Senlin Ascends: Book 1 of The Books of Babel
As the headmaster of the only school in the small fishing village of Isaugh, Senlin has the demeanor expected of the position. He is reserved, professorial, and not inclined to flights of fancy. He does have one big dream, however, and that is to see the Tower of Babel. In awe of the Tower for its reputation as a marvelous, mysterious engineering feat, Senlin finally has the opportunity to visit on his honeymoon. Newly married to the whimsical and vivacious Marya, Senlin seems to be more excited about the trip than about his bride. Unfortunately, the whole excursion goes horribly awry when Marya disappears from the sprawling market at the Tower’s base. Senlin searches for her for days before finally heading into the Tower. Once there, he continues his search while losing his belongings, learning the truth about his dream, and shedding his previous perspective. The Tower is not at all what he (and, by extension, the reader) expects, and his journey into its depths is fascinating.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. Bancroft does a wonderful job of thrusting you right into the plot while offering flashbacks, context, and other background information as you go. It is rare that an author accomplishes this successfully, and I love it when it happens because it takes the fundamental step of establishing the story and turns it into delicious tension. Senlin Ascends starts off with a bang, and it never slows down.
With its breathtaking pace, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has adventure, intrigue, action, fantasy, Steampunk elements, and mystery all wrapped around a story of a man coming to grips with the fact that nothing is as he expected. Each new scene is novel and exciting, and everything works to further Senlin’s deeper understanding of what he once thought was paradise. This serves as a powerful metaphor for the loss of innocence, and I am excited to see where the next book takes our hero.
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