Time for this week’s installment of questions and my overanalyzed answers from the Gollanz and Fantasy Faction readalong for Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. This quarter of the book was holy-crap-I’m-on-the-edge-of-my-seat exciting, even moreso than last time, and it took a lot of self-control to not just cave and start reading ahead.
So, let’s move on to the questions, and then I can feel perfectly justified in starting in on the final quarter of the novel!
What did you think of Scott Lynch’s system of religion in Locke Lamora? Do you think it is over explained, under explained, perfect?
I think a fine line is generally walked when it comes to creating religions and featuring them in fantasy novels. When it’s done badly, it’s done badly! Happily, this wasn’t the case here. I think Lynch thought things through quite well, and it comes across in the details. We aren’t being inundated with long expository passages about how the religion works and which people believe in which deities, but instead the information’s being dropped casually in the narration and speech patterns of characters, so that we not only pick up the gist of how things work, but also how much of a part it all plays in the lives of the characters we’re seeing.
There was a very long action scene where Jean and Bug fought against Salt Demons. How did you find this scene? Did it fit with the rest of the novel?
To be honest, I found it a little boring. That isn’t to say that Lynch can’t write a fight scene, but my mind was on Locke’s predicament and what would happen next in a larger sense, so I found myself hoping that the fight would end quickly and I could get back to reading what I was looking for.
The Spider is revealed to be Dona Angiavesta Vorchenza, an old woman who lives in one of the 5 towers. Did you always think the Spider was going to be an older person or did this twist catch you by surprise?
I quickly came to learn, during the course of reading this book, that nothing should surprise me. I can’t say that I expected the Spider to be an old woman, it did make sense that it would be someone older, with experience under their belt, and somebody whom nobody would suspect. So even if I didn’t expect that twist, it does make sense.
Part of me expected the Spider and the Midnighters to be something of an urban legend, something that always happens “to a friend of a friend” but nobody ever experiences for themselves. An urban legend like that still would have been something that Locke would take advantage of, after all.
The Handball story is one of the few interludes that don’t feature the main characters at all. What did you think was the message of this story and why did Scott choose to throw it in here?
It was an interesting little interlude, and did quite a bit to shed light on Camorri culture and ways of thinking. It may not have been about the main character directly, but it highlighted the way that they (specifically, Locke) tends to think, and so gives more insight into his future actions. No waiting to get his revenge!
We lost Bug, Calo and Galdo in this section Why do you think Scott Lynch chose to kill them off at this point of the novel? Do you feel their deaths take away the dynamic of the bastards?
I didn’t expect them to die. But I should have. I liked them. Characters I like in books seems to have an annoying habit of dying, and I really liked Calo and Galdo.
I think the remaining Gentlemen Bastards will feel their loss, on both a professional and personal level. They weren’t just colleagues, but friends, and it’s understandable that Locke took their deaths personally. As for why Lynch killed them… It seems clear that it was done to give Locke a good and undeniable reason to do after the Grey King and take that revenge. he had a reason to start with, obviously, but this just sealed the deal, and in a painful and hard-hitting way.
And yes, there was probably no small amount of desire to make the reader feel the same emotional gut-punch that Locke did. A good writer can do that with character deaths, and Lynch is a good writer. I just wish such interesting characters didn’t have to die…
Were Bug, Calo and Galdo’s deaths a result of Locke’s cockiness and inability to listen to Chains’s advice? Chains told Locke to mind his manners should he ever face a Bondsmage and he did the opposite. He also antagonised the Grey King, not following the rule allowing another person feel they are in complete control of the situation. To phrase the question in another way, if Chains had still been alive and picked up by the Grey King to play him instead of Locke – would Chains have done the deed and kept everybody alive?
First, I doubt that Chains would have been picked by the Grey King, since Chains stayed very low-key and Locke, while keeping himself largely hidden, had a reputation that was very well-known. So I doubt that particular situation would have actually arisen. But if it had… Chains may have been able to keep everyone alive, but I doubt it. The point was for the person playing the Grey King to die. True, this would have left Locke in a position to not be shoved in a barrel of horse piss and thus defend himself and others when the attack came, but I still don’t think it would have made that much difference. There would have been someone dead at the end of it all, no matter what.
While Locke did break the rules he’d been taught to follow, the situation was such that I can completely understand why. It’s one thing to be in control of a con and yet work things so that the mark feels in control of the situation when they’re not. It’s another to not be in control of things from the beginning. It was a whole different dynamic, and the rules went out the window.