Photo credit: @thedarkestpartsofsnow Photo credit: @thedarkestpartsofsnow

Who was blown away by this first section? I know I was! It was a struggle to stop at the discussion point! Below are my thoughts on this section, some discussion questions for you to respond to, and a reminder about the next section & photo challenge.

Today’s featured photo is by the lovely Sandra from @thedarkestpartsofsnow isn’t it beautiful? The chessboard reminds me of all the complicated schemes the Gentleman Bastards ‘play’. I can’t wait to see how you interpret the next challenge, and I hope you all appreciate my ‘lock/Locke’ pun.

REMINDER: This post will contain spoilers for the Prologue & Book I. You have been warned!

Week 1 – Prologue & Book I

Favourite quote:
‘What knife is this?’ Locke held a rounded buttering utensil up for Chains’ inspection. ‘It’s all wrong. You couldn’t kill anyone with this.’

Characters introduced:
– The Thiefmaker
– The Eyeless Priest/Master Chains
– Calo & Galdo (one can’t separate the twins)
– Sabetha
– Locke Lamora
– Capa Vencarlo Barsavi
– Jean Tannen
– Bug
– Nazca Barsavi
– Duke Nicovante
– Don & Dona Salvara

My thoughts:


I was exhausted after reading this section! Lynch sets a blistering pace in the prologue, and doesn’t let up the whole way through Book I. His style of plunging readers into the world was a big change from the fantasy I have been reading lately, and there was so much new information that it felt a bit overwhelming at times, especially when there were so many terms I didn’t understand, and weren’t explained. But after about 20 pages I let go of trying to understand every little detail and got swept up in the fantasy world. Lynch has an incredible flair for creative descriptions when he chooses to focus on something. In particular I loved the description of the circular ‘vertola’ rafts that bore trees whose roots reached down into the canals helping to clean the water. That little bit of extra detail really brought the city to life for me.

TLoLL has to be one of the funniest books I have ever read, it has had me laughing out loud more times than I can count, but the humour is so dark I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone. I had 7 favourite quotes marked in this section, and all of them were about murder or stealing, or were witty but harsh insults. The one I chose above, about the butter knife, is (in my opinion) hilarious, when you remember that little Locke is about 6 years old when he says this. However it is also quite tragic to think that a little boy has never had the small luxury of eating at a properly laid table, and it puts Locke’s ambition into context as he comes from quite literally nothing. In this way the phrase complaint that ‘he steals too much’ can be seen to refer not just to his desire for wealth, but moreso for recognition and acknowledgement by parental figures he lacks.

There are so many things to say, about the casual violence of the world Lynch has created, about the unusual way the timeline jumps around, about the rich cast of characters, and about the mysterious ‘shadow’ that has been mentioned a few times. But I shall leave you to tease all that out in the comments below!

Discussion questions:
(Feel free to reply to each other, and to ignore my questions if you have something else to talk about!)
1. How are you feeling about TLoLL 150ish pages in?
2. What was your favourite quote?
3. What role do you think the mysterious Sabetha will play?
4. Do you have a favourite character yet? (If so who?)

Next: Week 2 – Book II ‘Complication’

Discussion date: 15th February

Photo Challenge: #bookandkey – ‘Locke & key’ because I can’t resist puns!

Remember to use the tag #BabblingBooksRA on your photos, and feel free to tag me @babblingbooks in your captions. I’ll be reviewing the tag throughout the week and choosing my favourite to be featured next week.

Tamsien - Babbling Books
Photographer, stylist, blogger, and digital influencer from Melbourne Australia. Avid reader and lover of creative journaling.


  1. Oh yay, thank you Tamsien for featuring my picture! Your challenges are always so much fun!

    So let’s jump right into the book discussion. First and foremost, I really enjoy the story and the characters. As I have already told Lara, the writing reminds me of Charles Dickens as well as Gaiman. At some passages I felt that the author’s love for details went a bit too far as there are a lot of descriptions which slow the plot down a bit. Nevertheless, this is just a minor critique I have. We get a very clear view of the world Locke and his gang are living in after all.

    My favourite quote – I had so many – was: “Amazing.” Chains scratched his beard. “You know you don’t mumble and stutter so much when you’re explaining how you fucked someone over?” That had me laughing out loud because that pretty much sums up Locke Lamora perfectly. That man thrives in his mockeries and cons.
    Now the question really is: After what happened to his fellow orphans at the Thiefmaker’s, has Locke learnt anything? Is he smart enough to avoid mistakes that will put him and his friends in mortal danger? I have a gut feeling that the story of Locke and his mistakes will find greater significance when the book continues and the mysterious shadow comes into play….. I do wonder if Locke has lost his thoughtlessness and arrogance and can navigate his chessmen (see what I did there?? ;)) a step ahead of everyone else…so far he seems to be pretty successful!
    Though I must say that I absolutely love that in no way did I foresee some of the twists and turns. So that was really well done and I am extremely excited to read on.

    Sabetha. Hm. Love interest? Antagonist? I am not really sure as of yet. I did wonder if she was still alive after the discussion the gang had about her. Excited to hear everyone else’s thoughts there.

    LOCKE LAMORA, for sure. Favourite character. Absolutely love his cockiness and how his mind is working. He is brilliant yet vulnarable it appears. Let’s see how his story continues…..

    Bye for now,
    Sandra (@thedarkestpartsofsnow)

    1. Your picture was beautiful, as always!

      I completely agree with your view of Locke and your analogy to chess and strategy. That does feel a lot like how Locke is managing the situation. And his plays are beyond me, that’s for sure. In no way did I think that telling Don Salvara exactly what the con was would be part of the plan.

      Hmm, I suppose Sabetha could be an antagonist. I hadn’t really considered her as one. The rest of the Gentlemen Bastards seem to be devoted to her still though and consider her a friend. She did grow up alongside them and under Chains’ instruction as well. I’m not sure if she would begin to work against them without some serious motive. I could see her as a love interest. Very interested to read on to see what her part will be in all this…

  2. This book is amazing so far! Like you said, you’re just thrown into this world, and it was a little confusing at first but interesting enough to keep on going. Once I really delved into the book though, I was hooked. Between the characters, the detail, the unique form of telling Locke’s story, it’s all so different from what I’m used to reading, and I love it for it.
    I really liked how the author chose to develop Locke by jumping back and forth between Locke’s past and his future. What I found really interesting is that he does this even with future Locke! When the Midnighters were talking to Don Salvara while (as far as you know) Locke and everyone else are enjoying their meal at the House, I was praying that somehow it was Locke dressed as a Midnighter revealing all of this to Don Salvara. But by the end of it when he actually had to CONVINCE Don Salvara that Locke was a thief, I gave up hope and was wondering how on earth the story was going to progress from here if the game was up. But then, wouldn’t you know, it was Locke all along and the author just told it in a backwards way in terms of time. This book should be a movie, seriously. But with the back and forth between his future and his past, you really see a stark contrast between how Locke was then and how Locke is now. You see his beginnings, and you see his potential. I’m really curious about the journey he took to achieve that.. especially with multiple languages and accents. That’s really impressive. I hope the author goes into his training with past Locke!
    I also started to get confused why, after such lengthy description of the Secret Peace and how you can never mess with it, future Locke was actively breaking it. I guess with all the emphasis the Thiefmaker and the Eyeless Priest put on it, I didn’t think Locke would be eager to mess with all that again. But then it all makes sense when the Eyeless Priest tells him right at the end of Book I “I intend you and Calo and Galdo and Sabetha to be nothing less than a fucking ballista bolt right through the heart of Vencarlo’s precious Secret Peace.” Talk about a cliffhanger… All that makes me really curious about Chains and what his story is with Barsavi… especially since earlier he said that they were friends before they rose to power together and he was given ‘the distance’. I love how complex this story is!

    I really love the witty banter between the twins and between the Gentlemen Bastards as a whole. Mostly at the expense of Bug haha. The back and forth with Calo and Galdo when Bug was in the wine barrel was hilarious to me… Poor Bug.

    Sabetha is an intriguing character given that we’ve only ever heard of her off training or off somewhere, but we’ve never actually met her. At least we know at this point, Locke and Sabetha may have had a thing so that is definitely interesting. And clearly, it didn’t end too well. I’m hoping that she’ll be helping with Locke’s schemes before long though.

    I do have a favorite character… I really love Locke. I just don’t see how you couldn’t love him given that you see so much into his story. His past, his future.. and he is just incredible at what he does! So smart and witty and somehow brilliant at taking on the mannerisms and personalities of other people (sidenote: I wonder if that was part of the issue with his and Sabetha’s relationship?). He’s just a really fascinating character.

    Off to work, but I’ll be back! (It’s 12 PM here :P)
    Mary (@forthelove0fbooks)

    1. All I can say is that Scott Lynch is an absolutely masterful weaver of mysteries, intrigues and complexities. I don’t know how he managed to confuse so many (me included) the way he did, but I can guarantee there’ll be so much more of this down the track! Along with, of course, the witty banter that Lynch seems to be so damn good at providing. Seriously, this book has me rolling in stitches (in between giving me mini heart attacks!)

  3. A very interesting book so far! It took me some time to get used to the names and terminologies in the book but once I got far enough, my reading experience got better. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the first book felt a bit slow in pace. However, it is where a lot of foundations are set up so it’s understandable.

    Locke is quite a character! I’m curious to see if Lynch will delve into why he is the way he is or if he’s simply the boy/man who ‘steals too much.’ I personally love his theatrics and how he just seems to have fun with acting and impersonating people. He’s great at it too!

    Like Mary, I also loved that scene with Locke as a Midnighter and how Lynch got us wondering who it was! It HAD to be Locke but wait, Locke is with the other boys! I thought that was so well played haha.

    Ah, the mysterious Sabetha! I wonder if she’ll be a rival of sorts. I can’t wait to learn about her history with Locke.

    I don’t know if I have a favourite character yet, but I’d really like to know more about Locke as a person and not just as a thief.

    Onto Book II! 😀

    Shari (@colourmeread)

    1. Hey Shari! You’re right, there was a fair bit of worldbuilding in book 1, and sometimes the names can be a bit confusing as it feels like he threw you in the deep end with some of it, but then you quickly learn how to swim and immerse yourself into the world he’s created.

      That scene with Locke as a Midnighter appears to be a favourite with a lot of people! It’s definitely a great scene for sure 🙂

  4. First of all, I adore this book so far. It’s definitely been a page turner and once started, I couldn’t put it down. I love the world Lynch has created and the way he describes it in detail. I too was a little confused at the beginning in regards to the terminology and character names, but soon got swept up in the story.
    I love the way we get to see Locke’s past and present in alternate chapters and I find it intriguing to see how he started from nothing and made his way to be the fabled Thorn of Camorr.

    When it comes to my favourite quote, I also have to go with: ‘What knife is this?’ Locke held a rounded buttering utensil up for Chains’ inspection. ‘It’s all wrong. You couldn’t kill anyone with this.’ This had me laugh out loud but also made me feel a little sad for Locke at the same time, seeing as it shows he’s never had anybody caring for him or bother enough to give him a decent meal.

    As to Sabetha, it looks like she might turn out to be the love interest. On the other hand, so far she’s always been away and who knows what her adventures and experiences were like. She might just turn out to be an antagonist. Or both.

    My favourite character so far is definitely Locke. Though I’m intrigued by Nazca, she’s one devious, little thing.

    Off to read some more,
    Kerstin (@shereadsbymoonlight)

    1. Haha yes, that quote is so good! And it perfectly captures who Locke is as a character, even at that young age. Sabetha really is a mystery at this stage, doesn’t she? As for Lynch’s writing style, like I commented earlier he just immerses you into the world from the get-go, no hand-holding whatsoever!

  5. Well wow F**king WOW! (Sorry couldn’t help myself)

    I was a bit dubious taking this book on – and the beginning felt so like a Twisted Oliver Twist – but then things got interesting and the hook was in.

    My favourite character has to be the eyeless priest! He is the father figure Locke needs to hone his skills –
    I can’t help but draw similarities to Harry Potter (it’s a fault I have)
    The twins are like fowl mourned weasels twins, father chains like uncle Sirius black (the father figure egging on to challenge the boundaries) ….

    I have to agree, I kind of got disappointed when the midnighters had uncovered Locke – where was the story to go!?
    Then of course Lynch completely had me fooled.

    “When you don’t know everything you should know, Its a fine time to shut your f***ing noisemaker and be polite”

    Plenty of times in my younge life I needed someone to say that to me haha

    I have to say I’ve been really enjoying reading this – great choice Tamsien!!!

    1. Haha, could you call it an Oliver Twisted? 😛 It’s a great analogy though, I agree. And as for Father Chains being a ‘father figure’… well, he’s a very dubious father figure, but he definitely is the closest Locke will probably get to one! I’m so glad everyone is enjoying it so far, thanks!

  6. Hi all!

    So far I’m really loving this book! It’s such an eclectic sounding world with alien elders who left these crystalline bridges and falselight (among other things). The mythologically inspired creatures, the trees in the middle of the river, then the description of the Shades. I’m imagining it kind of half old style London or traditional Venice meets a kind of really cool Wizard of Oz Emerald City. Loving the world building and eager to learn more.

    The Shadow has me so intrigued. It has to be someone from Locke’s past. My initial thoughts are something to do with the two boys he was responsible for being killed…maybe they didn’t die? Or maybe a rival of The Thorn? Maybe even the elusive Sabetha?

    The character Sabetha also intrigues me as I think she could be Locke’s biggest weakness and maybe his downfall. Perhaps an enemy will use her as a pawn in some way? I was also wondering where she went and what education she was getting, which is hinted at when Locke is younger.

    Loving Cal and Galdo (am I right in thinking they were the twins who usually performed with the sharks…who are only supposed to be female champions? This was hilarious to me and what I thought anyway).

    My favourite scene so far was the Midnighters (totally had me fooled too) and I am liking the going backwards and forwards in time…it keeps the suspense flowing.

    Favourite quote (how can I pick just one?!) is:
    ” ‘What sort of state are you in?’ Calo whispered.
    ‘As though I’m with child, and the little bastard is trying to cut his way out with an axe.’ ” (said by Locke).

    Favourite character – I don’t have one yet. I can see it being Locke but I’m also really liking Jean.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Steph (@bookishsteph1)

    1. I wish they made this into a movie because I would love to see this world come to life! Even the creatures sound fascinating.

      I also have a feeling that Sabetha may be one of Locke’s weaknesses and you’re right, perhaps even his downfall! I don’t want to think about it.

      Love Calo and Galdo too! But those female twins are different, though it’s hilarious imagining them as Calo and Galdo now haha!

  7. Haha! I just thought it because of this bit:

    “Locke nodded and chewed on the inside of one of his cheeks. As Locke Lamora, garrista of the Gentleman Bastards, and respectable sneak thief, he knew the Berangias twins personally and he knew exactly where they’d been for those past few months.”

    Just seemed like Locke was hinting it was Cal and Galdo. It amused me anyway lol.

    Steph (@bookishsteph1)

  8. Rereading this is bringing back all the memories! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Locke… and I especially love his relationship with Jean. Together they’re like cream and jam, they go together perfectly. Actually I remember not wanting to like Jean when I initially read this book, and then he came out as my almost-favourite character (Locke Lamora ALWAYS comes out on top!)

    This is one of the only books I’ve read where I don’t HATE the constant shift in time. I’m usually not a fan, but TLoLL is just so goddamned good that it’s sweeping away my resistance.

    I’m also really enjoying the thoughts of people who are reading this for the first time! All your little theories and thoughts on how things will turn out… I remember being like you once! No spoilers, but this book is the twistiest book ever and I am rereading some parts thinking, “Oh yeah, this bit made me think this was going to happen and I WAS SO WRONG.”

    Goddamn this book is good.

    1. A fellow re-reader! It’s the kind of book that, for me, still shocks and surprises even though I’ve already read it! I guess a lot of that could be chalked up to the fact that it’s been ages since I last read it, but I think the very nature of the book means that it’s hard to grasp everything on your first read through, which is why I’m picking up on a lot of stuff I missed the first time round!

  9. I have to agree – the time shifts are an amazing way Lynch has set up information and the cultures without over describing things.
    (I’m a bit further along in the book – first time reader- and even when Lynch spends a chapter telling a yarn like a local to Camoor and then spends the next chapter with Locke (other characters) in a similar/ linked situation.

    It definitely helps with immersing oneself into the book – it’s like visiting a place you’ve never been to before and Lynch is giving you a personal tour with local legends and customs.

    Love it!

    1. Time shifts usually bug me, but Lynch has used this device in a masterful way! And you’re so right with immersion – when done right it’s a great way to really get the reader invested with the world, the people and the customs! Thanks for commenting!

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