Discover the extraordinary debut that has everyone talking.
Mild-mannered headmaster Thomas Senlin prefers his adventures to be safely contained within the pages of a book. So when he loses his new bride shortly after embarking on the honeymoon of their dreams, he is ill-prepared for the trouble that follows.
To find her, Senlin must enter the Tower of Babel - a world of geniuses and tyrants, of menace and wonder, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. He must endure betrayal, assassination attempts and the long guns of a flying fortress. And if he hopes to ever see his wife again, he will have to do more than just survive...this quiet man of letters must become a man of action.
©2013 Josiah Bancroft (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group
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Critic reviews

"One of my favourite books of all time." (Mark Lawrence)
"An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece." (Fantasy Book Review)
"Thomas Senlin is the most unlikely yet likeable hero since a certain hobbit rushed out of Bag End leaving his second breakfast half-finished and entirely unwashed-up." (Fantasy Faction)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Simon on 21-01-18

Senlin Snags Me By The End!

It's not often I feel conflicted about what rating to give a book but this is definitely an example. Senlin Ascends really is a pure fantasy, almost a Fantasia in the sense that there is no attempt to do any kind of vaguely logical world-building. Instead a mild mannered small school headteacher is plunged into a mystical tower which is idealised as the height of human achievement when in reality it's anything but. Senlin is driven to explore the levels of this enormous structure, each contains its own almost self-contained society with absolutely no suggestion of anything about how they interact paying more than lip service to logic. It's almost like an extended fable.

This of course gives the writer enormous ease and freedom and Bancroft doesn't hold back filling each of the levels or "Ringdoms" with a colourful army of larger than life characters and crazy inventions such as the "Beer-me-up" I think it was. It made me laugh at the thought of it anyway - an end to climate change? The narration by John Banks suits the tone of the book very well. He delivered the author's at times incredibly clever and literate prose in just the right manner.

To me though the whole thing only really took off in the last three to four hours when a lot of threads came together and the story and its hero really seemed to emerge as a strong character. For this reason and the fact that this will drive you insane if you need any level of logic to apply to your fantasy I'm sticking at four stars for the whole thing.

However, by the end of those last few hours I feel as if I've been snagged on Senlin's coat tails and will likely take the second of what I've heard is to be a four book series when it comes out in March.

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9 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By JPA on 29-01-18

Unique. Brilliant.

I've never read a story quite like it.

Victorianesque in setting and feel, with steampunk elements and an industrious, mysterious tower as its main focus. This single POV story witnesses true character progression and setting discovery. Twists, turns, alliances and betrayals.

Enter the tower and walk along side Senlin as his ardous climb through level and status surprises and amazes you.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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