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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.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful