read-along. This week's discussion is hosted by nrlymrtl at Dark Cargo, and covers Chapter Three through the interlude section titled "Locke Cries Over a Corpse." Before we get started, I'll admit I was looking forward to Locke showing some kind of weakness, and getting legitimately upset over the death of a friend. Alas, it was only another con. In fact, in this section we see how far Locke has come from the incredibly in-depth con with Don Salvara where he plays more than one role, to the much simpler but no less awesome first con of his. Also, I think it goes without mentioning that there are lots of spoilers in these read-along posts. They are a discussion, not a review (even though my reviews usually contain spoilers and turn out more like discussions anyway). So if you plan to join the fray, don't read my post until you've done the reading. Click here to read the rest of the discussions!
1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!
I love that Locke is playing more than one role, and I also loved how we saw the end result of the Midnighters act before we saw how Locke and Calo pulled it off. It was nice to see Locke get hurt. Shows us he is still a person and doesn't have superpowers. And honestly, the little shit deserves a kick in the balls for all this crap he is pulling off. Then again, so much work goes into these cons that it accounts for a full-time job, and even if it isn't an honest job, it's not Locke's fault if everyone he targets can't beat him at his mind-games. I can't wait for Locke to go up against someone smarter than him. Nazca? We'll see.
2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?
Yes, except for the fact that most of them sound disgusting. I'm more of a beer and apricot tart girl, myself.
3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?
Gah, am I supposed to know this already? She was obviously one of Chains's students, but now she is off doing something else. Another con, or some kind of school (prostitution and a lady's guiles are my guess). Locke obviously has feelings for her, and it's well known. Nazca makes a comment about it, that she would never take him away from her, and it's nice to see that Locke isn't some lady-charmer hopping from brothel to brothel. It gives him some measure of respectability, that he is loyal.
4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?
I'm as creeped out as I would be at any kind of animal mistreatment, but the Wraithstone doesn't specifically irk me. I can't help but see the practical side of it: it's a crowded city and they need animals that are going to do what they are told. Of course I wish they managed it in a better way, but this is no different than using a horse for long travel and shooting it when it becomes lame, like in the Wild West. And honestly, I don't find this anywhere near as brutal as the Shifting Revel.
5) I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?
So did I! And I was also really happy to see that Nazca had smartened up and matured. I hope she stays in the story because I think she has the potential to be completely brutal and badass, but I don't think she is going to end up with Locke. I like their respectful friendship better, and a mushy romance with someone like Nazca just doesn't suit him. If Locke is going to be mushy over anyone, it needs to be over someone he can't have and doesn't respect him the same way Nazca does. Locke (and his place in his own story) is perfectly suited to tragic love.
6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?
I think this is really what the novel (and the series) is about. The con is wonderful and interesting, but it is just another day for the Gentleman Bastards. Now they have to face a threat that even their Thief-King is afraid of. This is the smart-as-Locke rival I was hoping for. I wonder if the Grey King is going to be unmasked as someone we know? Also, I'm sure the "shadows" that have been following Locke and the gang on the rooftops are related to the Grey King. At this point I am just waiting for the most-inconvenient moment for them to drop in. If they know what Locke has been doing (even if Capa Barsavi does not) they have a plan to take him out.
Update: Hmm... Locke said the Grey King was familiar, and I've been trying to think about who he could be. At first I thought Nazca, trying to take her father's territory from her brothers, but now she's dead. Though now that i think about it she could just be faking dead, and this would be convenient to get out of marrying Locke. I'm also thinking Don Salvara, and he's playing Locke at his own game.
7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?
At first I was disappointed, because I thought "Anyone can pay off the cleric and buy a body from the weekly hangings," but the real genius was when they faked a robbery and were able to earn all their money back from sympathetic patrons. This reminds me of a movie (Matchstick Men?) where Nicolas Cage (?) explains that the best con is not where you steal from the victim, but have them give it to you willingly and feel good about themselves. This also reminds me of another movie (Lucky Number Sleven? but I think that's wrong) where the young boys made a bet that they would get all the church kids to go into a cave, but then it flops on them and they have to give the money back, but THEN you find out the real bet was with the laundromat for bringing them all the business. Ok so I can't remember what movie that was from at all, but you get my drift. It was a good con.
The best part about the book is the easy banter between the gang. Dialogue above all else makes characters real, and this dialogue is awesome! Next week's discussion (week three) is Chapter Five through the Interlude called "The Half Crown War." I can't believe it took me this long to pick up this book!