I found The Lies of Locke Lamora in the mass market paperback spinner of our local library. I turn to that rack when I need something to read that will be quick and entertaining; I try not to be too picky. If it looks interesting, I'll take it home and give it a whirl. That has led to some not-so-great reads (Melladon, I am looking at you). But it also led me to Scott Lynch. The Lies of Locke Lamora has certainly been the most entertaining book I have read in a long time. It has, in many ways, been the catalyst for this setting project, if only because the book was so fun I kept thinking to myself "Wouldn't it be cool to do that in a game!"
The underlying conceit is simple -- it's a fantasy version of Oceans 11. Set in a fantasy analog of Venice, the titular character is the leader of a small band of thieves and con-men who engage in elaborate plots against the nobility of the city. Mainly, these plots are for sport -- both to entertain the restless Lamora and "stick it to the man" by robbing nobles of money, valuables, and pride. Of course, their dangerous game nets the attention of both the criminal leader of the city, someone trying to displace that leader, and the city's nobility. Complications ensue.
I'm about half way through Red Seas Under Red Skies now. It's similar in conceit to Lies, but it adds pirates!
Stylistically, Lynch writes like a movie. You get flashbacks and flashforwards; snappy, profanity-laced dialog, and lots of fun plots and action. It's good stuff. Very entertaining. Any issues I have with the books are literary and stylistic, so they aren't really important for our purposes here. What is important is the inspirational potential of the books. They've motivated me to this point. They are also rife with specific details, both large and small, that I'm going to try and work into the world. I'll deal with those details bit by bit, but wanted to acknowledge my debt to Lynch from the beginning.