Review: The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

32998292So, this is obviously one of those books that I was anticipating since finishing Arm of the Sphinx. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to show up in my mailbox one delightful November day, but there it was! Gaaasp!

So, thanks very much to the author, and Orbit for the ARC!

Fearing an uprising, the Sphinx sends Senlin to investigate a plot that has taken hold in the ringdom of Pelphia. Alone in the city, Senlin infiltrates a bloody arena where hods battle for the public’s entertainment. But his investigation is quickly derailed by a gruesome crime and an unexpected reunion.

Posing as a noble lady and her handmaid, Voleta and Iren attempt to reach Marya, who is isolated by her fame. While navigating the court, Voleta attracts the unwanted attention of a powerful prince whose pursuit of her threatens their plan.

Edith, now captain of the Sphinx’s fierce flagship, joins forces with a fellow wakeman to investigate the disappearance of a beloved friend. She must decide who to trust as her desperate search brings her nearer to the Black Trail where the hods climb in darkness and whisper of the Hod King.

As Senlin and his crew become further dragged in to the conspiracies of the Tower, everything falls to one question: Who is The Hod King?

“I assure you, it’s perfectly safe.” Byron reached into the footwell and switched the engine on. The walker began to hum, roughly at first. Its joints seethed a little steam. “This,” Byron said a little too grandly, “is the last wall-walker.”

“What happened to the rest of them?” Senlin asked, looking back at all the empty stalls. “Don’t tell me they fell off?”

“Not all of them,” Byron said, patting the engine’s fender. “Some of them exploded.”

You know, I’m not sure I was expecting to love this one more than Arm of the Sphinx, which is among my favorite books of all eternity, but here we are.

I’ll of course make this review as non-spoilery as I can.

This is the continuing story of Thomas Senlin, headmaster, airship captain, sometimes pirate, and generally pretty good dude, as he tries to reunite with his wife, Marya (among other things). We also see some of the adventures of Voleta, who is disguising herself as a pretty major person of interest in the Tower of Babel, in order to infiltrate polite society in the ringdom of Pelphia. Finally, we see the adventures of Edith Winters, airship captain, as she investigates a disappearance.

This book was just as phenomenally written as its two predecessors, first of all. It’s also incredibly engrossing and just so brilliantly plotted. I started it, and before long I was more than a hundred pages in and it was ridiculous o’clock in the morning. I love when that happens. I will admit that I will often stay up very late to read books, but it isn’t so many of them that actually make me lose track of time.

This is one of the longer books in the series, and while I do occasionally love a long book, I will often get more and more excited as I reach the end of them. This one is one of them that as I got closer and closer to the end, there was a part of me that was like… noooo does it have to be over? That doesn’t normally happen to me. I don’t typically get book hangovers. This one is going to stick with me for a while. In the best possible way, of course. 😀

I love Voleta in this volume. I have always loved Voleta as a character but I think that in this one she shines even more brightly than before. She’s such a free spirit, and seeing her in a situation where she must act a certain way, and of course mostly doesn’t because she is Voleta, is quite awesome. I always wondered what kind of trouble she was going to get into next.

There were plenty of twists and turns. Things happen in this one that made me gasp out loud. The pacing was absolutely fantastic as well, so interesting things happened in a way that made you absolutely not want to stop reading this one, ever. Alas, work!

“According to Lady Graverly’s Table, stools are inherently masculine seats. It is impossible for a lady to sit upon a stool without inferring a certain… flexibility of virtue.”

“Oh, really? What else can’t a lady sit on?” Voleta asked.

Byron ticked the forbidden furniture off on his velveteen fingers. “Bannisters, swings, saddles, ottomans, and love seats, for obvious reasons.”

There were a thousand rules for how she must conduct herself in “polite society.” If something wasn’t a rule, then it was a custom. And if it wasn’t a custom, then it was ladylike, an adjective that was as expansive as it was loathsome. Voleta had begun to build a mental list of all the beloved activities that were not considered ladylike, including: climbing trees, carrying fruit in her pockets, eating without a plate, eating without a fork, eating in general, letting a squirrel live in her blouse, hiding in closets, crawling through vents, tying knots in her skirts, spying on people, laughing, slouching, joking, running, and sitting where and when she pleased.

It’s pretty safe to say that I cannot wait to see what adventures the next Book of Babel holds. I shall eagerly await it! This book is an absolutely fantastic read from start to finish, and was captivating the entire way through. I fell into the Tower of Babel yet again, and only when it was done did I haphazardly tumble out again. This one gets 6/5 stars, because 5 stars are not enough for the amount that I loved it. A universe of stars out of five! Sooo good!

Thanks again to the author, as well as Orbit books (*high five for Paola* for the wonderful surprise) for the ARC.

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