Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Published by Roc on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…
THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS is my first Jim Butcher book. I own many of his Dresden Files and Codex Alera books, but somehow just haven’t gotten to them. But when I read a sampler from the publisher which contained the first chapter of this one, I knew I had to read it right away. Gwendolyn Lancaster captured my attention, and I had to know what kind of world she lived in.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn a ton about that world, which saddened me. It seemed like a fascinating place, but there wasn’t much substance to it. There wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding; for the longest time, I didn’t realize Habble Morning was a place. I sorely needed an explanation of how the spire was set up. I assume later books will explain why humans live in the spires, but please, tell me what their world is like now.
The characters blended together as well. THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS didn’t feel like an adult fantasy book, but some mix between YA and adult. Which is fine, but give me characters with personalities! Rowl had the most personality, and he was a cat. On the talking cats — they were okay at first, but I’m not sure why they’re in the book. Another later-in-the-series explanation? They felt very kiddie to me. However, I’m not a cat person, so I might be biased there. But Gwen, Benedict, Bridget, and the others felt more like stereotypes than developed characters. Miss Manners Gwen, Benedict the super warrior, Bridget who talks to cats, etc.
My favorite part of THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS were the airship battles. They were the highlight of the book for me. I could clearly picture them in my mind. I could tell the author had thought those out. I really liked the image of the Predator singing as she went into battle; it was a neat touch, one I would have liked more of in the book.
I struggled a bit to get through THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS, because for long portions of the book, there just wasn’t much going on. I longed for more worldbuilding and memorable characters. However, after saying all of that, I think I would give this series another chance. I’m curious enough to want to see what happens next in the story, and maybe get answers to some of my questions about worldbuilding.
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