The Lies of Locke Lamora

 

The Lies
of
Locke
Lamora

 

Gentleman Bastards

Book I

 

Scott Lynch

Synopsis

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains—a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans—a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful—and more ambitious—than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men—and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game—or die trying.…

 

For Jenny,

this little world that was blessed

to have you peeking over my shoulder

while it took shape—

Love always.

Contents

Prologue

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Part I

Chapter One

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Interlude

Chapter Two

1

2

3

4

5

6

Interlude

1

2

3

Chapter Three

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Interlude

1

2

3

4

5

Part II

Chapter Four

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Interlude

1

2

3

4

5

6

Chapter Five

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Interlude

1

2

3

4

Chapter Six

1

2

3

4

5

Interlude

1

2

Chapter Seven

1

2

3

4

5

Interlude

1

2

Chapter Eight

1

2

3

4

5

Interlude

1

2

3

4

Part III

Chapter Nine

1

2

3

Interlude

Chapter Ten

1

2

3

4

5

6

Interlude

Chapter Eleven

1

2

3

4

5

6

Interlude

1

2

3

4

Part IV

Chapter Twelve

1

2

3

4

5

6

Interlude

Chapter Thirteen

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Chapter Fourteen

1

2

3

4

5

Interlude

Chapter Fifteen

1

2

3

4

5

6

Interlude

Chapter Sixteen

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Interlude

Epilogue

1

2

3

Afterword

Biography

Prologue

The Boy Who Stole Too Much

1

AT THE HEIGHT of the long wet summer of the Seventy-seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.

“Have I got a deal for you!” the Thiefmaker began, perhaps inauspiciously.

“Another deal like Calo and Galdo, maybe?” said the Eyeless Priest.

“I’ve still got my hands full training those giggling idiots out of every bad habit they picked up from you and replacing them with the bad habits I need.”

“Now, Chains.” The Thiefmaker shrugged. “I told you they were shit-flinging little monkeys when we made the deal, and it was good enough for you at the—”

“Or maybe another deal like Sabetha?” The priest’s richer, deeper voice chased the Thiefmaker’s objection right back down his throat. “I’m sure you recall charging me everything but my dead mother’s kneecaps for her. I should’ve paid you in copper and watched you spring a rupture trying to haul it all away.”

“Ahhhhhh, but she was special, and this boy, he’s special, too,” said the Thiefmaker. “Everything you asked me to look for after I sold you Calo and Galdo. Everything you liked so much about Sabetha! He’s Camorri, but a mongrel. Therin and Vadran blood with neither dominant. He’s got larceny in his heart, sure as the sea’s full of fish piss. And I can even let you have him at a…a discount.”

The Eyeless Priest spent a long moment mulling this. “You’ll pardon me,” he finally said, “if the suggestion that the minuscule black turnip you call a heart is suddenly overflowing with generosity toward me leaves me wanting to arm myself and put my back against a wall.”

The Thiefmaker tried to let a vaguely sincere expression scurry onto his face, where it froze in evident discomfort. His shrug was theatrically casual. “There are, ah, problems with the boy, yes. But the problems are unique to his situation in my care. Were he under yours, I’m sure they would, ahhhh, vanish.”

“Oh. You have a
magic
boy. Why didn’t you say so?” The priest scratched his forehead beneath the white silk blindfold that covered his eyes. “
Magnificent.
I’ll plant him in the fucking ground and grow a vine to an enchanted land beyond the clouds.”

“Ahhhhh! I’ve tasted that flavor of sarcasm before, Chains.” The Thiefmaker gave an arthritic mock bow. “
That’s
the sort you spit out as a bargaining posture. Is it really so hard to say that you’re interested?”

The Eyeless Priest shrugged. “Suppose Calo, Galdo, and Sabetha might be able to use a new playmate, or at least a new punching bag.
Suppose
I’m willing to spend about three coppers and a bowl of piss for a mystery boy. But you’ll still need to convince me that you deserve the bowl of piss. What’s the boy’s problem?”

“His problem,” said the Thiefmaker, “is that if I can’t sell him to you, I’m going to have to slit his throat and throw him in the bay. And I’m going to have to do it
tonight
.”

2

ON THE night the Lamora boy had come to live under the Thiefmaker’s care, the old graveyard on Shades’ Hill had been full of children, standing at silent attention and waiting for their new brothers and sisters to be led down into the mausoleums.

The Thiefmaker’s wards all carried candles; their cold blue light shone through the silver curtains of river mist as streetlamps might glimmer through a smoke-grimed window. A chain of ghostlight wound its way down from the hilltop, through the stone markers and ceremonial paths, down to the wide glass bridge over the Coalsmoke Canal, half-visible in the blood-warm fog that seeps up from Camorr’s wet bones on summer nights.

“Come now, my loves, my jewels, my newlyfounds, keep the pace,” whispered the Thiefmaker as he nudged the last of the thirty or so Catchfire orphans over the Coalsmoke Bridge. “These lights are just your new friends, come to guide your way up my hill. Move now, my treasures. There’s darkness wasting, and we have so much to talk about.”

In rare moments of vain reflection, the Thiefmaker thought of himself as an artist. A sculptor, to be precise, with orphans as his clay and the old graveyard on Shades’ Hill as his studio.

Eighty-eight thousand souls generated a certain steady volume of waste; this waste included a constant trickle of lost, useless, and abandoned children. Slavers took some of them, hauling them off to Tal Verrar or the Jeremite Islands. Slavery was technically illegal in Camorr, of course, but the act of enslavement itself was winked at, if there was no one left to speak for the victim.

So, slavers got some, and plain stupidity took a few more. Starvation and the diseases it brought were also common ways to go, for those who lacked the courage or the skill to pluck a living from the city around them. And then, of course, those with courage but no skill often wound up swinging from the Black Bridge in front of the Palace of Patience. The duke’s magistrates disposed of little thieves with the same rope they used on bigger ones, though they did see to it that the little ones went over the side of the bridge with weights tied to their ankles to help them hang properly.

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