Over on her booklog, Kate Nepveu asked why Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora wasn’t being compared to Brust’s Taltos novels. This is the sort of question that makes me immediately place an order at Amazon, and only later reflect that “should be compared to” doesn’t mean “is as good as.” Fortunately, though, Lynch’s novel turns out to be very good.
It also is nothing like the Taltos books. I mean, okay, I can see where the comparison comes from. Both Lamora and Taltos are charismatic criminals, leading a small gang as part of a larger crime organization; both of them end up dealing with problems larger and more magical than their normal criminal operations are intended to deal with; and both of them are operating in an ancient, magical city. But they’re really not the same — the tone is completely different, the plotting is completely different, and even the genre feels different. Lynch is writing relatively standard Civilized Fantasy, whereas Brust’s books are really like nothing else out there.
But not being as original as Steven Brust is not a sin in a fantasy novel; and a reasonably original novel that’s plotted well, that’s got a whole bunch of fun characters, that’s got a solidly pacey story (after some initial slowness caused by an awkward interleaving-timelines structure), and that’s just generally full of exuberance and flair, well, that’s something worth reading for any fantasy reader.