Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (1 Feb 2007)
Every now and again, along comes a new writer, with a fresh view. It doesn't happen often, but with Scott Lynch's debut novel, it has happened again.
We first encounter Locke Lamora as a small child, being taken under the wing of the Thiefmaker in the city of Camorr. And then the whole story skips a couple of decades ahead to an adult Locke with his small group of Gentlemen Bastards, about to attempt a most daring swindle indeed. But then things occur which make it all very complicated indeed.
This is one of those novels where the setting is almost (not quite, but almost) as important as the characters - 'the city as character'. Here, we have a city partly made from an alien glass, a substance so tough that even when an inferno occurs, it is unmarked. A city with its plague guards at the harbour. A city with a carefully unspoken (and unknown to most, yet rigidly enforced) Secret Peace between the Capa Barsavi with his gang of gangs, and the city's nobility. And a city that is about to have a secret three way - no, four way - conflict happening within its walls.
The feel of this setting is that of Restoration England mixed with Renaissance Italy. The twistiness of the plot - and it is very twisty - is a delight, though our author does at one point leave you wondering whether the protagonist has survived for a whole three chapters, due to a skilled use of time lines. If there is a criticism, it is that the brutality is rather explicitly described.
Lynch is deservedly up for a Campbell because this is, in a word, stunning.