Scott Lynch’s tour de force, ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ burst onto the fantasy scene in 2006, marking a significant turning point in the genre’s evolution.
The book, and its subsequent sequels in the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series, introduced readers to a unique and innovative world of fantasy that has since greatly influenced countless authors and contributed to the development of modern fantasy literature.
The Influence of Lynch’s World-Building
Perhaps the most substantial impact of ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ lies in Lynch’s innovative world-building.
Lynch breathes life into the city of Camorr, imbued with a Renaissance Venice-like setting, complete with a network of canals, grand structures, and a dark underworld.
This type of detailed and vivid cityscape, one that is both fantastical and grounded in historical reality, has inspired subsequent authors to create rich, detailed, and believable fantasy worlds of their own.
The city of Camorr, much like a character itself, is layered, flawed, and complex.
Its distinct districts, culture, social structure, and even food, craft an immersive and palpable atmosphere.
Lynch’s approach to world-building has changed how modern authors perceive and depict their settings, encouraging them to create worlds that extend far beyond generic kingdoms and forests.
The Significance of Realistic Characters
Lynch has also made his mark on the fantasy genre through his complex, flawed, and deeply human characters.
Locke Lamora, the eponymous protagonist, is no stereotypical hero.
Instead, he’s a crafty thief with his own set of morals, which don’t always align with societal expectations.
The novel’s emphasis on character development, relationships, and moral dilemmas has encouraged authors to break away from traditional, archetypical fantasy characters, forging instead more relatable, complex, and morally grey personas.
Further, the use of camaraderie and brotherhood as a central theme adds depth to the narrative.
The characters in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ are tied together by bonds of friendship and loyalty, rather than destiny or prophecy, which was previously a common trope in fantasy literature.
This has pushed authors (include myself) to explore the themes of loyalty, love, and friendship in more profound and nuanced ways.
The Impact of Lynch’s Narrative Style
Lynch’s narrative style, rich in its use of suspense, humour, and shocking plot twists, represents a departure from the more traditional, linear storytelling techniques previously prevalent in the genre.
This approach adds a level of unpredictability and dynamism to the story, compelling readers to stay engaged and constantly guess what might happen next.
‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ also excels in its fusion of elements from different genres.
The book blends fantasy with crime, mystery, and thriller elements, creating a diverse and captivating narrative.
This cross-genre style has inspired many contemporary authors to experiment with genre boundaries, resulting in a new breed of hybrid fantasy books.
The Legacy of ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’
Lynch’s narrative introduced a vibrant blend of genres and a distinctive approach to character and world-building that many subsequent authors have embraced.
Notably, Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘Riyria Revelations,’ Fonda Lee’s ‘Green Bone Saga,’ and Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ exhibit the profound influence of Lynch’s work.
‘Riyria Revelations’ and the Bromance Blueprint
One of the distinctive qualities of Lynch’s novel is the comradery and complex relationship between Locke Lamora and his partner-in-crime, Jean Tannen.
The bonds of brotherhood that tie these characters together have created a blueprint for ‘bromance’ that is apparent in Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘Riyria Revelations.’
The protagonists of Sullivan’s series, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, mirror the friendship and loyalty seen in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’.
Sullivan, like Lynch, establishes a balance of humour, camaraderie, and dark pasts in the dynamic between his characters, showing that deep, platonic relationships can serve as a strong backbone for a compelling narrative.
‘Green Bone Saga’ and the Reflection of Realism
Fonda Lee’s ‘Green Bone Saga’ series reflects Lynch’s commitment to grounding a fantasy world in realism.
Much like Camorr, Lee’s city of Janloon is a well-structured, believable world.
Lee’s decision to focus on crime families and their struggles for power within a fantastical setting mirrors the gritty underworld and realistic socio-political structures found in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora.’
The emphasis on gang wars, politics, and crime within a fantastical setting, strongly resonates with Lynch’s Camorr and the criminal activities of the Gentleman Bastards.
‘Six of Crows’ and the Band of Misfits
Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ bears the undeniable mark of Scott Lynch’s influence.
Bardugo’s story revolves around a band of misfits who undertake a seemingly impossible heist, much like Locke and his band of thieves.
Kaz Brekker, the leader of the gang in Bardugo’s novel, shares Locke’s cunning and tactical mind, coupled with a moral compass that isn’t always aligned with the law.
Bardugo’s knack for intricate planning, multiple point-of-view storytelling, and the unexpected plot twists strongly echo Lynch’s narrative style, as she takes readers through a thrilling journey full of surprises.
Each of these works, while unique and inventive in their own right, owe a certain level of their approach to the trail blazed by Scott Lynch.
From the strong bonds of friendship, detailed world-building and the intricate blend of crime and fantasy elements, Lynch’s influence is apparent in these modern fantasy sagas.
Lynch’s masterpiece has not only altered the way we perceive fantasy literature but has also served as a stepping stone for other authors to push the boundaries of their own creativity.
As such, ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ continues to shape the landscape of fantasy literature through its lasting influence on contemporary works.
Recommended Fantasy Reads for Fans of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Series”
If you have been captivated by the charm and intrigue of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, then you’re likely seeking more fantasy books that echo its rich world-building, morally complex characters, and intricate plots.
Below is a selection of excellent fantasy novels that should satiate your craving for more such fascinating stories.
‘The First Law’ Series by Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie’s grimdark fantasy series ‘The First Law’ offers a realistic portrayal of a fantastical world, much like Lynch’s Camorr. Its morally grey characters and ruthless political machinations will appeal to fans of Lynch’s dark and complex narratives.
‘The Broken Empire’ Trilogy by Mark Lawrence
This trilogy, starting with ‘Prince of Thorns’, introduces readers to Jorg Ancrath, a character whose morally grey persona echoes that of Locke Lamora. The series is filled with complex characters, clever plots, and a dark, gritty world that fans of Lynch’s work will appreciate.
‘The Powder Mage’ Trilogy by Brian McClellan
Brian McClellan’s series is set in a world transitioning from a monarchy to a republic, and like Lynch’s work, it features a richly detailed world, complicated political intrigue, and characters with dubious morality. Its unique blend of gunpowder-era technology and magic adds a distinctive flair to the narrative.
‘Mistborn’ Series by Brandon Sanderson
For readers who enjoy Lynch’s intricate heists and complex magic system, Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series is an excellent choice. The protagonist, Vin, is a young woman adept at allomancy – a magic system involving the manipulation of metals – and her journey is filled with intriguing twists and turns that will appeal to fans of the Gentleman Bastard series.
‘The Night Angel’ Trilogy by Brent Weeks
A dark, gritty fantasy series about a young street rat who becomes an apprentice to the city’s top assassin. Fans of the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series will appreciate the dark atmosphere and layered characters.
‘The Dagger and the Coin’ Series by Daniel Abraham
This series stands out for its intricate politics and economics, as well as a diverse cast of characters. Its blend of fantasy and political intrigue is reminiscent of the power struggles in Camorr.
‘Low Town’ Series by Daniel Polansky
This series centres on a former intelligence agent turned drug dealer navigating through the criminal underworld. Its noir style and focus on the seedy underbelly of society will appeal to fans of Scott Lynch.
‘The City of Stairs’ by Robert Jackson Bennett
This standalone novel is renowned for its innovative world-building, something Scott Lynch’s fans would be familiar with. The novel’s main character, a spy tasked with solving a murder in a city where gods once lived, will resonate with fans of complex, morally ambiguous characters.
‘The Gutter Prayer’ by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
This book is the first in ‘The Black Iron Legacy’ series, and it takes readers into a world of gods, monsters, and thieves. Its mix of horror and fantasy elements, along with its rich world-building and focus on the criminal underworld, should appeal to fans of Scott Lynch.
If you enjoy reading about thieves and assassins, you might also enjoy my Dawn of Assassins series.
You can get the prequel novel Birth of Assassins as part of the Ravenglass Universe starter library.