviews and articles for some of the most diverse publications she could imagine including The British Fantasy Society, Fantasy Book Review, SF Site, Active Anime, Love Vampires, Cars and Girls Magazine, The London Vampyre Group’s The Chronicles  and Love Romance Passion.


redhead said...

This is by far my favorite fantasy series. I know I'm not alone when I say The Republic of Thieves is my most looked forward to title of 2013!

Looks-Mostly-Harmless said...

I totally agree with redhead. The Lies of Locke lamora was one of my most favorite reads last year, as was Red Seas Under Red Skies. The Republic of Thieves is a book that we have been anticipating for a long time now as the publication date has been shifted backwards . . . but I am happy for Mr Lynch to talk his sweet time so that he gets it just right! :)

M. R. Mathias said...

When I was in prison the first two of this series were some of the better distractions from that reality.

I will say this, though. Lies a Red Seas, are great fantasy novels, but it isn't that original except, in the genre. If you follow Mario Puzo's the Godfather you'll find the flashbacks of Locke and all the scheming and scamming they do, is pretty much inspired by Puzo's tale.

I also appreciate the inclusion of the strange glass structures in the city, as they lent a seriously alien air to the books.


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