Tag Archive: Scott Lynch

Apr 14

Book a Week Challenge (Late Edition) – Book 13

WHAT’S PLAYING: Rihanna feat. Jay-Z “Talk That Talk”

This week’s first book is The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch.

This is the story of Locke Lamora, a thief and con artist plying his trade in the ancient city of Camorr. Tricking the more gullible nobles out of their fortunes is little more than a game for him and his friends, the Gentleman Bastards. But then a mysterious figure known as the Gray King decides to use Locke as a pawn in his bid to take over Camorr’s organized crime syndicate. And to make matters worse, the Duke’s secret police, the Midnighters, are hot on his trail.

The Lies of Locke Lamora tells two tales: the first is the story of Locke’s childhood, raised as an orphaned thief on the merciless streets of Camorr, and the second is the latest confidence game he and his gang, the Gentleman Bastards, are trying to pull off amidst an escalating feud between a mysterious villain known as the Gray King and the city’s underworld boss. Lynch’s expert weaving of these two storylines allows us to become completely immersed in the world of Camorr and thoroughly invested in his characters. Even when Locke is at his most arrogant, you can’t help but love him and the rest of the gang. So, when circumstances go from good to bad to worse to “oh shit!”, there’s nothing to do but see it through.

I have one nit to pick with this book. Locke spends much of the book pining over a character who is discussed but never seen. We spend so much time hearing about his lost love, Sabetha, that it’s a bit of letdown when she doesn’t appear, not even in a flashback.

Still, this is a book you won’t want to miss. Everything comes together the way epic fantasy should, but rarely does. Twists and turns abound, taking the reader from laughter, through shock, tears, and terror, only to come back to laughter.

Favorite Line/Image:  “I don’t have to beat you,” Locke whispered, grinning madly up at the Gray King, his face streaked with blood and tears, his nose broken and his lips cracked, his vision swimming and edged with blackness. “I don’t have to beat you, motherfucker. I just have to keep you here…until Jean shows up.”

At that, the Gray King became truly desperate, and his blows fell like rain, but Locke was heedless of them, laughing the wet braying laugh of utter madness. “I just have to keep you here…until Jean…shows up!”

What I Learned:  I grew up watching reruns of the A-team, and one of my favorite memories is the wonderful George Peppard as John “Hannibal” Smith chomping on his cigar and growling, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this book. Original premise, memorable characters, and gorgeously realized setting and description, all mesh seamlessly into something that is truly fantastic. But it is the story’s nonlinear architecture that will keep you turning the pages long after you should be in bed.

Bottom Line:  Read it! Read it now!

Coming Up Next: Heartless by Gail Carriger

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/04/book-a-week-challenge-late-edition-book-13/

Mar 30

Book a Week Challenge (Late Edition) – Book 12

WHAT’S PLAYING: Moving Pictures “What About Me

This week’s book is Twelve by Jasper Kent.

 

 

This is the tale of Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, a Russian officer. It’s the autumn of 1812, and Napoleon’s army is advancing across Russia. In desperation, Aleksei and his comrades enlist the help of the Oprichniki – twelve mercenaries from the Carpathian Mountains, who claim that they can turn the tide of the war. It seems an idle boast, but the Russians soon discover that their new comrades are quite capable of fulfilling their promise. Because the Oprichniki are voordalak, – vampires – and they won’t just stop at killing the French.

Besides the vibrant and realistic setting, the best thing about this book was that all the main characters were very human, especially Aleksei. Even though I didn’t always like or approve of him, I still found myself empathizing with this flawed but decent man as he suffered through bouts of mental and physical hardship, self-loathing, love and loss.

I especially liked the vampires. Shabby, filthy, and disrespectful, the Oprichniki are not the stuff of paranormal romances. They are traditionally evil bad asses that must be hunted down and killed at all costs. A refreshing change from their modern-day, romantically inclined brethren.

Fair warning: be prepared to squirm. There are some genuinely gruesome moments in this book. (We are dealing with vampires, after all.) My biggest issue is that Aleksei’s self-absorbed narration tends to run long in places, slowing the pace to a painful crawl.

Still, I can’t deny that Twelve is a breath of fresh air and a great example of classic vampire horror.

Favorite Line/Image: Moscow was as full of life as a cadaver on the embalmer’s table. The fluids and chemicals that had been introduced into it’s veins can engorge it sufficiently to give it some vague semblance of the living creature that it once was, but they would never have the ability to provide the vital essence that once made that body a man. The image brought to my mind the Oprichniki. They passed themselves off physically as men, but I had never seen in any one of them a hint of the desires and loves and anguishes of living beings.

Did the French occupiers, I wondered, perceive themselves as parasites feasting on the corpse of a once-great city, or did they believe that they were the vanguard of a new wave of life that had revitalized al the rest of Europe and was now supplying the physical reality of the Enlightenment to Russia? I think that Bonaparte himself probably believed that, but I also think he was deluding himself.

What I Learned: JasperKent’s meticulous research and attention to detail adds a layer of richness and detail to this novel that makes it shine. Then there’s the heady combination of history, fantasy and folklore. Somehow, Kent managed to bring a sense of classic horror to something completely original.

Bottom Line: A dark and entertaining historical fantasy novel.

Coming Up Next: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/03/book-a-week-challenge-late-edition-book-12/