- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Solaris (5 Jan. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1907992375
- ISBN-13: 978-1907992377
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 850,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Babylon Steel (Babylon Steel 1) Paperback – 5 Jan 2012
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About the Author
Gaie Sebold is based in London works for a charity, reads obsessively, gardens amateurishly, and sometimes runs around in woods hitting people with latex weapons. She has won awards for her poetry and has published short stories. This is her debut novel.
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Babylon the titular character is a lady with a past. To begin with it seems that the mystery here is the whereabouts of a young missing girl, but it soons becomes evident that our heroine who just happens to be the owner of a brothel where her crew, the workers there are also her closest friends, has more to worry about than that.
The story is told using alternating past and present stories, weaving the young Ebi's story with the present day Babylon Steel.
Although this is set in a very alien world, it is very easy to empathsize with the characters who exhibit very human traits and root for them. I honestly found this unputdownable and look forward to the next chapter in this series and being able to see the central participants grow.
You get a lot of pages for your pennies - so many fantasy authors churn out short books in a series of sagas, containing mediocre storylines with a cliffhanger ending to entice you to buy in to the next. Not so with Babylon - a full and compelling read, with well rounded and thought out characters and an unfolding storyline which comes together beautifully.
Another issue I have with the plethora of fantasy books out there is getting to know the races / pronounce their names / differing abilities etc., Sebold, however, introduces her disparate characters well so that you feel like you’re actually becoming friends / enemies with them personally.
An excellent read, would definitely recommend
But this is a bad time for an investigation. The approaching Two-Moon (when both of Scalentine's moons are full), means there's a lot of craziness about. A religious order called the Vessels of Purity are campaigning against prostitution and threatening the Lantern and someone's brutally beating up prostitutes. Worse is the arrival of a group of people from Babylon's past, a past that she thought she'd escaped for good, and which threatens to destroy everything she's worked so hard for ...
Gaie Sebold's debut novel is an epic fantasy featuring a strong, sexually confident woman who controls her own destiny.
Babylon's chatty, first-person voice carries you through the various plot strands. It's refreshing to read fantasy with a female character who knows what she wants and what she likes and while Babylon might not be great at asking for help, she understands when she's outgunned and is competent at what she does. I enjoyed her relationship with her brothel's crew, particularly with Previous, an ex-mercenary who works as a guard, and Precious, the huge, scaly cook. I also liked the way Sebold mixes in Babylon's backstory, as an abandoned orphan on Tiresana, a dying land under the control of ruthless Avatars.
There's a lot of plot, perhaps too much as the last quarter rushes to tie up all of the loose ends. There are also a lot of side characters and at times, I did find it a little difficult to keep the names straight - a character list would really help.
The world-building is great, with Sebold creating a vivid impression of Scalentine, its various quarters, its diverse, multi-species population and the portals that are so important to its existence. If I have one plea it's for a city map in the next book, so you can see the scale more visually.
In conclusion, this is an assured epic fantasy debut novel offering strong storytelling and stronger female characters and as such is well worth a look.
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