Given my limited time for reading, I’m often well behind the bestseller bandwagon, reading a book loooong after it made its big splash. So hop into the Wayback Machine with me, return to those days (whenever they were) that The Lies of Locke Lamora came out, and pretend I’m not horribly behind the times.
Y’all were right. It is a very good book: full of plot, fairly intricate and exciting, and Lynch does a good job of writing con artist characters whose cons are legitimately interesting. I liked it a lot.
I wish I didn’t have one big flaming problem with it.
But I’m afraid I do, and I started to notice it early on. We were 93 pages in (mass-market) before the first female character appeared, and I think another hundred or so before the next one showed up. In the entirety of that 719-page book, there were precisely two women who, in my opinion, had any real significance to the story.
I gave up on Sabetha appearing about halfway through; apparently she’s a surprise Lynch is saving for later books. I was disappointed with the end of Nazca’s involvement with the plot. After a while I stopped keeping mental count, but I’d estimate that maybe a third of the speaking roles in the novel belong to women, and most of them are minor, throwaway characters: the chandler they conned out of candles, the guard at the hanging, one of the random garristas among about half a dozen in a particular scene. Etc.
It’s all the odder because the setting, which most closely resembles a fantastic Venice, does not borrow the gender politics of such a time and place. Lynch does a laudable job of establishing that there are both men and women among the thieves, sailors, guards, alchemists, clergy, people in paintings, whatever; women apparently have the freedom to follow a variety of professions, as their intellect and physical capacity suit them. But when it’s time for those thieves, sailors, and so on to speak up and do things . . . .
My best guess is that his brain just defaults to “male” when inventing characters. Sofia and Doña Vorchenza both prove that Lynch can write interesting, intelligent women with a real influence on the story. It might just be that he needs to monitor himself more closely on this, and prod himself out of his defaults. Bug could have been female; Sabetha’s existence at least proves one can be a female “Gentleman Bastard.” Or Master Ibelin. Or the Falconer. I suspect this would be a relatively easy problem for Lynch to fix — I just hope he does so. Because it’s annoying to be distracted from my enjoyment of an otherwise good story by the relative absence of half the human race.
Is the sequel out yet? Has anybody read it? Is there progress in the right direction?