The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, Orion Books, 2006, 530pp.
I was starting to think I did not like fantasy anymore, or had -- gasp -- outgrown it (not having much liked Lady in Gil, Dark is the Sun, KOMQOD, Stardust or others). I did enjoy Perdido Street Station, to which The Lies has some steampunk similarity. Locke Lamora is an orphan boy, brought up by a gang of thieves and confidence tricksters, in a post-alien or post hi-tech human sort of Venice, where unbreakable glass towers overlook oozy slums and shark-infested canals.
Thank goodness there isn't a Quest. That sort of storyline is feeling too predictable these days. Here, Locke is mostly trying to outwit the gentry and stay alive as things get progressively more out of control. The story trips along, and has a parallel flashback thread about Locke's training by a sneaky monk. His team have a good camaraderie, and the violence is tonic, until it gets to the point where the hero should technically be dead instead of just bruised. Also, the love interest is a thousand miles away and apparently being saved for a later book. The only other interesting woman ends up dead in a barrel of horse piss.
I liked this and I'd read his next one, but still only three stars for "read it if you like this sort of thing."
Mitch wrote: Try reading the Modesitt Recluce series. Very good character development.