Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Senlin Ascends is one of those random finds that I probably wouldn't have touched on my own if it weren't for the recommendation of someone whose taste I trust. I follow an artist, Ian Leinto, and his work. He does the convention circuit often and I've had the pleasure of talking to him and his partner a few times. He recommended Senlin Ascends partially because he was responsible for the gorgeous cover art, but also because he's a friend of the author and a fan of the work.
Thomas Senlin and his wife Mayra are on their honeymoon in the famous Tower of Babel. They get separated almost immediately and Thomas loses his wife in the crowds. After a few weeks of trying to stay around the area that they got separated, he finally decides to strike out on his own in order to find her.
Thomas learns very quickly that he can trust no one but himself. The Tower is sectioned into multiple levels, all with their own laws and idiosyncrasies. Each level is described to be the size of a large city on their own. The grand scale of this world is incredibly described and the characters our MC comes into contact with are vibrantly detailed in their own personalities and motivations.
Tom is robbed and must find a way to survive without funds and armed only with his mind as he continues his journey to find his wife.
It's hard to tell you about this novel without giving too much of the plot away. Tom goes on multiple journeys throughout the book. He gets involved in a pantomime play, espionage, robbery, a bordello, an art heist…
This book has something for everyone and questions everything. It's a sweeping fantasy novel with so many rich layers that you'll be unpacking it for days.
Luckily, it's part of a series so you don't have to stop with book one. If you're looking for a fantasy novel that's light on magic and long on world building, you might just like this one. I will say that there were times where I felt like the story was dragging, but the author takes the time to explain each side character's motivation in a way that helps the story along…so that when that character does something later, you fully understand the ramifications of it. You'll see double crosses coming before Tom does but that's OK. The first thing you're told when you enter the Tower is to trust no one.
Take a chance on this one. You can trust ME, right?
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