“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 there’s not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain.
In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night’s takings are at risk when Babylon’s hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat.”
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 was the diverse mix of races and characters that made this such an interesting read. Character driven fantasy is always what floats my personal boat, and Sebold does an outstanding job of creating a cast of characters that offer something unique whilst retaining enough familiarity to make me feel at ease. Babylon is a fantastic female protagonist, and that’s not a comment I can make often within this genre!
I really enjoyed the parallel chapter set-up of the past and present threads, that’s not usually a technique that I’m a fan of because it can often make the story feel disjointed, and there usually tends to be one you’ll have a preference for and one that you’ll tire of faster..but here they work perfectly together. The plot on both sides is pacey and interesting throughout, and the world Sebold creates is a fitting playground for some beautifully imagined and vividly portrayed individuals.
Sebold writes with a sharp wit, and has breathed fresh life into my favourite genre. I can’t fault Babylon Steel, it’s a massive amount of fun. I’d recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humour and an appreciation for originality.