Continuing on from where The Arm of the Sphinx left off, having made acquaintances with the mysterious figure known as the Sphinx. The Sphinx has given Senlin, Iren Voleta, and Edith have been given individual tasks to complete.
Firstly, Senlin is sent by the Sphinx to conduct an investigation in the ringdom called Pelphia. The Sphinx believes an uprising is imminent and wishes Senlin to find out what is going on exactly. The survival of The Tower depends on it! Senlin uses a disguise and a different name to uncover what is going on in Pelphia. He finds out that Hods (those who owe a debt are made slaves known as Hods) are being made to fight within a coliseum for the entertainment of the rich and public. When Senlin decides to help a Hod who are being beaten, authorities believe he was involved in murder after the Hod kills the assailant. Senlin also doesn’t listen to the Sphinx and decides to find and rescue his wife Marya. This leads to more complications and unexpected reunions.
Staying with Pelphia, Voleta has been tasked with pretending to be a noble woman along with Iren who poses as her maidservant(but is actually her bodyguard). Voleta uses the disguise of pretending to be the niece of the Sphinx. Voleta wishes to make contact with Marya so that she can rescue her for Senlin. However, as usual Voleta manages to get unnecessary attention on her self. This throws a spanner in the works.
Finally, Edith who is now captain of the Sphinx’s ship is tasked with discovering the secrets behind a painting which may uncover the secrets of the Tower. She will find an old friend but at the same time discover treachery.
Relationships and friendships will be tested throughout their journey. Each will attempt to look under every nook and cranny as they aim to find out the Towers secrets. They may not like what they find though but find they will.
First thing that I would like to discuss about this series is consistency. This series consistently keeps raising the bar with every book. As we all know with many series, the more it goes on the more likely at least one book in that series may miss the mark. I’m glad to say The Hod King has hit the spot again three times in a row and has reiterated how phenomenal the Books of Babel series is.
Much of the story takes place in Pelphia. Voleta, Senlin, Iren, and Edith have all been given “side missions” that they must complete. These tasks are of key importance to the overall story. Voleta for example must infiltrate high society. In doing so however she gains more attention than she needs which could derail everything. Senlin has been tasked with investigating a suspected uprising. But he goes off course and decides to reach out to his wife Marya who ***SPOILER ALERT*** is now married to Duke Wilhelm Horace Pell. Willingly or unwillingly we do not know but there is definitely something fishy going on!
When considering the setting, I loved the setting of Pelphia as it felt so alive and I felt like I had travelled into the past which was actually the future. I dunno if that makes sense but I’ve been playing a game on my phone called 80 Days based on the Jules Verne novel. That’s the vibe I’ve been getting throughout this series. At the face of things Pelphia is a beautiful paradise but underneath there are a lot of ugly things occuring.
I loved how adventurous the story was too. It’s full of even more heart pounding edge of your seat moments. I thought The Arm of the Sphinx was full of action but The Hod King took it to another left. The action sequences were tantalizing and full of heart in your mouth moments.
When considering the characters, the story is told from the POV from Edith, Voleta, Iren, and Senlin. All 4 of these characters have more depth than a Cornetto ice cream cone. It’s just so interesting learning more and more about them and the life they have lived. Two characters who really stole the show for me were Voleta and Senlin. Senlin for me shows that humans aren’t all that shit. He is a good man full of heart and is undying love for Marya is just 🥺. My only nit pick is that I wish there was more of Senlin in this book! I do love all the other characters but I feel I’m more attached to his. In terms of Voleta she was an absolute delight and I loved how she gave zero f****. She just wants to do things her way and I loved that about her.
We also learn a lot more about side characters such as Byron the mechanical deer and the machines & monsters the Sphinx has created. We also see the return of characters from the previous books returning! I for one was very happy to see the return of old enemies and friends! The Hods have more of an important role in this book as we see why dissent among them is imminent.
Overall, Josiah Bancroft has created a work of art with this series. I was again glued to the pages and did not want to budge until I finished the book. After that incredible climax I’m both excited and worried about what is to come in the final book. Thank you to Angela and Orbit for getting me hooked to this series!