Review of ~ Josiah Bancroft – The Hod King (The Books of Babel #3)


I received an advanced review copy of The Hod King in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Josiah Bancroft and Orbit Books for the opportunity.

When I concluded my review of Arm of the Sphinx I stated that I would be counting down the days until I could rejoin Senlin and his companions adventures in The Hod King. As soon as I received this novel all other books failed to exist to me until this was completed.

The narrative is mainly set within the Ringdom of Pelphia where our colourful cast split up in to smaller groups to complete objectives for the Sphinx. Senlin has to find out information regarding wagers and gambling in the Hod fighting pits, and Voletta needing to infiltrate high society under the guise of a highborn lady are two examples of these assigned missions. It also transpires that Senlin’s missing wife Marya lives in this Ringdom and is married to Duke Wilhelm Horace Pell. Marya has also become a major celebrity who is adored by Pelphia’s citizens. With Marya finally within touching distance will Senlin focus on completing the Sphinx’s strict objectives or go his own way and try to converse with his lost wife again? Bearing in mind that the Sphinx has eyes everywhere.

Stating that The Hod King is beautifully written does not actually give the quality showcased here enough justice. I can see The Books of Babel being literary classics that are taught at schools in a hundred years time in similar fashion to the adventure stories in Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Voyages collection. The narrative starts off at a steady pace, almost massaging the beautiful descriptions, events and exceptional dialogue into our mind with intoxicating fashion. It is presented in such as exceptional way that when confrontations, heart-pounding action sequences, or ‘are you kidding me?’ twists occur the emotional punches are heightened to a breathless degree. There are three main parts to this narrative. Each following a different one of Bancroft’s players and each concludes phenomenally. I had to take a break to register what had just occurred and sometimes re-read the sections because they were that unbelievable but still always expertly constructed. Bancroft is a genius at work and every single entry in the series is getting better. Bearing in mind that The Hod King is probably the length of Senlin Ascends and Arm of the Sphinx combined.

Senlin, like many readers, is my favourite character in this series. Senlin Ascends was essentially the ‘Thomas Senlin show’ whereas Arm of the Sphinx fleshed out the players that were until that point merely side characters. The main point of view perspectives this time are Senlin, Voletta, and Edith. I must admit when Senlin’s parts ended I uttered a sigh of annoyance, but within ten pages of the next new point of view I forgot about my issues and braced myself for the Tower’s ride following these other players thoughts, agendas, missions, and planned end-game. Even incorporating the side members of the ensemble, there are no weak or two dimensional creations and this includes new characters that are presented for the first time here.

There are so many emotional scenes, amazing set-pieces, and charming intricacies that fill The Hod King to the brim. I enjoyed reading about the flying squirrel Squit, finding out more about Bryon, understanding the motives of the intriguing machine/ human hybrid pilot Reddleman, and getting an insight further into what the Hods are up to. Past enemies have to work together, betrayal could be around every corner and new alliances may be created when least expected. I would not try to predict for a second what will happen next as you’ll just disappoint yourself. Just brace yourself for a hell of a rollercoaster journey through the beautiful and intricately crafted tower. I’m questioning myself as a reviewer as my words can’t do this book justice. It’s my equal top rated read ever on Fantasy Book Review. I will stop gushing now but press the pre-order button. Bancroft is a world-class literary author and I can’t think of another writer who is better or more consistent right now. I can’t wait to see how this all concludes in the series finale.

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