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Babylon Steel (Babylon Steel #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  427 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex… other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock.

She’s not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it’s tax time, and ther
ebook, 543 pages
Published December 12th 2011 by Rebellion Publishing Ltd
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(showing 1-30 of 1,309)
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Dan Schwent
Jan 24, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2012
Brothel owner and operator and former mercenary Babylon Steel has religious zealots, the Vessels of Purity, driving off her business, tax problems, and a secret past she'd rather keep hidden when casino owner Darask Fain pays her to find a missing girl. Only every step she takes brings her a little closer to her secret past. Can Steel find the missing girl before her past finally catches up to her?

Right off the bat, I'd like to say this book is a super nova of pure entertainment. Don't come in e
Marc Aplin
Apr 23, 2012 Marc Aplin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you’ve been reading within the fantasy genre for a while, you tend to familiarise yourself with the tropes and even find yourself looking for them as you read through a new novel.

Well, if you try that with Babylon Steel you will find that you’ve set yourself an almost impossible task. Babylon Steel is a book that takes a number of popular tropes in fantasy and puts a great twist on them. This results in a book that not only feels unique, but is also able to continually keep you guessing as
Pauline Ross
This one is right on the cusp of fantasy and sci-fi - a city filled with alien races, surrounded by portals to other planes which come and go mysteriously, and are not understood by anyone. Is this magic or a lost technology? But there is a certain amount of magic in this universe, both learned and innate, and gods and demi-gods as well. There is enough inventiveness here to satisfy the needs of the most demanding of fantasy world connoisseurs, with languages and bizarre races and strange manner ...more
CJ - It's only a Paper Moon
This book started off incredibly slow for me and more often than I not I questioned why I was reading it in the first place. You see, I had been waiting for this book to come out so I was a bit disappointed that it took so long to pick up.

You know what though? It's a grower. It grows on you and while there were things to complain about (ex. the lack of one seamless plot - there are about four different things happening all at once, which do converge, but could've been knocked down to two) by the
May 12, 2012 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy, fiction
I liked it; I really did. But it felt like the author took a gigantic bite and could only chew up and process about half of it.
The main character, who goes by the chosen moniker of Babylon Steel, is well fleshed out; however, the plethora of secondary characters (all interesting) are barely more than foils for Steel. It becomes difficult to keep them separated, particularly because nearly each one is a different race.
The various areas of the city are described in rich detail, but they, too, are
Jun 01, 2012 Noreen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I thoroughly enjoyed read this story, it was different to the books I have read recently, the heroine is a badass but also has a more vulnerable, protective side. Her life experiences have made her who she is; unlike some books where the characters wants for nothing, our heroine finds it difficult to make ends meet to run her business (which by the way is a brothel).

The story has a lot of potential and the main characters are endearing, but I found it was at times difficult to follow, too much w
Sara Townsend
Jan 17, 2012 Sara Townsend rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
If I don't read fantasy because of its lack of strong female characters, this is a book to disabuse me of that notion. Babylon Steel, the title character, is a strong, independent minded woman. Abandoned as an infant, she has a somewhat dubious past, which is gradually revealed as the book progresses. During her upbringing, Babylon has learned a variety of skills including, among other things, the art of seduction and how to wield a sword.

As the story begins she has made her home in the city of
Just brilliant. I've been reading fantasy since I was a kid and I can't remember the last non-Pratchett that made me laugh all the way through. Babylon Steel is a straight-talking, no-nonsense hero with a fascinating backplot; the supporting cast are quirky and loyal and the plot, whilst not particularly complicated (compared with, say, Game of Thrones!), is engaging. Unlike Pratchett, though, the humour isn't through sly asides, it's through great characterisation. It's sort of like the love-ch ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Penelope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
I read a lot of fantasy fiction so when I received a review copy of 'Babylon Steel' I was mightly interested as it looked just a bit different. Then I started reading it and I couldn't put it down. I expected a light, amusing read with a bit of sexual innuendo, what I got was a fully fleshed world, packed with original, fascinating and unusual characters, a plot that kept me turning pages long into the night and a sensitive and well balanced opinion on the oldest job in the world. Bravo for such ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about a happy little whorehouse in a parallel world that has portals to other parallel worlds. Too many plotlines for one book. Is it a noir search for a missing girl? A serial killer novel? A novel about religion and cults? A novel about godhood? It's three or four different novels in one. Readable, but lacking drive and direction for the most part. The device of interspersing chapters about the distant past with chapters set in the plot's present is one I will never quite understand. S ...more
It does not happen that often that I stop reading a book.

I stopped reading Babylon Steel after 170 pages. There have been some nice ideas but I could not really connect to the characters and the story went along like a snail.

Karl Ruben
Dec 04, 2013 Karl Ruben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Everyone knows that Star Wars isn't really science fiction, it's just fantasy with space ships. Which doesn't make it any less amazing (when it's amazing), mind. Babylon Steel's setting is basically the Star Wars universe at its most fun, exciting and dramatic, only with dimensional portals instead of the space stuff, and without the Evil Empire and past-its-sell-by-date Hero's Journey story structure.

The titular heroine is charming and capable (and non-white, whatever the otherwise amazing cov
Jan 13, 2013 PhoenixFantasy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Babylon Steel is the freshest, lightest and most entertaining fantasy I’ve read in a very long time. For anyone who’s had enough of medieval style fantasy, or is rapidly tiring of the new Eastern trend, Sebold offers a whole new bag of tricks. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone else who, like me, is late to the party with this one, I’m just going to say…cross world portals. Genius.

It’s a fascinating mix of sword and sorcery fantasy with a pinch of Sci-Fi that works brilliantly. For me it

I have been looking forward to reading Babylon Steel since it first came out and despite having all the right ingredients, it fell short of my high expectations. Don't get me wrong, it was good but I don't think it lived up to its potential.

The main reason I think is because the chapters are divided into past and present, which wasn't a problem except they were too short and distracted me from what was happening in the story. Just as I was sucked in, I felt pulled in another direction and with
Gavin Gates
Jan 17, 2012 Gavin Gates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First thing that strikes out about this one is that the author has written to have a fun novel put out, as much as there is a lot of mystery and sci fi magic and twists to the tale which you would normally expect to be overly serious and take over the story line completely Babylon Steel is pretty much the opposite, the leading lady of this is a brilliant focal character and carries the role of heroine right through, the use of a lot portals and races from other planes are just as good. The digs ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OMG WAT?! This book was awesome! The author had a couple irksome ticks (STOP IT WITH THE "DOT DOT DOT SOMETHING" GIMMICK: Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex… other things) but they were seriously tiny little things and considering the genre totally forgivable. The pacing was lightning fast, the characters were awesome, the humor was dry, the gender politics were spot on (including a hermaphroditic prostitute with hir/ze pronouns), the sex scenes were hot (LIZARD SEX! DEMIGOD SEX!) and all 'n' ...more
May 26, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2016
Sometimes you just need to read a book that is delightfully pulpy. Some people gravitate towards murder mysteries, some people pick up trashy romance, and others pick up silly adventure stories.
That's sort of what this book is: a fantasy guilty pleasure.
While reading it, I couldn't put my finger on why I liked it, but like it I did.
There are so many things happening in this book. A missing person, unsolved murders, fanatic cults, multiple planes/dimensions, magic, Fey, prostitutes, twisted relig
May 09, 2016 Jacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I’ve had this book on my to-be-read pile ever since it came out but somehow never managed to read it. It turns out that it was my bad luck because it’s brilliant and now I have to go and read Ms Sebold’s other books: Shanghai Sparrow and Dangerous Gifts (another Babylon Steel novel).

Babylon Steel is a high-class brothel keeper in Scalentine, a place with many portals to other planes and a mixed population of humans and other races, furred, scaled and magical.. She’s a tough cookie, revelling in
Patrice Sarath
Feb 01, 2012 Patrice Sarath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really excellent novel with fine characterization and worldbuilding, and a thundering plot. Babylon is a madam and expert soldier. She is hired to find a missing girl and in the process has to come to terms with her own past.

There's danger, mayhem, gods, and lizard sex. All the characters are sympathetic and well-drawn. There's plenty of humor and really gorgeous worldbuilding. Definitely a keeper.
Jane (yesmissjane)
I picked this up after Thomas(SFF180)'s recommendation as part of his 'overlooked Fantasy' video.

Babylon Steel runs a nice brothel in a fairly nice trading town, and apart from the fact that her accounts are a mess and her taxes are due, life seems pretty sweet UNTIL three seemingly unconnected messes overtake her at exactly the same time, the week leading up to 'two moons', an astronomical event which only rolls around every 7 years of so, which seems to be making everyone crazy. There's a gir
Guy Haley
This is the kind of book I could easily hate – sassy broads, were-creatures, lovable prostitutes, first person perspective… These things I am no great fan of. Babylon Steel is vampire chick-lit transported from an urban to a high fantasy setting, minus the bloodsuckers. Good for us then that Sebold has a flair for storytelling. Her world is a cross-planar affair whose main setting is an inter-dimensional crossroads a bit like a grubby version of Moorcock’s Tanelorn with better shops. It might be ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed reading this book. On one hand it's almost whimsical; on another it can get quite deep. It's an interesting mix, just like the world of Scalentine.

Although some lists classify this as science fiction, it really isn't; it's fantasy with what I'd call a 'Star Wars twist minus the technology,' meaning, the mix of different worlds and cultures, only instead of interplanetary travel there is interplanar travel. Scalentine is a 'melting pot' type world where all sorts of people and crea
Jul 12, 2015 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at half-priced books on a day I went in looking to take a chance on something that normally I wouldn't buy. In this case, it was a good move. I liked this book, and would give it 4 and a half stars if I could (I've decided to hold 5 stars for only the very few best of the best). The main character is someone you want to know more about and really care what happens to her. At first the book advances on two fronts. Pretty soon you get the idea how the two are connected and the e ...more
Fred Dickson
To my young relatives- do not read this.

To everyone else, it was a fun read, but does feature a sex worker as a main character, so if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, do not venture here. That being said, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It started off a little slow and familiar, but surprised me by the end. Babylon was pretty badass, but there were so many supporting characters they didn't feel as fully realized as they could have been. The setting had a great scifi/f
Simon Wood
2 and a half stars, I guess. It wasn't bad, but it was way too much. Three overlapping plots in this one book that don't have anything to do with each other, other than the fact that our heroine is mixed up in all three. Any one of these plot threads would have been fine on their own, meaning then that maybe we could have delved into it more deeply - and spared the reader maybe a hundred pages or so.

It isn't bad though. Some of the world and mythology building is fun and well thought out, and it
Jan 01, 2016 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
After a long section establishing characters, races, and plots, the book finally gets off to a racing pace at about 65-70% of the way! This may be too slow for some, but the ways the plot speeds up and the author draws the plots to a close (most of them) is more than satisfying. There are some glaring "duh" moments which spoiled the otherwise excellent plotting

I found the names and races confusing. Too many races are presented and although this suits the setting to a tee, I found it distracting
Feb 26, 2015 LadyCroft86 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-kindle
Babylon Steel is a unique fantasy book that offers a story filled with strange beings, alternate planes and an interesting main character, Babylon.
Besides Babylon, I didn't really connect to any of the other characters. There were so many and all of different races that it was hard to keep track of who was who. By the end of the book, I think I had them all figured out, but throughout the rest of the book I kept having to reread earlier passages to remember who some of the characters were. I re
Carole Tyrrell
Apr 16, 2013 Carole Tyrrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Babylon Steel
Gaie Sebold

I’ve always had a problem with fantasy novels – they immediately bring to mind a cod-medieval world, peopled with gallant knights and wan Pre-Raphaelite ladies, all with strange made-up names. There’s usually a huge back story to contend with, and despite reading a lot of fantasy in my younger years, I’ve politely declined so far.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached Babylon Steel but, after a few pages, I knew I was in safe hands. Right from the beginning I w
Dec 07, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read Babylon Steel at least 3 times now, and I love it just as much each time I come back to it.

Without giving too much of the plot away beyond the two or three chapters: welcome to Scalentine, a city in a magical plane linked to many portals. Your tour guide is the sharp and funny Babylon Steel, owner of one of the best brothels in town, The Red Lantern. Scalentine's even more wild and strange than usual right now; it's coming up to the time of two moon, the weres are having a doubly diff
I was looking for a good fantasy book - preferable something like Steelflower by Lilith Saintcrow, which is one of my all-time favorites.

this book had a similiar setting, a sword-for-hire (in this case ex-) with a secret in the past - therefore I tried it.

the story was quite good but there were quite some parts where it seemed like the story arc is finished and the author had to find a way to continue, so that she could finish the main story.
the pacing was a little bit off. I liked the re-views
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Gaie Sebold
Gaie’s debut novel Babylon Steel was published by Solaris in January 2012 to enthusiastic reviews…
“…a pacey fantasy romp;” The Guardian
“Ingenious, gripping and full of pleasures on every level. Exceptional.” Mike Carey
“…an absolutely wonderful author who should be warmly welcomed alongside those authors pushing fantasy into new directions,” Fantasy Faction
… a
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Other Books in the Series

Babylon Steel (2 books)
  • Dangerous Gifts (Babylon Steel, #2)

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