The first of a projected seven book cycle called the Gentleman Bastards Sequence.
This book has alot going for it, there are alot of things going on with it and alot of things that Scott Lynch gets right.
Something I feel should be addressed first is that this is not a novel for the squeemish or easily offended the characters in this novel do not shy away from profanity. That being said however none of the cursing that takes place in the book is out of place or appear to be thrown in purely for shock value. I find the language quite refreshing and realistic, the characters dealt with are mostly theives or murders or some other variation of a criminal and takes place in a very criminal setting. It has always irked me somewhat in fantasy novels how many authors shy away from cursing, as if it is somehow believable or even comprehensible that people who have no problem killing would have a problem with swearing.... considering the situations that some fantasy heros find themselves in I would say the odd "fuck" or "oh shit" is very much on par with what you would expect.
Anyway onto the actual story. The novel takes place in the canal city of Camorr, a brilliantly detailed cityscape of bridges and canals and otherworldy elderglass towers. Camorr is a city of extreme richness both in people and in coin and culture, one of the most unique Camorri cultural events is what is known as the Teeth Show a deadly gladiatorial event on water that has to be read to be believed, it was one of the highlights of the book for me. Very unique and well described also very telling of the Camorri mentality.
In this city of vice and sin we follow the life of a collective of theives known as the Gentlemen Bastards lead by Locke Lamora the "hero" protagonist of the tale. The gritty nature of the writing makes the underworld the bastards inhabit all the more believable and realistic, it serves to flesh out the characters as people not merely actors on a stage which incidently is one of their games. The bastards are not mere sneak theives they are masters of the extrordinary and exceptional con artists. Further aiding in making the characters come to life is the curious way in which Scott has chosen to include flashbacks to the childhood of Locke and others. With these flashbacks a sense of how Locke became who he is (and why he is so damned cool) comes about, it helps to trace distinct parts of his personality back to their root. A tactic that I would not be suprised to find repeated by many other authors in the future. It's a risky gambit but Scott pulled it off.
Locke and his gang of Pezon are thrust into the middle of a power struggle between the head gangster of the city and an unseen foe threatening all the criminals in the city, playing off one against the other whilst trying to manage a major heist of the cities nobility becomes a tangled web of lies and deceit and death for many.
So what was missing?? Well being that this is only the first of seven novels it would be remiss to complain too much as I am sure Scott has alot of the things I want to know more about in the rest of the sequence but ill give it a go.
More information on the cosmology of the world would have been great and i hope to hear more, of 13 gods we hear almost exclusively about 3. You have definitly won yourself a new fan in me however Scott and I look forward to reading the rest of the sequence.