“If there isn’t peril, then it isn’t an adventure.”
**This review contains minor spoilers for Senlin Ascends**
I really enjoy my Journeys in the Tower of Babel, but I just feel this novel was not on book ones level. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fantastic novel, However Senlin Ascends was like finding a bag of magic mushrooms devouring the whole bag in one mouthful, then sitting back and letting your mind go on a wild incredible fun journey. (Not that I’d know anything about mushrooms). I feel like Arm of the Sphinx was missing the weird & wonderful vibes that the first novel had and it made my enjoyment of the novel descend, the main reason why I loved Senlin Ascends so much is because the world felt so new and unique, I had never read anything like it before, however with this novel I feel like I know the world well and there wasn’t a whole lot of weird happening or any new themes. Basically just your standard Steampunk book with a couple of twists. In reality I was just here for the weird, but got none except a talking spoon who flys on a tea tray
“He looks like a spoon.”
“Like a spoon?”
“A spoon,” Edith said with utter conviction.
Voleta laughed and immediately apologized.”. Aside from my mind not being blown to smitherines while reading, I still enjoyed it a lot, in fact I smiled the whole entire time while reading it. Josiah Bancroft has a way with words, his sentences are so wonderfully beautiful and poetic, this is the type of writing I love. Asides from the writing being so lovely, it’s also very clever, well thought and every sentence has its own hidden meaning, so it’s thought provoking, a lot of authors try to write like this but fail miserably, whereas Bancroft achieves it effortlessly. I’m in awe of his writing prowess & you must remember folks that this is a debut series, so clearly Bancroft was created by the universe to deliver beautiful writing to all us readers.
“We are, each of us, a multitude. I am not the man I was this morning, nor the man of yesterday. I am a throng of myself queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.”
The story follows Tom Senlin now known as Tom Mudd, who was once a mild mannered man on a journey looking for his lost wife, a year has passed and the tower has corrupted Tom, gone are the days of the innocent headmaster, he is now a savage brigand pirate on the run with his crew. A bunch of misfits who Tom rescued. They are still looking for Toms wife but now are taking the journey on an Airship called The Stone Cloud. Toms crew consists of three women, Edith a woman with a mechanical arm, Voleta an acrobatic free spirit (my favourite character) & Iren a woman who is stronger then a man. The only men on board are Tom & Adam, who have had their differences in the past. Tom is haunted by the ghost of his wife, the whole crew have been keeping secrets from each other and in time those secrets will throw the gang into turmoil. The novel consists of three main Arcs & only one new level of the tower is introduced which is the Silk Gardens, I’m really looking forward to them reaching the top of the tower hopefully in the next novel, my mind is absolutely reeling with unanswered questions.
“This violence had affected him like a shot of brandy, leaving him clear-headed and vigilant. It was a surprise to find that violence could work in such a way, and he wondered if it was like brandy in other ways: was violence clarifying in doses but intoxicating in excess? Could one deal out murder responsibly, even civilly? Was violence, like wine, the midwife of philosophy?”
This time around the story is told in Multi person POV, instead of just Tom’s first person POV, which I should add made the story more refreshing and suspenseful. There is a lot more violence and badassery this time around. But I definitely had a few issues with the story, it was actually pretty boring at the start I was losing interest in the story very quickly, I also expected more from the silk gardens, however the last ARC made up for all the boringness I had to force myself to read through and it did get weirder as the story went. I didn’t once feel truly entranced by the story and felt there was a lack of feeling charmed. Which is really important to me, I want to be so immersed into a story I sacrifice sleep, but with this novel I didn’t get that feeling I was kind ‘meh’ about it, the plot is definitely a slow burn and I was hoping for a lot more progression in this series then we actually got. I guess what I’m trying to say is I expected more? I feel this novel was just a big introduction into the ‘larger scheme of things’ and definitely was a setup for the later volumes. Which does excite me and leave me wanting more, due to the lack of closure and the fact I have so many unanswered questions, please Bancroft stop torturing me and hurry up and finish The Hod King, because quite frankly I need more and I need it now. But there was a few good things in the novel too, the displays of friendships and character development was truly satisfying. I’m so glad that Orbit has picked up this series and definitely feel this hidden gem has always been deserving of being a published best seller. This is one of those series that I’ll remember forever.
“I have eaten the chocolate. To the future me that reads this: I am sorry. It was delicious.”
Recommended to everyone over the age of 15. If you love steampunk you’ll love this series and I’ll also recommend it to any reader looking for something different and memorable.
P.S. If you need me you’ll find me in the basement still on the beer-me-go-rounds.
Review by Luna