Senlin Ascends

Senlin Ascends : Book One of the Books of Babel

4.15 (22,768 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Gracefully written, deliriously imaginative, action-packed, warm, witty and thought-provoking' Madeline Miller, author of Circe

'One of my favourite books of all time' - Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns

'I'm wildly in love with this book' - Pierce Brown, author of Red Rising


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. 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.

'Brilliant' - Publishers Weekly

'I loved it' - Django Wexler

'An engrossing intoxicating delight' - Forbidden Planet

'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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Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 30mm | 300g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0356510816
  • 9780356510811
  • 16,750

Review Text

Wonderfully unique and superbly well written. I loved every page
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Review quote

Josiah Bancroft is a magician. His books are that rare alchemy: gracefully written, deliriously imaginative, action-packed, warm, witty and thought-provoking. I can't wait for more -- Madeline Miller, author of CIRCE It's rare to find a modern book that feels like a timeless classic. I'm wildly in love with this book -- Pierce Brown, author of RED RISING Senlin Ascends is one of the best reads I've had in ages . . . I was dragged in and didn't escape until I'd finished . . . So many lines made me deeply jealous. Clever, literary, insightful lines that cut to the quick of the matter. The story is compelling. It unfolds and unfolds. Because the characters are excellently drawn, I cared very much about where it was all going. The imagination is unbound and intriguing . . . I hope it finds the audience it deserves -- Mark Lawrence Wonderfully unique and superbly well written. I loved every page -- Nicholas Eames, author of KINGS OF THE WYLD An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece -- FANTASY BOOK REVIEW Brilliant debut fantasy . . . this novel goes off like a firework and suggests even greater things in the author's future -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Senlin Ascends crosses the everyday strangeness and lyrical prose of Borges and Gogol with all the action and adventure of high fantasy. I loved it, and grabbed the next one as soon as I turned the last page -- Django Wexler An impressive display of imagination and humour . . . we have no reservations about recommending it -- SCIFINOW A terrific, free-ranging fantasy that ranges from Kafkaesque horror to heist thriller . . . This book is bonkers, entertaining, clever and - quite possibly - unique -- PORNOKITSCH Senlin Ascends was a fantastic read, and felt truly unique. I will most definitely be reading the rest of Bancroft's work -- BOOKNEST What is remarkable about this novel, quite apart from its rich, allusive prose, is Bancroft's portrayal of Senlin, a good man in a desperate situation, and the way he changes in response to his experiences in his ascent -- GUARDIAN An engrossing, intoxicating delight - I can't wait to climb higher -- FORBIDDEN PLANET I LOVED this book. It is one of the most imaginative, beautifully done novels I have read in a long time. Incredibly hard to stop reading once you start, you just fall into this world the author has created, following along with Thomas as he searches desperately for his wife, ascending upwards through this vivid, insane and exceptionally described landscape -- LIZ LOVES BOOKS This really is quite a remarkable book. The characters are truly memorable and I found the plot utterly engrossing. I don't think I can properly express how much I enjoyed this experience. My advice, buy the book and just dive on in. Be prepared for the trip of a lifetime, I can guarantee you are going to be entertained -- THE ELOQUENT PAGE The tower is a fresh, imaginative tapestry of diverse, colourful locales, and it successfully conveys a sense of energy and corruption in one word after another. This is a roaring, virile place, crackling with life . . . it's a cracking read - there's betrayals, firm friendships, battles, banter, and even true love. It's a charming, fascinating piece, and I highly recommend it. -- SCI-FI AND FANTASY REVIEWS Rich detail and intelligent prose that is absolutely chock-full of character pulled me into the story . . . Absolutely a book to read, to own, and to love. Couldn't recommend it more. -- ELITIST BOOK REVIEWS This is an exceedingly rich book. A depth of imagination married with a poetic turn of phrase and an engaging cast of characters conspire to deliver an epic story soaring high above the clouds . . . Thomas Senlin himself 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 The world building in this book is phenomenal . . . Senlin Ascends starts off with a bang, and it never slows down. With its breathtaking pace, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has adventure, intrigue, action, fantasy, Steampunk elements, and mystery all wrapped around a story of a man coming to grips with the fact that nothing is as he expected -- SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW I absolutely loved this book, and can't wait to see what challenges Senlin faces in the sequel -- ETERNAL ESCAPIST A towering achievement -- B&N SCI-FI AND FANTASY BLOG Bancroft succeeds amazingly in creating a baffling world that offers little tenderness or hope, but in which the pursuit of instinct and love, dedication and shared sacrifice can overcome barriers . . . . The reader will find much to applaud -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Senlin Ascends is an adventure rife with character, voice and beauty - a well-polished knife drawn out slowly -- Sam Sykes I absolutely adored it. The world is amazing, the characters are well thought out and interesting, and it wraps these aspects together with a great plot, and some really good prose -- THE FANTASY INN Creative world-building and memorable characters . . . Senlin is a man worth rooting for, and his strengthening resolve and character is as marvelous and sprawling as the tower he climbs -- WASHINGTON POST What a spectacular debut it is . . . a fabulously gripping start to a series. Senlin is a likable character and the Tower is a fascinating setting: I can't wait to return for the second instalment -- BOOKBAG a fascinating, chewy read, full of wonders; battles, monsters, cowardice, redemption and hope. The start of a trilogy, this is one you'll not want to miss -- BLUE BOOK BALLOON Just as mesmerizing, exciting, and fun as all the reviewers say it is . . . I'm excited to see where Bancroft can take this concept. What starts as a simple rescue, quickly becomes one of the most captivating mysteries I have ever read and a beautiful journey of self discovery. I highly recommend you check out this new entrant into the fantasy scene, and I don't see the buzz surrounding it dying down anytime soon -- THE QUILL TO LIVE This is the kind of book that sticks with you, and I haven't read anything quite like it before . . . I would give this book the highest recommendation -- THE NOVEL ENTHUSIAST Delightfully quirky world-building . . . Event-packed and thoroughly readable -- SFX With deceptive simplicity Bancroft brings this gothic place and its denizens to a colourful life . . . I loved it! -- Adrian Selby, author of SNAKEWOOD
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About Josiah Bancroft

Before settling down to write fantasy novels, Josiah Bancroft was a poet, college instructor and aspiring comic book artist. When he is not writing, he enjoys recording the Crit Faced podcast with his authorial friends, drawing the world of the Tower and cooking dinner without a recipe. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sharon, their daughter, Maddie and their two rabbits, Mabel and Chaplin.

More examples of his work, including updates on upcoming instalments in the Books of Babel series, can be found at
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Rating details

22,768 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 42% (9,477)
4 38% (8,748)
3 14% (3,284)
2 4% (913)
1 2% (346)
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