Before I start my review I would like to take this opportunity to thank Orbit for sending me a review copy of this book and allowing me to review it for them.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first book in Jim Butchers new series The Cinder Spires. Prior to reading this I had only ever read the first book in his Dresden Files series which I loved and already have the 2nd and 3rd books ready to read, I am also aware of the Codex Alera (it will be getting added to my ever expanding TBR). Now without further adieu lets drop anchor and get to the review.
This is Jim Butchers first foray into the world of Steampunk and it certainly stays within the general tropes associated with the genre, this certainly isn’t a bad thing as the world he builds has been lovingly crafted and it sticks to what makes Steampunk books great. I myself haven’t read that many Steampunk novels but from what I have read I absolutely loved.
The battle scenes Jim Butcher describe in this book are a thing of true beauty, this is especially clear when you read how the battles flow and the actions occur as would imagine they would without being ridiculously over the top. When battles take place they aren’t just a flashy show of who’s stronger but they heavily involve a characters feelings to whats going on around them and how they react to it, this where their true strength shines as the characters don’t always simple just run in thoughtless with the attitude yeah I’ll do this and completely forget everything I know or feel.
As I mentioned above I absolutely loved the world building in this book as it describes just enough to draw you in but still leaving a small amount of mystery, particularly so with the lower levels of the spires. With Steampunk somewhat drawing upon pieces from a lost/future Victorian era I was glad to see the lower and upper class divide being shown as this has always been strong factor of what occurred during the Victorian era.
One area of the world building I felt lacked slightly was the family politics, politics and the inner workings of the military as I felt sometimes these were somewhat lacking and at times when this was being discussed I struggled to push on, but thankfully these only ever came in small bites.
One aspect of the book I felt didn’t have enough focus was the magic system as I was extremely intrigued by its inner workings but we never really got a representation on how it worked and really involved at its core, this is most likely something that will be explored in later books and I am looking forward to finding out more.
The strongest area by far in this book stems from its characterization as we clearly see that each individuals personality shine through and how it interacts with others. One of my favorite characters was Rowl as here we have something that to us is an every day pet and Jim Butcher manages to give them the own world and personalities. Rowl’s personality in particular is extremely endearing as not only is he brave but also an extremely proud warrior but also very funny when he reacts to new people he has never met before.
One other character I grew to really like as the book progressed was Captain Grim. When we first meet him we see that he to is a proud warrior with a troubled past and hasn’t had much luck in life so far but as the book progresses we learn a lot more about him and I am intrigued as to how he is going to develop further.
With all of this in mind I do believe this book struggled in certain areas and had some slow pacing but considering this was Jim Butchers first foray into Steampunk I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next one in the series. I will highly recommend it to others I know who also enjoy this genre.
With all this in mind I am going to give this book a half hearted Ravens CAW!!, roughly translated that means a 7 out of 10.