[FRIDAY FIRST] Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft (Books of Babel #1)

On Friday I always have this bookish meme in which I feature my current read and dive into it a bit more. I came across this article over at Tenacious Reader’s blog and fell in love at the spot, and I’ve loved writing this article so far.


| What kind of article is Friday First? |

It will feature the first few sentences/paragraph of my current book and my first impressions as well. It’s meant to be a quick and easy way to share a bit about what I am reading, and I would love to hear others join in sharing their current reads as well.

The format is really simple. Include a quote. Include first impressions, it will not be a long drawn out analysis of the text or grand speculation of what is to come. Just a brief overview of how I’m feeling about the beginning of the book.


| Today’s Book |

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
#1 in the Books of Babel
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk
Published by Orbit
Pages: 389, paperback

About Senlin Ascends:

The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

| First Paragraph|

It was a four-day journey by train from the coast to the desert where the Towel of Babel rose like a tusk from the jaw of the earth. First, they had crossed pastureland, spotted with fattened cattle and charmless hamlets, and then their train had climbed through a range of snow-veined mountains where condors roosted in their nests large as haystacks.

Already, they were farther from home than they had ever been. They descended through shale foothills, which he said reminded him of a field of shattered blackboards, through cypress trees, which she said looked like open parasols, and finally they came upon the arid basin. The ground was the color of rusted chains, and the dust of it clung to everything. The desert was far from deserted.

The train shared a direction with a host of caravans, each a slithering line of wheels, hooves and feet. Over the course of the morning, the bands of traffic thickened until they converged into a great mass so dense that their train was forced to slow to a crawl. Their cabin seemed to wade through the boisterous tide of stagecoaches and ow drawn wagons, through the tourists, pilgrims, migrants, and merchants from every state in the vast nation of Ur.

Thomas Senlin and Marya, his new bride, peered at the human menagerie through the open window of their sunny sleeper car. Her china white hand lay weightlessly atop his long fingers. A little troop of red breasted soldiers slouched on palominos, parting a family in checkered headscarves on camelback. The trumpet of elephants sounded over the clack of the train, and here and there in the hot winds high above them, airships lazed, drifting inexorably toward the tower of Babel. The balloons that held the ships aloft were as colorful as maypoles.

Since turning toward the Tower, they had been unable to see the grand spire from their cabin window. But this did not discourage Senlin’s description of it. “There is a lot of debate over how many levels there are. Some scholars say there are fifty-two, others say as many as sixty. It’s impossible to judge from the ground”, Senlin said, continuing the litany of facts he’d brought to his young wife’s attention over the course of their journey. “A number of men, mostly aeronauts and mystics, say that they have seen the top of it. Of course, none of them have any evidence to back up their boasts. Some of those explorers even claim that the Tower is still being raised, if you can believe that.” These trivial facts comforted him, as all facts did. Thomas Senlin was a reserved and naturally timid man who took confidence in schedules and regimens and written accountants.

| First – Second or Third, lol – Impressions |

I have to say that the start of the book isn’t the most action packed one or anything as you could see for yourself haha. This can come across as a bit boring even,  maybe seeing the elaborated way of writing the author has. I have a feeling it’s a book in which the story picks up and it gets better and better. I can’t wait to find out if this is really the case.

At the moment of writing this article, Wednesday June 12th, I’ve only been 2 chapters in and I find it really interesting. There isn’t much to say about the book yet, but I definitely can’t wait to find out what turn the story is going to take.

The world building is going to be really great I think, seeing how extended the writing is about everything. I love how the author elaborates on everything. But it’s also a read that you have to be in the right kind of mood for I guess. Isabelle, whom I buddy reading this book with, are reading according to a schedule; 6 chapters per day and I think that reading this one with a schedule is a really good thing to do for me. The writing is good, but this kind of writing has me also wanting to read something else in between, you know? So reading only ‘so many’ chapters per day suits me fine with this book haha.


What are you reading right now and did it start out good or not? What are your first thoughts about your current read? Love to hear from you.


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