Posted 20 hours ago

Senlin Ascends: Book One of the Books of Babel

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Endings are difficult. In the midst of a story you can toss out new characters and twists and worldbuilding with scarcely a care (GRRM). At the end there is an accounting to be had. Many great authors stumble at the last hurdle. I'm not sure I've ever read a great ending to a Stephen King book, but that didn't stop me hugely enjoying the beginning and the middle, and even the book as a whole.

and the ending to this is one i think will be surprising to most readers, as it was to me. with a title like ‘the fall of babel,’ it isnt hard to get a certain idea of how things are supposed to play out, but i found JBs ending to be completely unexpected. especially as it leaves rooms for additional books/possible companion series. Yes, I just quoted the book and no, I've never done that in a review before... But it's beautiful and romantic and charming, and I'm fairly certain this was the point I fell in love with the book. The prose is often poetic, and Senlin's awkwardness is charming and fun. Without even meaning to I found myself reading it like I was narrating it in my own head, and that worked brilliantly because I'm quite good at a slightly posh voice when I want to do one. The Fall of Babel is the final book in The Books of Babel quartet and a great conclusion to the series, though I still consider The Hod King my favourite of the four. It wraps up character arcs and resolves various threads while further expanding on the unique worldbuilding of the Tower.

All Josiah Bancroft Reviews

And, finally, we have undoubtedly learned that this whole quadrilogy had really been all about Senlin... NOT.

So. I finally read this. Many thanks go out to everyone who kept recommending this one to me because reading this has been a joy. The first couple of chapters were just okay, but once Thomas Senlin entered the Parlor, this had me hooked. Good work, Mr Bancroft: Senlin Ascends is an intricately constructed introduction into a fascinating and original setting, carried by a wonderful protagonist.Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassins, and the illusions of the Tower. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure. Basically, I wish this series never had to end and we had 100 more books in the Tower to come. But all good things must come to an end.

The plot progression and the conclusion I thought was satisfying, both in the way the story played out and the interspersing of the PoV sections. It was steadily paced with a constant sense of story movement, though some of the action scenes I thought extended a tad too long. There are mysteries slowly being unravelled about the nature and function of the Tower after getting bits and pieces peppered throughout the previous books. One of my favourite aspects of any fantastical world is getting to know the lore, figuring out how all of it fits together logically. This series mostly delivers on that front, as there are awaited revelations about the various ringdoms and the Tower, as well as a deeper exploration of the workings of the mysterious red substance. The world is mysterious and familiar all at once. It's fantasy, without a doubt, but also a bit steampunk with electricity and automobiles and airships. There's enough different to keep you wondering, but never so much that it becomes a chore to read. The pace zips along, even in the slower moments, and yet the passage of time makes the character arcs believable

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Let me buy you a dress. The evenings here are warmer than we’re used to.” He had to speak close to her ear. Not everyone Thomas meets is an enemy however, with some showing friendship and loyalty to him even when their own lives are forfeit. This book includes some great characters, and I was particularly fond of bodyguard/enforcer Iren — hopefully we’ll learn more about her in the next book too.

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