Read Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft Online


The second book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon fantasy series about one man's dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world. "One of my favorite books of all time" - Mark Lawrence on Senlin AscendsThe Tower of Babel is proving to be as difficult to reenter as it was to break out of. Forced into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew are struggling to survive aboThe second book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon fantasy series about one man's dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world. "One of my favorite books of all time" - Mark Lawrence on Senlin AscendsThe Tower of Babel is proving to be as difficult to reenter as it was to break out of. Forced into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew are struggling to survive aboard their stolen airship as the hunt to rescue Senlin's lost wife continues.Hopeless and desolate, they turn to a legend of the Tower, the mysterious Sphinx. But help from the Sphinx never comes cheaply, and as Senlin knows, debts aren't always what they seem in the Tower of Babel. Time is running out, and now Senlin must choose between his friends, his freedom, and his wife.Does anyone truly escape the Tower?The Books of BabelSenlin AscendsArm of the Sphinx...

Title : Arm of the Sphinx
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316517959
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Arm of the Sphinx Reviews

  • Mark Lawrence
    2019-03-23 10:00

    It seems ridiculous to me that I should be only the 4th person to be reviewing this book.Like its predecessor it is a brilliant piece of work. I try to be positive about books where possible, and that can leave me stretching for adjectives when I hit a book that really *really*REALLYworks for me. So I've opted for repetition and playing with the font instead.I understand that everyone has different tastes, and mine aren't always in line with the mainstream, but ... dammit ... these two books are genius. I just love them. The story, characters and imagination shine, and even without the quality of the prose it would be a good tale. But the prose just makes me constantly jealous. Not just the wordplay, but the cleverness of the sentiment and observation behind it.I love the little snippets at the head of each chapter, taken from books that appear in the story and are apposite or relevant. "The essential lesson of the zoetrope is this: movement, indeed all progress, even the passage of time, is an illusion. Life is the repetition of stillness."On its own this is merely pretty, but in situ it's also a wonderful commentary.I'm not going to address the story excepting to say that any fear that Bancroft might have exhausted the novelty and mystery in book one is misplaced. Some weirdness is resolved, other weirdness added, everything seems interconnected and leading somewhere. It almost puts me in mind of LOST in that respect (though hopefully without the muddled and unsatisfying end).My central theme here is not to regale you with the particulars of the book (see my review of book 1 for more flavour) but to marvel that such a tremendous work of literature (there, I said the L-word) could languish so unnoticed in the wide ocean of self-published fantasy. It makes you wonder what else is out there.If these books don't gain some major recognition I will despair of the process... I will do my bit to spread the word but I don't yet know what the overlap of 'my readership' and 'people who like these books' is. Certainly they are very different, and just because Bancroft's work floats my boat doesn't mean someone who liked The Broken Empire will like them. I am sure, however, that there are very big numbers of readers out there who would LOVE this tale.I am, as of now, more keen and impatient for book 3 of this series (The Hod King) than I am for Rothfuss's Doors of Stone or GRRM's The Winds of Winter, both of which I am very eager to read.Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes..

  • Petrik
    2019-03-02 08:11

    Buddy read with my lovely friends: Melanie & Sarah ‘Raven’s Shadow’ by Anthony Ryan, ‘Riyria Revelations’ by Michael J. Sullivan and now 'The Books of Babel' by Josiah Bancroft, I’ll be surprised if this series didn’t become the next series to be included in the successful ‘Fantasy Indie Authors’ story.Arm of the Sphinx, the second book in The Books of Babel series continues months after the end of previous book. Each chapter still begins with memorable and philosophical quotes such as:“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.”I’ll get to the cons I had with the book later on, right now let me start with the things I love about the book.First, the myriad amount of characters developments and Senlin’s crew friendship. This is easily the main highlight of the book for me. Honestly, in terms of plot, it doesn’t really progressed that much. However, in this book we have a myriad of beautifully written development for all the characters. The author changes his narrative to multi POV now unlike the previous book where it focused solely on Senlin’s POV, and multi POV is almost always a plus for me. Senlin’s crew interactions and relationship also proceeds at a gradual and believable pace that I enjoyed immensely.Secondly, the amount of mystery and setup that were started here is amazing. I’m talking about the Part III or the second half of the book where the story was so compelling to read that I finished reading the last half in two sitting. I can safely say this is almost the same case with 'The Wise Man’s Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss, not in terms of the waiting game for the next book but for the plots thread that has to be resolved in the next book.Thirdly, the shift into steam punk genre is better than before. Skyship and sky pirates are now more dominant in the story and the mechanism are written with high intricacy that I adore, specifically on The Stone Cloud, Senlin’s crew main ship.Picture: The Stone Cloud (Art drawn by the author himself)And last but not least, the prose and the philosophical inclusion in the book. I don’t think I can explain the author’s prose here, it’s beautiful and every time the writing goes philosophical mode, I’m glued to the page completely. The climax sequence of the book itself for example is a philosophical fest that I enjoyed reading very much.“The essential lesson of the zoetrope is this: movement, indeed all progress, even the passage of time, is an illusion. Life is the repetition of stillness.”Now for the cons I had with the book, most of these are an "it's not you, it's me" situation so there's a high chance you won't agree with me.One of the biggest strength from 'Senlin Ascends' was its unique and bizarre settings that the author kept on throwing at us relentlessly. The previous book had four area of the Tower to explore, in this book; we only get two, The Silk Gardens and The Bottomless Library and none of them ever reached how great ‘The Bath’ was. This could be just me but my experience with the first half of the book isn’t something memorable. In fact, I find the pacing felt off and the story was boring for the first half, I was never compelled to pick up the book every time I took a break during part I and part II of the book. Finally, I can’t seem to bring myself to love the action sequences of the series so far. In the previous book, I had trouble immersing myself in the story every time an action sequence appeared and the same case can be applied here. I feel like the story is so much better when the characters were just talking, planning and executing their plans in comparison to when they're fighting.I honestly can’t wait to see how the story will continue on ‘The Hod King’. There are a lot of things that need to be resolved, but if Josiah Bancroft managed to pull it off, this will become a quartet to remember in the genre. Arm of the Sphinx, while slightly inferior in comparison to 'Senlin Ascends', is still a fantastic book. Orbit books truly landed a hidden gem here and in the upcoming next year, I'm sure this series will launch itself into success and popularity with its quality and I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves steampunk with great characterization and beautiful philosophical prose.You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest

  • James LafayetteTivendale
    2019-03-23 13:13

    I received an advance reader copy of Arm of the Sphinx in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Josiah Bancroft and Orbit Books. Bancroft's second outing in The Books of Babel series was originally self-published in 2015 and has recently been re-released through Orbit. Following on from Senlin Ascends, Thomas Senlin and his handful of colourful acquaintances find themselves living a life of piracy outside the tower onboard their commandeered airship The Stone Cloud. This is all a means to an end however as Senlin's key objective is to re-enter the Tower at his earliest convenience and continue searching for his missing wife.It had been a while since I completed Senlin Ascends and excluding the fact that Thomas hasn't been successful in locating his wife Marya I couldn't completely recollect exact details regarding certain parts of the story, the other main characters or their motives. Bancroft reintroduces the ensemble expertly and cleverly reminds readers of previous happenings without dumbing down the opening chapters. After this brief stage, my memory and knowledge of previous events and the world were reignited so I could then focus on the important part - the story and what happens next in Senlin's misadventure. I won't mention too many details about the narrative itself apart from two of my favourite scenes included a Golden Zoo and a Bottomless Library. Throughout the novel, there are frequently quality and original set pieces, intense thrilling moments, and a few well-placed twists.There are a larger number of point of view perspectives in the Arm of the Sphinx than in the previous entry. Written in the 3rd person, the characters we follow in addition to Senlin are the one-armed and trustworthy first mate Edith, the inquisitive and adventurous Voleta, her engineer and perhaps untrustworthy brother Adam, and finally, Iren who previously acted as a bouncer/bodyguard within one of the Ringdom's seedy criminal underworld. The character development is excellent and the above-mentioned members of The Stone Cloud really grow and shine and they are no longer merely side characters in "The Thomas Senlin Show." We are introduced to their personal thoughts and feelings which adds heightened affinity and I truly cared about each of these very different individuals. Bancroft writes an exquisite mix of fantasy and steampunk. As further mysteries of the Tower unfold science-fiction elements are introduced and merge seamlessly. The world-building is brilliant and totally unique. The grandiose and labyrinthine Tower is arguably the main character in this series and in this novel new Ringdom's are introduced for the first time including the Silk Gardens. Each of the Tower's many Ringdom's is the size of a city and they all have great differences aesthetically, socially and politically. The only common denominator is that they can all present an extreme degree of danger. Each chapter opens with a beautiful and poignant segment that often heightens myths, happenings, and understanding of the Tower. The majority of the chapters are approximately 10-pages which helps feed the "just one more chapter"-itch and is the reason that I devoured this book within a couple of days. Arm of the Sphinx is a completely original and beautifully written story that is poetic, descriptive and completely intoxicating. I mentioned in my Senlin Ascends review that Bancroft's work reads like a classic and that statement is completely true for Arm of the Sphinx too. At the finale, everything is set up brilliantly for the next instalment of The Books of Babel. The twist on the very last page is shocking but makes a potential future event completely unpredictable and infinitely intriguing. Start this series if you haven't already. I don't think you will regret it. I'm personally counting down the days until I can re-enter the Tower with Book #3: The Hod King.

  • Melanie
    2019-03-18 06:52

    1.) Senlin Ascends ★★★★★Buddy Read with Petrik ❤“Civilization is like sunshine. Spread it about, and the world blooms with culture, innovation, and fraternity. But focus it all upon one spot, and mankind scorches the earth like a ray from a magnifying glass.”A year has passed since the events that have lead Senlin into the tower. Marya is still missing, but Senlin is still in relentless pursuit to find his missing new bride, but to also find out even more mysteries that lie in every level of the tower. This review will have minor spoilers from Senlin Ascends! Please do not continue if you have not read the first book in this series. Also, please go pick Senlin Ascends up, because it is unlike anything you've ever read before and will most likely blow your ever loving mind! Seriously, it's good, one of the best books I've read in 2017, and totally worth picking up and giving a try! “At first I felt as if we had escaped a prison. Now, I feel like we've been locked out of our house”This book starts out with Senlin, or should I say Captain Mudd, and his new air pirate crew! Yes, him, Iren, Edith, Voleta, and Adam have still taken to the skies and are trying to outsmart the tower (an impossible task, by the way) to let them into the level of Pelphia, where Senlin believes his wife has been taken to. In Senlin Ascends we were able to see in great detail and explore the Market, the Basement, the Parlor, and, my personal favorite, the Baths. Well, in Arm of the Sphinx we only get to explore the Silk Gardens, but not nearly to the degree of the other levels. We are then thrown into the meat of the actual story! Yes, this tale is much, much bigger than just a missing wife and Senlin's obsession with finding her! And the main story involves a person that makes the word mystery look too shallow to describe them: the Sphinx. “The Sphinx has seduced many, many men and women with his pretty machines that are full of terrible screams.”As we learned in Senlin Ascends, Edith was forced to lose her arm, but was given a new one, a better one, a mechanical one. But who gave her this gift and allowed her to keep her life? I also really enjoyed all the talk about social classes in the Tower. Obviously the Hods are going to play a much bigger role, but I just thought it was a nice touch talking about what many desperate and forgotten souls can do when they have nothing to lose. How the rich get rich off of the lower classes, but that can all change in a matter of moments with a few chain reactions. (Don't talk about politics in your reviews, Melanie! Stop!) “Just because you don’t recognize mercy doesn’t mean you haven’t been shown it.”Again, this is a hidden indie gem! This story is mystery after mystery. The world is one of the most unique reading experiences I've ever had. The Tower is nothing short of magnificent. The characters are ones that I'm actually growing to completely love and want to protect at all costs. And the messages are something of pure beauty. This story is amazing and unlike anything else I've ever read. This is such a fun steampunk story about love and loss, about becoming who you need to be in the face of death, and about how sometimes unexpected friendships can make the very best family. I cannot wait for The Hod King, and I have nothing but high expectations for this series and for Josiah Bancroft.Also, do I have any artist friends that I can commission this stolen painting of a girl, in the water, with a paper boat? It's actually haunting my nightmares and I need to see it in real life. Also, I have more theories on this panting if anyone would like to contact me and we can put on our tinfoil hats and talk for hours over tea! “When humanity ceases to aspire, it begins to decline”Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch

  • ☽Luna☾
    2019-03-13 12:00

    3.5/5"If there isn’t peril, then it isn’t an adventure.”Buddy read with my favourite book pal, Petrik.**This review contains minor spoilers for Senlin Ascends**I really enjoy my Journeys in the Tower of Babel, but I just feel this novel was not on book ones level. Don't get me wrong, it was still a fantastic novel, However Senlin Ascends was like finding a bag of magic mushrooms devouring the whole bag in one mouthful, then sitting back and letting your mind go on a wild incredible fun journey. (Not that I'd know anything about mushrooms). I feel like Arm of the Sphinx was missing the weird & wonderful vibes that the first novel had and it made my enjoyment of the novel descend, the main reason why I loved Senlin Ascends so much is because the world felt so new and unique, I had never read anything like it before, however with this novel I feel like I know the world well and there wasn't a whole lot of weird happening or any new themes. Basically just your standard Steampunk book with a couple of twists. In reality I was just here for the weird, but got none except a talking spoon who flys on a tea tray “He looks like a spoon.”“Like a spoon?”“A spoon,” Edith said with utter conviction.Voleta laughed and immediately apologized.”. Aside from my mind not being blown to smitherines while reading, I still enjoyed it a lot, in fact I smiled the whole entire time while reading it. Josiah Bancroft has a way with words, his sentences are so wonderfully beautiful and poetic, this is the type of writing I love. Asides from the writing being so lovely, it's also very clever, well thought and every sentence has its own hidden meaning, so it's thought provoking, a lot of authors try to write like this but fail miserably, whereas Bancroft achieves it effortlessly. I'm in awe of his writing prowess & you must remember folks that this is a debut series, so clearly Bancroft was created by the universe to deliver beautiful writing to all us readers.“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.”The story follows Tom Senlin now known as Tom Mudd, who was once a mild mannered man on a journey looking for his lost wife, a year has passed and the tower has corrupted Tom, gone are the days of the innocent headmaster, he is now a savage brigand pirate on the run with his crew. A bunch of misfits who Tom rescued. They are still looking for Toms wife but now are taking the journey on an Airship called The Stone Cloud. Toms crew consists of three women, Edith a woman with a mechanical arm, Voleta an acrobatic free spirit (my favourite character) & Iren a woman who is stronger then a man. The only men on board are Tom & Adam, who have had their differences in the past. Tom is haunted by the ghost of his wife, the whole crew have been keeping secrets from each other and in time those secrets will throw the gang into turmoil. The novel consists of three main Arcs & only one new level of the tower is introduced which is the Silk Gardens, I'm really looking forward to them reaching the top of the tower hopefully in the next novel, my mind is absolutely reeling with unanswered questions. “This violence had affected him like a shot of brandy, leaving him clear-headed and vigilant. It was a surprise to find that violence could work in such a way, and he wondered if it was like brandy in other ways: was violence clarifying in doses but intoxicating in excess? Could one deal out murder responsibly, even civilly? Was violence, like wine, the midwife of philosophy?”This time around the story is told in Multi person POV, instead of just Tom's first person POV, which I should add made the story more refreshing and suspenseful. There is a lot more violence and badassery this time around. But I definitely had a few issues with the story, it was actually pretty boring at the start I was losing interest in the story very quickly, I also expected more from the silk gardens, however the last ARC made up for all the boringness I had to force myself to read through and it did get weirder as the story went. I didn't once feel truly entranced by the story and felt there was a lack of feeling charmed. Which is really important to me, I want to be so immersed into a story I sacrifice sleep, but with this novel I didn't get that feeling I was kind 'meh' about it, the plot is definitely a slow burn and I was hoping for a lot more progression in this series then we actually got. I guess what I'm trying to say is I expected more? I feel this novel was just a big introduction into the 'larger scheme of things' and definitely was a setup for the later volumes. Which does excite me and leave me wanting more, due to the lack of closure and the fact I have so many unanswered questions, please Bancroft stop torturing me and hurry up and finish The Hod King, because quite frankly I need more and I need it now. But there was a few good things in the novel too, the displays of friendships and character development was truly satisfying. I'm so glad that Orbit has picked up this series and definitely feel this hidden gem has always been deserving of being a published best seller. This is one of those series that I'll remember forever.“I have eaten the chocolate. To the future me that reads this: I am sorry. It was delicious.”Recommended to everyone over the age of 15. If you love steampunk you'll love this series and I'll also recommend it to any reader looking for something different and memorable.P.S. If you need me you'll find me in the basement still on the beer-me-go-rounds.You can find this review and my other reviews at Booksprens.

  • Hiu Gregg
    2019-03-04 06:57

    I was really nervous about reading this book. So nervous that I took 6 months to finally pluck up the courage to read it.Why was I nervous? Well, because I loved Senlin Ascends. I loved it so severely, I had convinced myself that anything which followed would only suffer in comparison. The ending of the first novel (and I'm going to be careful to avoid any spoilers here) marked a distinct change in direction for the series, and I was worried that such a change would not necessarily be for the better. I was terrified that Arm of the Sphinx would be a completely different book from Senlin Ascends.It was.But I loved it anyway.Throughout Senlin Ascends there was an optimistic, almost jovial tone which offered a delicious and surreal contrast with the reality of the tower. Senlin, for all his priggishness, was a principled and idealistic fellow. The side-characters -- colourful, memorable, and charismatic as they were -- were given fleeting moments of page-time. They were dance partners at a ball; you would enjoy the few moments you had with them, but it would soon be time to say goodbye. The tower itself was like a magician, capturing your attention with loud and impossible feats of magic, and then distracting you before you could ask too many questions.Arm of the Sphinx is not Senlin Ascends.The tone is markedly different. There is very little sense of optimism, and it's almost brooding in some parts. Senlin himself has been left disillusioned and embittered by his experiences in the tower. The side-characters are no longer side-characters, they have chapters and thoughts and adventures all of their own. If you had met these characters at a ball, then this would be the dinner that follows, and they would be your company. If the tower had been a magician before, then now you have had a peek behind the curtain. It doesn't seem quite so magical now that you know a few of its secrets, but there are still enough mysteries to tug at your curiosity. Arm of the Sphinx is more raw than Senlin Ascends, more real. Actions have consequences, people have feelings, and Bancroft takes time to explore these. His style of writing is as beautiful and engrossing as ever, sprinkled with the most wonderful, quotable passages. He is a master of metaphor and the sovereign of simile. He has a distinct style that nestles in your head, and inspires even me -- a man who loves his numbers and 'ratings' -- to fill my review with my own sad, limping attempts at analogy. The scope of this novel is both larger and smaller than the previous. We see more of the tower. We get answers to some of our questions, and more questions arise in turn. But while Senlin Ascends required a lot of looking up, and looking around, Arm of the Sphinx takes the time to look inside. It is a more introspective novel, with a larger focus on character and relationships. It asks important and philosophical questions, such as 'Do a man's experiences change who he is?'.It is a marvelous, magnificent, brilliant little gem of a book worthy of every superlative that is thrown at it. I won't be nearly as nervous when the time comes to pick up book 3.

  • Mili
    2019-03-03 07:51

    Continued the sequel with Bookish Buddies! A strong sequel, again very entertaining and beautifully written. Even though you didnt have the new world vibe anymore that was strong and strange in book one, it was still filled with oddities that you expected ( sure ) but also very much wanted! The curiosity to know what else the tower contained made it feel very adventurous, it was so vivid and fun! The team has a strong chemistry, all of them are lovable pieces in the story. So yes again crazy stuff happens, beautiful language is thrown at you and a cliffhanger to yearn for book 3~ Read and enjoy :)'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 msyelf queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.'

  • Milda Page Runner
    2019-03-15 07:45

    Loved it!Lighter, more humorous with more action-adventure than the first book. The pacing is better and I believe readers who liked Senlin Ascends but had issues with the pacing will enjoy this one more. Everyone in the crew get their own Pov which sets a different tone, since not everyone is as intellectual and gloomy as Senlin. We have some of the coolest women I’ve seen in a steam-punk fantasy here and pirates no less. Pirate adventure and camaraderie, friendship and crew gluing together earning each other’s trust and respect - is the main theme of this book. There are also three new Tower levels explored and a peak at the summit; close up and personal meet with the mysterious Sphinx.Despite overall lighter and more optimistic feel Arm of the Sphinx doesn’t lose its bite. Philosophical undercurrent is still here, there is no lack of trippy nightmarish situations and thought-provoking moments.Highly recommend!

  • Leona
    2019-03-20 08:45

    Senlin Ascends was a superb read and this book is even better. Arm of the Sphinx is a Steampunk wonder of high literary quality, featuring incredible adventures, top notch character development, beautiful scenes, entrancing imagination and, I must mention, supplemented with marvelous artwork on the author’s site and Instagram account. I highly recommend going to the author's web site and checking out the artwork. I am very much looking forward to the release of the third book, The Hod King. I can’t recommend this series enough, it’s one of the best indie gems that came out of Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) contest and I must thank the bloggers and Mark Lawrence for bringing this awesome series to the spotlight.See my full review on my blog:

  • Mike
    2019-02-26 09:48

    Civilization is like sunshine. Spread it about, and the world blooms with culture, innovation, and fraternity. But focus it all upon one spot, and mankind scorches the earth like a ray from a magnifying glass.While the Tower certainly has civilization to spare, I would be hard pressed to say it was civilized. Barbarity clothed in silk is just as savage (possibly more so) than barbarity clothed in leather and furs. Considering what Senlin had to go through in the the first book any pretense of the Tower being a beacon of civilization and culture is long gone. Survival is the name of the game in this ancient artifact, and those that don't recognize it are quickly driven to despair or slavery, locked in this massive asylum run by the inmates.Unlike the first book which concentrated nearly exclusively on Senlin, this installment had more of an ensemble cast feel. In fact for significant lengths of pages Senlin is completely absent from the narrative. I liked this decision Bancroft made, it rounded out the crew nicely and showed that they were motivated by much more than helping their friend Senlin find his wife. They had their own hopes, dreams, goals, and motivations which move them along their own path in the story instead of being slaved to Senlin's path to serve the book's plot. What they did and the choices they made were informed by their experiences and situation, not just Senlin's needs.We also got to see more of the tower and learn of its inner workings and secrets, not to mention being exposed to two conspiracies that will likely have major implications of the Tower and its ringdoms. Bancroft really did a top notch job envisioning and realizing the peculiar, exotic, yet wholly realistic cultures and societies within this strange and immense structure. Human politics, vanities, shortcomings, and vices play out here just as much as they would in the real world, but these impulses are channeled into interesting places due to the environment Bancroft has created for them. Instead of countries vying to control more land or resources, ringdoms (kingdoms that occupy one or several rings or Tower levels), when they do go into conflict, compete for the tower levels that separate them. Sometimes this results in whole levels being turned into de facto buffer zones with neither neighboring power occupying it. It is within these holes in ringdom control that one particularly dangerous conspiracy is growing and preparing to spread. Bancroft clearly has an excellent grasp of this strange geopolitical ecosystem and I look forward to how he will let the events unfold.But as much as I enjoyed this book it clearly had the hallmarks of a middle book in a series. I wouldn't exactly say that the plot was stagnant, Senlin and crew are pretty active for most of the story, but the path of character development was very much concentrated on getting each of the characters into a certain place (both physically and in terms of a frame of mind) by the end of the book. It was welcomed character development, don't get me wrong, and very well down in all cases, but Bancroft was clearly using this book to get his characters into a position he needs them to be in for the next book. This book is setting the board for the game that will play out in the third book and that goal somewhat diminishes the importance and effectiveness of this second installment. But such is the fate of most second books, especially in trilogies. This was still a great read and offers up so many tantalizing revelations that will (I'm sure) blossom in fascinating and unexpected ways in the next installment.

  • Marielle Ooms-Voges
    2019-03-12 10:06

    Since I loved Senlin Ascends I was a bit afraid to start part 2. What if I didn't like it! There was no need to worry because I also loved this second book.More amazing adventures, more unexpected people and events, more imagination... More Alice in Wonderland. Before reading this book I thought I knew... The author could not surprise me again... Could he? Well he could and he did and I am just so excited about these books! I simply can't wait for The Hod King, it is among my most anticipated books of 2017.

  • ScottHitchcock
    2019-03-04 07:44

    DNF 33%I really wanted to like this book and series and it's not all bad. The world building from book one was so promising even with the slow pace. Then this book started off really good. The author has a habit of straying from the action in a way that's distracting not tension building. I found myself wanting to do anything but continue reading it. Maybe it picks up and finishes on an upnote like the last book but life's too short to find out.

  • Mike
    2019-03-12 10:46

    This confirms (not that Senlin Ascends really had me wondering) that Josiah Bancroft is the real thing.What really struck me with this was the sense of things converging. Little bits and pieces of the previous book that I had forgotten about came up again with added significance. There are some books (George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Scott Lynch, I'm looking at you) where, as great as the books are, I get the feeling of a driver barely in control of the car. It's going in the direction they want, but any second it might go off somewhere they can't predict.There's none of that here. Even though I don't understand everything that is going on with the Tower of Babel, not by a long stretch, the bits and pieces that Bancroft has revealed make it clear that A) there's SOMETHING going on, and B) he knows exactly what it is.My big complaint about these books (though "complaint" is way too strong a term) has been how little we know about Marya. She's the driving force behind all of Senlin's actions, and yet since we haven't actually seen her since the first few pages of the previous book, we completely forget about her. I don't want to say too much, because of spoilers, but this absence is addressed in a meaningful and satisfying way.To sum up: this is pretty much the epitome of the hidden Indy gem. Go read it. Get this man attention so he can get a contract, and can write full time, and I get more books. I'm selfish like that.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-27 09:47

    I just finished The Arm of the Sphinx a few minutes ago. It has been SO SO long since I've read a book that I really didn't want to end. In fact, I so wanted to prolong it that I kept putting it down and looked for excuses to putter around the house but I'd find myself back in my chair flipping pages. SO SO good. I admit it took me a little bit to get into the first book but it hooked me enough to start the second which is an absolute delight. So much of what I've read over the past few years seems so much of the same and this series and Josiah's writing is an breath of fresh air. I'm only heartbroken that I have to wait for the next in the series.On a more personal note, three years ago I started a non profit in Philly that works with young people to develop leadership skills by using urban agriculture. We have a small urban farm about a mile from the center of the city and everything! It's an amazing thing but I admit, it hasn't been easy. As we're moving into Fall I have definitely been questioning how long I can keep it going and if I should. How is this at all relative? Towards the beginning of the book there's this quote:"There’s always that point when you undertake something new, that moment when everything is tentative and fragile. In our case, that period lasted for years. You might not suspect it to look at us now, but we came very close to extinction.”Thank you for those words. I know its fantasy that I'm reading but those two sentences make more sense in my reality than I can even start to explain.

  •  Charlie - A Reading Machine
    2019-03-08 12:54

    I had this in my hands within days of finishing the first book and shortly after that I was done and bitching about the lack of a third book.Now not to insult the first book but Bancroft somehow makes the extraordinary events and revelations of Senlin Ascends seem almost mundane in comparison to the incredible goings on within The Arm of The Sphinx. If you’ve only read the first book you’ll no doubt think this impossible and I have gone completely mad.Thomas Senlin has grown and changed but still maintains the integrity and intelligence that has drawn his crew to him like a magnet. His wild but thoughtful plans for pirating have kept the Stone Cloud afloat and he has even developed a reputation among other sailors….as the guy that only takes a tenth of your cargo. I honestly burst out laughing at this revelation as for me it just summed up the enigmatic qualities of our protagonist and why his journey up the tower was worth watching above all others. There is also a sense that other characters, not just his crew, but those that know and realise the inner workings of the Tower, also see something unique in Senlin’s approach to his quest. He has become the guy you let into the exclusive club, not due to intimidation, but because you sense he is bigger than the world outside and will makes yours more interesting should he grace it with his presence.Some other POVS are introduced and we get to learn much more about the crew and their own motivations and desires for serving on the Stone Cloud. They are all interesting paths and watching the relationship between Adam and Voleta grown and change was particularly satisfying. We discover more about Iren and her past and spend many hours worrying about Edith and her future. It’s all brilliant stuff.Readers are also treated to the appearance of the Sphinx, more mystery than man and the one figure capable of imbuing normal people with inhuman mechanical additions. Everything scene between the Sphinx and Voleta was great fun and magical in every sense of the word.I always found myself looking forward to the coming of every chapter because of the small excerpts at the top of the page. In the first book they were mostly from the Everyman’s Guidebook and as we discovered Marya’s fate they shifted to pieces from Senlin’s own writings Every Mans Tower as the safety net of the for that false reality was no longer needed. If the first book was about discovery this second one seems more related to duty and the desire to crush any sense of creativity or burgeoning sense of self, perhaps anything that may threaten the status quo. With The Wifely Way telling us “Take stock of your virtues. Aspire within your means. No one admires the bird who sings over the orchestra” and Folkways and Right of Ways in The Silk Garden expressing “Should you every be tempted to dip your toes in the Garden’s aquifiers, just remember where the water flows. One man’s broth becomes another man’s brew” there is definitely an attempt to beat down the readers and put them in their place.This is a ridiculously well written second book and simply one of the best and most unique fantasy series I’ve picked up. It drew me further into this amazing world whilst making me painfully aware the journey had only just begun. I enjoyed every second of reading and was suitably gobsmacked on the final page that a silent ‘fuck me’ and ‘well done’ were uttered to an empty room. Oh the places you’ll go.

  • Rose
    2019-03-14 04:54

    Crap, crap, and double crap. I did it to myself again. I found a series, and not just any series but an amazingly good series, I fell head over heals in love with it, and it's not done. There are supposed to be two more. Now this is good and bad news. Good because there are two more but I'm going to have to wait for a couple of years to finish this story. I swear the book gods hate me. I'm now at the point where I think Bancroft is a writing genius. He has created the most amazing world and characters. The story is never dull but there is also never too much going on that you can't keep up. And he has an incredible imagination combined with the ability to describe everything so well you feel like you're there and discovering these new, wonderful things along with the characters.The first book was all about Senlin in search of his wife after having lost her on their honeymoon. In this one, he has become a pirate. He learns why his stolen painting is so valuable. He learns more tower secrets. He's still searching for his wife but it's not until the very end that we (and not Senlin) find out a bit of what's happened to her. And now I wait (not so) patiently for the next instalment. Damn you, book gods.

  • Mia
    2019-03-09 13:09

    (Note: The text should be centered but, despite my best efforts, I can't figure out how to do it.)Eek! Aaargh! Much pulling of hair...Arm of the Sphinx just laid my heart bare.Dear God, what an ending!It left me just reeling--Mr. Bancroft, I'm dying, do you even care?!Forgive me I just had to vent off some steam;When you finish this book, trust me, you'll want to scream.Need a Beer-Me-Go-Round,But one's not to be found,Oh, it's a reader's dilemma in the extreme!In Babel there stands this old TowerBefore whose grandeur all men wonder and cower.Enter if you so dare;Please, my friend, do beware;Don't get taken in under its power.Do take stock of this man they call SenlinWho valued his manners and learnin';But his wife--she got tookBy--who knows?--which damn crookAnd his verve and his poise started dimmin'.Though sans wife Senlin's not without company.He's got friends to share much of the jeopardy--Edith is his first officerIren acts as enforcerAnd the siblings who constantly test his serenity.He will pull out all stops for a rescue--Steal a ship, change his name, risk his whole crew.Before long he's a pirateOn a starvation diet,Yet still not any closer to a breakthrough.My, the stress--it is taking its toll--Senlin's mind is past breaking, no longer whole;Haunted by an apparitionThat's imperiling their mission,In the end, what becomes of his soul?There's a long list of foes chasing this lot.At this point, I'd be hard-pressed to say who is not.Spiders and spider eaters,Hods and clockwork pursuers,And the Commissioner still wants his shot. But good news! Our lot has found the Sphinx.Not so good news--me thinks that he stinks!Like a lawyer from hell,Wilier than Scarlet Pimpernel,And his armor don't got many chinks!Sadly Senlin is truly quite desperate.Their bargaining positions are oh so disparate.Meanwhile Adam has fled;Iren's always in bed;There is danger and peril in triplicate.The writing is excellent, the story endearing;All its insightful lines you cannot stop quoting.It has action and mysteryAnd sinister villainy,All the characters are just compelling.To the charms of this book I've succumbed;Indeed, it is quite as addicting as crumb.It shall be a long waitFor book 3's release date, Oh, the depths of impatience I'll plumb!

  • Pavle
    2019-03-20 04:52

    Što sam stariji i što sam više knjiga pročitao, sve više shvatam da je retkost, pa, retka. Neki roman koji mi je ranije delovao revolucionarno, zapravo je kolaž obrazaca rasutih po njemu sličnim knjigama. Neretko mogu i da očekujem, da osetim šta je sledeće: rečenice, likovi i priče, ponavljaju se kao ograničen katalog ploča. Posle nekog vremena, i gramofon se umori. Ovo je nešto novo. Nešto retko. Zašto? Šta to? Pojma nemam. Bankroft nije izmislio magijski realizam, kao ni stimpank, kao ni klasičnu Indi avanturu. Ali ovo, ovaj roman i nastavak, jeste nešto novo. Možda je to i najbolja definicija te reči. Kada je to nešto novo?Kada ne znaš šta je. Kada ne možeš da ga opišeš. Nešto nedostaje, reč ili ne-reč, jedan sitan ali ključan delić. Nešto karakteristično za roman i samo za roman. I zato – p.s. u medjuvremenu, prava na Senlina je kupio ozbiljan izdavač! Što je sve super i lepo i veoma mi je drago (Bankroft, uz iole sposoban marketinški tim koji će ovaj roman sa pravom da izdigne iz fantastike i približi, gadi mi se ova reč, ali "književnijoj" publici, može postići i vanžanrovski uspeh), ali to znači da će nastavak da se čeka dobre dve godine.. 5

  • Miriam
    2019-03-16 12:48

    This is pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a fantasy novel. Glorious worldbuilding. The urban fantasy to end all urban fantasies. Wonderful characters interacting in wonderful ways. Hilarity. Horror. Adventure. A bit of philosophy and theme on the side. These books should be best sellers. I can't begin to comprehend why everyone isn't talking about them.

  • Kristen
    2019-03-21 05:47

    (This review is also here, on my blog.)Well. That ending left me wanting... well, a book that didn't end, quite frankly. Incidentally, I'd also be okay with a bottomless library.This one was a great adventure from start to finish. We got to know characters a bit better by switching to their POV for a while. Characters I was more or less indifferent towards in the first book are now swiftly becoming favorites. Voleta in particular – I love her ‘I do what I want’ attitude. Edith as well. I want all the things for Edith.The prose is yet again fantastic and the vocabulary is rich but not overdoing it. I’m not sure I can explain what I mean by this. I suppose I mean that Josiah can use really great words that you very rarely see in everyday life, and use them in a way that does not make it feel like he had a thesaurus open next to him at all times.Each word fits perfectly snugly exactly where it is put, as if this book is one giant jigsaw puzzle of amazing (you can see here how I have little talent for rich vocabulary. >.> I definitely appreciate it though). The casual use of the word oubliette to describe a bottomless library thrills me to no end (because I just like the word oubliette. It’s fun to say, but alas, not to experience.)And that ending… well… can I have more now, pretty please?I’m more excited for The Hod King than I am for Doors of Stone, Winds of Winter, Oathbringer and Peace Talks combined.(Spoiler alert: that’s a lot).

  • Richard S. Gerlach
    2019-03-14 10:10

    Okay, so, a few weeks back, I read Senlin Ascends as part of a bookclub choice here on Goodreads. If I'm being frank, I wasnt too interested in reading it, but I wanted to participate in a discussion. I saw all the positive reviews on both books, but I still wasn't sold. I bought it, and it took me a little bit to get into it. That being said, once the plot took off, I fell in love with the book. I devoured Senlin Ascends quickly and bought Arm of the Sphinx shortly after. I just got around to finishing Arm of the Sphinx and let me say, wow, this book.First off, the book takes place a few months after the end of Senlin Ascends but Bancroft wastes no time getting us into the characters and the world. This book started off with a bang, I found myself laughing along with the jokes, and getting intrigued in the mystery. I won't spoil the book here, but Bancroft does three things well. He's a talented writer and cares a lot about his craft, the details and narration in this book are magnificent. Secondly, he's great at character development. I am honestly concerned and worried about what will happen to these characters. Third, he knows how to tell a story, I was hooked until the end. There wasn't a lul in plot, or any point where I felt bored. I was entertained the whole way through.Normally I would put down who I would suggest this book to, but let's be honest, you're here because you read the first book. What are you doing? Go and buy the second book and read it now. You're a fool if you stop at book 1 and don't move onto the amazingness that is Arm of the Sphinx.

  • Taylor Preston
    2019-03-09 13:12

    Sometimes I feel like I have to write impressive reviews for impressive books. But, all that really needs to be said is "this is amazing." Oh man, this sequel is every bit as good as the first book. It's packed with clever characters, suspense, and surprises. For every answer we're granted, another question arises. It's just plain fun. The journey is incredible (both the detailed adventures and character development). I have no doubt this series will catch like wild fire soon enough.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-06 05:43

    It's always a bit nerve-wracking when you read the second book in a series that had such a strong start, but this was even better than Senlin Ascends. I just finished it, and I'm already dying for the third book.

  • Alex
    2019-03-22 07:48

    Holy shit; I guess these books are just that good.

  • Catherine
    2019-03-15 06:48

    If books are traps, then let them be like terrariums: sealed up and still living miniatures of the world.The first book in this series was a surreal and complex adventure. The second book was no less surreal or complex, and was every bit an adventure, perhaps more so. Arm of the Sphinx allowed the reader to spend more time with Thomas Senlin's crew, and they are each endearing and admirable despite their very-human shortcomings. The Sphinx was one surprise after another; mysteries were revealed and new ones took their place. Much like my experience with the first book, Senlin Ascends, I was never sure what was going to happen next. I loved the sense of awe and discovery that every page-turn brought. I'm eagerly awaiting the third book, and telling all who will listen about this series in the meantime.

  • Mitriel
    2019-03-08 12:50

    While Senlin Ascends was already an outstanding work of fiction, it's the second Book of Babel, Arm of the Sphinx that confirms or otherwise makes it blatantly obvious, in case you had any doubts before, that you're reading a classic. The imagination behind these books, both fascinating and thought-provoking, the complex characters, the compelling story and the excellent prose all contribute in equal measures to create a world that stays with you long after you put down the book. I felt the Arm of the Sphinx was very slightly lighter in tone than its predecessor, with the journey turning more adventurous, which made it even more enjoyable for me. I also very much liked the focus on the friendships and character-building, the emotional highs and lows of the characters often tugging at my own feelings. I shall hereby join the growing queue of expectant readers who look forward to the next instalment's arrival.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-08 05:12

    Good continuation of the first book, I loved the characters, new and old. The world is mysterious and great to read about. I can't wait to read the next book after that ending!

  • Efka
    2019-03-07 05:46

    The Arm of the Sphinx is a really good book, but it lost its predecessors element of surprise - the WOW effect - and was a bit more settled. I enjoyed it, but on every level - plot, character development, setting, villains - it was a downgrade compared to Senlin Ascends. Still it is a really good, exciting, gripping and very well written series. I am definitely interested in how everything will evolve and what is the nature of The Tower, so no real surprise that I'll be waiting for a third book quite impatiently.

  • Vic
    2019-03-16 06:49

    Great second book. I actually liked it better than the first one because the characters continue to grow and amaze, and their adventures get better and better. Looking forward to reading the next one.

  • Tam
    2019-03-19 04:47

    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).SettingArm 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.CharactersSenlin 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.PlotI 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 ThoughtsIf 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, hereAudienceThis 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 tooOk, but seriously, this book is great for people who like:* Steampunk* Character development* Great worldbuilding* Interesting plotsFor more reviews, check out my blog: