Scott Lynch

American writer

Scott Lynch (born April 2, 1978, in Saint Paul) is an American fantasy author, best known for his Gentlemen Bastards series of novels.

Scott Lynch (2017)



Short fiction


A Year and a Day in Old Theradane (2014)

  • “Better to say nothing and be thought a fool,” said Amarelle, “than to interfere in the business of wizards and remove all doubt.”
  • You have confused me with someone who knows what’s going on.
    • p. 251
  • “I sometimes think that ‘friend’ is just a word I use for all the people I haven't murdered yet.”
    • p. 258
  • “Sure, kid. Look, there's a very old saying in my family: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is another wizard fucking with you.’”
    • p. 269
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Books
  • You can’t help being young, but it’s past time that you stopped being stupid.
    • Interlude “Locke Stays for Dinner” section 1 (p. 121)
  • Enlightenment! When it comes, it comes like a brick to the head, doesn’t it?
    • Interlude “Locke Stays for Dinner” section 1 (p. 125)
  • Our patron has always sort of danced upon the notion that austerity and piety go hand in hand; down here, we show our appreciation for things by appreciating, if you get me.
    • Interlude “Locke Stays for Dinner” section 2 (p. 132)
  • “Liquor does this? Even after you’re sober?”
    “A cruel joke, isn’t it? The gods put a price tag on everything, it seems.”
    • Interlude “The Last Mistake” section 1 (p. 179)
  • There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.
    • Chapter 4 “At the Court of Capa Barsavi” section 5 (p. 219)
  • “This entire situation is insane.” Jean slammed his book shut in disgust.
    “It was insane before; now it’s become malicious.”
    • Chapter 6 “Limitations” section 2 (p. 330)
  • Time’s a river, Locke, and we’ve always drifted farther down it than we think.
    • Interlude “Up the River” section 2 (p. 392)
  • When you’re a priest, people tend to see the robe rather than the man.
    • Interlude “The Half-Crown War” section 1 (p. 414)
  • “Advice,” chuckled Doña Vorchenza. “The years play a sort of alchemical trick, transmuting one’s mutterings to a state of respectability. Give advice at forty and you’re a nag. Give it at seventy and you’re a sage.”
    • Chapter 9 “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” section 1 (p. 433)
  • “‘Commonly thought,’ you say? Many things are commonly thought, but perhaps not commonly thought all the way through.”
    • Chapter 9 “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” section 1 (p. 435)
  • I’m sure we can communicate. I speak fluent hatchet.
    • Chapter 10 “Teeth Lessons” section 2 (p. 457)
  • It was strange, how readily authority could be conjured with nothing but a bit of strutting jackassery.
    • Chapter 13 “Orchids and Assassins” section 4 (p. 567)
  • I have always found the presumptions of others to be the best possible disguise—haven’t you?
    • Chapter 15 “Spiderbite” section 5 (p. 636)
  • In time, you’ll come to understand that a state like ours cannot afford to offer up a show of weakness for honesty’s sake; Duke Nicovante charges me with vouchsafing his security, not his conscience.
    • Epilogue, “Falselight” section 2 (p. 715)
  • I can’t live forever. Each time something like this affair lands in my lap, I suddenly recall that I don’t want to live forever.
    • Epilogue, “Falselight” section 2 (p. 716)
  • Hard lessons were handed out. As many men learned to their sorrow, it’s impossible to be intimidating when one angry woman has your cock between her teeth and another is holding a stiletto to your kidneys.
    • page unknown (hardback)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Books
  • I make it a point never to trust men with weapons to my windpipe.
    • Prologue “A Strained Conversation” (p. 2)
  • “What’s your hand [of cards] look like?“
    “A parched desert...How’s yours?“
    “A wasteland of bitter frustration.“
    • Chapter 1 “Little Games” section 1 (p. 7)
  • “Here's to charming losers, I suppose.“
    “If only we knew where to find some.“
    • Chapter 1 “Little Games” section 3 (p. 14)
  • “What do you have to say to that?
    “Oh, very little, to be sure, Master Kosta. It’s so hard to think, overawed as I am with the sublime genius of your plan.“
    “That bears some vague resemblance to sarcasm.“
    “God forfend,“ said Jean. “You wound me! Your inexpressible criminal virtues have triumphed again, as inevitably as the tides come and go. I cast myself at your feet and beg for absolution. Yours is the genius that nourishes the heart of the world.“
    “And now you’re—“
    “If only there was a leper handy,“ interrupted Jean, "so you could lay your hands on and magically heal him.“
    • Chapter 1 “Little Games” section 4 (p. 26)
  • “I suspect that drink has made you impulsive.“
    “Drink makes me see funny; the gods made me impulsive.“
    • Chapter 1 “Little Games” section 4 (p. 29)
  • The trouble with creating military dictators, Locke reflected, was getting rid of them after the immediate crisis was past.
    • Chapter 1 “Little Games” section 5 (p. 35)
  • “You needed a bath,“ Jean interrupted. “You were covered in self-pity.“
    • Reminiscence “The Capa of Vel Virazzo” section 5 (p. 63)
  • “When I get this door open, you’re dead, Jean!“
    “When you get that door open? I look forward to many long years of life, then.“
    • Reminiscence “The Capa of Vel Virazzo” section 5 (p. 65)
  • “That’s a sweet piece,“ said Jean, briefly forgetting to be aggravated. “You didn’t snatch that off a street.“
    “No,“ said Locke, before taking another deep draught of the warm water in the decanter. “I got it from the neck of the governor’s mistress.“
    “You can’t be serious.“
    “In the governor’s manor.“
    “Of all the—“
    “In the governor’s bed.“
    “Damned lunatic!“
    “With the governor sleeping next to her...It is possible,“ said Locke with a sheepish grin, “that I have been slightly too bold.“
    • Reminiscence “The Capa of Vel Virazzo” section 6 (pp. 70-71)
  • Master Kosta...What a pleasure! Selendri tells me you’ve expressed an interest in getting killed.
    • Chapter 2 “Requin” section 2 (p. 82)
  • “I say again, impossible.”
    “And I correct you again. Difficult. ‘Difficult’ and ‘impossible’ are cousins often mistaken for one another, with very little in common.”
    • Chapter 2 “Requin” section 3 (p. 93)
  • Some mysteries are better off with their throats slit.
    • Chapter 2 “Requin” section 3 (p. 95)
  • As for history, we are living in its ruins. And as for biographies, we are living with the consequences of all the decisions ever made in them. I tend not to read them for pleasure. It‘s not unlike carefully scrutinizing the map when one has already reached the destination.
    • Chapter 2 “Requin” section 4 (pp. 100-101)
  • “We met five years ago.“ Jean scratched his beard. “On a sea voyage. We became business partners out of sheer boredom. Since then we‘ve been inseparable.“
    “Except that my plan calls for me to be plotting your death.“
    “Yes, but I don‘t know that, do I? Boon companion! I suspect nothing.“
    “Chump! I can hardly wait to see you get yours!“
    • Reminiscence “Best-Laid Plans” section 1 (pp. 114-115)
  • Time went by with all the speed of a sleepless night.
    • Chapter 3 “Warm Hospitality” section 3 (p. 124)
  • By rights he was still outrunning his age, still ahead of most men nearing threescore years, but he knew deep in his heart that there would never be any way of running fast enough.
    • Chapter 5 “On a Clockwork River” section 4 (p. 253)
  • I don’t want you to agree with me; I want you to use your misplaced acorn of a brain before the squirrel comes looking for it again.
    • Last Reminiscence “By Their Own Rope” section 1 (p. 270)
  • “We already know how too—”
    “I don’t care what you think you know, Kosta. Until further notice, we’re gonna presume that you’re too dumb to count to one.”
    • Chapter 6 “Balance of Trades” section 2 (p. 291)
  • You’re ten pints of crazy in a one-pint glass.
    • Chapter 8 “Summer’s End” section 5 (p. 396)
  • Only gods-damned fools die for lines drawn on maps.
    • Chapter 11 “All Else, Truth” section 5 (p. 513)
  • It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming.
    • Chapter 11 “All Else, Truth” section 9 (p. 528)
  • I find it best to make corpses of complications.
    • Chapter 13 “Points of Decision” section 2 (p. 587)
  • I’m losing my taste for subtlety as fast as I’m depleting my supply.
    • Chapter 14 “Scourging the Sea of Brass” section 1 (p. 640)
  • ”Oh, gods,” he cried. ”Oh, gods protect me! It’s you!”
    “Of course it’s me,“ said Locke. “You just don’t know who the hell I am yet.“
    • Chapter 16 “Settling Accounts” sections 2-3 (p. 712)
  • ”Is this man, ah, senile?”
    ”He’s absolutely competent,” she answered coldly.
    ”I assure you I am,” roared Cordo. Anger changed his countenance utterly. ”And I will not be put off from business by assassins in my own bedroom! Now, you will either kill me immediately or negotiate the price of my release!”
    • Chapter 16 “Settling Accounts” section 3 (p. 712)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey Books
  • “Thank you very much, sir,” said Beth with nothing resembling actual gratitude.
    • Prologue “The Minder” section 5 (p. 10)
  • People die when they get hanged. It’s why they hang them!
    • Prologue “The Minder” section 8 (p. 19)
  • Refusal noted and cordially declined.
    • Chapter 1 “Things Get Worse” section 6 (p. 43)
  • I’m going to give you a thorough examination. This may cause some discomfort, but don’t complain. I won’t be listening.
    • Chapter 1 “Things Get Worse” section 8 (p. 47)
  • Gods, all this maneuvering for moral advantage. You’d think we were married.
    • Chapter 1 “Things Get Worse” section 8 (p. 51)
  • “You rule the Bondsmagi,” said Locke, incredulously.
    “Rule is too strong a term. We do occasionally manage to avert total chaos.”
    • Chapter 1 “Things Get Worse” section 11 (p. 65)
  • The sun is up, and all that money out there won’t steal itself.
    • Interlude “The Undrowned Girl” section 1 (p. 69)
  • “Government affairs are a bit beyond our experience,” said Jean.
    “Nonsense. You’ll feel right at home. What is government but theft by consent? You’ll be moving in a society of kindred spirits.”
    • Chapter 2 “The Business” section 2 (p. 105)
  • “What happened wasn’t fair!”
    “Fair? You mean to claim with a straight face that you buy into that heresy, my boy?”
    • Interlude “The Boy Who Chased Red Dresses” section 1 (p. 115)
  • “Yes, I like it a lot, it’s all worth having to bathe, even!”
    “Hmmm,” said Chains. “You live long enough for your stones to drop, then tell me if bathing is really such a hardship when the young women around you have bosoms that are more than theoretical.”
    “What? When my what?”
    “Never mind. That subject will be sufficiently confusing in its own good time.”
    • Interlude “The Boy Who Chased Red Dresses” section 1 (pp. 115-116)
  • “You know, believe it or not, ‘the gods will provide’ is not a fucking plan, lad. You’ve got one hell of a talent for improvisation, but when that lets you down, it lets you down hard.”
    • Interlude “The Boy Who Chased Red Dresses” section 4 (p. 138)
  • “I never even liked cats all that much.”
    “Surely you realize,” said Patience, “that cats are no great respecters of human opinion.”
    • Chapter 3 “Blood and Breath and Water” section 1 (p. 146)
  • They’ll be fine, and wiser for the experience. Young minds are brittle. Oldsters, now, we’ve had some disappointments. We’ve set aside the notion that we’re the center of the universe, so our minds bend with strain instead of meeting it head-on.
    • Chapter 4 “Across the Amathel” section 1 (p. 184)
  • “You need money that badly?”
    “As a tool, certainly. Its application is simple and universally effective.”
    • Chapter 4 “Across the Amathel” section 3 (p. 190)
  • Most of us find it starkly ludicrous that the height of all possible ambition, to the ungifted, must be to drape oneself in crowns and robes.
    • Chapter 4 “Across the Amathel” section 3 (p. 191)
  • Damn it, when will you learn that refusing to admit you’ve lost isn’t the same as winning?
    • Interlude “Striking Sparks” section 2 (p. 233)
  • Nobody admires anyone else without qualification. If they do they’re after an image, not a person.
    • Interlude “Striking Sparks” section 6 (p. 247)
  • “You’re trying to be charming again,” she said softly, “but I do not choose to be charmed, Locke Lamora.”
    • Interlude “Striking Sparks” section 6 (p. 247)
  • Locke put his head in his hands and sighed.
    “I don’t expect life to make sense,” he said after a few moments, “but it would certainly be pleasant if it would stop kicking us in the balls.”
    • Chapter 5 “The Five-Year Game: Starting Position” section 1 (p. 250)
  • “Let’s be obvious. Me brute, you weasel.”
    “Agreed. You brute, me charming mastermind.”
    • Chapter 5 “The Five-Year Game: Starting Position” section 2 (p. 254)
  • I’m not without my sympathies, Lamora. They just don’t necessarily reside with you.
    • Chapter 5 “The Five-Year Game: Starting Position” section 6 (p. 270)
  • “Nikoros, your job this afternoon is to say yes to anything that comes out of my mouth. The more you rehearse this, the sooner it’ll become a smooth mechanical process allowing no time for painful reflection. Can you practice for me?”
    “You’re a natural.”
    • Chapter 5 “The Five-Year Game: Starting Position” section 7 (p. 275)
  • “I never would’ve thought—“
    “Don’t think,” said Locke. “I’m paid to do that for you.”
    • Chapter 6 “The Five-Year Game: Change of Venue” section 1 (p. 311)
  • “That’s not worth worrying about. If pressed I’ll use the never-fail universal apology.”
    “What’s the n-never-fail universal apology?”
    “‘I was badly misinformed, I deeply regret the error, go fuck yourself with this bag of money.’”
    • Chapter 6 “The Five-Year Game: Change of Venue” section 1 (p. 313)
  • “There were difficulties.”
    “Oh,” she said, “so you’re the man whose life develops complications! I’ve so longed to meet you; the rest of us here in this world have it much too easy, I’m afraid.”
    • Chapter 6 “The Five-Year Game: Change of Venue” section 8 (p. 337)
  • “We were sent here to learn from you!”
    “You want a lesson, boy? If you find yourself being born, climb back in as quick as you can, because life’s a bottomless feast of shit.”
    • Interlude “The Moncraine Company” section 4 (p. 363)
  • Maybe this is going to complicate the hell out of things. So what? You’re the complication I want more than anything else. You’re my favorite complication.
    • Chapter 8 “The Five-Year Game: Infinite Variation” section 2 (p. 449)
  • Push your luck, gorgeous, and eventually luck pushes back.
    • Chapter 8 “The Five-Year Game: Infinite Variation” section 8 (p. 468)
  • “You’re taking the world awfully personally. Didn’t Chains ever tell you about the Golden Theological Principle?”
    “The what?”
    “The single congruent aspect of every known religion. The one shared, universal assumption about the human condition.”
    “What is it?”
    “He said that life boils down to standing in line to get shit dropped on your head. Everyone’s got a place in the queue, you can’t get out of it, and just when you start to congratulate yourself on surviving your dose of shit, you discover that the line is actually circular.”
    “I’m just old enough to find that distressingly accurate.”
    “You see? It’s universal,” said Locke.
    • Chapter 8 “The Five-Year Game: Infinite Variation” section 11 (p. 482)
  • “Remember when I told you, for the first time? You nearly threw me off the roof—”
    “I thought you deserved it. You know, it’s an opinion I return to from time to time, whether or not a roof is available.”
    “You’re a difficult woman, Sabetha. But then, difficult women are the only ones worth falling in love with.”
    “How would you know? It’s not like you’ve ever been after anyone else—”
    “That part’s easy. I started with the most difficult woman possible, so there was never any need to look any further.”
    “You’re trying to be charming.” She squeezed his hand once, then pulled away. “I choose not to be entirely charmed, Locke Lamora.”
    “Not entirely?”
    “Not entirely. Not yet.”
    • Chapter 8 “The Five-Year Game: Infinite Variation” section 11 (p. 483)
  • “Why the hell are you here?”
    “A matter of conscience.”
    “Really?” said Locke. “Yours? You keep alluding to its existence. Somehow I’m not convinced.”
    • Chapter 9 “The Five-Year Game: Reasonable Doubt” section 1 (p. 543)
  • “My responsibility was to tell you the truth, not wrap you in swaddling clothes.” She raised her hood again, half-veiling her face in shadow. “Nor protect you from your own badly aimed temper.”
    • Chapter 9 “The Five-Year Game: Reasonable Doubt” section 2 (p. 551)
  • Are you really that arrogant, that logic is as optional as a fashion accessory for you?
    • Chapter 9 “The Five-Year Game: Reasonable Doubt” section 2 (p. 551)
  • “In my dreams I sign chits and file papers,” Nikoros muttered. “Then I awake to sign real chits and file real papers. I imagine my grave marker will be carved as a writing desk. ‘Here lies Nikoros Via Lupa, wifeless and heirless, but gods how he could alphabetize!’”
    • Chapter 10 “The Five-Year Game: Final Approaches” section 5 (p. 582)
  • How you deal with it I must and will leave to you, not out of despair or resignation but in deference to my conscience, that broken clock which I believe is now chiming one of its occasional right hours. I will not question your reasons. It is enough for you to tell me that you wish to keep this distance between us, and it will always be enough. Know that a single word will bring me running, but unless and until it pleases you to give it, I will expect nothing, force nothing, and contrive nothing contrary to your wishes.
    I desire you as deeply as I ever have, but I understand that the fervor of a desire is irrelevant to its justice. I want your heart on merit, in mutual trust, or not at all, because I cannot bear to see you made uneasy by me. Not for all the world would I do so again, and I leave it to you to tell me how to proceed, if and when you can, if and when you will.
    • Chapter 10 “The Five-Year Game: Final Approaches” section 11 (p. 605)
  • Next came the sort of kiss that banished the world to distant background noise and seemed to last a month.
    • Chapter 10 “The Five-Year Game: Final Approaches” section 13 (p. 610)
  • Sabetha threw her own shoes and costume components on the tiles near the bath. She retained only her black hose and a dressing gown. Locke did his best to look like he wasn’t staring, and she did an admirable job of pretending she wasn’t encouraging him.
    • Interlude “Death Masks” section 8 (p. 639)
Wikipedia has an article about: