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    Excellent Steampunk World

    Senlin Ascends combines exquisite world-building, strong characters, and great pacing all set in an alternate-history, steampunk-inspired world to great effect. It has charm, relatability, flights of fantasy, and so many enticing secrets that left me wanting more and ready to dive into book two. The narrative of Senlin Ascends is simple and easy to follow, yet still containing a perfect amount of surprise and suspense that hooked me the whole time. Our leading man, Senlin, is a wonderful protagonist. He is oh-so-human and relatable and his arc over the course of the novel, from a "quiet man of letters" to a "man of action" (as the cover-summary says), is entirely believable. He is the every-man driven to extraordinary measures to save the woman he loves. He fails at times. He has weaknesses. He is flawed. He is utterly amazed and shocked by the Tower and how it is so radically different than his academic view from afar. And his every revelation is ours as a reader. Every new step and discovery draws us deeper in understanding of Senlin because we are stepping and discovering with him. Along the way Senlin intersects with many of the Tower's denizens. Each "side-character" is well thought out and believable...from the heroes to the villains to the many who are a bit of both. My one complaint about the side characters is a slight spoiler, so don't read this bit until after you've read the novel! (view spoiler) And yet, despite the excellent character writing, the world-building of this novel is truly the reason why one should pick it up. The Tower of Babel is fascinating and I was entirely drawn in by it. The atmosphere is phenomenal and each ringdom felt unique, realistic, and purposeful. The sense of wonder and mystery at each new environment that Senlin experienced was fully what I experienced along with him. This is the kind of visual setting that I would love to see a film set in simply because of the sense of scale and grandeur present in the Tower would be fantastic to be more immersed in. Ultimately, this book is a prime example of why I like Goodreads. I doubt that I ever would have found this work if the site did not exist, and not only did I find it here, but I loved it. Senlin Ascends is entirely worthy of your time if you love imaginative, new worlds to explore and likeable, relatable characters to do it with. I can't wait for more.

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