Recently I read two very highly regarded fantasy books: the first book in Scott Lynch’s renowned Gentleman Bastard series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and the multi-award winning Jade City by Fonda Lee.
Both books had really imaginative and well-drawn worlds and were really enjoyable, but one more so than the other! Read on to find out more!
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
‘“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
“Oh please,” said Locke. “It’ll never happen.”’
The Thorn of Camorr is a legendary figure: an unbeatable swordsman who steals from the rich and gives to the poor… In truth, he’s a skinny, unremarkable looking man called Locke Lamora, who uses his incredible cunning and wit to make himself and his fellow Gentleman Bastards extraordinarily rich. But the city streets are a dangerous place, and about to become more dangerous still as the man they call the Gray King arrives to challenge Capa Barvasi for control of the city’s seedy underbelly…and somehow Locke and his friends end up in the middle of a war.
This is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for so long, and I’m so glad I finally got round to it! I expected a fun romp with a bunch of thieves involving all sorts of heists and cons, and ended up getting so much more!
In fact, I honestly wasn’t prepared for the level of emotion in this book… Like seriously, this book got me right in the feels so many times! Mostly because I came to really love all of the characters, even if they are morally questionable thieves, and I adored their sense of camaraderie. As a bunch of orphans, they are undoubtedly a close-knit family…even if their family days-out generally involve complex cons, disguises and trickery!
Locke, in particular, was an interesting character, and I liked how so much is made of his unremarkable appearance, yet underneath it lies an incredible complexity. He gives off such a sense of confidence and arrogance at the start that you start to think he can do no wrong, so when things start to go South you feel just as panicked as he does. He’s built up to be such a clever and cunning character that you know things are getting serious when he feels out of his depths, which only helped build tension.
I also loved the incredible world-building in this book. Camorr comes across as a realistically layered city, with the face it presents to the world being one of royalty, majesty and culture, whilst underneath
Despite all this, the book was a little slow starting, and I wasn’t immediately in love it, but as I came to know the characters more and be drawn into the criminal underworld of Camorr, I became truly absorbed in the story. I often find stories that begin with the main character’s childhood a little dull at the beginning, but thankfully this book hooked me in just in time, and I came to like the format of it flicking between the present day and the past.
I’d definitely say this is a book you need to persist with a bit, as it takes a while to get going, but when it does, it’s an amazing rollercoaster ride! Whilst it fulfils on the blurb’s promise of thieves and heists, it unexpectedly hit me in the feels on so many occasions. Those feels weren’t always good, but any book that makes you truly feel something has to be a good book! I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of fantasy! I’m hoping to read the next book in the series soon, just as soon as my poor heart can take it!
Jade City by Fonda Lee
‘“The Horn placed his hands on her shoulders, and pulled her close, and laid his cheek against hers. “Heaven
Jade is one of the most sought after resources on the island of Kekon… It’s the source of the island’s power, with powerful Green Bone families
Jade City had one of the most imaginative and well-developed settings of any fantasy book I’ve read in a long time, and it’s easy to see why the book has won so many awards! I really like seeing fantasy worlds that are different from the usual medieval Europe stereotype (as much as I do love a classic fantasy setting!), and this book definitely delivered on that front, with the sprawling metropolis that is Kekon’s capital
Because this novel is also interesting in that it’s just as much a mob novel as it is a fantasy novel… The rivalry between the gangs is central to the book, and it just so happens that alongside guns and knives and other regular weapons, the gangs also happen to have powers that are magically enhanced by
However, I don’t feel I enjoyed this book as much as I could have done, however vibrant the world in which it was set was. Somehow, despite my appreciation for the incredible world-building I wasn’t incredibly drawn into the book, or overly eager to pick it up when I wasn’t reading it, and a lot of it I feel was down to the characters.
It wasn’t that I disliked the main characters: Lan, Hilo, Shae and Anden were all complex, well-drawn individuals, and definitely all with likeable traits. I just didn’t feel overly invested in them somehow, and it didn’t allow me to become fully immersed in the story. I can’t even pinpoint exactly what it was that made me unable to connect with them, I just didn’t. Of all of them, Hilo was probably my favourite, even if his inability to relate to people (like Shae and Anden) who didn’t believe exactly the same as him was a little annoying. He was definitely the most active character in the narrative, whereas some of the others had a tendency to think a lot about their situation, but do very little until forced to.
On the whole, I could definitely see the appeal of this novel though: it was well-paced and the world it was set in was unique and extraordinary. There was also some incredible action scenes in the book, and I did like the characters, even if I wasn’t as invested in them as I would like to have been. This isn’t a series where I think I would be dying to get my hands on the sequel, but I definitely intend to read it as some point, even if it’s just to return to the incredible world of the story. I’d say this is definitely one to check out if you want to read a unique fantasy with a fascinating concept!
So have you read either of these books? What did you think?