Capa Barsavi has a problem. His most prominent garristas are dying in droves, cut down by the mysterious Grey King. As a minor pezon, Locke Lamora is only mildly concerned he’ll end up on the hit list: not worried enough to cut short the Don Salvara game. But Barsavi has plans for Locke – and so does the Grey King…
1) Last week we saw the Capa in theatrical mode taking young Locke’s oath on his enchanted shark’s tooth. This week we see the former scholar carving up the surviving Full Crowns and swearing vengeance on the Grey King. What do you think of his responses to the Grey King’s assaults?
I’m single-mindedly disinterested in crime kingpin narratives. I pretty much refuse to watch Mob movies / tv shows, and I have a real dislike of the tropes that go with them. The opening scene with the Capa is straight out of this playbook: pointless torture of loyal minions.
I mean, I get that it’s an impossible situation. They’re either in on Tesso’s death or they’re complicit in failing to prevent it. Either way, if Barsavi isn’t seen to do something in response, the other garristas and their gangs are likely to think he’s losing his edge. It’s the age-old problem of ruling by fear: you can’t afford for your minions to fear the other guy more.
But then I guess I don’t really accept him locking himself up in the Floating Grave in the first place. He makes his situation with the Right People worse by being invisible. He shows his fear, which for me undermines his reactions – the torture looks like desperation, not control.
On the other hand, I would never in a million years have called him choosing Locke as his most level-headed garrista and demanding he court Nazca. The Gentleman Bastards have done their best to keep a low profile; as far as the Right People are concerned, they’re terrible thieves (hell, it sounds like the Sanzas could make more playing dice than from their ‘second storey work’). It doesn’t feel like Locke has the stature to influence Barsavi’s sons? But perhaps it’s also partly that he’s one of the only garristas Barsavi can imagine Nazca accepting?
…which brings us to Barsavi’s response to Nazca’s death *sniff* (I have a few bones to pick with Mr Lynch, and Nazca’s death is most certainly one of them. She’s fabulous in her brief scenes, and then we lose her). I can’t fault him for responding with MURDERDEATHKILL, because I feel a bit like that myself.
2) We get our first glimpse of magic this week. What do you make of the Bondsmagi (and especially of the Falconer and Vestris)?
The thing about powerful magic in fantasy is that it can get out of hand. It’s like the superhero arms race: it becomes way too easy to level Manhattan. By having the Bondsmagi hold a monopoly and making it almost impossible to hire one, Lynch cleverly keeps it peripheral.
On the other hand, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the Gentleman Bastards not really having anything to do with all their money and the Bondsmagi not really having anything to do with all their power. It seems to me that if you can do the things the Falconer can do, being dragged into the affairs of the criminals of Camorr is a bit… sordid?
On the other hand, he seems like a nasty piece of work with a big opinion of himself who enjoys hurting people so it might be a good day in the office as far as he’s concerned!
3) The Gentleman Bastards make plans for a hasty exit, but resist the urge to drop everything and go, because reasons. Seemingly entirely reasonable reasons. Do you think our boys are right to stay?
So let’s run this one through: they can’t run out when the Grey King is bumping off Barsavi’s garristas, because Barsavi would take it personally. On the one hand, they’ve got enough cash to live like kings (or lords, at least) in any number of attractive locations. On the other, they probably wouldn’t be able to come back to Camorr – ever. And the threat to them seems reasonably low. Locke just isn’t that prominent a garrista, so running away from the only home they’ve ever known would be a big step. I get it (although I do also think Locke just might have more loyalty than he recognises – the rest of the Bastards seem pretty comfortable with the idea of cutting and running).
Of course, the Grey King and the Bondsmage then complicate things a whole lot. They make it highly desirable to get the hell out of Camorr, but also make those other attractive locations look only marginally safer than staying put. Never cross a Bondsmage…
That said, the Bondsmage is a mage for hire. Would the Grey King decide they were worth the cost of hunting them down? Once his contract is up, would he really keep hunting them down? …maybe not, if Locke didn’t piss him off quite so much. I, uh, sort of think he might hunt down Locke on his own initiative.
4) We’ve now seen a lot more Eldren architecture, including the spectacular rooftop ‘rose garden’ Don Maranzalla trains his students in. Do you think the Elderglass is a creation of magic, science or something else entirely?
I honestly don’t know what to think about the Elderglass. I do love how it dominates Camorr, and the atmosphere it evokes. The craft in Don Maranzalla’s garden is breathtaking – I do wonder what it was originally created for! A lesson in patience? A reminder that beauty is terror (thank you, Donna Tartt)? I almost think it doesn’t matter what craft was used to make it – magic or science, it required art and design and skill and concentration.
It’s easy to assume the roses were made for some awful purpose – punishing people or killing criminals – but I like to think that’s a misplaced assumption based on how dark Camorri justice is. Perhaps it was a great honour to visit the garden and be permitted to gift a few drops of your blood – a shrine that captured the essence of the best of their civilisation in a work of epic beauty. I do worry about birds, though.
The Therin civilisation is built on the ruins of something far greater – it’s one of the central mysteries of the world for me, and I love that it appears to be completely peripheral to the actual story. Of course, that means we’ll probably never find out who the Eldren were (or where they went), let alone how they made Elderglass.
Favourite moment this week: while I love the early days of Jean being accepted into the gang, the killer moment for me this week is Locke meeting the Falconer for the first time. We get a flashback to explain the history of the Bondsmagi and the importance of not crossing them. And Locke’s opening gambit? “Nice bird, arsehole.”
I’m not grown up enough not to laugh out loud. Every. damn. time.
Take a tour of our responses to this first week:
- Wendy and Tiara at The Bibliosanctum
- Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
- Sarah at The Illustrated Page
- Susan at Dab of Darkness
- Bethie at Books Are Alibis
- (links will be added as they go live – check back later)
Want to get in on the action? It’s not too late to come to Camorr with us – just get reading, or jump into the comments with your thoughts.