The Fall of Babel: A satisfying and emotional ending

The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft

The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThomas Senlin’s bizarre, chaotic, and perilous adventure in the Tower of Babel finally ends in the fourth book of Josiah Bancroft’s BOOKS OF BABEL series: The Fall of Babel. If you haven’t read the first three books, Senlin Ascends, Arm of the Sphinx, and The Hod King, stop now and get those under your belt before reading this review. I don’t want to spoil them for you. I recommend picking up Hachette Audio’s editions read by John Banks. They are so entertaining.

The Fall of Babel begins, thankfully, with a recap of all that’s gone on before. Then, before we join Thomas and his friends in their search for Marya, we see what happened to Adam after he was captured. In Adam’s plotline we learn a lot more about how the tower works, why it was constructed, and how the intentions of its creator have been warped over time.

At just over a quarter of the way through The Fall of Babel, we finally shift away from Adam and get back to Thomas’s point of view. Under the control of the zealot Luke Marat, Thomas is inside a siege engine called the Hod King which is making its way through the tower (and perhaps beginning to destabilize it). Along the way Marat is collecting the paintings that, for some reason we’re not aware of yet, are very important.

Thomas hopes to distinguish himself in Marat’s eyes and gain his trust. His goal is to get some inside information and agency so he can sabotage Marat’s plans to get revenge on the Sphinx. He also, most importantly, hopes to find his wife Marya and the baby daughter he’s never met.The Books of Babel (Book Series) by Josiah Bancroft

Fortunately, Thomas has made some friends in the tower and they have various reasons to feel loyal to him. We get some of their points of view, also, as the story progresses. Everyone has a role to play in a huge final showdown where we’ll finally get more answers and the fate of the tower will be decided.

Will Senlin find Marya? And, if so, will she even want him back? Or, because of the time that’s passed, the traumatic experiences that have changed them, and the people they’ve met along the way, have the young honeymooning couple’s affections taken them each in different directions? I’m not telling.

While The Fall of Babel is a satisfying and emotional ending to one of the better fantasy series published in the last decade, it’s not my favorite book in the series and that’s because (1) the answers to all of the mysteries aren’t quite as innovative and interesting as I was hoping they’d be, especially considering how fresh the entire series’ setting and premise is, and (2) we get the story from multiple perspectives, not just Thomas’s. As I mentioned in my review of Arm of the Sphinx, Bancroft’s other character’s voices pale in comparison to that of the erudite, insightful, and witty Thomas Senlin. This is especially felt in the first quarter of the book which is narrated by Adam.

Even so, I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know Thomas Senlin – he’s a character who will stick with me – and I eagerly look forward to Josiah Bancroft’s next creation.

Published in 2021. As Marat’s siege engine bores through the Tower, erupting inside ringdoms and leaving chaos in its wake, Senlin can do nothing but observe the mayhem from inside the belly of the beast. Caught in a charade, Senlin desperately tries to sabotage the rampaging Hod King, even as Marat’s objective grows increasingly clear. The leader of the zealots is bound for the Sphinx’s lair and the unimaginable power it contains. In the city under glass at the Tower’s summit, Adam discovers a utopia where everyone inexplicably knows the details of his past. As Adam unravels the mystery of his fame, he soon discovers the crowning ringdom conceals a much darker secret. Aboard the State of Art, Edith and her crew adjust to the reality that Voleta has awoken from death changed. She seems to share more in common with the Red Hand now than her former self. While Edith wars for the soul of the young woman, a greater crisis looms: They will have to face Marat on unequal footing and with Senlin caught in the crossfire. And when the Bridge of Babel is finally opened, and the Brick Layer’s true ambition revealed, neither they nor the Tower will ever be the same again.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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2 comments

  1. Kevin S. /

    (Spoiler Warning for those who haven’t read Senlin Ascends yet)

    I read Senlin Ascends a couple weeks ago and it was ok. My biggest disappointment was that Senlin never found his wife. That told me that he won’t find her in books 2, 3, and most of book 4, either. I had assumed that each of the books in the series would have a different plot or objective. TBH the ride in Senlin Ascends wasn’t that good that it can continue for another 1,000-ish pages and keep my interest. I’m still debating whether I should continue with the series or just skip to the last 50-100 pages of The Fall of Babel.

    • Hi Kevin,
      I’m sorry you didn’t like these as well as I do. I just love Senlin’s voice and his observations. I love the tower, too. If you read the rest of the series, let me know what you think at the end.

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