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Arm of the Sphinx

(The Books of Babel #2)

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  9,642 ratings  ·  1,017 reviews
The second book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon fantasy series about one man's dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world.

The 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 continu
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Orbit (first published July 28th 2014)
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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  9,642 ratings  ·  1,017 reviews

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Mark Lawrence
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now re-released in paperback by a major publisher.

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* REALLY works 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
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steampunk fans
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:


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
James Tivendale
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi, freecopy
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 ...more
Lady Luna. ✨

"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 f
Charlotte May
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy
“These people are all tea and biscuits until you tell them no thank you, and then the knives come out.”

And so continues one of the most unique fantasy series I’ve read!

Thomas Senlin and his crew of The Stone Cloud are continuing their hunt for Senlin’s missing wife Marya. They are on their way to Pelphia where Tom believes she is.

As expected they are constantly waylaid with troubles, often narrowly escaping with their lives. I love the characters - Iren, Edith, Adam and Voleta, each with thei
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
so i have no idea what steampunk is, but apparently its a thing. and i guess a thing that i like because this was fun! loads of mystery and adventure and piracy to be had by all! and what started as a crush has now turned into a full on obsession with senlin. i absolutely adore how although his circumstances have forced him to do questionable things, he has not lost sight of who he is as a person. i will concede, however, this was not as captivating as the first book (it was a bit slow and its a ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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“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.”

Senlin Ascends ★★★★
Arm of the Sphinx ★★★ 3/4

★ I preferred Senlin Ascends a little bit more than Arm of the Sphinx and that’s why I couldn’t give it a full 4 stars but rounded my rating up. I guess the story remains a good and unique one but I will t
Hiu Gregg
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 be
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently reread Arm of the Sphinx. I am still loving this world so much, and going through all the details and the adventure again had me all excited. Can't wait to get my hands on Hod King, damn pre order delivery is taking forever!

I recommend this series highly! It is such a treat, the writing style and imagination is magnificent!
Continued the sequel with Bookish Buddies!
A strong sequel, again very entertaining and beautifully written. Even though you
Nils | nilsreviewsit
‘I must forgive myself. I must beg the pardon that I owe. And I must decide to make my life more than a tribute to past failures.’
I recently finished Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft and to say that Bancroft’s writing is well done would be the biggest understatement ever, the writing is exquisite! I’m in absolute awe how this author can create this surreal whimsical world, where clockwork mechanisms and animals are abound, balloon airships dominate the sky, and the characters are so incredi
Milda Page Runner

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 ea
Mayim de Vries
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
“When humanity ceases to aspire, it begins to decline.”

If the previous book in the series is entitled “Senlin Ascends” it would be fitting to name this one “Senlin Descends or Perhaps Even Plunges, Tumbles and Plummets to the Very Bottom of Things.”

Life was supposed to be so much easier for Thomas Senlin aka Captain Thomas Mudd and his motley crew of misfits after their daring acts of emancipation. Instead, they are barely scraping by, and none of them is closer to fulfilling their heart’s dream
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ca
Scott  Hitchcock
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.
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 o
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-own
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 bo
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I found Arm of the Sphinx particularly at the beginning to be far more action-oriented than Senlin Ascends. Whereas the previous book starts rather sedately building the setting of the illustrious Tower of Babel and the character of Thomas Senlin this time around Bancroft starts things off
Five Stars. A positively magnificent explosion of imagination and adventure. Just as much fun and excitement as the first book in the series, but boldly going places not even dreamed of in the first book. Arm of the Sphinx is the second of four planned books in the series, although i would really like a dozen more books in this series.

The first book dared to imagine a world where the biblical Tower of Babel existed as one of the - if not the best one -- great wonders of the ancient world. But i
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it

No, not the literary kind. The story kind! Senlin has taken on a new name and with his intrepid crew, they're flying the skies, being polite, and relieving captains of their loot, and generally progressing the character arcs. Multiple character arcs this time, not just focusing on Senlin.

I'm really enjoying the ride. Senlin seems to be going mad, Adam is trying to get back in everyone's good graces, Edith is going through a mid-life crisis trying to keep Senlin's secrets and dealing with
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
That ending!?!

Review to follow :)
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I spent the better part of last year kicking myself for not snapping a copy of Arm of the Sphinx back when Josiah was a self-published author, so this re-release has been a long wait for me. I’m thrilled to say that it was every bit as exciting and creative as the first book, and that is in large part due to the change in tone and atmosphere. It was a pretty bold move on Bancroft’s part to switch to Multi-PoV but it’s one that absolutely paid off and really opened up the story. Where Senlin Asce ...more
Paul O'Neill
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Magical and imaginative.

Full review to follow. It certainly deserves it!
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good sequel to one of most pleasant indie surprises. Sadly it didn't fully met expectations but it does enough good things to earn high rating.

Biggest problem I have with it is pacing. Story moves slowly and at the end of book it gets to a point where most authors would have gotten it in 200 pages less. Overall book isn't very eventful considering it's length.

On the other hand writing is still great. It makes otherwise mediocre story with slow pace very enjoyable read.

There is also change of t
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really love Josiah's writing style. His prose is unlike anything else I've encountered, as are his ideas. I had zero idea of where this story was going, and not being able to predict something happening is always a good thing!

I'm not feeling great at the moment so am not going to write a full review. Suffice to say I enjoyed this just as much as book 1 (Senlin Ascends) and I am very much looking forward to book 3 (The Hod King).

Narrated by John Banks again, who was absolutely wonderful
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Steampunk and creative world-building
Arm of the Sphinx is the amazing second book in “the Books of Babel” series. Although having a different angle compared to Senlin Ascends, the author beautifully fleshes out the characters and the enigmatic Tower.

Once a stuffy schoolteacher, Thomas Senlin now has become Tom Mudd, sky-pirate and captain of the airship The Stone Cloud. After the wild adventures in New Babel, Senlin and his strange crew hope to avoid their enemies, while figuring out a way up the Tower.
This quest leads them to fin
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Middle Book Syndrome: a group of symptoms naturally occurring in the middle book or books in a trilogy or series, most notably in the Fantasy genre. While the first book establishes character, setting, and the central dilemma which the protagonist must overcome, the second book finds itself often drifting aimlessly (see: Frodo and Sam in The Two Towers), moving the plot forward but not far enough to show any real progress, more like a series of pitstops designed specifically to sell an additiona ...more
Dyrk Ashton
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Even more fascinating than Book 1. Prose and imagination that will set your head spinning in the best way possible. Bizarre, bold, and beautiful.

I was a pretty early reader of Josiah's first book in this series, Senlin Ascends, well before his trad deal, and was blown away by his prose, unique story and setting, and unfettered imagination.

Hard to believe for me, but I found Arm of the Sphinx to be even more fascinating. The characters are fleshed out in unexpected ways, new intriguing characters
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 stil
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Before settling down to write fantasy novels, Josiah Bancroft was a poet, college instructor, and aspiring comic book artist. When he is not writing, he enjoys recording the Crit Faced podcast with his authorial friends, drawing the world of the Tower, and cooking dinner without a recipe. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sharon, their daughter Maddie, and their two rabbits, Mabel and Chapli ...more

Other books in the series

The Books of Babel (4 books)
  • Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1)
  • The Hod King (The Books of Babel, #3)
  • The Fall of Babel (The Books of Babel, #4)

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“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.” 39 likes
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