The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

I’m a huge fan of Butcher’s Dresden Files, as anyone who’s peeked at this blog before probably knows by now. I also found Jim’s Codex Alera books pretty enjoyable. So I was understandably intrigued when I heard that he was working on a steampunk series, to be called The Cinder Spires.

The first in the new series came out last week (joy!), and I have to confess I dropped everything I was supposed to be doing and read myself stupid, swallowing up the whole darn thing in one big gulp. Was it really that good? Well, yeah, pretty much.


The Aeronaut’s Windlass is set among the Spires that shelter humanity, towering miles above the surface of the world. Crystal powered airships keep peace between the different Spires, but the skies are also full of traders, pirates, and privateers.

Disgraced former soldier Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship Predator, and has been taking part in the cold war between his beloved Spire Albion and the opposition, Spire Aurora, by helping disrupt the enemy’s shipping lines. But after the Predator is damaged in an ambush, Grimm is offered the help he needs to rebuild his ship in exchange for a favor for the Spirearch of Albion: to take a team of agents on a mission which could save all of Albion and repel the Auroran invasion.

Grimm’s team includes a couple of eccentric Etherealists, three Guard cadets, and one talking cat. That’s right, cat. Did I forget to mention the cats? Well, in Jim’s world, cats are intelligent talking creatures who will have to be forgiven for thinking humans are a little dense. Because we probably are.

Cats aside (begging your pardon, cats!), The Aeronaut’s Windlass was a fun and fast-paced start to the new series, with some truly great characters in it. There was plenty of action, a good dollop of intrigue, and even a hint of a love story or two. Also, airship battles! It had a good, solid ending, but left enough intriguing teases to ensure that I look forward to the next book.

Nicely done, Mr. Butcher. Oh, and please don’t tell my dog, but I’ve placed an order for one of those talking cats…

Stella is not impressed.

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