I absolutely loved this book. The story just grabs you in from the first moment. I especially loved the fresh approach the author took compared to traditional fantasy writing. There is no dark lord rising, no coming apocalypse, no village boy who finds out he has magic powers and must save the world. It is just the story of Locke and his friends and their (mis)adventures and it is brilliant.
The narrator is excellent. I find his voice very easy to listen to and he makes the characters feel so real. I especially loved the way he handled the dialogue, it is full of dry wit and sarcastic one-liners and he delivered them perfectly.
My one minor criticism of the story is that there are patches where I feel the author gets bogged down in describing either the architecture of the city or the detailed dialogue involved in their cons. In particular the passages where Locke is dealing with the nobility go overboard in detailing all the social pleasantries and etiquette involved. But being an audiobook, it is easy enough to just sit through these parts until it gets back to the action.
Overall, highly recommended
Generally, I found this book enjoyable to listen to. While the narrator has a nice voice, I found him a bit patchy at first. He wasn't always consistent with the voices, in particular any older people kept randomly developing Texan accents for some reason. But I felt he settled into it by the second half of the book.
The best thing about this book is the interesting and original premise. Demons rise from the ground each sundown and rule the night, while humans huddle in warded buildings. You really get a sense of how people's lives and society as a whole has been completely shaped by this and particularly by their fear of it, which is one of the main points of the story.
I thought the author's writing style was a bit clumsy and both the writing and the characters a little on the simplistic side. It is all laid out in a pretty straightforward manner. There weren't any points where I had to stop and ponder the implications of something that had been revealed, or connect the dots myself. I like some layers in a book and this really didn't have them. To be fair, I was listening to this at the same time as reading Guy Gavriel Kay and most authors sound clumsy and simplistic compared to him!
My final criticism is that towards the end of the book, I started finding the main characters and their reactions to events less and less plausible. There is a sense that the author had a plan for certain events to happen before the end of the book and that after so much time spent building up the characters, he suddenly had to wrap it up.
So one of the characters has something especially traumatic happen to them. They have a bit of a cry and then are apparently completely recovered within a day or two. Various events happen with only flimsy explanations as to why and characters do things that seem rather random.
So it seems I do have a fair few things I didn't like about this book. But did I enjoy listening to it? Yes. Did these things annoy me to the point I wanted to stop? No, although I did have to pause it to have a rant about some of the events near the end.
I feel there are certainly much better fantasy audiobooks out there. I listened to The Lies of Locke Lamora before this and it was brilliant (and this suffered by comparison). But if you have already listened to some others and are looking for something new, give this a go.
When you find a book you love that is part of a series, you are always a bit apprehensive when you get to the 2nd book. ‘Please be as good!’ you think, ‘please don’t just put up a great first novel and then go downhill from there’. Well I am happy to say that Scott Lynch has not disappointed. If anything, I would say the pacing is better in this book, with all the heavy exposition over with. In the first book there were a few flat spots where I wished he would stop describing things and get on with it, I didn’t feel that at all with this one.
I have to say also, that I love the way the author writes female characters. While the protagonists are male, he is incredibly even-handed in the way he deals with the genders. Women in this book are, well, people. Just as likely to be as good, evil, brave or subversive as men. Throughout, we have women in every role men are in, such as thieves, assassins, pirates, soldiers, officers, craftspeople and so on. So many fantasy novels either don’t having women doing such things, or if they do it is as a major plot point, like ‘oh look, a female assassin!’ Scott Lynch’s approach is very refreshing.
Once again, the narration was excellent and really brought the characters to life.
I found the whole thing really enjoyable and can’t wait for the next one in the series to come out.
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