The Aeronaut's Windlass is the much anticipated Cinder Spires series debut from Jim Butcher. The genre is a bit difficult to pen down. There are reader accessible elements of steampunk; however, at its core, this novel is an action/adventure fantasy novel focused on a building war between two Spires Albion and Aurora as well as the motley crew assembled to gain intelligence for the Spirearch of Albion.
Butcher artfully introduces a fantastic cast of characters. Captain Grimm reminds me of a well crafted blend between Mal Reynolds of Firefly fame, a little bit of Once Upon a Time's Hook, and maybe a dash of Harry Dresden. He's intriguing with his status as an outcast but former respected military hero. I can't wait to find out more of his story.
As characters come into the fray, I kept thinking that Butcher might have been on a recent Firefly binge while writing this adventure. I love it! Gwen is a little bit Zoe, a little bit Kaylee. I adore her ability to read situations and love her smart, snarky dialogue and is a surprisingly qualified and useful engineer. Faris and Folley are like a River Tam duo. Their second sight and connection to the aether is as fascinating as it is alarming, given the predictions of turmoil and devastation to come. Rounding out the characters are Benedict and Bridget. There is certainly the beginnings of a romance in place.
Let's talk for a minute about Rawl! He is fantastic. If ever a writer could spin a fantasy warrior cat its Butcher. Rawl is just how I'd imagine a cat would think and speak. He has a sly sense of humor and is altogether puzzled by the often complicated and frivolous actions of humans. Rawl is formidable but I adore that he loves Bridget so fiercely that he allows himself to be cuddled and will literally face tremendous danger to ensure her safety.
Overall, I loved everything about this book. The monsters are creepy and there is a delicious slow burn to the villains we've seen thus far. This definitely reads like the first in a much larger conversation. I know they'll be more twists and turns based upon what we've learned in this tale and I can't wait for more!
Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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