- Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2).
- Josiah Bancroft.
- 432 pages.
- Fantasy / Steampunk / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Forced by necessity into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew struggle to survive aboard their stolen airship as the hunt for his lost wife continues. But the Tower of Babel is proving to be as difficult to re-enter as it was to escape.
Hopeless and desolate, they turn to a legend of the tower, the mysterious Sphinx. But help from the sphinx doesn’t come cheaply and, as Senlin knows, debts aren’t always what they seem in the Tower of Babel.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You can find the link to my review for Senlin Ascends, the first book in the Books of Babel series below:
I found Arm of the Sphinx particularly at the beginning to be far more action-oriented than Senlin Ascends. Whereas the previous book starts rather sedately building the setting of the illustrious Tower of Babel and the character of Thomas Senlin this time around Bancroft starts things off with an action-packed bang.
The start of Arm of the Sphinx is akin to a piratical tale as the Stone Cloud (the airship that Senlin and now going under the alias Captain Tom Mudd stole at the end of Senlin Ascends) and its crew of intrepid explorers are forced by necessity into a life of pirating as they attempt to find a way back in to the Tower of Babel. Things do somewhat taper off after Senlin and the crew manage to re-enter the aforementioned Tower and after their adventure in the Silk Gardens concludes. When they finally meet the mysterious Sphinx the book changes to focusing more on the characters and their individual development.
Arm of the Sphinx is somewhat different in tone to Senlin Ascends, it’s predecessor. Senlin’s search for his wife is still the main and overarching story for The Books of Babel series and the ultimate goal for Senlin but in Arm of the Sphinx, it takes a far less prominent role as we learn more about the machinations and internal strife that are plaguing the tower.
Though ably supported by a secondary cast of characters Senlin Ascends was predominantly the lone tale of Thomas Senlin and his search for Marya, his wife. With Arm of the Sphinx Bancroft switches style so that the once secondary set of characters are all given more pages to themselves and time in the story. Instead of Arm of the Sphinx being a solitary tale it’s a group effort with Adam, Voleta (who apart from Senlin himself is my favourite character, a spunky wise-ass), Iren and Edith all taking on the mantle of main characters alongside Senlin with each being allowed plenty of page space by Bancroft and given the chance to shine, grow and partake in their own separate escapades and adventures.
We get to delve deeper into the Tower, its origins and its history in Arm of the Sphinx and let’s face it. The Tower of Babel is as much an integral part of the story as any of the other characters and is an utterly fascinating creation and setting.
To go with the crew of the Stone Cloud who we already know a few new characters are introduced by Bancroft. Without going into any undue detail I particularly found the Sphinx (from the title of the book) to be an absolutely enigmatic and surreal character and there was also something superb about Byron (a secondary character) too.
For me, the main focus in Arm of the Sphinx was in further developing and exploring the characters and in that aspect Bancroft does a wonderful job. Everyone is fully fleshed out and realised and you will find no one-dimensional cardboard cutout characters here.
It’s not all about the characters though and Arm of the Sphinx also moves the story forward, plant seeds for future showdowns and revelations and sets the story up nicely for the next instalment in the series, The Hod King.
Arm of the Sphinx leaves you wanting to find out what happens next, is a stellar continuation of The Books of Babel and an absolute pleasure to read. I, like I’m sure many others also are, am in awe of Bancroft and his imagination.
The Books of Babel are an extravaganza of ingenuity. I find myself enamoured by Bancroft’s creation, utterly enamoured!
Purchase Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2).
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