The Lies of Locke Lamora

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This initial installment of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, often described as Ocean's Eleven ONLY FANTASY, the book centers around a Magnificent Bastard thief who goes by Locke Lamora and his companions, set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Venice. Originally picked up by a Fagin-equivalent known as Thiefmaker as an addition to his string, Locke quickly makes it impossible for the Thiefmaker to keep him through a series of over-the-top moves, resulting in his sale to Father Chains, ostensibly a beggar-priest but in reality a gifted con artist.

As he grows and learns, Locke finds himself contending with the rise of the Grey King, who begins trying to overthrow the established orders of thieves in the city. And so he finds himself in an ever-expanding ring of trouble...

Tropes used in The Lies of Locke Lamora include:
  • Accent Relapse: From the point of view of the one being found out
  • And This Is For
  • Armed Legs: Nazca's boots.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Locke describes his treatment of the bondsmage.
  • Automaton Horses: Justified with Gentled animals.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Last Mistake, right next to Capa Barsavi's headquarters.
  • Band of Brothels: The Camorri brothels are intimidating enough that even Capa Barsavi doesn't dare interfere with them.
  • Big Bad: The Grey King.
  • City of Canals: Camorr.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The Gentlemen Bastards' modus operandi.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Grey King falls under this trope. Capa Barsavi murdered his parents and half of his siblings, over a disagreement about the Secret Peace that protected the city's nobles from thievery. The Grey King's idea of revenge is to not just kill Barsavi and his entire family, but to give all the noble families (including their children, born years after his family was killed) who benefitted from Barsavi's Secret Peace a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Emergency Impersonation: Locke as hired by The Gray King.
  • Empty Shell: What happens when a human or animal is Gentled.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Plenty of this goes on. Capa Barsavi is a murderously ruthless mob boss, but the reader is invited to sympathize with his suffering at Nazca's murder; Requin clearly cares a great deal for Selendri and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge was suitably brutal, and the Gray King's entire motivation stemmed from trauma for the unjust slaughter of his entire family by the nobility of Camorr.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The thieves of Camorr will respect agreements with their leaders, and not harm or steal from those who have paid for protection. The process of "Gentling," basically a sort of chemically-induced lobotomy, is considered too cruel to use for punishment, even in a city where child thieves are routinely hanged. Locke Lamora ends up saving his worst enemies and their children from this fate at one point, because some things are just wrong!
    • Although Locke justifies it to save his Con Man reputation by saying that he just wants to foil The Gray King's plans, no matter what they are.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Falconer.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Sharks are used repeatedly in the first book, and one is used in the Grey King's coup against Capa Barsavi.
  • The Fagin: Locke encounters both versions as a child. The first criminal who took him in, the Thiefmaker, was more of the evil version, but he ends up selling Locke to Father Chains, who is very clearly inspired by the positive takes on Fagin.
  • Flynning: The sword master that teaches Jean explains that this is all he teaches the rich kids.
    • Locke also tries this while fencing against The Gray King, who is a master swordsman. It goes predictably poorly.
  • Foreshadowing: In the chapter where we first learn that the Grey King is a real danger who can kill as he pleases, sorcery is mentioned three separate times, twice even as an offhand explanation for his capabilities that the characters don't follow up on.
  • Gilligan Cut: In a way. When Locke first meets the Falconer, the book cuts to a short flashback chapter were Chains infodumps Locke (and the reader) about Bondsmagi. He concludes with the following warning:

Chains: "Sorcery's impressive enough, but it's their fucking attitude that makes them such a pain. And that's why, when you find yourself face to face with one, you bow and scrape and mind your 'sirs' and 'madams'."
(chapter break)
Locke: "Nice bird, asshole."

  • Happily Married: Don Lorenzo and Dona Sofia.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The Gentlemen Bastards engineer a level 3 situation of this on the Salvaras on purpose, so they don't have to bother keeping up the much more complex level 1 deception.
    • Locke even remarks that it's amusing how the Salvaras make ambiguous comments in their belief of being on the superior level of two.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The Thorn Of Camorr. Notably subverted, though; even he points out (in another guise) that he's not donating money to the poor; he considers the act of stealing from the rich action enough against them. Actually, he and his band kept their vast stolen fortune in a private vault and had no idea what to do with it.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: Nazca in her youth. Her father even bought her steel-toed boots to indulge her!
  • Look Behind You!: Locke hones this technique while fighting the Half-Crowns as a kid. With Jean to back him up. He later pulls it on The Gray King, without the benefit of backup.
  • Mafia Princess: Nazca Barsavi, although she was being groomed to take over the family business.
  • Photographic Memory: Nazca keeps taxes for a hundred gangs in her head and can perfectly recall conversations from a decade ago.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Locke and Nazca. Until the Gray King poisons her and sends her back in a barrel of horse urine, that is. Sniff.
  • Platonic Prostitution: For a scene in the first book, but only after the more conventional approach fails.
  • Revenge: Why Locke wants to kill The Gray King.
    • A chapter in the first book is devoted to explaining how much revenge is the hat of the Cammori, with a character waiting twenty years to kill a man over a controversial ruling in a faux-rugby match.
  • Rule of Cool: Gladiator matches against sharks.
  • Shark Pool: In both original and kraken flavor.
  • Spanish Prisoner: The Gentleman Bastards pull variations of this on several of Camorr's nobles in the first book.
  • The Spymaster: The Spider, leader of the Duke's secret police.
  • Stout Strength: Jean, sometimes.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: Nazca. Only for 'fridge' read 'barrel of horse urine'.
  • Tell Me Again: Bug has to explain their scheme to get Don Salvara's trust at the beginning. It's good for his moral education.
  • Thieves' Guild: The Right People of Camorr.
  • Torture Technician: Capa Barsavi of course has one.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Word for word in the book.
  • Wretched Hive: With canals and falls of ash, in this case.