- Author: Josiah Bancroft
- Series: The Books of Babel #1-4
- Genre: Fantasy
- No. of pages: 2,123
- Dates read: 16.03.2018 – 06.12.2021
- Star Rating: 5 stars
Plot for Book 1: 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, assassins, 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.
Now, if you have been following my blog for some time you will know that I have loved this series for years and I always rave about how amazing it is. Well finally, the series has come to an end!! It is a bittersweet feeling, on one hand I am feeling accomplished for getting to the end of the story and seeing it through to the end but also I never wanted the series to end.
The first thing I wanted to highlight was this book series is the reason this blog exists. Back in 2018 I finally made the decision to get back into reading and it was majorly down to how much I loved the first book in this series. I was able to re-experience getting fully immersed into a novel and losing hours just reading because I just needed to know more about the world, the characters and the plot! And then over a year and many many books later I decided to create my blog so I could talk more about all things books. I really owe a lot to this series and the author!
Starting off the actual review with a moment to talk about the writing. Bancroft is a poet! His writing is so incredibly beautiful and I just got lost in the words and sentences he creates. I haven’t really seen writing like it personally. He isn’t just stating the facts of the scene to you, he is painting an elaborate portrait of events. It was engaging from the minute I read the first page and I think he is doing something that I personally haven’t seen many authors do. I would have enjoyed his books anyway but the writing is one of the reasons this series is a 5 stars for me! It is so beautiful and timeless.
In terms of plot I had such a fun and exciting time learning about the secrets of the tower and watching Senlin go on his journey to find his wife and reunite with her. At first the plot seems very simple, go up the tower and find your wife but what I loved about the story was how expansive it got. It starts off as a singular quest but evolves into an intense but exhilarating adventure with sky pirates, steampunk elements, a load of secrets and a whole cast of detailed and varied characters. Going into this series I expected to enjoy it but I didn’t at all anticipate where the story was going to take me and by the time I read those last words “THE END” I had to sit back and reminisce on where it all started!
In terms of characters I had such a fun time meeting all the crazy, zany and amazing characters that live in the Tower. From the amazon like warrior Iren to the intelligent but naive Senlin. Bancroft’s imagination for the characters, their loves, their dislikes, their internal motivations and alliances was incredible. You have characters that you root for, characters you despise entirely and characters you aren’t quite so sure on. It makes for great interactions and dynamics and I think if it wasn’t for these amazing characters the story wouldn’t be as amazing as it is.
But we must focus on one character in particular. Thomas Senlin, our protagonist. When we first meet Senlin he is a naive, introverted individual who has lived a very enclosed life in the middle of nowhere. You follow him and work with him as you explore together the chaos that is the Tower of Babel and you watch him grow and adapt with every new challenge, every new interaction until you get to the end of the book and while he’s still Senlin he is also very different from the man you met on page 1. He was a great introduction into the world and I loved watching him basically represent the reader who is walking into this world completely ignorant.
The last thing I want to mention is the world building. The imagination Mr Bancroft has is incredible. The tower is so vast and so ginormous that I couldn’t possibly comprehend where to start in thinking how to describe this to a reader but Bancroft did an amazing job. I got excited every time Senlin ascended to another ringdom. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the culture, the people, the layout. I loved the use of the epitaph’s at the start of each chapter to help set the scene of the tower/ringdom you’re in. I actually enjoyed moments on info dumping about the tower or the ringdoms or the people of this novel because Bancroft made such an enticing and exciting world. I just wanted to learn more about everything!
Overall this was a beautifully written, exciting world with amazing characters and a story that had me begging for more. It is sad that I have finally come to the end of this journey but also exciting at the same time as very recently it was announced he is writing a new series!
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