The Aeronuat's Windlass: A Disappointingly Bland Tale about Sky Pirates, War, and Monsters
The Aeronuat's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Do you know what author I really enjoy? It’s Jim Butcher. He can mix action with a great sense of humor along with fantasy and his stories have very likable characters. Yet oddly enough, I have only read his Dresdin Files novels, and I know he has done other things. So I decided to check out his other works. I settled on a steampunk little book called The Cinder Spires: The Aeronuat’s Windlass and I immediately thought with Jim Butcher’s style it could be great. He could have swashbuckling wild characters and that great humor mixed into one. And then I read it. Here is my review of The Aeronuat’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.
So where to begin? First this is a tale set in an alternative reality or possible future. The book is never clear. It's set where mankind now lives on top of these towers called spires because the surface of the Earth is covered with a mist filled with monsters. The story starts with an air pirate Captain Grimm whose ship gets practically gets slaughtered in an air fight and must get things repaired on Hubble Morning. Also one day at Hubble Morning, two guards in training begin to practice, Gwen and Bridget, with the help of Gwen’s warrior born (super strong person with cat like qualities) Benedict. Also Bridget’s guardian, a cat named Rowl, tags along watching over her. But when the Aurarian Spire attack Hubble Morning, Grimm’s crew and these guards paths all tie together. Grimm is then offered a deal he can’t refuse. If he escorts these guards along with two etheralists to investigate rumblings on the Hubble levels below and find clue that could stop another attack and find the ones responsible, his ship ship will be repaired to the highest standard.
The good? Well the cast of characters were fun. Gwen is a bit hot headed and a bully. Benedict is calm and cool but has animal like qualities. Bridget is gawky, strong, and can speak cat. Rowl is arrogant and egotistical ,but somehow has a big heart. They are all great, and layered, except for Grimm who was surprisingly the blandest of the bunch. The mythology was interesting as well. And when the action happened it was fun.
The bad? Despite all the good characters, this book was surprisingly bland for some reason. I can’t put my finger on it. But even when great stuff is happening, it could not hook me. It’s a bit predictable and nothing seemed all that impressive. And as someone who has never been a hardcore steampunk fan, I feel that this genre might not be for me. But one thing that did bug me to death was the lack of detail. This is the first book in the series and it fails to introduce warrior borns, the spire structures, the fact that they are living on towers at all. For instance, there’s a scene when Gwen is in awe when she sees the sky for the first time which left me confused, because I thought on top of the tower meant it was open. I had to, more than once, look up a fan wiki pages to understand what the book was talking about because there were no proper introductions or detailed environments to let me know. The also book is 700 pages long and the action is surprisingly sparse. There is a complete lack of humor with the exception of Rowl. Many parts of the story concerning Rowl did make me giggle a bit.
Overall, as much as I like Jim Butcher, my verdict is not all that positive. This story is just mediocre story wise, but somehow blander than most because it lacked so much detail that was necessary for this story. It’s missing something else just as big as well, and I’m afraid its Jim’s heart and love for the story. There was no heart and soul he poured into this writing process. I feel he might just be trying to ride the steampunk gravy train and that’s all the wrong reasons to write a book, which is a real shame because I would love to see Gwen, Benidict, Rowl, and Bridget in a better story. They deserve better than this. So this is a book that gets a less than mediocre 1 1/2. It’s not bad, but not good. I’m clearly not the audience so I can't recommend it to anyone but die hard fans of this genre. And I know you fans are out there. I saw a lot of the cosplays photos when I had to use a fan site to help explain parts of the world that the book doesn’t.
1 ½ smoothies out of four.
Overall Rating: A Disappointingly Bland Tale about Sky Pirates, War, and Monsters