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…
When I found out that Jim Butcher was writing a new fantasy series that happened to be steampunk, I basically got so excited that I couldn’t breathe and turned all pink from anxious excitement. I actually preordered the book, just so I could have it the day it came out. Even if I didn’t get to start reading that day I could at least stare at it, scrutinize the maps, sniff it and take really cool Instagram pictures showing off my latest prize. I’m a HUGE fan of Jim Butcher’s hugely popular Dresden Files series, and the less commonly know Codex Alera series, so I could only hope that the newest addition would measure up. I’ll just go ahead and say that it was AWESOME SAUCE! (Does anyone else say that, or just me?)
Like most big, chunky fantasy book that aren’t considered YA, there are lots of characters that you can consider main characters, or at least major players. Each character is well defined, and clearly stands out from each of the others as a unique individual- no confusion. Captain Francis Madison Grimm is like a privateer for Spire Albion and does raiding missions against Spire Aurora’s ships. I kind of envision him as a more serious version of Chris Pratt (aka Star Lord/the guy in Jurassic World). Gwendolyn Lancaster is the stubborn, imperious heir to house Lancaster and has dutifully joined the Spire Guard for her term of service. Alongside her is her cousin Benedict Sorrellin-Lancaster, a warriorborn (cat-like, with excellent fighting skills and fitness). Bridget Tagwynn, another new Guard member is strong, but shy girl whose most notable companion is a cat named Rowl. Now Rowl is not your usual cat; Rowl IS A TALKING CAT!!!!! He is also prince of the Silent Paws clan and is formidable and intelligent personality. I basically died of excitement when I found out there were talking cats (they speak Cat,not human) and that they were playing a major role in the storyline.
Now, the storyline….. The story begins prior to the outbreak of war between Spire Albion and Spire Aurora. The Spires are kind of like countries, but they rise 10 kilometers above the surface and are made of stone. There are different cities called habbles, the main ones in Spire Albion being Habble Morning and Habble Landing. It took me ages to finally get a grasp on what exactly a Habble was and it kind of drove me nuts that it wasn’t really explained at all- you had to make your own conclusions. Anyways, the Aurorans are working their mischief and there are infiltrators in Albion- this is basically what the plot in book one centers around. We are introduced to quite a lot of concepts, vocabulary, and characters so it’s really a good thing that the plot wasn’t vast as the great oceans. There’s intrigue, ether, and airship battles, so never a dull moment!
The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a great start to what I think will be a fantastic and adventure filled series. I think everything is developing well, and I look forward to diving into inter-Spire relations, politics, and battles. I think there might be a bit of romance, and it’s the nice, believable kind rather than the forced and obviously crappy version. Can I just say again that the characters are awesome? Gwendolyn Lancaster is probably my favorite right now- she can get her hands dirty in an airship and she’s completely unreasonable and I hope you love reading her lines as much as I did! There’s just so much awesome, so you should really read this book ASAP! Happy Reading!