Ocean’s Eleven set in a fantasy world.
Well, that oversimplifies it, but that is definitely the feeling of this series. Every book hinges around what I guess you might call a white-color crime, a con that should result in a big take if it gets executed right. It goes wrong, of course, as it is going right, which you should know if you know the genre.
There’s plenty of weird and dark in the mix too. Horrible, violent things happen. More horrible, dark things are threatened in graphic detail. It’s not all fun and games here.
None of the three books manages to borrow the iconic cons of either The Sting or Ocean’s 11 (or 13; 12 didn’t happen, ladies and gentlemen). This is the series’ first success. It’s a rare thing to find a story about a con that is not those stories.
The world-building is fascinating. The first novel occurs in a city reminiscent of Venice with an eldritch element. The second…pirates. And the third has wizards. That one gets bizarre.
I’ve read some griping in other reviews that I’ve read, I gather Locke Lamora’s love interest rubs some people the wrong way. I personally think her manipulative, secretive nature makes sense considering the way she’s grown up: as a poor orphan at first, then raised to be the perfect conwoman.
Of course, you get all this info in flashbacks spread across the three books. This keeps things interesting for me, but I could see how it would drive some people insane. You get stuck with these close relationships that hint at old history but the details are strung out in these flashbacks.
A big help to this issue is the quality of the writing. It is very clever and very rich. The plots and characters are great, but it is the smooth, delightful writing that has won these books so much praise. I supply you with a few short quotes:
Give advice at forty and you’re a nag. Give advice at seventy and you’re a sage.
So this is what a command is. Staring consequences in the eye and pretending not to flinch.
The fact that Locke didn’t die instantly may be taken as proof that a human male can survive having every last warm drop of blood within his body rush instantly to the vicinity of his cheeks.
Of course, all this said, the biggest issues is that the author has pulled a Rothfuss (or a Martin. After he dies, it’s called a Jordan). The third book makes things very interesting on multiple levels, and then it ends. It was published in 2013. At the time of this writing, it’s been four years. You have been warned.
The series is available on Amazon. (It’s always available on Amazon.)