The Lies of Locke Lamora read-along: week 2

Here are my responses to this week’s questions on The Lies of Locke Lamora, this time supplied by Dark Cargo.

1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!

Of course he can! The interest in the Don Salvara game has always been in how Locke can pull it off, not whether he can. If he fails it’ll be because of some problem external to that scheme, e.g. the Grey King.

It was a nice bit of misdirection to introduce the Midnighters from Don Salvara’s point of view, before revealing that the Midnighters were Locke and Jean. I was actually a little disappointed that they weren’t who they claimed to be. Actual Midnighters on Locke’s trail would have introduced real tension about whether Locke could succeed.

My biggest problem with the book so far is that, in the present timeline, everything seems to be going Locke’s way. It’s been interesting for a while to see how Locke’s plan unfolds (it feels like an episode of Hustle), but that necessarily puts Locke at arm’s length from the reader (because if we can read his mind then his plan isn’t a mystery), and I don’t think it’s enough to sustain a book of this length. The Don Salvara game is Locke’s ordinary world, the starting point from which the real story will take off, and it’s about time it did.

2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?

I hadn’t really noticed, to be honest. The detail is there because the alcoholic drinks play a role in the plot, but I haven’t noticed them being given more detail than other plot-relevant elements of the setting.

3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?

Now that’s the big question. And I think it’s effective that Sabetha is in the book as an absence, with just the right level of intriguing mentions. She’s right there in the first scene, mentioned by Chains along with Calo and Galdo; then we meet Calo and Galdo pretty quickly so Sabetha is left as an intriguing void. Now we know that she returned in between the child-Locke and adult-Locke timelines, but there are only hints about what happened.

4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?

Nope. I think it’s a great part of the setting. I was a little surprised at how easy it turns out to be to get hold of Wraithstone and to affect animals or people with it, though. I’m thinking of other possible uses. A fully Gentled person would be obvious, but could you slip very small quantities of it into someone’s food to make them docile…?

5) I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?

It was a nice bit of structure to put Locke’s first meeting with the Capa and Nazca so close to his latest one.

It’ll lead to something more than what Locke intends, to play along for a few days and then brush it off–because otherwise what would be the point? But whether he and Nazca could be together is another matter. I can see it happening if Locke can get over this Sabetha person, and especially if Nazca becomes privy to Locke’s real schemes and they think a partnership would be in their mutual interest.

6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?

It means that finally there’s something that could put Locke in danger!

I like the way the Grey King is similar to the Thorn of Camorr, Locke’s imaginary folk-hero persona. They both work by having a myth built up around them, and I’m guessing the Grey King will turn out to not match his myth in the same way that Locke isn’t the Thorn.

(Unless–and this is some out-there speculation–unless Locke is the Grey King, and the whole thing’s part of another con?)

7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?

I was surprised at its simplicity! In fact, I get the impression that Locke didn’t find it challenging enough, hence his more elaborate and entertaining scheme for getting his money back using the corpse as a prop.

It’s this urge to make plans more elaborate than they need to be that might turn out to be Locke’s undoing. We’re told he’s gotten more sensible after the recklessness of his youth, but perhaps he could still overreach himself.

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