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Review of The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Review of The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim ButcherThe Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
on 2015-09
Genres: Fiction, Steampunk
Pages: 630


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… (

But fear was a disease that could swell and spread, incapacitating crews and bringing on the destruction that had been dreaded in the first place.

It was a well-known fact that humans become more addled than usual when running in herds.

“In my experience, the worst madmen don’t seem odd at all,” Grimm said. “They appear to be quite calm and rational, in fact. Until the screaming starts.”

This is a hard review to write. I love Butcher. I’m in love with his writing. But …

Basically this story follows quite a few characters as they embark on a mission to save the Spire Albion.

I had a hard time understanding the world. It didn’t feel explored enough. Perhaps it’s because I’m new to the steampunkish type worlds, but I didn’t have any visual images unless we were with the ships. I get there’s a council and some Spirach or something or rather, but the cities themselves I just didn’t get. I’m not sure I can blame Butcher. My imagination has always struggled with new worlds, but I’ve read a few reviews where other readers were experiencing the same problems.

The characters were legion. Okay, that might have been a bit dramatic. There’s five different PoV’s we hear from, but tons more characters. I normally don’t mind, but for some reason I struggled with that in this book. I loved Captain Grim. Great character, in my mind. It also doesn’t hurt that he was an airship captain, and I loved the airships. There’s a wealth of character types in this book. You have the loyal honorable Captain, a snotty but well-meant strong young female, a brave logical thinking young female, a warriorborn young man with super human strength, a quirky young female, and then the cat. Yes, there’re cats in this book. I love cats. Heck, I love all animals. There were cat moments that were hilarious. But most of the time I found those sections slow. That’s not the cat’s fault. Which brings me to pacing.

Butcher can write action scenes. He’s proven it in his Dresden series and this was no different. When there was action, I couldn’t put the book down, especially when the airships were involved. Butcher creates amazing tension and can expertly paint the scene. But when there wasn’t action, I had a really hard time pushing through the book. A really hard time. Matter of fact, anytime we weren’t in the airships, I had a hard time. So be prepared for some dialog heavy, slow scenes. It’s a long book, so these seem to come up a lot.

I love Butcher’s writing. I really do. It flows effortlessly. It can draw wonderful images, make you feel what the characters feel, and delve out some lovely thoughts. None of that changed in this book, just the story itself moved slowly.

So overall, I’m definitely going to pick up the next one in the series. If you’re a huge Butcher fan, you should read it. Just be prepared for a book that moves way slower than his Dresden series.

About Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher read his first fantasy novel when he was seven years old–
the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. By the time he turned eight,
he’d added the rest of the Narnia books, the Prydain Chronicles, every
book about Star Wars he could find, a great many Star Trek novels and
the Lord of the Rings to his count.

So he was pretty much doomed from the start.

Love of fantasy, his personal gateway drug, drew him toward a fairly
eclectic spread of interests: horseback riding (including trick riding,
stunt riding, drill riding, and competitive stunt racing), archery,
martial arts, costuming, music and theater. He played a lot of role-
playing games, a lot of fantasy-based tactical computer games, and
eventually got into live-action roleplay where players beat each other
up with boffer weapons.

So, really, he can fly his nerd flag with pretty much anyone, and
frequently does.

He took up writing to be able to produce fantasy novels with swords and
horses in them, and determinedly wrote terrible fantasy books until,
just to prove a point to his writing teacher, he decided to take every
piece of her advice; fill out outlines and worksheets, and design
stories and characters just the way she’d been telling him to do for
about three years. He was certain that once she saw what hideous art it
produced, she would be proven wrong and repent the error of her ways.
The result was the Dresden Files, which sure showed *her*.

She has not yet admitted her mistake and recanted her philosophy on

Jim has performed in dramas, musicals, and vocal groups in front of
live audiences of thousands and on TV. He has performed exhibition
riding in multiple arenas, and fallen from running horses a truly
ridiculous number of times. He was once cursed by an Amazon witch
doctor in rural Brazil, has apparently begun writing about himself in
the third person, and is hardly ever sick at sea.

He also writes books occasionally.

Jim stands accused of writing the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera.
He’s plead insanity, but the jury is still out on that one. He lives in
Missouri with his wife, romantic suspense and paranormal romance writer
Shannon K. Butcher (who is really pretty and way out of his league),
his son, and a ferocious guard dog.

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