Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

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Author: Scott Lynch

Read: July, 2016

Genre: Fantasy

 

 

 

Review:

Summary from Goodreads:

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

Damn that’s a long summary. To be fair, it’s quite a long book – Lynch’s writing is very detailed and entertaining, but it does lean toward the denser side at times. In fact,part of me feels that sections of the book were superfluous and indulgent, but part of me also thinks that the jumpy, sometimes seemingly meandering time line of the book was necessary. Everything, from the characters to the religious system, the setting of Camorr to the various cultures found within the world, is richly drawn and explored as a result; Lynch’s world-building, a cornerstone of any good fantasy novel, was excellent and immersing because of this.

The characters, especially Locke and his ever faithful band of thieves, The Gentlemen Bastards, were distinctive. I loved the friendship and camaraderie that existed between all the Gentlemen Bastards  – their exploits made for interesting reading.  Lynch takes care to slowly divulge elements of each character’s backstory, interspersing these “Interludes” throughout the novel, slotting them in where the content is most relevant to the immediate predicaments of the characters.

The plot was clever and engaging – just when you think you know where it’s going it takes a sudden twist or turn in a direction you never saw coming. The actual heists/general shenanigans of Locke and his friends are well thought out and described brilliantly.

Overall, I found The Lies of Locke Lamora to be a good, solid fantasy novel that’s lots of fun. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Best Quote/s:

“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
“Oh please,” said Locke. “It’ll never happen.”

“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”

 

If you like this try:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

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The Wicked + The Divine Book Review

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Authors/Creators: Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (illustrations), Matt Wilson (colourist), Clayton Cowles

Read: June 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Comic/graphic novel

 

 

Review:

“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.” Summary from Goodreads.

I’m going to be honest – I’ve not read that many graphic novels, so I’m maybe not the best person to be reviewing them. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the ones I have read, but that I don’t really know any good ones to read? If anyone has any suggestions please let me know! I’d like to build my collection!

Anyways, The Wicked + the Divine popped up on my recommended list on Amazon, and the synopsis of Gods being modern day pop-stars really intrigued me. What can I say? I’m a sucker for mythology.

Firstly, the art work was brilliant. The colour schemes are really vibrant and eye catching, and the drawings are amazing. Absolutely beautiful.

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Unfortunately, the story-line isn’t quite as good. It’s not bad by any means, just a little confusing. There’s a lot of secondary characters that don’t get fleshed out enough, or whose powers aren’t explained well. For example, our protagonist Laura meets the Goddess the Morrigan at one point, but unless you’re up on your Celtic mythology and know that she’s technically three sisters in one person, I’d imagine you’d be really confused during their interactions. More details about a lot of the characters would have been really helpful.

And then there’s Laura herself. She’s pretty likeable, but her motivation for doing things is a bit sketchy at times? After attending a concert and meeting Luci (short for Lucifer, who has been reincarnated this time round as a young woman), who gets arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Laura starts helping by trying to figure out who the real murderer was. Who helps a person they barely know with something as dangerous as this? A bit difficult to buy into at times.

The story was interesting and fast-paced overall, but really could have been improved with more character detail and clearer explanations for stuff. If you enjoy humour and don’t mind feeling mildly confused for most of the story, and are, like me, easily distracted from this feeling by the presence of wonderful artwork and pretty colours, then this is a fantastic read.

Best Quote:

“Please. When you’re as good as I am? This is humble.”

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The Girl of Ink and Stars Review

 

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Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

Read: May, 2016

 

 

 

Review:

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes it’s tricky. Before I review the actual written book, I just want to comment on it’s beautiful design. The pages are full of small drawings related to the story/setting, from compasses to sea monsters to sailing ships. The cover folds out to reveal a gorgeous map of Joya, the fictional island where the story is set. It just adds another layer to the storytelling, really emphasising the importance of maps/cartography to the overall plot of the story. Kudos, book designer.

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The book follows the journey of Isabella, a cartographer’s daughter who dreams about travelling/exploring the rest of the island they live on, leaving the closed off Gromera for the Forgotten Territories. Isabella gets the chance to do so after her best friend, the Governor’s daughter Lupe, goes missing and Isabella deceives her way into the search party. However, a greater danger is lurking in the Forgotten Territories as an old myth starts to awaken.

Overall, I really quite liked Isabella as a main character. She was brave and headstrong, believably flawed. However, the rest of the characters felt a little flat in comparison. The author doesn’t really elaborate on any of the secondary character’s back stories or personalities, meaning the feel a little two-dimensional at times. Also, a lot of the adult characters seem incredibly oblivious. Not that some obliviousness isn’t desirable in adults in children’s literature (because how else is anybody not yet in adulthood meant to go on a dangerous adventure, am I right?), but in this book it felt a little too forced and this in turn meant that some plot points felt contrived and unlikely.

The setting, by contrast, was well-developed and interesting. The island of Joya is beautifully described, helped by the fact the Isabella has a love for geography and maps. Seriously, I kind of want to visit for a holiday now.

The plot of the novel is fast-paced, but somewhat predictable at times. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t lacking originality, but a few of the plot “twists” were rather obvious. However, the overall story was interesting enough to me that these small issues can be largely forgiven. The Girl of Ink and Stars was fantastical and fun – I highly recommended it as a summer read for all book worms.

Best Quotes:

“Cats never understand the gravity of a situation.”

“We are all of us products of our surroundings. Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow.”

If you like this, try:

The Wee Three Men by Terry Pratchett

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Golden Compass/ The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

 

 

A Court of Mist and Fury Book Review

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Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

Read: May, 2016

 

 

 

 

Review:

So, first off – this is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first book. Not that I disliked A Court of Thorns and Roses, but it just didn’t feel as developed as Maas’ other series in terms of overall plot/world building. ACOMAF fixes this issue wonderfully.

Character development  (or regression in some cases) is also on point. I love how Maas explores how Feyre has changed as a result of her traumatic experiences in book one, and how this in turn impacts her relationships with other characters. I can’t really say much else here without entering spoiler territory, but Tamlin fans from book one might not be too pleased at the direction the book takes.

Another aspect of this book I adored was the introduction of more secondary characters as we get to explore other courts – they were all very distinct and Maas takes care with each back story, making sure that all of them are well developed and unique. This ties in with the greater sense of scale that begins to unfold in this instalment. Feyre’s world in ACOTAR felt rather constricted and the whole fairy court system that operated was never really elaborated upon sufficiently enough for my liking, but the plot of ACOMAF allows for Maas to explore an increased range of places, with especial focus on the mysterious Night Court.

Overall, I love the direction this book is taking the series. Whilst I liked ACOTAR, it was kind of meh compared Maas’ other books and I didn’t have nearly as high expectations for ACOMAF as I normally do for her Throne of Glass books. It’s nice to be surprised however, and ACOMAF has certainly elevated my opinion of this book series. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

Best Quote:

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

If you like this, try:

Sarah J. Maas’ other series, Throne of Glass.

 

 

Froi of the Exiles Book Review

 

Author: Melina Marchetta

Genre: Fantasy

Read: April, 2016

 

 

Review:

Marchetta builds on the world she crafted in this book’s predecessor Finnikin of the Rock,  creating an exciting adventure centring on the character of Froi as he undertakes a mission into an enemy kingdom, Charyn. However, I felt that this instalment lacked the same focus that drove Finnikin of the Rock  – at times, it felt like we were meandering before continuing on with the actual plot.

I was surprised by Froi’s character in this book as well. After the events of the first novel his character had left a bitter taste in my mouth. I understood that he’d had a difficult childhood living on the streets of another Kingdom and that this has irrevocably impacted his behaviour, but the manner in which Marchetta used his character’s attempted rape of another character as a mere plot device in the first book left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Part of the reason why is that it felt, even more so now after reading Froi of the Exiles, out of character – yes Froi is harsh and violent, but he does seem to have some form of moral compass. Which is why the attempted rape in Finnikin of the Rock bothered me so much; if Marchetta had been consistent with his character’s actions, whilst I would have still found them unpalatable, they would have at least seemed less like a gaping plot device. Furthermore, how she depicted the other characters’ reactions to rape was also lacking in depth and emotional consequence.

To be honest, Marchetta’s handling of such a sensitive subject as rape remained problematic for me in Froi of the Exiles. I do believe that the issue of rape/consent deserves to written about and discussed, but in a sensitive, well thought out and accurate manner. At times, you see glimmers of emotional insight, but there remains instances when the whole thing feels contrived and solely there to add shock/disgust. Unless you’re trying to express something significant about the issue of rape, please don’t use it, repeatedly, to elicit some kind of response from a reader and/or move the plot along.

On the other hand,  I did enjoy the way Marchetta continues to portray the ideas of identity and belonging through analysing the importance of family and blood, as well nationality. It’s probably what bothers me even more about these books – there are parts of them I greatly admire, and Marchetta’s writing style itself is very readable and engaging, but how she portrays other issues with such a lack of depth leaves me feeling really conflicted.

Best Quotes:

“…the greatest weapon against big stupid men was a sharp mind.”

“‘Are you an idiot, or an idiot?’ Gargarin hissed.
‘The first one. I really resent being called the second.’”

If you like this, try:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder