Review of The Aeronaut’s Windlass
by Jim Butcher
The start of a new series by a solid fantasy writer is always exciting. This new book is even more so, a thick heft of a thing, full of adventure and fraught with danger. The world is shrouded in mist which shelters evil creatures. To protect mankind, the Spires were created, warrens of levels that shelter humans from the dangers of the outside world. Within these walls the aristocratic houses and commerce thrive and the Guard and the Fleet protect Spire Albion.
We open on a scene of drama, the young woman who we meet while she is leaving home to become what society deems unfit for a lady, a member of the Spirearch’s Guard. Gwendolyn Lancaster comes from the family that has had the great responsibility of creating the crystals that power the great airships that for commerce and armed forces are essential. They also power everything that needs energy, such as the gauntlet that Gwendolyn uses to punctuate her leaving.
At the same time, the Captain of one of the ships that uses the crystals to defend the Spire Albion against Spire Auroran airships with his Merchant ship, the Predator, Captain Francis Madison Grimm is desperately fending off the ASA Itasca, a battlecruiser built to run down ships like the Predator. But Captain Grimm has an excellent crew, a fast ship, and a rapier sharp mind. He is also an exiled captain of the Albion’s Fleet due to a mysterious charge of cowardice in the face of battle.
The story follows Gwen’s education as a Guard, and all the Guard trainees she meets, and the Captain of the Predator and his crew until the two groups meet in a mission for the Spirearch of Albion to protect Master Ferus, an Etherealist who controls the mysterious forces of nature. There embarks an adventure that fairly flies off the page and keeps you up at night reading. Rarely do I find books about the tactics of war so fascinating, but this story is full of interesting characters that you truly care about. There is Bridget Tagwynn, whose best friend is a cat named Rowl, whose help is integral to solving the puzzle of treachery and treason that Albion finds itself in. Benedict, member of the guard and Gwen’s cousin is a fierce fighter anyone would want at their back. All are fleshed out and well drawn characters that inhabit this Steampunk flavored world.
I received an advance copy for review.
I finished this book June 20, 2015