Books before I'm 30: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Lies of Locke Lamora is a fantasy novel set in a grimy version of Venice. The people of the world all live in the remenants of something built by an ancient civillisation, who have since died out. Magic exists, but is rare, although there is a sciency/magic analogue in alchemy.
The book follows Locke Lamora, who is essentially a fantasy con man. He and his compatriots fool rich nobles into parting way with their fortunes. Doing so is fraught with danger, as it is not only against the laws of the city, it is also against the laws of the underworld, where there is a so called "secret peace" involving criminals avoiding preying on nobles, and nobles turning a blind eye to many criminal activities.
The book wears its influences on its sleeve, Pratchett clearly being a strong one, but the book is a lot darker in places, with often brutal scenes of torture or violence throughout. Despite this, the tone is mostly light hearted and enjoyable. I had a good time with this book, it carries you along with it, and the plot is decent. The world is well drawn and fairly flavoursome, even if it does borrow from the best.
If I had one complaint about it, its the lack of women. The "Gentlemen Bastards" which Locke leads does include a woman, but she spends the entire novel abroad, not even turning up in the flash backs. I assume this is to allow her reappearance in the sequels, but it is a bit frustrating. The female characters that are introduced are interesting and varied, but very rare, and have quite a short amount of stage time, which is a shame as they do seem to have a fair amount of personality. Still, this wouldn't be the first fantasy novel to make this mistake, and at least there is a suggestion that sequels will involve women a little bit more.