Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Sunday, May 28, 2023

“Babel” by R F Kaung

I started reading this book back in January and never really got into it. I have no idea why, but it just did not grab me. Then I started reading the Game of Thrones books, and ended up leaving Babel untouched for months. I knew I wasn’t permanently abandoning it, but I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get back to it. 

I finally picked Babel up again last weekend and ended up really enjoying it! It's well-written, with an interesting story that makes you think. 

Babel is an alternate history of 1800s England, specifically Oxford University and its Royal Institute of Translation. In this fictional world, England is a global empire due to its wealth of silver bars and its expertise with the magical power derived from the matched pairs of words inscribed on the surface of each bar—one word in English and one in another language. The words vary according to the power desired: fortifying an old building, keeping a carriage safe from accident, causing an explosion. The words are paired by the scholars in Babel, the Institute’s headquarters. 

The newest students at Babel are Robin (who is Chinese), Ramy (Indian), Letty (English) and Victoire (Haitian), and they become fast friends. But it isn’t long before they begin to see the vast disparity between those living with the benefits of the silver bars and those without. 

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