Read a full summary of The Lies of Locke Lamora, book #1 of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Lies of Locke Lamora, then you are in the right place! (affiliate links)
Gentleman Bastard Series
#1 The Lies of Locke Lamora
#2 Red Seas Under Red Skies
#3 The Republic of Thieves
Not Yet Published:
#4 The Thorn of Emberlain
#5 The Ministry of Necessity
#6 The Mage and the Master Spy
#7 Inherit the Night
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Lies of Locke Lamora?
The book alternates between the present and the past (which are designated “Interludes”) in the life of Locke Lamora. Locke was an orphan taken in by the Thief Master and soon passed along to Chains because of his unique skills and frustrating ability to get himself into trouble.
Chains has a small band of boys he’s training to be gentlemen thieves, aka Gentlemen Bastards. He trains them to be gentlemen in every way: clothing, etiquette, languages, speech patterns, education, etc. He also trains them to be uncommonly smart thieves, stealing from the wealthy nobles in their city of Camorr.
When Locke arrives, the Sanza brothers, Calo and Galdo, are already under Chains’ wing. The newly orphaned merchants’ son Jean is soon brought on to be the brains of the operation. Chains lives by a strict code and demands that the boys do so, too. They live frugally, so he never really shows them how to spend the large coffer they collect except on their next scheme. Each Interlude provides insight into something that has just happened or is just about to happen in the present lives of Locke and his gang.
In the present, we meet Locke, Jean, Calo, Galdo, and their young apprentice Bug in the middle of their current heist. They’re trying to swindle money out of a local Don and his wife by playing on the things important to them.
Locke usually fronts their scams as he is medium in every aspect of life and can morph into a variety of characters quite easily, so he poses as Lucas Fehrwright, a noble from the neighboring country of Emberlain, who is sensing some unrest in his region. He’s nervous his famous brandy that’s currently in the middle of the aging process at his family’s facility will get caught in the crossfire and destroyed as a result of the unrest. He asks the Don he’s approached (Don Lorenzo Salvara) to provide him money, ships, and a crew to ferry the barrels of liquor from his country to Camorr to save it.
The charade is very convincing. Locke is dressed to a tee, pulls off the Emberlain accent and speech patterns perfectly, and even brings a bottle of the expensive, famous brandy he’s asking the Don to protect. He also has an accomplice act as a merchant that greets “Lucas” on the street as they pass his shop.
Locke then also poses as a local lawman, complete with a fake sigil that cost more than the brandy he temped the Don with. He sneaks into the Don’s house posed as the lawman to tell him Lucas is actually The Thorn of Camorr, a designation locals have given to the slippery Locke Lamora. But the “lawman” advises the Don to go along with the charade and give Locke the money so they can finally catch him in the act. He assures the Don that his money will be collected before it’s ever spent. This is the way their heists go. They are very thorough and take a long time to plan and execute their schemes.
Over the years, many other small gangs of thieves have developed in Camorr. They consolidated leadership until there’s only one leader left that they all answer to: Capa Barsavi. Even Locke and his Gentlemen Bastard group answer to Capa. When Capa calls, everyone answers. He respects Locke, and the two have developed a pretty good relationship over the years. Locke is nevertheless shocked when Capa calls him in one day to request (basically demand) that Locke marry his daughter Nazca.
While Locke admires Nazca and the two have a friendly relationship, his heart belongs to Sabetha, a girl Chains brought in to train with the boys years ago. Right now, she’s 1,000 miles away on an independent job. Locke knows she’s the only woman he’ll ever love, but he can’t turn down a request from Capa.
On the way home one night, Locke begins to feel strange and is pulled into a private meeting with the Gray King. His strange, drunken feeling is a mind control spell the Gray King put on Locke to lure him to them. The Gray King is a local myth and mystery, someone rumored to be trying to take over Capa’s territory, but now here he is in the flesh, right in front of Locke with The Falconer, a powerful and dangerous bond’s mage, and a scorpion-foot falcon at his side.
The Gray King has a job for Locke, one Locke can hardly turn down. The King doesn’t give details but says something has transpired that’s going to require a meeting between him and Capa in three days. He wants Locke to pose as him and attend the meeting in his stead. Locke tries to argue that Capa will recognize him, but the Gray King knows Locke is a master of deception. He promises to outfit and disguise him sufficiently so even Capa won’t know who he is. Under the threat of extreme physical harm from the bond’s mage and the falcon, Locke is forced to agree.
Locke shares the details with his boys as soon as he returns home, and they try to come up with a plan.
Capa calls Locke in to give him the horrifying news that Nazca has been murdered, her body returned to him in a barrel of horse urine. Locke is so furious that he’s physically ill and immediately knows who the murderer was. Capa says he knows who the culprit was because he’s called a meeting with him in three days, and he asks Locke to accompany him to the meeting. Locke can hardly refuse.
To get out of attending the meeting with Capa—because he can’t be two men at once in the same meeting—he takes a powerful drug formulated by a local alchemist. It makes him legitimately, violently ill. When Capa’s sons come to collect Locke for the meeting, they can see and smell how sick he is. Locke acts like he’s going anyway and continues to assert that he will, but Capa’s sons tell him there’s no way. He can’t even stand upright.
As soon as the sons leave, Jean is there to give Locke the antidote from the alchemist to counteract the first drug. He’s still very weak but has to get ready for his role as the Gray King regardless. Jean helps him don the costume the King provided, but Locke must go to Capa Barsavi alone.
Locke arrives to face Barsavi, and the King’s promised mage, The Falconer, is nowhere to be seen, but he has to proceed to the meeting regardless. Since he’s on his own, Locke is ambushed by Capa’s men. They beat him, but instead of killing him with their hands, they inflict the same punishment Nazca received: Locke is thrust into a barrel of horse urine and tossed into the sea.
Thank goodness Jean and Bug were nearby for back-up. They recover the barrel, hack it open, and revive the unconscious Locke. The three rush home to check in with Calo and Galdo, and they discover their place has been ransacked. Everything of value is gone, including their huge, hidden coffer of money. As they search their home, they discover Calo’s and Galdo’s bodies.
The three hear a noise behind them. The Gray King presumed Locke would be dead after posing as him, had a trap set for Jean (a severed hand cursed by the mage with Jean’s name sewed in it to subdue him), and thus thought only Bug would be left to fight. So he only sent one man to overtake the boy.
Locke is able to subdue the intruder and eventually kill him, but the intruder shoots his only crossbow bolt into Bug’s neck before Locke kills him. Then Locke hacks the hand to pieces so Jean can be released from the mage’s curse. Bug has lost too much blood for the men to revive him.
Locke knows something is up since the Gray King only sent one man to ensure the Gentlemen Bastards were disposed of. Against his better judgment, he dresses up as an old beggar to roam the town and see what the Gray King is up to. He sends Jean out to find them a new place to live in the underground district since their hideout has been discovered.
All of the local gang lords and members are gathered around a meeting Capa Barsavi has devised, so that’s where Locke ends up. The Gray King crashes the meeting, and he reveals that Barsavi’s long-time guards, known as the Berengia twins (the shark-fighting pair), are his sisters. They kill Barsavi’s sons in front of him and then kill Barsavi himself.
The Gray King designates himself the new leader of all gangs in Camorr. He calls himself Capa Raza and demands all gang lords pledge fealty to him. Many do so on the spot. The others are told they have three days to decide, but many who are wary of doing so are killed before the three days are up.
Locke leaves the meeting to search for Jean and see what type of shelter he’s found for them. He passes out from exhaustion and several injuries before he can make it to his friend. Jean is only 30 yards away from Locke when he collapses, so he takes him to a black market doctor to heal him. Locke finally wakes up after being unconscious for 48 hours.
The doctor advises him to continue to rest to regain his strength and good health, but Locke knows he has to get to work. He wants to resume his role as Lucas Fehrwright to begin to win back some of their coin. He and Jean have only 10 crowns to their name after the robbery. Locke vows to use every last cent and every waking breath to avenge the deaths of Calo, Galdo, and Bug.
All Locke needs to resume his role as Lucas is a set of fancy clothes. But 10 crowns isn’t nearly enough to buy them; he needs use his wits instead. It takes Locke three tries to get clothing fine enough to approach the Salvaras (Don Lorenzo and Doña Sophia) again. When he finally gets the appropriate attire, he visits them to tell them about a complication he’s run into that might cost them a little more money.
Locke doesn’t realize they’ve become suspicious of him. In fact, Doña Sophia visited the wise, elderly Doña Vorchenza for advice on how to ferret out whether Lucas is an imposter. The couple invites Locke to attend the upcoming Duke’s Day of Changes Feast. They have something up their sleeve, but he doesn’t realize it and can’t come up with a good reason to refuse them.
Meanwhile, Jean’s investigating a foreign ship supposedly filled with men sick with plague which has been allowed to anchor in Camorr’s Harbor. Jean’s heard rumors something suspicious has been going on with the ship because too many supplies have been ferried out to the stranded crew. He poses as a priest to investigate. He believes it’s actually coins being transported to the docked ship, but he has no idea why.
Jean finds several dead bodies in a warehouse near the docks. He hears someone coming as he’s investigating but has nowhere to hide, so he keeps up the guise of being a priest. It’s the Berengia sisters who enter the warehouse. They’ve noticed how much the priest has been hanging around the docks and think something might be up with him. Jean takes off his mask to reveal himself to them, and the three begin to battle. Jean is injured pretty badly in the fight but manages to kill both of them with his twin hatchets.
The Gray King visits Doña Vorchenza in her home. He just seems to materialize in her private chamber, his bond’s mage The Falconer by his side. The King tells her he knows she’s the one known as the Duke’s Spider. He knows she also worked with Capa Barsavi at times. The Gray King says he’s replaced Barsavi and is now Capa Raza. He requests she work with him just like she did Barsavi. Raza wants an invitation to the Duke’s Day of Changes Feast. Vorchenza denies him, so The Falconer uses his magic and her true name to use mind control to force her to make sure he’s invited.
The black market doctor is treating Jean after his fight with the Berengia sisters. He’s going to make it but is too injured to accompany Locke to the Duke’s feast. Locke will have to go alone. The building, décor, and food are quite a spectacle that blows Locke away.
Don Lorenzo and Doña Sophia introduce Locke to Vorchenza’s adopted son. Later, Master Meragio notices Locke there; he’s the one Locke was finally able to lift a fashionable outfit from. Then Locke encounters The Gray King, who is shocked and incensed to see that Locke’s still alive. They have a terse exchange but don’t reveal they know each other.
Doña Sophia then takes Locke to meet Doña Vorchenza. When Sophia leaves to get her some wine, Vorchenza pokes Locke with her knitting needle, which was tipped with a deadly poison. He’s shocked to find that she’s the Duke’s Spider. She knows who he is and will only give him the antidote in exchange for information she wants about him. She wants to know where the money he has stolen is held and who his accomplices are, among other things.
Instead of sharing these things, Locke punches her, takes the vial of antidote from her, drinks its contents, ties Vorchenza up, and escapes out the window. He’s very high up but somehow dives into an empty elevator cage as it’s going by to make his way back down to the ground level and then goes to find Jean.
The Falconer pays a visit to Jean and Locke, intent on killing them. He knows Jean’s real name and is thus able to severely injure Jean using his mind control. He thinks he at least knows Locke’s real first name, so he tries partial control using it. But “Locke“ is also a false moniker. Locke is able to feign he’s under control and then overtake The Falconer.
Locke then tortures him for information about the Gray King. He cuts off his fingers and promises to cut off his tongue if he doesn’t cooperate. The Falconer tells them everything. He tells them Luciano Anatolius is the Gray King’s real name. The Duke and Barsavi killed his parents and younger siblings, so he and his twin sisters prepared for 22 years to avenge the death of their family.
The Gray King is the captain of the Satisfaction, the plague ship anchored in the harbor. He’s been slowly sending Locke’s and Barsavi’s fortunes out to it under the guise of providing supplies to the sick sailors. The second part of his plan before he leaves Camorr is to kill everyone remotely complicit to the long-ago murders: Vorchenza, the Duke, and all of the Camorr nobility. He’s planning to use the sculptures he recently gifted to the Duke. They’re filled with alchemicals, fuses, and wraith stone. At dusk tonight, during the party, the alchemicals are programmed to ignite and disperse the wraith stone poison, stealing the free will of everyone in the Raven Towers for the Duke’s party.
After he spills the beans about the Gray King’s plans as commanded, The Falconer asks for Locke’s true name. He says it’s Tavaren Callus, and then he cuts out The Falconer’s tongue anyway and kills the man’s falcon.
Locke makes it back to the Duke’s party at the Raven Tower in time to drown the statues to counteract the explosives and wraith stone. It took a lot to convince Steven to take him to Vorchenza and then to convince the Duke’s Spider that he knew what he was talking about. But when he finally spurs her memory about the mind control the Gray King put her under to convince her to take the statues and invite them to the party, she realizes Locke’s telling the truth.
Locke also tells them to sink the Satisfaction in the harbor. He says it just dawned on him what the Gray King’s backup plan was. Instead of money, there are people and animals with the plague on it, and plan B to destroy the Duke and Camorr’s nobility was to have those infected come ashore. Vorchenza takes his advice and sinks the ship and shoots anyone who is swimming to shore. Locke tells them that the money is instead hidden on the manure-filled barges also in the harbor.
How did The Lies of Locke Lamora end?
The Gray King realizes the explosion at the tower didn’t happen and watches the Satisfaction sink from a nearby window. Then he receives a delivery from Locke: the falcon’s dead body with its severed head and a note that says “We’re coming.” Instead of fleeing Camorr in disguise, he dawns his gray attire once again and sits in the Capa’s throne to wait for Locke.
Locke arrives, and the two battle. The Gray King is more skilled, but Locke tricks him and wins. He acts like Jean just arrived and is behind the Gray King. Locke uses the split second in which the Gray King flinches and looks over his shoulder in fear to slide a hidden dagger into the Gray King’s back. He dies. Locke is wounded badly. Jean arrives, but Locke tells him to flee. He can’t carry Locke and still escape. He begins to tell Jean what to tell Sabetha for him, should Jean ever see her again. But Jean won’t hear of it.
Some of the Duke’s men find the fingerless, tongueless Falconer.
Vorchenza watches as some of her men look through the manure-filled barges in the harbor, searching for the money Locke assured her was there. They find no coins. She realizes this was another trick by Locke. The money was on the Satisfaction that they sunk. The plague was a lie. He just didn’t want them going near it. He wanted to make death offering, so he had them bury the coins at the bottom of the shark-infested water.
Vorchenza tells her men to spread the rumor that the Thorn of Camorr is a myth. She says she wants to pass along her royal title to the Salvaras. They’ll be the Count and Countess of Amberglass when she’s gone. She assures them it’s not just a blessing; it’s also a job. They’re shocked she picked them over more deserving nobles. She’ll train them in her remaining few years.
Jean did rescue Locke, and as they travel, he asks Locke his real name. Locke whispers five syllables to Jean, and his eyes go wide in surprise. [I’m guessing it’s not Tavaren Callus, the name he gave to The Falconer. What is it? Is Locke’ true name a big mystery of this series? And as of yet, would it mean something to us as readers?]
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