Before I get started, I’d like to thank Roc books for providing me with the review copy.
Now, in three words, my reaction upon turning the last page of The Aeronaut’s Windlass:
I want moar!
The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first volume in Jim Butcher’s new series, The Cinder Spires. It’s got airship battles. It’s got bravery and derring-do. It’s got nefarious sneak attacks and villains you’ll love to hate. It’s got dueling. I like dueling. (I think we should bring it back. One way or another, there would be fewer a******* wandering about mucking up the place.)
In short, it was a whole heck of a lot of fun. Here’s the setup.
Humanity is confined to giant spires. For reasons that are never given, life on the surface is too dangerous. The world is shrouded in mist, and to rise above the clouds is a dangerous act. Travel is via air ships which ride etheric currents. (The descriptions of the ships reminded me of Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Lays of Anaskaya series, and in a good way.)
Captain Grimm is a privateer Spire Albion harassing the shipping of Spire Aurora. He’s a former officer who was falsely drummed out of the service for cowardice. (He’s anything but a coward.) After his airship Predator is heavily damaged and Spire Aurora launches a cowardly sneak attack, he’s offered a chance to have his ship completely refitted by the Spirearch of Albion.
All he has to do is provide transport down the Spire to a group on a secret mission. So accompanied by an arrogant heir to the most powerful House in the Spire, her not entirely human cousin, a young soldier and her insufferably smug cat, and a mad Etherealist (he can’t figure out doorknobs) and his not quite as mad apprentice (she can only converse with someone by talking to a jar of crystals), he takes the job.
What none of them realize is that the main body of saboteurs from Spire Aurora will be waiting for them…
I wasn’t kidding when I said this book was a whole heck of a lot of fun. I haven’t read a book as fun as this one in a while. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed, for various definitions of “enjoyed”, every thing I’ve reviewed, but that doesn’t mean the books have been fun. The last novel I reviewed being a perfect example of a book that moved me deeply and that I enjoyed on some levels but wasn’t fun. (If I don’t enjoy a book at least somewhat, you’ll never hear about the book.)
There’s humor and warmth. The characters are distinct and grow from their experiences. There are heroes, men and women who are willing to risk their lives to do what’s right. This was adventure in the grand old style that’s fallen out of fashion is some self-important circles. It made me feel like a kid again.
And speaking of kids, many of the books that have crossed my desk recently have certainly not been suitable for children. This one is. Older children at least and teenagers would enjoy it. So if there’s a younger reader in your life that you would like to interest in reading your kind of literature, The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a good place to start.
It goes on sale September 29, so look for it. This one is highly recommended.