Title: Senlin Ascends
Series: The Books of Babel #1
Author: Josiah Bancroft
Pub Date: January 2018 (first self-published in 2013)
My Rating: ★★★★★
View on Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The first book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon debut fantasy series about one man’s dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world.
“One of my favorite books of all time” – Mark Lawrence
The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.
Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.
Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.
This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.
If you’re a fan of fantasy you must read this book. If you’re a hardcore fan of fantasy than you probably already read this book and will join me in recommending it to everyone. I had my eye on this book for a while, it was independently published a while ago and had amazing reviews. But only recently I finally read it and wow, I see what’s the fuss is all about. This is PHENOMENAL!
The whole story takes place in the Tower of Babel which already makes it unusual and interesting story. Each ringdom of the tower is a separate and completely different world. Tower of Babel is a centre point of the world, where Senlin is a level-headed headmaster in a small village. He was fascinated with the tower for years, he read everything he could about it, and for his honeymoon, he finally travels to see the tower for himself. The Tower he sees does not match his imagination and book knowledge on the subject at all. What’s worse, because of how empty of actually useful tips his favourite guide on the Tower of Babel is, he separates from his wife and loses her in the rush of the market at the hill of the tower. As he soon finds out, finding someone in the tower is not an easy task.
What’s the most compelling about this story is the world-building. Together with Senlin, we discover all the mysteries and oddities of the tower. Nothing is ever simple there, nothing is easy to understand and explain. I was hooked from the very beginning, I needed to read more and more to gain any knowledge about the tower, what is it, what is its purpose. I still have so many unanswered questions, and I’m grateful that the second book in the series is already out, I’ll be reading it soon.
Senlin isn’t a typical main character of the fantasy books I know (and I’m no expert, maybe there a whole genre of books with such characters I know nothing about), he’s scared and he’s a coward. He believes in a word of ethics and morale, but he has troubles with walking the walk. He is swept in the deceitful word of the tower and makes questionable decisions that later haunt his conscience. I found his pragmatism very refreshing in a fantasy character. This is just a character I want! He’s not exceptional, he doesn’t have any magical powers, he’s not a chosen one. What I like about him the most is that he wasn’t making any irrational decisions, he always though out the plan, he wasn’t swept up with emotions and made stupid decisions that made everything worse. The Tower of Babel made things worse for him anyway.
Senlin Ascends is truly brilliant work and I highly recommend everyone to read. I loved it and I will be reading the sequel soon. Is there any chance that this will end happily?
Have you read Senlin Ascends? What did you think? What do you think of the setting for the book?