Thursday 1 February 2018

REVIEW: Arm of the Sphinx

It seems ridiculous to me that when I wrote this review I was only the 4th person to review this book on Goodreads.

Like its predecessor, Senlin Ascends, this novel 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 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.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

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