For the uninitiated, The Books of Babel is the steampunk/horror/adventure series by author Josiah Bancroft. The Hod King is the upcoming third of a planned four volume series.
The closer I got to the end of this book, the more I became concerned with my own ability to communicate to our audience how great it was without just stacking superlative upon superlative. The fact remains that the book is just that good, and it is perfectly measured as well.
Even great books can grow a little extravagant as they try to find the stopping place-even a penultimate volume such as this one. However The Hod King doesn’t only avoid overstaying its welcome; it also ends on purpose. And that exquisite pacing is aided by a structure divided not just by character but also by time. As with any great book I will continue to be sparing on details but I think that the choices of when and where to zoom in on particular characters could not have been done any better.
As far as the meat of the actual story is concerned I think it’s best to consider this volume as the most self aware of the three. In the first, we are overwhelmed by the intrigue and mysteries and awe of the tower, not unlike Senlin himself. In the second, we see transformation and adventure. And along that line, the third volume, to me at least, is about revelation, reckoning, and resolution. The curtains containing the mysteries of the tower are beginning to fall only to reveal dangerous truths. Our heroes are forced to reckon with their mistakes both recent and distant. And these two parallel threads of revelation and reckoning crystallize our cast as they choose who they want to be in the face of what they know about themselves and what they learn about the tower.
I’ll close by saying that despite my need to find some flowery language to communicate the quality of this book that it would be remiss of me to not simply say: It’s just dang entertaining. The action, the horror, the thrills are there at every beat in this story and will have you alternatingly dreading to turn the page and racing to the next one.
For a book that on the surface would seem to be required to do the work in setting up an ending, The Hod King is contstantly rewarding. In both its moments of quiet connection and reflection, and when cannons fire and mechanical arms whir, Josiah serves us an immensely satisfying tale that will leave you wanting to read all three books over again as much as it will have you craving the ending to this story in book four.
The Hod King comes... to bookstores near you on January 22nd from Orbit Books.
*I received a physical advanced reader copy from Orbit in exchange for an honest review.