Posted under "The Lies of Locke Lamora" and "Red Seas Under Red Skies" (Books 1 and 2 of "Gentleman Bastards").
There are so many good and accurate reviews of both these books, I hesitate to add my 2 cents, but am so enthusiastic about them--and about the imminent release (Fall 2013) of the third book in the series, "A Republic of Thieves"--that I decided to pony up.
The writing is exquisite. It requires concentration. Scott Lynch moves masterfully between characters and time frames. The con games the protagonists play are complicated but ultimately, weirdly believable. There are scenes of surpassing beauty and events of excruciating brutality. These are not books to lull yourself to sleep with (unless you want some real nightmare images floating around your brain).
The narration by Michael Page is first-class. I've listened to a couple of other books he's narrated and always thought he was good, but for these books, he really stepped it up. Writing this good deserves time and thought in the interpretation, and Page delivers. A match made in audio heaven.
"Lies" should be read before "Red Seas," but each is complete and satisfying in itself. This is a good thing, because there have been 5 years between "Red Seas" and the forthcoming volume. Lynch's website lists a proposed 7-volume arc for this series, and he's apparently filling in with some novellas (the first of which are scheduled for publication in winter 2014). I wish Scott Lynch the best. I look forward to a long stretch of enjoying his books, especially if he can maintain the incredibly high writing and plotting standards of the first two.
I was once asked what I thought the greatest American fairytale was and I had to say Puzo's, 'The Godfather.' The venerated Don, honor among thieves, all of it is a fiction, but great fiction. It plays to the same chord as King Arthur, nobility of spirit. Scott Lynch captures the same spirit in 'The Lies of Locke Lamora." He creates an honorable underworld, where the hero thieves steal only from the undeserving rich (though they decide who and who isn't 'undeserving', in the same means knights decide who is 'good' and who isn't) It is a great pace that never slows down. It did take me a moment to get use to listening to the flashbacks that come between chapters.
Michael Page does a great read, being able to separate each character's unique personality, and there are several. But he also keeps the narrator's voice apart from the characters which is important in this book.
One last thing is to be aware of the harsh language and brutality of the book. The characters are in no way angels and Lynch captures it through word and action. It doesn't deter from the book, actually helps make it more authentic to the 'honorable thief' genre.
Locke Lamora ist nicht reich und er hat keinen gehobenen Stand. Das macht er die Leute nur glauben, weil er ein perfekter Betrüger ist, ein vollendeter Schauspieler, der in seiner Rolle aufgeht, als wäre sie ihm maßgeschneidert. Und mit den Jahren hat die Crew uch nicht wenig Geld, aber sie investieren immer in neue Gaunereien und planen Monate im Vorraus, was das Exquisite an diesen Coups ist. Sie sind nicht plump, sondern raffiniert.