Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves. The Gentleman Bastards.
The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they have ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…
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When I picked this up, I thought it was a stand alone novel. It is, in fact, the first in a series with one of the coolest names going around, The Gentleman Bastards. This book has been described to me as a would be Ocean’s Eleven set in a fantasy world resembling Venice. All told, that’s not a bad description but I found that there was a little more to it than that.
I’m just going to come out and say it. I couldn’t put it down. And when I did, all I thought about was picking it back up again. It was fast paced and gave you plots within plots, including the parallel back story and it was crazy! And great! But totally crazy! The plot wound around and around and just when you thought someone had the upper hand, it was revealed that they really, really didn’t. The heist was great – and planned perfectly, the Grey King was an amazing, creative villain and I loved Locke’s perpetual back luck and his Kvothe-like smart arse attitude. Any story centering around a group of misfits, come together as a family under a wise old leader is always going to find a way into my heart, and the Gentleman Bastards did just that. (I’m also pleased that, while there were character deaths, for once my favourite character actually survived. I mean, what? But then, I guess there is a first time for everything.)
The world building is what made the book what it is. As I said, it’s very Venetian with it’s canals and even the characters’ names, but then there are amazing glass towers everywhere. And on the other hand, it’s also quite medieval, so not only was it pretty, but it could also be quite disgusting when it wanted to be – I swear I could smell those barrels of horse urine. And those crab/spider things gave me horrible flashbacks of Stephen King’s Lobstrosities – did-a-chick, indeed. The world also featured one of my favourite aspects of fantasy writing, a whole new world of religions. I found it fascinating to read about the different Gods and I am excited to continue with the next book.