Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft

I finished Arm of the Sphinx last night, nearing midnight, and at the time I was unsure of how to write this review. I spent quite a while staring at the ceiling as my brain tried to comprehend all the twists and turns I’d just read through. To put my thoughts into the most succinct form possible: this book is amazing.

Arm of the Sphinx is a fantastic continuation on the amazing series start, and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 3 (The Hod King).

Setting

Arm of the Sphinx is book 2 in the Books of Babel, and sticks to the same general setting as Senlin Ascends, the Tower of Babel. Josiah further develops his world, exploring different ringdoms of the Tower, its history, and other little tidbits along the way. With the basis of the Tower already established in Senlin Ascends, Josiah takes us much deeper into the world and its history. The Tower of Babel still inspires a sense of awe in me as I read about it. The sheer scale and complexity, combined with the steampunk technological marvels, is awesome.

Characters

Senlin Ascends and Arm of the Sphinx feel very different character wise. Where Senlin Ascends focused on introducing the characters and who they were before the Tower, Arm of the Sphinx is focused on how the Tower changes them and how they grow and develop through their experiences. This is summarised quite nicely at one point:

We are, each of us, a multitude. I am not the man I was this morning, nor the man of yesterday. I am a throng of myself queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.

Plot

I don’t want to say too much here for fear of spoiling Senlin Ascends. The plot as a whole is much faster paced in Arm of the Sphinx. The major setup has already occured in Senlin Ascends, leaving Josiah to run free in his literary playground, and play he does. There are epic moments where you can’t believe what’s happening, moments where you want to shout for joy, and moments where your jaw just can’t get off the floor.

Other Thoughts

If you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely adored this book, and it is easily one of my favourites. Aspects of Josiah’s writing — descriptions in particular — are quite unique, and help to make the read so enjoyable. I personally loved the way the book was written, and think Arm of the Sphinx has the most highlights of any kindle book so far. There were just so many parts that I loved.

Arm of the Sphinx is set to rerelease in paperback and audiobook on the 15th of March. You can check out my review of book 1, Senlin Ascends, here.

Audience

This book is probably best for people who like:

  • I honestly don’t know what to put here for this one. I think everyone should read this book!
  • Humans  
  • Also stags
  • Bunnies too

Ok, but seriously, this book is great for people who like:

  • Steampunk
  • Character development
  • Great worldbuilding
  • Interesting plots

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