Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
A Recommended Book of the Month
Josiah Bancroft's debut novel is a huge deal in the world of fantasy fiction right now. I truly regret being late to the party but can safely say the hype is well deserved. Seeing only unanimously positive reviews from my blogging peers, I had to check out this 2016 #SPFBO's entrant as soon as I could.
Thomas Senlin planned a seemingly perfect honeymoon at the magnificent, and world renowned Tower of Babel. Each level of the tower is a Ringdom - cities with different characteristics and unique aspects. Rumour has it that each stage is more beautiful than the previous. What better way to spend a honeymoon than to ascend the tower with his savings, guidebook and beautiful wife? Unfortunately, Senlin loses his partner amongst the massive crowds at the start of the narrative. He aims to find her by entering the tower and rising through the levels. He soon realises that the tower isn't exactly the same place which he adored from afar and which his trusty Everyman's Guide to the Tower of Babel had led him to believe it would be.
This story has a lot of great things going for it. Most notable from the offset is that it is beautifully written. It felt like I was reading a classic rather than a modern self-published fantasy book. (Although Orbit has picked up the rights and this will be re-released next year by the home of Brent Weeks, RJ Barker and Nicholas Eames.) Although not a fair testament to the story as a whole, due to Thomas' character progression; some parts made me think it was similar to what a modern-day Candide would be, with a wide-eyed interesting hero having to deal with some inexplicably bad moments. The way Senlin is forced to change and adapt to these unusual surroundings had me putting myself in his position, therefore, empathy and affinity were created between us for that reason. He is a headmaster, very intelligent and overall a really interesting character. He's not the only person here that makes the story so strong although it seemed that would be the case at first. I won't divulge the reason why I thought that as that could approach spoiler territory and I loved some of the reveals. Unlike much Modern Fantasy, a lot of what happens here isn't too far removed from characteristics and science of our world. Though, in addition, Senlin Ascends does include some very interesting technology. Each Ringdom has its own peculiar politics and hierarchies which Senlin must understand if he ever hopes to progress and find his wife. This book also incorporates some greatly crafted villainous characters. This isn't the most action-packed spectacle but the way Bancroft presents, with slower moments and emotional flashbacks intertwined, the more action-oriented scenes have great impact. Especially the ending. The future possibilities seem awesome with the way things concluded. The ending convinced me this was definitely a 5-star read. This book gets referred to as Steampunk but I don't know what that is and don't really care much for sub-genre descriptions and deviations. I just care if I like it or not.
An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece where I was on Tom's side every step of the way. I'd read Arm of the Sphinx next if I could but as an #SPFBO judge, I'm currently busy trying to find some more gems like this.
This Senlin Ascends book review was written by James Tivendale
Have you read Senlin Ascends?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Senlin Ascends reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Chatwin has visions of a parallel world where a couple are fleeing some terrible event pursued by an enemy and are seeking a gate to freedom. Chatwin is the gate, and when ...
Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in...
Catherynne M Valente
Sei, November, Ludov, and Oleg -- four people unknown to each other but united by grief and their obsession with the city of Palimpsest. Located beyond the human realm, Pal...
When Grendel is drawn up from the caves under the mere, where he lives with his bloated, inarticulate hag of a mother, into the fresh night air, it is to lay waste Hrothgar...
On the day the world ends... Mau is on his way home from the Boys' Island. Soon he will be a man. And then the wave comes - a huge wave, dragging black night behind it ...
The Rabbit Back Literature Society
Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
Only very special people are chosen by children's author Laura White to join 'The Society', an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a te...
The Silmarillion provides the background to Middle-earth, the setting of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. It is an account of the Elder Days; the First Age when Morgot...
In the depths of Broceliande - an ancient French woodland - Merlin and the enchantress Vivien play out their deadly feud. Meanwhile, a child is born deaf, dumb and blind. H...
Maria and the Devil
The Devil has ridden out. Montana’s most feared outlaw has left his secret lover, Maria, alone in their secluded house deep in the wilds. If he had known that she was...
Fifteen-year-old Wulliam is dreading taking up his family's mantle of Riverkeep, tending the river and fishing corpses from its treacherous waters. But then everything ...
The House of the Stag
It begins with a tragedy. Before the Riders came to their remote valley, the Yendri led a tranquil pastoral life. When the Riders conquered and enslaved them, only a few es...
Charm is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Cinderella story which takes all the much-loved elements of the classic fairytale (the handsome prince, the fairy godmo...
The Last Quarrel
Gaelland is a nation gripped by fear. In the country, fishing boats return with their crews mysteriously vanished, while farms are left empty, their owners gone into the ni...
Trojan War Trilogy
The Immortals Trilogy
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring lore, legend and mythology
Best of 2016
Downfall of the Gods
If you visit the Temple and ask nicely for forgiveness, you might get it - assuming you aren't Lord Archias and you haven't killed the Goddess's favorite musician,...
Huginn and Muninn, the Eyes of Thought and Mind; Freyr the Blade that stands alone; Mjolnir, Thunder, strength and devastator. Gods bloodied and wounded, that live and die. Ta...
Long before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine Pinkerton was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a fa...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be. Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outs...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...