The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would at first. The premise is that of a young orphan boy raised into the art of thievery, unfurling clever schemes and heists on a town in a medieval-style fantasy setting. My first impressions were that it was severely over-written, dripping with largely pointless descriptions and flowery language, even though the descriptions were certainly colourful. I… wasn’t really wrong. But the characters caught my interest quickly enough to keep me slogging through it.

In terms of flaws, the book has many. The author is definitely excited to show us the world they have created, and even though it’s described well it becomes almost tedious to realize you’re about to take an aside to wade into ANOTHER section where a dozen new settings and concepts will be introduced before we can get on with it. Too many times I was really into a sequence, and then it was like “And now, an interlude to introduce some backstory:” and I was like “Welp, I guess that’s enough reading for tonight.” It was irritating and made the book take much longer to read through.
Honestly though, I tried to think of better ways to do it and I can see why it was done this way. We take interludes to introduce Locke’s past and how he got to know the things he knows, right before stepping back into the present to watch him use that knowledge in the current scenario. Apart from creating a prequel series to introduce everything (which only your die-hard readers will probably read), or creating a Tolkein-esque encyclopedia of worldbuilding (which ONLY your die-hard readers will read, guaranteed. I don’t like it when a series requires a wiki to understand…), both of which then distance the link from the current plot… the back and forth time-skipping seems like a decent option, though I’m a ‘chronological’ sort of girl so I feel like I’d probably have preferred starting at Locke’s childhood and reading a book or two about that before getting to here.

There’s also the issue of a few ‘foreshadowy’ sort of pieces that annoyed me. There are a lot of different elements of the world that are introduced that end up having no bearing on the current plot whatsoever. That actually didn’t annoy me SO much, because it served as a sort of obfuscation that aided the plot in this case. There’s a little thing called Chekov’s gun that, when followed to the letter, ends up being a GREAT BIG REALLY OBVIOUS SIGNAL to the reader when something is introduced and you’re like “uh huh, well, that’s what’s going to happen.” and then oh look, guess what the big twist in the story is later! This book introduced so many little details that you have no idea what’s going to be important or not, and that WORKS for it because of the nature of the plot.
But then there are other little bits, like long-winded descriptions of things that don’t matter a goddamn bit when you’re busy trying to get things underway, or characters that are continually talked about and then never actually introduced, complete with vague lines like “She’s off doing whatever it is I told her to do.” That’s just a really obvious attempt at hand-waving. When things are getting lengthy and wordy and you find yourself flailing your hands around that much to avoid getting into details, just do us all a favour and don’t mention it at all.

The plot, though. “Clever” stories like this require a fair amount of plotting skill to pull off believably and boy did it impress me there. I thought I caught a continuity error or two but I actually wasn’t entirely sure, and I was so busy enjoying it that I didn’t even care. The details finally come together at the end and leave you satisfied. The characters, too, are all lively enough that you get attached to them, and they all have believable flaws. That’s the real trick with a plot like this: the protagonists aren’t infallible gods of perfection who have everything under control at all moments. These guys are getting themselves eyeballs-deep in shit at every turn through their own fuck-ups, and then using their wits to pull themselves back out of it. Sure there’s a few flashes of plot-armor, in that you ASSUME the title character will probably make it out of this alive even if it seems a bit dicey right now… but even then the body count is high enough that you’re never entirely sure what might happen.

I’m going to launch straight into the next book in the series and see what’s next. It’s a solid 4.5/5, and if it could stop being so goddamn long-winded it would be an easy 5.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

I must be up front with this review: we had no idea Alan Partridge existed when we picked up this movie. Now that we have seen the movie, I plan on hunting down the earlier works. That should be an indication of how it went. I peeked at a few reviews and saw a lot of negativity surrounding the fact that this movie just wasn’t as good as other Alan Partridge stuff. Good god, if this is an example of him at his worst then we better track down the rest quickly. Reviews seem very mixed at times, sometimes stating that the character is too tired and over-used, or that it’s not funny because its the same-old same-old jokes… and then swinging in the other direction to claim it’s only funny if you’re already familiar with the character which means its a bust for everyone else.
I’m here to say that none of that is true. Well, since I’m not familiar with the character, I suppose I cannot claim that it is NOT an example of same-old same-old, but you also shouldn’t fuck with a formula that is working. We had no problem following who the character is and becoming interested in more stories, so I’m just going to assume those reviews are being bitchy for the sake of trying to find something interesting to say.

I can’t even explain why it was so good. The plot was pretty dumb, really, but it was just so clever. All of the lines were spot-on with good timing. If you’re not interested in low brow British jokes then I suppose you might not like it much, but if you enjoy jokes about awkwardness, nudity, and poop, you should probably give Alan Partridge a peek.

The Wee Free Men

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30) (Tiffany Aching, #1)The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30) by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness. That was amazing. I can’t believe just how impressed I am. Perhaps I am just in the right frame of mind for it, but it really “hit the spot”.

I really like Pratchett, but I often find I can’t read too many of his books in a row (which is a problem because there are so many of them!). They kind of blur together and feel very samey. This book definitely had that Pratchett feel to it, but I haven’t read one in awhile so I enjoyed it immensely. He’s just so clever. How can the writing be so clever, and yet still be poignant?

I’m not even sure how to describe this book. It’s set in a sort of old English farmland setting with sheep and sheepdogs and whatnot (except set in Discworld, of course, but the overall Discworld setting has very little to do with the actual book aside from the inclusion of magic so it’s a good place to jump into things too, if you’re looking for one). The story follows little Tiffany Aching, who has decided she would like to be a witch. What’s interesting about this is that Tiffany is essentially a scientist, and what follows is a clash between the world of empirical observation and the land of fairytales, as Tiffany sets out on an adventure to rescue her little brother and learn a bit about herself in the process.

It was absolutely masterfully done.

I wish I could write like this…

I suppose if there were a complaint to be made, it would be that a vast majority of the book involves the antics of the Wee Free Men (shocking, considering the title!), who all speak with a thick accent. It could very easily be tedious to read through, but I had little trouble (perhaps because I just recently watched Brave, too) and actually found it to be quite animated and vivid, to the point where I could hear them quite clearly as I read. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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