Friday, August 17, 2018

Senlin Ascends

I haven't been able to really sit down and read a novel in a long time, so I'm very happy that I found Senlin Ascends and was able to finish the book over the course of two days. It is the kind of adventure story that is set in the type of complex and fantastical environment that I really enjoy, and written by author Josiah Bancroft in a rich but clear style.

The story was originally self published in 2013, then picked up by Orbit Books and released sometime earlier this year.

The tale begins with Thomas and Marya Senlin on their honeymoon to visit the magnificent feat of architecture and engineering that is the Tower of Babel.

The tower consists of an unknown number of levels known as ringdoms, and reaches high into the sky. The outer walls are a quarter mile thick, and the surface of the tower are studded with docks for various types of airships that allow people and goods to ascend the tower without having to make their way up the stairs at the center of the various ringdoms.

Moments after arriving at the foot of the tower, Thomas and Marya become separated, and the remainder of the novel describes Thomas' efforts to make his way up the tower to be reunited with his wife. It may sound a bit like Tower of God in this respect, but the stories are quite different.

Some reviewers have complained about the slow pacing, but I did not particularly feel that there was any need to hurry the story along. I will have to admit that the flashback sequences did somewhat interrupt the flow and tension that was building up at various parts of the story (though I also understand the reason they were used where they were). Others have complained about the nature of the main character, but I think they fail to remember he is more Ichabod Crane than Prof. Henry Walton Jones Jr. (particularly at the start of the story).

I'll just leave it at that, but I highly recommend the book, and can't wait to read the remaining two volumes of the series.

One of the things that I found with this book was that I seemed to recognize some very specific references to other forms of media when I read various passages in the book. I think that some of these are probably intentional, while others may just be the product of my imagination. I guess only Bancroft can confirm or deny my suspicions. In no particular order...

Marya in the classroom

The towel handkerchief is the universal utensil of the seasoned traveler.

The Red Hand(s)

Inside a Crumb house

I went bird watching and saw a grackle.

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