The Lies of Locke Lamora

Book: By Scott Lynch

Inciting Event: Master thief Locke engineers a meeting with his mark, the wealthy Don Salvara. This is the start of the story and the start of the scam conflict, and, as such, it’s positioned exactly right at the 12% mark. However, as it turns out, this is not actually the main conflict. The main conflict results from the vengeance scheme of the mysterious Gray King—who is barely mentioned in the first section of book and who doesn’t make his presence felt until much later, when Locke hears about a gang leader who was murdered.

First Plot Point: Locke is captured by the Gray King and his Bondsmage and compelled to play along with his game. The Gray King demands that Locke impersonate him at a meeting with Capa Barsavi, the ruler of the city’s criminal element. From this point on, Locke is irrevocably immersed in the Gray King’s plans. He can only react; at this point, he is far from being in control of the conflict.

First Pinch Point: Barsavi’s daughter Nazca is brutally murdered by the Gray King. Locke—who is supposed to be impersonating the Gray King at a meeting with Barsavi—is now ordered by Barsavi to accompany him to that same meeting. Nazca’s death emphasizes the antagonistic force’s power and prompts the turning point of Barsavi’s declaration to Locke.

Midpoint: Locke masquerades as the Gray King, but is double-crossed and nearly killed by Barsavi. He rushes home to discover that the rest of his gang—all save his friend Jean Tannen—have been murdered and their fortune stolen.

The latter scene happens much latter in the book, almost in position to be the Second Pinch Point. However, if you remove the interceding flashback, this is clearly part of the same Midpoint sequence.

Unfortunately, however, it is also the low moment of the story which galvanizes Locke’s personal journey. As such, it would have been much better placed at the Third Plot Point at the beginning of the Third Act. The early timing here disorients the pacing of the following chapters, which feel decidedly anticlimactic for a while, as Locke doesn’t do much other than heal and try to get a suit of clothing.

Second Pinch Point: Locke infiltrates Barsavi’s territory, in disguise, and watches helplessly as the Gray King slaughters Barsavi and his sons. The Gray King takes over as the new Capa—sealing his antagonistic power and raising the stakes.

Third Plot Point: The early low moment, at the Midpoint, isn’t helped by the fact that there isn’t a suitable Third Plot Point to be seen anywhere. The story drifts along until it finally turns the corner into the Climax.

Climax: After a nearly fatal battle with the Gray King’s Bondsmage, Locke learns of the Gray King’s plan to destroy all the city’s nobility. He rushes to warn them—then tracks down the Gray King for their final duel to the death.

Climactic Moment: Locke nearly dies, but manages to kill the Gray King.

Resolution: Locke and Jean sail out of town on their way to new adventures.

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