R. F. Kuang: Babel (EBook, 2022, HarperCollins UK) 4 stars

The city of dreaming spires.

It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in …

a slog with lovely moments scattered through

3 stars

A primer on colonial exploitation around the opium wars, and the conflicts of allegiance for our young scholars of color at an imagined Oxford who feel the abstract distance from such concerns their academic pursuits entangle them in... that sounds pretty good, but the balance of storytelling just kept hitting sour notes for me, long sections of school shenanigans or minutia, or where the magical twist is so thinly veiled it hardly matters, where the characters actions are irrelevant to moving us forward.