Enter the amazing world of The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher [Review]

I am not a Jim Butcher fan. There, I said it. Now, before you stop reading in a huffy rage, let me correct that statement. I wasn’t a Jim Butcher fan. The Dresden series just has too many characters and too much going on, and the plot lines start out so formulaic that it takes actual effort for me to read a Dresden book. The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, however, is freaking awesome! I was somewhat underwhelmed by the cover, although it vaguely says “pirate” to me since the title gives it an obvious steampunk feel, I bought a paper copy of the book and started reading. I was hooked immediately by the first character introduced.

Gwendolyn Margaret Elizabeth Lancaster argues with her mother for the right to become a soldier and ends up concluding her argument with a mighty blast from a magical gauntlet she wears. Sign me up for that army! The next character (basically the main character, even though he was not introduced first) is Captain Francis Grimm and he’s striding about on his airship, then immediately gets into a midair battle. There is action and magic and things catching fire and blowing up and it’s all AMAZING! I could hardly put this book down, once started. In standard Butcher style, there are about a dozen recurring characters, but this time I didn’t have any trouble keeping track of them. I realize it’s only the first book of the series, but it’s been weeks since I read it and I still distinctly remember each of them. Thumbs way up for that!

Aside from the cool characters (if you don’t love Benedict there could be something wrong with you) the world building in The Aeronaut’s Windlass is completely awesome. Not only is this a steampunk-heavy novel, it’s also dystopian! I might have actually flailed a bit when that tidbit was introduced. I’m dying to know more about the history of this world. The overlying plot is well done, and fairly epic, which is also a Jim Butcher trademark. This large novel barely brushes the surface of what is happening in this universe, and I can hardly wait to uncover even more of it. It’s been a long time since I’ve eagerly awaited the next book of a series, but this one is high on my Hurry Up, Author list.

On a side note, some parts of The Aeronaut’s Windlass reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss, so if you’re a fan of his, you might want to read this one and see if you can pick up on the similarities. (As someone also dying for the next book in the Kingkiller saga, I didn’t mind the possible nod to that series at all.)

In summary, if you like great characters, superb world building, tons of action, and an intricate plotline, definitely pick up The Aeronaut’s Windlass and lose yourself for several hours. You won’t be disappointed. My mom even read it when she was here on vacation and immediately asked, “Where’s the next one?”

Characters: 5/5 – Story: 5/5 – Science/Magic: 5/5 (super cool!) – Action: 5/5 (there are a lot of battles, but they are so well done!) – Pacing: 5/5 – World building: 5/5

The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher awaits you at Amazon!


When Predator sailed into war, she sang.

The rapid winds and rising shrieks suddenly blended into a single harmonious tone. Lines in the rigging and the yards and masts themselves quivered in time and began giving off their own notes of music, in harmony with one another. As the speed increased, the chord rose and rose, and built and built, until it reached a crescendo of pure, eerie, inhuman fury.

Grimm felt the music rise around him, felt the ship straining eagerly to her task, and his own heart raced in fierce exultation in time with her.

Cheryl Dyson

This article comes to SFM from author Cheryl Dyson. She lives in the great Pacific Northwest and spends her time writing books and drinking wine, not necessarily in that order. Her two current novels in the Gauntlet Trilogy are available now at Amazon: The Gauntlet Thrown and The Challenge Accepted.