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.
Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Series: The Books of Babel #1
Published by Orbit on 16/01/2018
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Format: Paperback, Audiobook
Senlin Ascends had been on my wishlist for years and years and years. For my last birthday Candyce gifted me this beauty of a book but if I’m being honest, I thought it would take me awhile to actually pick it up. Luckily Melissa also got this one recently so we planned a buddy read! And today I have my review for Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft for you all. Lets dive in!
I love the cover for this one so much. The colors fit the story quite well in my opinion. And of course I love that the cover illustration isn’t a picture or anything. This drawing is gorgeous and gives you a little view of the tower. I also really like that this was apparently already the cover when Josiah self-published this book. Looks like they kept that cover when the publisher picked it up, and that just makes me really happy. Also, there’s a map in the book, and every book needs one of those.
It is easier to accept who you’ve become than to recollect who you were.
I didn’t know that much about the plot before going in. Basically all I knew was that the story was set at the Tower of Babel and that sounded incredibly cool. It was also shelved under fantasy and that’s always a good thing in my opinion. I’m still not completely sure where I would shelf this book myself, it’s clearly a ‘made-up’ world but there aren’t really magical elements. Some shelved it under steampunk and I guess that would work, I’m just not that familiar with what that exactly encompasses.
And this also ties unto my main issue with the book. I had quite some trouble when I first started reading the book. The writing felled quite dense to me. It is very descriptive and I read it so so slow. And while it was very descriptive, I still didn’t really know what kind of world we were in. Maybe because we don’t know that much about the world outside of the Tower, maybe because what we do know seemed a lot different from the world inside the Tower.
This all might have been just me, but Melissa had some trouble with this as well. I put the book aside quite easily at first and had to push myself a little. But then I remembered seeing the book on Storytel, and decided to go the audiobook route. And I’m so happy I did! Once I started with the audiobook, I flew through it and started to enjoy it so much more.
We travel the first couple of layers with our main character, Thomas Senlin, in his search for his missing wife. All of the layers of the Tower are completely different from each other and it was wonderful learning more about them. This whole tale was so imaginative! It was like a completely different world with different rules in every new layer. I’m already looking forward to learning about the next levels in the rest of the series!
You never really know where the story is going next and was surprised a lot. This is a story about a man trying to find his wife, but it also so much more. Friendship is a big theme, as is the line between self-development vs staying true to who you are. The ending also leaves you wanting more and you can bet that I put the rest of the series on my wishlist right away.
We meet quite some characters, but our main character is Thomas Senlin, mostly just called Senlin. He was such an interesting character to read about! I wouldn’t call him a typical hero at all. Senlin isn’t super brave, or strong or anything like that. He is however very driven in his quest to find his wife. Along the way we meet so many other characters that all influence him one way or another. And Senlin has to make a lot of choices, what do you do to get to your goal. Will you let that experience change you? Or will you stay true to yourself. I think these questions were some of the driving forces behind the story and I loved that aspect so much!
Like I said, we meet a lot of characters and they bring friendships with them. Another theme I always love in books. I don’t want to say too much about the other characters and I think you should totally experience them for yourself!
While I had some serious issues getting into the story at first, as soon as I started the audiobook I was hooked! I loved this story, the themes that were explored and the incredible Tower of Babel Josiah Bancroft crafted. The rest of the series is very high on my wishlist and I can’t wait to read more!
Had you heard of this book before? And have you read anything else based on the Tower of Babel? Let me know in the comments!