Monday, March 20, 2023

Babel: An Arcane History

Babel: An Arcane History is a dark bookish fantasy history by R.F. Kuang. Released 23rd Aug 2022 by HarperCollins on their Voyager imprint, it's 560 pages and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This was *the* speculative fiction buzz book for 2022 and with good reason. It's brilliantly imagined, distinctive, and incredibly well written.  Thematically, there's a heaping helping of anti-colonization rhetoric, so folks who hum Rule Britannia whenever they think about the sun never setting on the British Empire are in for an eyeful. There's also a strong undercurrent of dangerous racism, and some passages were painful to read, although realistically depicted.

The author is clearly more than passingly familiar with Oxford as well as with the time period (Regency England, 1828). I was enchanted with the writing and equally impressed with the verisimilitude of the settings and characterizations. Spelling and vernacular are period British English, but won't pose any problems for readers in context.

Five stars. Beautifully written and superlative world building and magic systems. Absolutely one for language nerds. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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