Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, adult
First published:. 2007
Author: Scott Lynch
***SPOILER ALERT*** This is the second book in a series. Therefore the following synopsis and review may contain spoilers for the first book. If you have not read it and do not wish to be spoiled, check out my spoiler free review of the first book instead.
Synopsis: Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.
The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist…
…but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.
Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.
This book took me AGES to finish. It is long. I think maybe just a little bit too long. I’m not one to turn my nose at massive tomes, in fact I love long fantasy books. But I feel like if this had been maybe 100 pages shorter, it would have been great. To be fair, the main reason it took me so long to finish was not its length. I flew through the first half of it in a couple of days and then just found myself (through no fault of the book) not in the mood for that particular story. And I am very much a mood reader.
Anyway, on to the review. I definitely enjoyed the first book more. I was torn between giving it 4 or 4.5 stars, but the ending just tipped the scale. The first book was very fast paced and this is where I think this book would have benefited from a few dozen pages trimmed. It was a bit slow at times. There were a lot of characters that were introduced and I feel like that took a lot of space, but wasn’t very exciting.
That said, I really enjoyed most of the new characters that were introduced. I feel like we didn’t get to spend as much time with some of them as I would have liked, because there were so many of them. And one in particular who only really showed up in one scene, but is probably my favourite new character and I hope to see more of them in the future.
I also really liked seeing the bond between Locke and Jean evolve after what they went through in Camorr and also throughout the events of this book. Tensions definitely ran high and to say their friendship was tested is not doing it justice. I loved to see the dynamics of that. Friendship is one of my favourite dynamics to read about and one that I think is definitely under-explored in books.
One of the things I made note of in my review of the first book is that there was no romance involved. Which is something that I found refreshing. This is not the case for this book, we do see a bit of romance. It’s by no means the central point of this story, but it’s there and it does cause some interesting problems.
One of my other beefs with this book is that we learn very little about Locke’s past. We get a few scraps of information, but I just have so many questions! Yes, I know I will probably get them in further books. But I would have liked to see a bit more in this one.
As far as the world-building goes. We get to see 2 completely new cities and the sea. So there’s definitely a lot of new stuff. I don’t have much to say about that, except that it’s well thought out. There are a lot of interesting power dynamics and their historical context and so on.
The ending of this book though. Man! It was something indeed. I can’t really say much without spoilers, but let’s just say that it ended with as big a bang as the first one.
This was a pretty long review, I didn’t realise I had so much to say about this book! I am certainly planning on continuing with this series and still would recommend it wholeheartedly.