The Arm of the Sphinx Review

  • Author: Josiah Bancroft
  • Series: The Books of Babel #2
  • Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
  • No. of pages: 448
  • Date Read: 09.02.19 – 12.02.19
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels

Another brilliant instalment to an incredible series by Mr. Bancroft! This was probably my highest anticipated book for 2019. I read Senlin Ascends last April and loved it! I was a bit nervous getting into this that it might not match up to my expectations but I couldn’t of been more wrong!

Bancroft’s writing is exceptional. I just love the way he writes. It draws you in and paints a perfect picture for you. I was about 4 pages into the book and fell back in love with this story purely based on Bancroft’s writing. It stands out as probably my favoirte writing style.

The world that Bancroft has created is so inventive. I loved re-entering this scary but inticing world and it was so much fun to learn more about the features and the history of the tower. I think it was a brilliant expansion on a world that was set up really well in the first installment.

I love the representation of women in this book. All the women in this book have a variety of different qualities whether it’s strength, wisdom or curiosity. And despite these differing qualities, each woman is presented as strong in her own way and I loved it. We had Iren’s strength, Voleta’s curiosity, Madame Bhata’s intelligence. No women is shown to be less than the other. Especially when it comes to the women of the Stone Cloud, they all bring something key to the team which helps them succeed in what they set out to do. I love seeing a strong woman in novels but what I loved about this story is we get not just one strong women but a good number of strong women. We also see a variety of women of colour which also makes me happy.

All the new characters introduced, like in Senlin Ascends, have such important roles to play in the story and continuing the narrative and it just shows the thorough detail Bancroft has put into this book. Every decision made, in this story, has a consequence or level of importance in progressing the plot and I love that about this book.

I loved the friendship between the crew of the Stone Cloud. They are a rag-tag group of individuals forced together and they form this amazing unlikely bond. They all disagree and fall out but ultimately look out for one another which was an interesting dynamic. I also loved how we got to focus a bit on each crew member and learn it a bit more about them as people. The first book was all about Senlin and his journey but this story felt for about the group as a whole rather than Senlin specifcally.

However, this book does feel more like a set-up book for the following novels to come. The second half of the book felt very stand still in, terms of action, as Bancroft had to set up points that would be important for the rest of the series. I ultimately didn’t mind this, as loads of interesting plot points and character developments were made and introduced to the story. That ended up with me asking more questions and created more tension but not a lot of action really happened in this novel compared to the first book.

I am so excited to pick up his next book as I feel all the setting up he’s done in this book will come to full fruition later on and I want to see it all unfold. The next book I will be reviewing is The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah.