Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft - Book Review

Write on: Thu, 30 Jul 2020 by  in Archive Read 4500

“I’m suspicious of people who are certain”


When starting Senlin Ascends, I had no idea what to expect, and had not checked out what the story was about at all. I read it purely off of hearing consistently great things about it, and the fact that it was on my Audible library. I don’t usually do this, as I have a great list to read, and want to cherry pick the best suited to me. But I’m glad a gave that formula an exception.


Senlin Ascends was great. A mixture of fun and serious content, that handled the tone brilliantly. Despite the contrasting parts of the atmosphere, Josiah Bancroft was very good at subtly going from one to another in a “real” manner, which surprisingly didn’t jar, as it has with many other authors.


“We shouldn't have to go around congratulating each other for behaving with basic human dignity.” 


Thomas Senlin is a headmaster who has been fascinated with the Tower of Babel, and is finally going to see it in the flesh with his newly married wife. He is morally upstanding, conforms to social standards, and is what most would label as quite a dull person. This is why I found Bancroft’s character so brilliant. He turned Senlin’s essentially ordinary and largely bland personality into a driving force of the story, as the sole PoV, that made it so much better.


The plot was constantly evolving and always pulled me along to listen to each and every word, subtly dropping clever hints that I noticed but could not successfully resolve, and many that I imagine I missed out on as well. It would be interesting to read this again at some point in the future to appreciate everything that Bancroft incorporated to form such a vibrant and full story. 


The Tower of Babel is one of the most unique settings I have read about, with places ranging from slums to the leisure places of the upper-class and ruling parties. I look forward to more of this world being explored further on in the series.


“It is easier to accept who you’ve become than to recollect who you were.”


Senlin Ascends is a book that I would recommend to practically all fantasy readers, despite it perhaps not adhering to their usual type of read. 




Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2022 15:46

William is from Sussex, UK.

He has a passion for literature and enjoys reading all sorts of books. His hobbies are numerous and consist of medieval/viking reenactment, writing, karate and of course reading.