10 March 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along Week 1

So it begins.  The first week of the LoLL Read Along has been really good.  Listening to it during my commute actually makes me wish my drive were longer every morning, which would literally be a crime against humanity.

I’m sure this is a great book to read and I look forward to re-reading it someday to get that experience, but if there are any of you looking for an audiobook, THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO START LISTENING TO.  And don’t think I’m just being silly or over-excited about the read along.  This is a damn good book to listen to.

But if you are wondering if this read-along is hot shit.  It is.  Even Scott Lynch is participating his thoughts and bonus insights to the conversation. THE AUTHOR!  And bonus #1 reveals that Camorr was initially created on a napkin in a Burger King in Minnesota, my home state.  Whaddya know!  So now I have a new pilgrimage for the next time I’m visiting family (that is if I can buck up the courage to enter a fast food establishment).

1. If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far?  If this is a re-read for you, how does the book stand up to rereading?

I like it.  I like it a lot.  I was a little nervous because I’ve been reading so much SF lately that I wasn’t sure how my caveman brain would adjust to the change in scenery,  but LoLL has been so compelling that I didn’t have any problem. 

The only other fantasy I’ve listened to has been LoTR and even though I loved the books I couldn’t finish the Audiobook.  Maybe now that I have more experience with audiobooks, I wouldn’t have a problem, but I was somewhat concerned that maybe there was something about extensive world building that is difficult to transfer to audiobook format.  Add to that the quality of the last audiobook I read, The Stainless Steel Rat, and you can see that I had a number of concerns about whether I would enjoy this experience.

As it turns out, all of my fears were for naught.  The Lies of Locke Lamora is a fantastic book and the audiobook is less a reading than a performance!  Although it would be hard to ruin Lynch’s dialogue, I kind of wonder if Michael Page is drawing on some personal thieving experience because he really delivers it with passion.

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world? 

I’m usually okay with this kind of storytelling.  When the character is interesting enough, I want to hear everything about them and I want to know about their entire lives.  Who didn’t love to watch Forrest Gump or Homer Wells (help me think of someone else like this) grow up.  Maybe someone.  But the point is, when a story is as compelling as this one, it would almost feel incomplete if we didn’t get Locke’s background too or conversely, if we didn’t get to see what kind of thief he turned into.

That being said, the switches were at first pretty tough to keep up with in the audiobook.  Sometimes a narrator will pause at chapter ends if there is no title, sometimes they don’t.  I don’t really care either way, but in this instance, I was very confused the first time it happened.  Now that we are further into the story though, I haven’t had that problem in subsequent jumps.  Thinking about it now makes me think that my initial troubles said more about the quality of the story and the reading, that I had been sucked in so completely that forcing me to remember I was listening to a book was like slapping  me in the face. 

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch's world building? 

Is it weird to like Camorr?  Should I enjoy hearing about a place that sells death tokens and hangs children from bridges with bricks attached to their feet so they’re sure to die?  Is that wrong?  Is it weirder still that such a gruesome place also feels so real?  Am I really going to keep doing this??

Camorr is a cool and cruel and dirty place.  It’s horrible and no one would ever choose to live there.  But it’s also the kind of place that you just can’t help wanting to read about.  I still feel like we are still only a little way into it and I’m too excited to see what other terrible things exist in this place.

4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn't it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into?  

I am notoriously bad at predicting the future.  Based on the 20-something timeline it seems like Father Chains is creating a bank vault.  He seems to be able to act like just a normal 20-something thief (because I really know what is like), but the complexity of his scheme suggests to me that even his relationship with his compatriots is somewhat of a façade.  I’m betting that only he knows the extent of his plan and he doesn’t even share that with his closest partners.  Father Chains told the twins that when he was through with him, Locke would make his church scheme look like child’s play and I’ll bet that’s exactly what’s going to happen.  Add to that the fact that Locke is an insane prodigy and lies as often as he breathes and I think he’ll be an incomparable mastermind who no one can really ever know.  I certainly don’t believe Father Chains will turn him into a well-adjusted criminal but maybe a better actor.

5.  It's been a while since I read this, and I'd forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what's happening?

This is actually the one complaint I would have about the book.  It feels more like we are taking a break from the story, than exploring an unfamiliar world.  On top of that, it seems like I learn more about the world and society just through the normal storytelling.  There was actually one point when I was literally thinking, “I wish he would just get on with it”.  Camorr is still a cool place and I have no complaints about it, but Locke and everyone else are so interesting that I just don’t want to take a break!

6. If you've already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand.

Not yet, but I have realized that I should be meting out much harsher punishments and that we could be forcing Emmeline to work for her food.  Also we could live underground.


  1. I don't think it's weird to like Camorr - it's a very interesting place to read about with it's alleys and canals and the contrasts between rich and poor. Just a bit like it's interesting to read about the slums in London in a Dicken's novel. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to live in either!
    I must confess that I love all the world building but I'm a bit of a stickler for the detail and would be more critical if it wasn't provided than the other way around (I'd sooner have it and not need it than need it and not have it).
    It's interesting to hear someone's comments who is listening to this on audio. I've never listened to a book before and I'm thinking I should try it out but something always makes me hesitate about doing so. I suppose I just need to take the plunge.
    Lynn :D

    1. That's a really good point. I'd rather know too much also. Camorr IS pretty great as far as slums go, right?!

  2. This is fantastic as an audio. (there are some that are not so good, of course)

    I like Camorr, too. It is an interesting place. I love the descriptions of the glass bridges, and I'm curious how the "alchemy" works.

  3. It's really interesting to read the opinions of someone listening to the audiobook instead of reading it. I do enjoy audiobooks, I may pick this up at some stage.

    The timeline switches must wreak havoc with following the plotline though. Definitely an interesting way to be told this particular story.

    1. I had originally thought I would listen to Lies and read the next one, but now that the first has been so GREAT, I might just listen to the next book too.

  4. LOL, we're all going to be driving to St. Paul (I'm about 9 hours away) and building little shrines to The Thirteeth in Burger Kings all over the place!! I really need to get the audio for this, especially for that long drive to Minnesota. ;)

    And liking Camorr? Just wait until you meet some of Chains's buddies. i think we ALL like Camorr even if we don't want to live there. Are we sick people? no, I think a lot of us just like a little bit of risk in our fantastical wish fulfillment!

    1. HA! Week one of the read along and a pilgrimage site has already been made official. LOVE IT!

  5. I never really pictured Camorr as a bad place - sure, it's dark and foggy and a bit gruesome, but now that you mention the kids with the bricks tied to their feet, I'm also thinking, am I crazy to like it that much?!
    Oh well, Scott Lynch has his way to make us love it, and I admit, I totally succumbed.

    1. I think it was a bad idea to answer that question with a bunch of idiotic questions. I meant to be silly when I asked if it was wrong to like Camorr. I definitely love it and I certainly don't feel bad about it. I really just wanted to point out that as you say, Lynch finds a way to make us love a place that is really thorough about the way they murder children :)

  6. Camorr is partially based on Renaissance Venice and while modern day Venice is pretty cool, and the talk about the Renaissance days is romantic it was still a dangerous city with some mean streets, like most large cities. What Lynch does with the slums and the way life is cheap is not out of synch with the real world era that Locke's world is analogous to. There's a covered bridge in Venice called The Bridge of Sighs. Sounds great, eh? Then I found out it was called that because condemned prisoners were held there and you could hear their wails.

    1. That's crazy. I have been thinking lately that as I get further into the book, Camorr sounds more and more like a real place. Wow though, I bet there are more similarities than I would really like to know about huh? Gosh...The Bridge of Sighs. For some reason, people being reduced to wailing is a thing that usually affects me pretty bad so that sounds like a nightmare.


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