Though this is marketed as Fantasy, it is, in actuality, a Historical Fiction novel. Though I have long said there should be a historical fantasy genre in which this would fit perfectly.

Babel is set in 1830’s England. Or, rather, an alternative reality of 1830’s England. The currency of this alternate reality is magical silver bars. The magic is gleaned from the use of words that have similar but not identical meanings. Lost in translation if you will.

These magical bars have several uses from healing powers to the ability to make something or someone extremely prosperous. In order to create these bars the BABEL institute was born. Or, the Royal Institute of Translation.

As an orphan adopted by Professor Lovell from the Royal Institute, Robin (not their given name)has been taught in Greek and Latin as well as Mandarin as preparation for his entrance into Babel. We very quickly learn that though Robin is told he was adopted he is actually Lovell’s biological son….though neither person is actually willing to admit this. Robin is late to class one day and this embarrasses his father. The punishment inflicted on Robin is swift and brutal and includes threats to return Robin to Canton where he lived in poverty.

As Robin excels in school he meets and befriends several other first year students. Together they discover that several languages are slowly becoming extinct while other languages are considered the future of translation magic. During his first week, Robin meets a boy who says he is Robin’s elder half brother, which makes him another child of Professor Lovell. Robin’s brother encourages him to join a society which is seeking to undermine the British magic system by any means necessary.

One day, Robin’s father pretends to need his son and their friends to join him on a translation trip, where upon return, Robin discovers his father was not being honest about the trip nor why he was brought along.

A set of brilliant events takes place which leaves the book with a rather uncertain, but, fantastic “leave you guessing to make your own conclusions as to what may have happened” ending.

Babel: Or The Necessity Of Violence: An Arcane History Of The Oxford Translators' Revolution

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top