They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.
Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich - they're the only ones worth stealing from - but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.
Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it's a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.
A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora ...
Life imitates art and art scams life in Lynch's debut, a picaresque fantasy that chronicles the career of Locke Lamora orphan, thief and leader of the Gentlemen Bastards from the time the Thiefmaker sells Locke to the faking Eyeless Priest up to Locke's latest con of the nobility of the land of Camorr. As in any good caper novel, the plot is littered with obvious and not-so-obvious obstacles, including the secret police of Camorr's legendary Spider and the mysterious assassinations of gang leaders by the newly arrived Gray King. Locke's resilience and wit give the book the tragicomic air of a traditional picaresque, rubbery ethics and all. The villain holds the best moral justification of any of the players. Lynch provides plenty of historical and cultural information reminiscent of new weirdists Steven Erikson and China Mi ville, if not quite as outr . The only drawback is that the realistic fullness of the background tends to accentuate the unreality of the melodramatic foreground.