I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, there were some really great things about it. For example, the fantasy world was fully formed and described, and the main character was a highly-entertaining, unapologetic liar and confidence man. But on the other hand, some things just did not work for me. For example, I felt bogged down in the numerous and overly thorough descriptions of the world. And the fantasy elements were too sparse for my taste.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a story about a confidence gang that happens to exist in a fantasy setting. Outside of the world itself, the only remnant of fantasy found in this book a single character who is a Bondmage (i.e., sorcerer bad-guy dude). The Bondmage makes the gang's plans rather difficult to carry out. The Bondmage was fun, in an evil bad-guy sort of way, and I appreciated his presence in the story.
Other than the Bondmage, the fantastical elements of the story were nothing more than a backdrop. I found this quite frustrating, because the fantasy backdrop was amazing, and I wanted so badly for it to be relevant. The land in which the story took place had been previously inhabited by some alien beings, who left their alien buildings behind. Also, lots of lighting and nature described in the book were provided by "alchemical" means. But these fantastical elements were never integrated into the plot. Rather, they were simply things for the author to describe--in great detail through which the reader must suffer despite the lack of direct relation to the story. While reading, I eventually wished that the world was a little less fantastical, so that I wouldn't have to hear about it all the time. I found myself skimming over descriptions in order to get back to the story.
Let us now pretend that this book was about two-thirds a long as it actually was, and all the superfluous, irrelevant world description has been excised from the text. . . . I liked the story. It wasn't really a fantasy story, but I liked it nonetheless.
Locke Lamora is a likable, flawed character. I loved the idea of his being a priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god, of whom the other Twelve gods are ashamed. The Nameless Thirteenth is the Crooked Warden, the God of Thieves. Love that! As a priest of the Nameless Thirteenth, Locke was able (to my great amusement) to justify his dubious actions by asserting his devotion to the will of the Crooked Warden!
Locke Lamora always had another trick up his sleeve. He devised plots to steal money from the nobility and to squeeze himself and his gang out of tight spots. And when tragedy struck, he turned his attentions to plans of revenge. It really is a wonderful story, and Locke is a wonderful character.
Despite the things I liked about this book, I do not see myself reading any other books in the Gentleman Bastards series. I simply do not look forward to suffering any more descriptions of that world.