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Often described as Ocean's Eleven ONLY FANTASY, this series centers around a Magnificent Bastard thief who goes by Locke Lamora and his companion(s), set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Venice. Originally picked up by a Fagin-equivalent known as Thiefmaker as an addition to his string, Locke quickly makes it impossible for the Thiefmaker to keep him through a series of over-the-top moves, resulting in his sale to Father Chains, ostensibly a beggar-priest but in reality a gifted con artist.

As he grows and learns, Locke finds himself contending with the rise of the Grey King, who begins trying to overthrow the established orders of thieves in the city. And so he finds himself in an ever-expanding ring of trouble...

Seven books are planned, of which the first two have been released:

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (June 2006)
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies (July 2007)
  • The Republic of Thieves (due September 2013)
  • The Thorn of Emberlain (forthcoming)
  • The Ministry of Necessity (forthcoming)
  • The Mage and the Master Spy (forthcoming)
  • Inherit the Night (forthcoming)

Lynch is also planning three novellas to be released by Subterranean Press:

  • "The Mad Baron's Mechanical Attic"
  • "The Choir of Knives"
    • These first two are being published in a compilation volume entitled The Bastards and the Knives
  • And a third with an unknown title.

Finally, Lynch is planning a second seven-book series, taking place fifteen or twenty years after the first one.

Tropes used in Gentleman Bastard include:
  • Accent Relapse - from the point of view of the one being found out
  • Action Girl - Zamira, Ezri, Merrain, and the Berengias sisters. And Selendri, since she used to be an Eye.
  • Alliterative Name - Locke, obviously. Also Dona Sofia Salvara and one of the Gentlemen Bastards's aliases.
  • Anachronic Order - The chapter where Locke masquerades as a midnighter who tells the Salvaras about his Spanish Prisoner gambit is told this way. The beginning of the conversation is told from Don Lorenzo's perspective, without revealing to the reader who the midnighter really is. This is followed by a description of Locke dressing up as a midnighter, and we see the rest of the conversation from Locke's perspective. Then we see how Calo and Locke broke into the Salvara's manor to surprise the Don in the first place.
  • Anti-Hero - Jean and Locke are somewhere between Type III and Type IV most of the time; they're far from altruistic, but they're motivated partly by a desire to humiliate the rich and powerful, and they care deeply for each other and their friends and loved ones.
  • And This Is For
  • Aristocrats Are Evil - Of the aristocrats and oligarchs present in the books thus far, the vast majority take Moral Myopia to an art form, feel no compassion or empathy for the lives of commoners except for those in their employ, and live in decadence that would put Versailles to shame. Don and Dona Salvara appear to be among the few exceptions, and even they aren't necessarily philanthropists.
  • Armed Legs - Nazca's boots.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - When Locke describes his treatment of the bondsmage.
  • Automaton Horses - Justified with Gentled animals.
  • An Axe to Grind - The Wicked Sisters.
  • Badass - There are plenty.
  • Badass Boast - Plenty. Ila justicca vei cala.
  • Badass Preacher: Locke and Jean are ordained priests of the Crooked Warden (the 13th god), and are trained to be able to pass themselves off as priests of any of the other twelve gods.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Last Mistake, right next to Capa Barsavi's headquarters. And the Tattered Crimson, in Port Prodigal.
  • Band of Brothels - The Camorri brothels are intimidating enough that even Capa Barsavi doesn't dare interfere with them.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill
  • Bi the Way - Jabril, briefly.
  • Big Bad - The Grey King in Lies.
  • Big Bad Friend - Jean pretends to become one of these in the prologue of the second book.
  • Bittersweet Ending - Both books, so far. Book one ends with more than half of the Gentleman Bastards dead, (excluding Sabetha, who never appears in person,) book two ends with Locke being poisoned and Jean having lost the lady he loved.
  • Black and Gray Morality - Ubiquitous. There are no true heroes in the world of the series so far. In other stories, figures like Requin and Capa Barsavi would be monstrous Big Bad types who'd thoroughly crossed the Moral Event Horizon. Here, they're both indispensable and powerful fixtures of their respective cities' underworld and crucial to local stability.
  • Boxed Crook - Locke and Jean are subjected to this by the archon.
  • Brains and Brawn - Locke and Jean respectively. Jean actually has the better formal education of the two but Locke is clearly the planner.
  • Carrying the Antidote - Though he only carried enough for one. Also mildly averted in the first book where The Spider poisons Locke and offers him the antidote only if he helps her. He punches her and loots the antidote from her unconscious body.
  • Captain Ersatz - The Thiefmaker to Fagin of Oliver Twist
  • City of Canals - Camorr.
  • Cluster F-Bomb - The Gentlemen Bastards' modus operandi.
  • Combat Pragmatist - Locke, not being a Big Guy (like Jean) or a highly-trained martial artist (like Jean) is arguably the dirtiest fighter in the books thus far. Hell, in the first book, he punches out The Spider. Why is this notable? She's an octogenarian! This even grants him a Fake Ultimate Hero status after some lucky kills.
  • Crapsack World - Camorr is the worst presented so far, a true den of iniquity (the name reminding of Camorra, the mafia like crime organization in Naples) but the whole of the setting is remarkably corrupt. Life is cheap, the authorities are almost universally callous, poverty, disease and suffering are rampant, theft has a religion that encourages the continuance of crime...and it's the only one even demanding the rich be checked in any way.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death - Such deaths are plentiful in these books.
  • Darkskinned Blonde - Dona Sofia Salvara.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Nearly everyone.
    • The Falconer deserves a special mention though, especially on the deadpan part.
  • Disappeared Dad - Locke mentions that while his mother is dead, his father just went away.
  • Disproportionate Retribution - The Bondsmagi are a living incarnation of this trope. They burned an empire to the ground just to make a point. Now they're coming after Locke and Jean.
    • The Grey King also falls under this trope. Capa Barsavi murdered his parents and half of his siblings, over a disagreement about the Secret Peace that protected the city's nobles from thievery. The Grey King's idea of revenge is to not just kill Barsavi and his entire family, but to give all the noble families (including their children, born years after his family was killed) who benefitted from Barsavi's Secret Peace a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Dual-Wielding - Zamira Drakasha does this with sabres. As does Jean with the Wicked Sisters.
  • Emergency Impersonation - Locke as hired by The Gray King.
  • Empty Shell - What happens when a human or animal is Gentled.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones - Plenty of this goes on. Capa Barsavi is a murderously ruthless mob boss, but the reader is invited to sympathize with his suffering at Nazca's murder; Requin clearly cares a great deal for Selendri and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge was suitably brutal, and the Gray King's entire motivation stemmed from trauma for the unjust slaughter of his entire family by the nobility of Camorr.
  • Even Evil Has Standards - The thieves of Camorr will respect agreements with their leaders, and not harm or steal from those who have paid for protection. The process of "Gentling," basically a sort of chemically-induced lobotomy, is considered too cruel to use for punishment, even in a city where child thieves are routinely hanged. Locke Lamora ends up saving his worst enemies and their children from this fate at one point, because some things are just wrong!
    • Although Locke justifies it to save his Con Man reputation by saying that he just wants to foil The Gray King's plans, no matter what they are.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" - The Falconer.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks - Sharks are used repeatedly in the first book, and one is used in the Grey King's coup against Capa Barsavi.
  • The Fagin - Locke encounters both versions as a child. The first criminal who took him in, the Thiefmaker, was more of the evil version, but he ends up selling Locke to Father Chains, who is very clearly inspired by the positive takes on Fagin.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero - Locke's reputation with the crew of the Poison Orchid.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture - Camorr/Venice most obviously, but there is a rough counterpart to all of the cultures in the books.
  • Feet of Clay
  • Flash Back - The odd-numbered books alternate chapters with flashbacks that cover the years prior to the first book.
  • Flynning - The sword master that teaches Jean explains that this is all he teaches the rich kids.
    • Locke also tries this while fencing against The Gray King, who is a master swordsman. It goes predictably poorly.
  • Foreshadowing - In the chapter where we first learn that the Grey King is a real danger who can kill as he pleases, sorcery is mentioned three separate times, twice even as an offhand explanation for his capabilities that the characters don't follow up on.
  • Gambit Pileup - Locke might have done this to himself in the second book.
  • Gambit Roulette - Light Yagami caught a headache trying to understand Locke's thoughts
  • Gender Is No Object - There are plenty of female pirates, thieves, bouncers, soldiers, and sailors. In fact, the tradition of the Twelve Gods requires at least one woman per ship, preferably an officer.
  • Genius Bruiser - Despite being the designated fighter, Jean is intelligent, if not quite as quick on his feet as Locke, and by far the most intellectual of the Bastards.
  • Genre Savvy - Requin. Especially how he foils the Gentlemen Bastards' plan in the end.
  • Gentleman Thief - They aren't called the Gentleman Bastards for nothing.
  • Gilligan Cut - In a way. When Locke first meets the Falconer, the book cuts to a short flashback chapter were Chains infodumps Locke (and the reader) about Bondsmagi. He concludes with the following warning:

 Chains: "Sorcery's impressive enough, but it's their fucking attitude that makes them such a pain. And that's why, when you find yourself face to face with one, you bow and scrape and mind your 'sirs' and 'madams'."

(chapter break)

Locke: "Nice bird, asshole."

  • Give Me a Sword
  • Gladiator Games
  • Gorn
  • Go to Alias: Locke and Jean have had a lot of aliases in their time... but when pressed for an identity on short notice, they can always fall back on Tavrin Callas. (This is sort of a prank on their part; the first time Jean used that name, he was infiltrating the cult of the death goddess and faked his own suicide. They figure if anyone traces the name far enough back, the followers of the death goddess can declare it a miracle.)
  • Guile Hero - Oh, guess.
  • Happily Married - Don Lorenzo and Dona Sofia.
  • Heartbroken Badass - Jean.
  • Heroes Want Redheads - Locke is absolutely smitten with a girl named Sabetha. One of the few traits revealed about her is that she's a redhead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Ezri.
    • Though it likely won't be fatal, Locke's move at the end of book two could also count. At the very least, he intends it to be a heroic sacrifice.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Locke and Jean, very, very much so, down to repeatedly risking their lives to save each other, attempting to sacrifice their lives for each other, or attempting to leave the other in order to protect him (which the other staunchly refuses to allow.)
    • At the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies, they argue vociferously over who gets the single vial of antidote, each insisting the other should have it, until Jean announces he's going to physically restrain Locke and force him to drink it - at which point Locke reveals he already slipped it into Jean's wine.
    • Their sole attempt at a major life plan involves buying a pair of aristocratic titles and retiring to neighboring estates. In fact, the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies sees them sail off on a yacht together with no real plans other than to idle around.
    • There's also Locke's fit of jealousy when Jean gets interested in Ezri and starts spending time with her, although he eventually concedes that she can come along with them.
  • Honor Among Thieves
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl - Jean and Ezri.
  • Human Chess - The game in Salon Corbeau.
  • I Call It Vera - Jean's hatchets, nicknamed the Wicked Sisters.
  • I Know You Know I Know - The Gentlemen Bastards engineer a level 3 situation of this on the Salvaras on purpose, so they don't have to bother keeping up the much more complex level 1 deception.
    • Locke even remarks that it's amusing how the Salvaras make ambiguous comments in their belief of being on the superior level of two.
  • I Know Your True Name - If they know your true name (even a fragment) the Bondsmagi can control you. This backfires on the Falconer when Locke reveals that his entire name is assumed.
  • In Medias Res - Red Seas starts with Locke and Jean already deep into their plan to cheat their way up into Requin's office.
  • Indy Ploy: Locke tries to pull off elaborate schemes, but he frequently ends up desperately improvising.
    • And it tends to work out rather well for him.
  • Insult to Rocks - "To say that he was an intemperate, murderous lunatic would wound the feelings of most intemperate, murderous lunatics."
  • It Got Worse - "Yes, Mr Lamora, you do have one hell of a fucking problem."
  • Just Like Robin Hood - The Thorn Of Camorr. Notably subverted, though; even he points out (in another guise) that he's not donating money to the poor; he considers the act of stealing from the rich action enough against them. Actually, he and his band kept their vast stolen fortune in a private vault and had no idea what to do with it.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins - Nazca in her youth. Her father even bought her steel-toed boots to indulge her!
  • Look Behind You! - Locke hones this technique while fighting the Half-Crowns as a kid. With Jean to back him up. He later pulls it on The Gray King, without the benefit of backup.
  • Loveable Rogue - The Gentlemen Bastards may be thieves, but damn if they aren't loveable.
  • Mafia Princess - Nazca Barsavi, although she was being groomed to take over the family business.
  • Manipulative Bastard - Stragos
  • Mysterious Employer - Whoever Merrain's masters are.
  • More Expendable Than You - Ezri does this to Jean when he's about to go and grab the shipsbane sphere.
  • More Hero Than Thou - Locke and Jean arguing over who's going to take the antidote at the end of the second book.
  • No Name Given - Locke Lamora is an assumed name. Upon hearing his real name, Jean agrees that 'Locke' is a much better name.
  • The Nondescript - Locke.
  • Numerological Motif
  • Oh My Gods - "Twelve Gods!" for most people, while Locke and other disreputable characters usually include the god of thieves in the pantheon, making it "Thirteen Gods!" (or "Crooked Warden!" if they're referring to him in particular).
  • Out-Gambitted - During the climax of Red Seas, this happens to the Priori when they try to kill Locke after he helped them getting rid of Stragos

  Locke: "You amateur double-crossers. You make us professionals cringe. [...] I saw this coming about a hundred miles away."

  • Pay Evil Unto Evil - The sacking of Salon Corbeau.
  • Photographic Memory - Nazca keeps taxes for a hundred gangs in her head and can perfectly recall conversations from a decade ago.
  • Picaresque - Blends this genre with Fantasy and Swashbuckler.
  • Pirate - Many in the second book. Locke even pretends to be a captain for a while.
  • Pirate Girl - Ezri Delmastro and Zamira Drakasha, both from Red Seas under Red Skies.
  • Platonic Life Partners - Locke and Nazca. Until the Gray King poisons her and sends her back in a barrel of horse urine, that is. Sniff.
  • Platonic Prostitution - For a scene in the first book, but only after the more conventional approach fails.
  • Precision F-Strike - Despite the books' liberal approach on swearing, these happen on occasion. The moment where Locke overcomes the Falconer's attempt to use his name against him comes to mind.
  • Precursors - The Eldren
  • Revealing Coverup
  • Revenge - Why Locke wants to kill The Gray King, and possibly also Maxilan Stragos.
    • A chapter in the first book is devoted to explaining how much revenge is the hat of the Cammori, with a character waiting twenty years to kill a man over a controversial ruling in a faux-rugby match.
  • Rule of Cool - Gladiator matches against sharks.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses - Requin has a pair in Red Seas Under Red Skies, but they've been alchemized so they don't just reflect light, they permanently glow orange. And they fit him, too.
  • Schedule Slip - The third book was originally due out in autumn of 2009, and has now been pushed back to March 2012.
  • Serial Escalation: Locke's thieving spree in the second book. In four hours he steals four purses, a knife, two bottles of wine, a pewter mug, a brooch, gold pins, earrings (while they were being worn), a bolt of silk, a box of sweetmeats, two loaves of bread, and the necklace of the mistress of the governor. In the governor's home. In the governor's bed. With the governor sleeping next to her! Oh, and did we mention that he did this while half drunk?
  • Shark Pool - In both original and kraken flavor.
  • Shout-Out - Locke's first name is taken from the thief treasure hunter in Final Fantasy VI.
  • Single-Target Sexuality - Locke's "target" is Sabetha, apparently.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - All the way through to cynical, then out the other side.
  • Sophisticated As Hell - Right there in the title, and done brilliantly throughout the series
  • Spanish Prisoner - The Gentleman Bastards pull variations of this on several of Camorr's nobles in the first book.
  • The Spymaster - The Spider, leader of the Duke's secret police.
  • Stout Strength - Jean, sometimes.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge - Nazca. Only for 'fridge' read 'barrel of horse urine'.
  • Tell Me Again - Bug has to explain their scheme to get Don Salvara's trust at the beginning of Lies. It's good for his moral education.
  • Tempting Fate - Locke and Jean are about to sail into a storm, but Jean confidently asserts that experienced sailor Caldris will get them through it. No sooner have the words passed his lips than Caldris staggers in and dies of a heart attack.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight - Locke is pining for Sabetha to the point that he's unable to get it up with anyone else.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else - Locke is remarked on as being extremely average-looking.
  • Thieves' Guild - The Right People of Camorr.
  • This Is Reality - A scene in Red Seas Under Red Skies has Locke and Jean discussing the relative merits of romantic fiction and non-fiction.

 Locke: But romances aren't real, and surely never were. Doesn't that take away some of the savor?

Jean: What an interesting choice of words. 'Not real, and never were.' Could there be any more appropriate literature for men of our profession? Why are you so averse to fiction, when we've made it our meal ticket?

Locke: I live in the real world, and my methods are of the real world. They are, just as you say, a profession. A practicality, not some romantic whim.