Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift. Until it became a prison... But can a student stand against an empire?

An incendiary novel from award-winning author R.F. Kuang about the power of language, the violence of colonialism, and the sacrifices of resistance.

Written by Iris and Juno


It’s hard to talk about this book and all that it encompasses without giving too much away, so here are some buzzwords: historical fantasy, translation and etymology, working magic through silver, colonial oppression, the dark side of academia (not “dark academia” but something much more real), revolution, resistance, and the power of language.

The author has described Babel as “a love letter and breakup letter to Oxford”, which is a perfect summary of the way she draws you in with her idyllic descriptions of campus life, only to completely shatter your heart a few times over before the end of the story.


I like when books make me think. I LOVE when fantasy is used as a way to conceptualize issues and questions we deal with in our world. This book is the perfect example. It adds just a bit of fantasy to our world to ask questions about the relationship between language, empire, colonialism and humanity. Kuang creates a magic system that embodies these themes.

I won’t spoil more, but if this sounds interesting to you, please go read it!

  • At First Spite
  • The Eternals
  • The Book of Humans
  • When We Cease to Understand the World
  • Babel
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • Convergence of Desire
  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
  • The Heart Principle