Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft – or the book that changed my mind on Indie Authors

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Oh my goodness, the prose in this book – gorgeous, right from the start this the story telling was so gorgeous and totally fresh. I’m typically a person who gets annoyed by a bunch of simile and metaphor, preferring a more straight forward story telling unless I’m in the mood for something more ‘flowery’ – is that the right word? This is a huge exception though, I don’t know what it is specifically, but the simile and metaphors he use just work so god damn well!!!!

This book takes place in a tower, a HUGE MONSTROUS TOWER. I think this is the largest structure in a book I’ve read that’s terrestrial and not a space station or something. Shitty picture ahoy, I tried finding a better one but I don’t know what to put into google to the original site 

That’s right, this tower dwarfs Saurons tower.

The arc for the main character was fantastic, he goes from naive and stiff to someone who is starting to think for himself and think on his feet. I hear people say this book starts out slow because they don’t like the main character – however if you find yourself not liking him worry not! He will develop and get better.

This was my first fantasy book that could be qualified as a “steampunk” and I loved it – I got excited when I saw r/fantasy bingo had a Steampunk Square.

There’s a scene that was horrifying but fascinating. There’s a person called The Red Hand, who uses a potion like substance to give him extra power – think Bioshock Infinite with the different colored elixirs that give the MC different capabilities. This guy is also a huge asshole – you’ll hate him. 

This book is pretty quotable too, “Long dies the revolution! We have wasted our lives, painter, but I at least have not burdened the world with proof of it”. 

The plot of this book is that the main character, Senlin, has lost his wife in a crowd during his honeymoon. They were planning a trip to visit the tower, and they were going to stay in the Baths level (a level in the tower dedicated to luxury), but with this being pre-phone era and no way to find her he sets out to find her within the tower. This is significantly more difficult than it sounds. Each rung of the tower, or Ringdoms has a specific theme, and it’s not uncommon to be enslaved if you run out of money, branded and maimed if you do something to warrant it in their eyes, or be out right killed by The Red Hand. The Tower isn’t what he thought it was going to be, and watching him realize that something  he idolized is a farse is a great progression.

On reddit this author has answered a few questions including why he chose to self publish – he didn’t want an editor messing with his story.  Good decision! I wouldn’t he changed a thing. This book completely changed my mind on quality books being found in independently published works! 

I bought Arm of the Sphinx which is book 2 in the Babel series, and I actually enjoyed that read even more since it switched from single person to multi POV – something I generally prefer in books.

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