Friday, January 22, 2016

The Aeronauts Windlass by Jim Butcher

Rating: Loved it!
Series: The Cinder Spires (Book 1)
Hardcover: 640 pages
Publisher: Roc; 1st edition (September 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451466802
ISBN-13: 978-0451466808

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…

It is no secret I am a big Jim Butcher fan and haven't disliked anything he has written to date, and he has written a new series which is set in a steam punk universe. Which will have you immersed in a rollicking fun adventure story. This series is firmly steam punk and interestingly this is a genre that in theory I like but in reality have rarely found a book that I can truly enjoy. This book (and hopefully series) reminded me why I like the steam punk genre.

This story had an old style rollicking adventure sea faring adventure feel to it. Think Disney's "Treasure Planet" movie and you get an idea of the feel of this book. The story has a lot of action on both land and in the sky but the most impressive battle scenes were between the vessels in the sky. They had the feel of old sailing ship battles, with the excitement and tactics they would use, except set in the sky. One of Butcher's strengths is writing excellent battle scenes and the air ship battles will not disappoint.

This has a different feel to Butcher's Harry Dresden series. Firstly this story is told from several different characters points of view. Secondly there are no supernatural beings like vampires and such (a talking cat or two and a weird spider like creature that is pretty deadly but that's about it). I actually enjoyed all the main characters and what they brought to the story. The cats were the stars though, just the best. Butcher captured a cat's thinking and behaviour pretty accurately.

The world building is done very well with the right balance of action, pacing and development. You don't feel like you have had a heap of information dumped on you or that the story has slowed down due to explanation's. The world is interesting and fascinating with people living in "Spires" which seem to be massive cone shaped cities built on top of each other, with the world outside being dangerous and inhospitable to humans (but not weird vicious creatures), there are also airships which seem to be the main mode of travel, and magic well a bit of magic (talking cats and crystals not wizards dueling).

I just enjoyed everything about this book from the action, to the humour, to the fight scenes, and the talking cats. This series could easily become another firm favourite of mine and I am excited to see where this series goes.

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