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Babylon Steel by [Sebold, Gaie]
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Babylon Steel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 544 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gaie Sebold works for a charity, reads obsessively, gardens amateurishly, and sometimes runs around in woods hitting people with latex weapons. She has won awards for her poetry and has published short stories. Born in the US, she has lived in the UK most of her life, currently in an ‘up and coming’ area of London which doesn’t appear to have got very high yet.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1074 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris; 1 edition (December 23, 2011)
  • Publication Date: December 27, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006PKV4Q8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,390 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had no idea what to expect from Babylon Steel. I'd read the synopsis and thought the premise sounded interesting. What I found was a novel that has a strong central character, and a fun and well-constructed plot, which was a blend of fantasy and thriller with a dash of humour. There's also some pretty good social commentary. This is a very good debut, and I really hope we see more of Babylon Steel, and certainly more from Gaie Sebold.

Babylon Steel is an interesting novel. There are three distinct acts, but also an additional, `historical' thread of chapters that alternate with the main story set in the `present'. It's a little difficult to go into too much detail, but the search for the missing girl is only part of the overall story, as Babylon and her companions (also her employees) find themselves mixed up in some local politics, and Babylon's own past catches up with her.

The setting is an interesting one. In Sebold's reality, there are multiple "planes", connected by various portals (some stable, some not), and Babylon's home is on a plane situated on an intersection between a number of them. As a result, the place is populated by a large number of intelligent and morphologically different species. I'm not sure if this would technically make the novel Sci-Fi or still fantasy... I suppose both? The technology levels remain low - for example, people still fight with swords and not guns.

Usually, I find the alternating-time-periods structural device frustrating, but the way Sebold has written the novel, I found myself getting invested in both threads equally.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The woman who now calls herself Babylon Steel was born "Ebi" and orphaned on a harsh "plane" many dimensional portal jumps away from where she has made her home. Chosen to be a priestess (or so she was told..) of the local goddess of Love & War, Ebi is trained in both arts, and if she enjoys the former much more, she's very good at the later as well.

When her life goes horribly wrong, she escapes and makes her way to the small (and possibly magically created) plane of Scalentine where people of all sorts, human and otherwise make their homes and live off the portal trade under the shadowy protection of the "Diplomatic Section" and the more day to day reality of the local militia. Babylon finds the place congenial and generally friendly to the "Love" side of her skillset and eventually works her way up to owning her own, completely legal, brothel, The Red Lantern, where if they can figure out how to have sex with you, and you aren't a complete jerk, you can find a safe good time.

There are only a couple of flies in the ointment of Bablylon's contented life. The local cult "Vessels of Purity" have started a campaign against whoring, and have made the Red Lantern one of their targets. Since the place is completely legal, they can only picket and make life difficult, but it's enough to affect business. Then there's a missing girl the Diplomatic Section wants Babylon to find, the coming crazyiness of a two moon syzygy, and, oh, distinct signs that Babylon's past may be about to catch up with her...

I should say up-front that Babylon is a whore, and a proud one. The book doesn't shy away from that at all, but at the same time, it is not erotica. If you are looking for the tale of a chaste blushing heroine, this is not it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. It was much better developed both in plot, universe-building and characterization than I would have been led to believe by the Xena-type cover and title. I love when you go into a book expecting it to be readable and then find that you become so invested in what's happening that don't want to put it down.

It's not a simple sword-and-bodice story about a brothel-keeper with a heart-of-gold. There are a couple of levels to this story. In addition to the present-day situation of ex-warrior Babylon Steel and the problems in her life in Scalentine, there is a slowly revealed story of an abandoned child named Ebi who exists on one of the other planes of existence in this story's universe, a subplot that slowly ties into what is happening in present-day Scalentine.

For urban fantasy fans, there are were-creatures, the Fae, aliens of every description, a mysterious diplomatic corps, and a very creepy religious order. But they all were treated rather matter-of-factly, as part and parcel of Scalentine's everyday world, with no one group superior to the other. I liked that. The book was also well-paced with enough going on in the twin storylines to keep things interesting and moving along.

I'll be keeping an eye out for Gaie Sebold's next book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Brothel owner and operator and former mercenary Babylon Steel has religious zealots, the Vessels of Purity, driving off her business, tax problems, and a secret past she'd rather keep hidden when casino owner Darask Fain pays her to find a missing girl. Only every step she takes brings her a little closer to her secret past. Can Steel find the missing girl before her past finally catches up to her?

Right off the bat, I'd like to say this book is a super nova of pure entertainment. Don't come in expecting to discover a lost work of Shakespeare.

Babylon Steel tells two stories, one of a brothel owner, the other of an orphan girl who eventually becomes the avatar of a goddess. I'm not going to come right out and say it but you can see where the tales will intersect. The story is largely a mystery. Without giving too much of the plot away, I like what Sebold has done with certain fantasy cliches like prophecies, chosen ones, and gods in this book.

Babylon is a fairly well-rounded character. She's tough but feminine. The fact that she's a prostitute that runs a brothel seems almost secondary. Actually, I didn't quite buy her as a prostitute until she had sex with the lizard man who had two penises. The supporting cast is fairly well done, from her staff at the Red Lantern to her uneasy relationship with Chief Bitternut, the head of the city watch. Scalentine, the setting, is one of the more interesting fantasy cities I've read about in recent years. It's located at the conjunction of multiple planar portals. It's no Bas Lag but few fantasy cities are.

Both the city and the writing style remind me of Simon Green's Nightside series quite a bit, only with less tedium and more smut. I'd say the writing is better than Green's.
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