I haven’t read a fantasy book this good in a while! Even compared to Six of Crows, which was a total page turner for me, I think I liked this a little more.
The fictional city of Camorr is heavily based on Venice – but make that a gritty, smoky Venice of the 19th century, and throw in gangs, thieves, and a touch of dark magic. I like that this world feels relatively compact. All of the action happens in Camorr itself, as opposed to sprawling continents and ocean travel you often find in other fantasy series, so the story is easy to follow. You snap right into the setting, and before you know it you feel like a member of the Gentlemen Bastards as well.
Speaking of the Bastards, all of the characters are really well-written – you actually like them and are rooting for them to pull off their big heist! (spoilers) When several of them brutally died, I cried more than I want to admit because that’s how endearing they were. I’d gotten so used to their little misfit family and their a comfortable way of life (well, as comfortable as it can get for thieves) that seeing them suddenly broken up was shocking. (/spoilers) Locke Lamora is the head of the group. He’s such a rascal, but I say that affectionately, because you grow up with him in his kill-or-be-killed environment and see him struggle enough that he feels like he could be a real person, and despite his history you can tell he has a good heart at the bottom of it all.
Lynch keeps things moving at a lively pace too – I couldn’t stop reading because there was something exciting or at least plot-moving happening on every page. This book is actually the first one in a series and there are two sequels, but even though I really liked it, I’ve heard the others aren’t as well-written so I don’t think I’ll be picking those up. I’m happy enough with where this book ended 🙂
If you’re looking for a page-turning fantasy that’s actually well-written to boot, I highly recommend this book!