Butcher is well known for both The Dresden Files, a paranormal fantasy series about a modern-day wizard with a storefront business in Chicago, and The Codex Alera, a fantasy series about a boy who’s bullied and demeaned because he seems to have no magical ability. Both series were excellent, and The Dresden Files made it in a short-lived but enjoyable way to television.
Steampunk, the strange melding of Victoriana and a projection of steam and gear-based technology that never evolved (think clockwork man), is not a passion of mine. Love the aesthetic but the fictional occurrences haven't tickled my fancy. However, Jim Butcher. Enough said.
A few interesting characters draw you in immediately—a dishonored but eminently honorable airship captain, a young etherealist who sadly seems half mad, a bossy rich girl trying to rebel against social expectations, and a sheltered young woman who wants nothing but to stay home and talk to cats. Next thing you know, you’re a hundred pages in and have barely bothered to breathe. A fascinating world opens before you, where the planet’s surface is a frightening wasteland, long abandoned, and humanity lives within towering spires, traveling from one to another in airships powered by ethereal energy. Each spire has its own economy and culture, and political rivalries arise within and between them.
But it’s about more than politics. Something terrible is coming up from the surface, hiding in the tunnels of Albion Spire. Why now? And who's behind it? Our heroes must find the answers to these questions, and quickly, if they want to survive.
Fans of epic fantasy and science fiction will enjoy The Aeronaut’s Windlass—perhaps fans of nautical books too, because of the descriptions of shipboard life and the battles between airships. Also, fans of talking cats. (If you think that’s too cutesy, don’t worry—these cats are sweet and furry, yes, but also red in tooth, claw, and mind, like good hunters should be.)
Photo by Dennis Carr/Postal 67 via Flickr/creative commons