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The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Book Name: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher(s): Roc
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy / Steampunk
Release Date: September 29, 2015

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the latest offering from the talented Jim Butcher. I have been a fan of Butcher’s work for a long time, as I’m sure many of you reading this are too. It felt strange to be picking up a book with his name on that didn’t feature a particular Chicago based, professional wizard, but I dived in regardless. This is the first book in Butcher’s new Cinder Spire series and if the Dresden Files is anything to go by, it’s likely to be the first of many.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, (which is my favourite book title of 2015) takes us to a fantasy world where mankind lives in enormous, floating cities called spires. There is an obvious steampunk vibe to the book that I enjoyed and it was nice to see Butcher introduce me to a new universe pulled from his wonderfully creative mind. What I appreciate about his books is the sense of familiar, but different. The same worldbuilding that made the likes of Harry Potter and the Dresden Files so endearing works just as well in this new setting. I could picture mankind’s cities floating in the skies and waging war upon one another.

The characters that inhabit this civilisation are also a mixed bunch. The story follows several characters as their destinies all become entwined in a plot full of conspiracy, conflict, and betrayal. I enjoyed the characters a great deal. I felt like they all offered something unique when the story focused upon them, but I never felt like any outstayed their welcome. I often have issues with books that follow several protagonists but Butcher pulls it off, giving each character a fair amount of presence and development. I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do want to call out one character in particular.

The character in questions is one I would consider to be a supporting character; but if you asked him he would tell you that he is the only character in the story and events revolve around him. He is a cat. A prince of cats to be precise and he is both hilarious and awesome! I loved this character and the concept behind him and despite his arrogance I cannot wait to read more about him. The way Butcher wrote this character made me picture my own cat in exactly the same way. He captured the arrogance and honour of a cat to such a point that I laughed out loud on several occasions due to the antics of this noble feline.

The story that the characters become engaged in was enjoyable to follow. It has highs and lows and involved all the characters so intrinsically that I’m not sure who the main character is on reflection. There isn’t one character at the heart of everything going on. This is a story with an ensemble cast who all have a valid and equal stake in the events that unfold. This is a complex book in that regard. The story has many threads and relationships to keep track of and make note of. It’s all well laid out though and I was never once confused about what was happening or why.

The first act is a little on the slow side due to the introduction of so many new characters and concepts, but this is a small issue and a necessary one I think. This feels like the first book in what is to be a large series and some time was required to ensure everything was explained. The narrative is great and Butcher does an excellent job telling a fantastic story that sets up for much larger events to come. I love the setting; it’s a great blend of steampunk and pirate adventure with a hint of many other elements thrown into the mix. I’m a big fan of magic systems in my fantasy worlds and in almost Sanderson-like fashion, Butcher has created a particularly interesting one that I believe is yet to be fully explored, but what is there I liked.

Another thing I enjoyed was the concept of airships engaging in aerial combat. I’m a sucker for Napoleonic Era naval warfare. There is something satisfying about enormous ships broadsiding each other with dozens of canons. Blowing huge chunks out of their adversaries and swinging round to get the best firing angle possible for the next salvo. Right before a ferocious boarding action takes place to finish the job.

The ships in The Cinder Spire universe are well explained and I understood how the ships stayed in the air and did manoeuvres through the sky. Again, Butcher is a master of taking the familiar and twisting it to make it much cooler but still recognisable. It reminded me a lot of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, which also features naval warfare in the sky, (although in that series it’s done on the back of dragons and its awesome, go read it).

I loved this book, it was something new and felt fresh and exciting. It is also a rather chunky book for a first in the series, weighing in at over 600 pages. This is a book that means business and just holding it excited me. I am glad Butcher created such a large first entry in the new series. I think it shows that he is confident about it and has quite the story to tell. It reassures me that there is plenty more to come of The Cinder Spires.

This is a great book, with a great plot, and a great cast of characters, set in a well realised, and alluring new fantasy world that I cannot wait to read more about. If you’re a fan of Butcher’s work I think you’ll love this. If you’re new to his writing then I think this is a great title to jump on board with. This is one of my contender’s for book of the year and I think it could be one of yours too.


One Comment

  1. Avatar tiny says:

    yup got that book as soon as I can. the prince of cats is just mister that can talk great write up this book..

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