Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft can go down as one of the best fantasy reads I have ever read. I am honestly lost for words at how phenomenal this book was and wish I had read it sooner! Josiah Bancroft has created a world and a character in Thomas Senlin that will linger in your mind forever.
The story focuses on the character of Thomas Senlin, a headmaster and newlywed to his wife Marya. Having saved up his money, Thomas decides to take Marya to the famous and known far wide place called the Tower of Babel for their honeymoon. The Tower of Babel consists of different and unique levels known as ringdoms. Ringdoms are like little round kingdoms stacked up on each other like a cake. Each of them is unique to the other and operate in different ways.
They’re like the thirty-six states of Ur, each unique in their way, but instead of being spread out across the map, the ringdoms are stacked up like a birthday cake.” The class tittered at her spontaneous analogy,
Things go horribly wrong for this newlywed couple when they arrive. Senlin carelessly ends up losing his wife and then his luggage. In his desperation, Senlin begins to ascend up the tower in order to find his wife. But as great stories go, it’s never that simple. Senlin will face many dangers on his journey up the tower.
Man where do I even begin with this review. I wish I could just say “it’s great, buy it!” And end things there but that wouldn’t be a review 🤣. I guess where I should start is with the character of Thomas Senlin. Senlin is hands down one of my favourite characters of all time. He’s intelligent, has a good heart, but incredibly naive at the start. However, after experiencing the worst of things on the tower, he soon realizes nobody in the tower should be trusted and that be must keep his wits about him. Thomas soon becomes a man of action as he wants to save his wife from the perils she may be enduring. What I really loved about the character of Senlin was the fact that he is an ordinary guy and an unlikely hero. His character comes across as genuine and realistic which makes him so likeable!
There are also many stupendous side characters who have great backstories showing of their predicaments and relationship with The Tower. Those characters being Adam, Finn Goll, Iren, Edith, and Tarrou. All of these characters are highly memorable with great personalities.
I would be a muppet if I didn’t talk about the world building. The world building is one of the most unique worlds I’ve ever come across. The vibe I got from it was the world of the Bioshock game series, in particular my favourite game in the series, Bioshock Infinite. It had such a unique and memorizing world that I couldn’t help but get lost in. Each of the ringdoms are distinct from one another making it an absolute joy to uncover their secrets and stories hidden within them. Also in relation to Bioshock Infinite, the game takes place in this so called utopia called Columbia. However behind the beauty, there is a lot of corruption and terrible things occuring. Much of the lore and knowledge of the Tower of Babel comes from people who haven’t even been. It’s painted as this amazing place where everything is dandy. But as we learn that is far from the case.
..the Tower is a tar pit. Once you put a toe in her, you’re caught forever. No one leaves. No one goes home.
Finally in terms of the writing, Josiah Bancroft is great at creating a sense of wonder and awe. The book also read and felt like a classic that wasn’t a classic If that makes sense? I liked as well that the chapters were short yet impactful. I just wanted to continue reading without taking breaks.
Overall, this is nothing short of a masterpiece in my eyes. Josiah Bancroft is an incredible storyteller and now one of my favourite authors. I can’t wait to continue this series and look forward to ascending The Tower of Babel.