THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS
released OUT NOW! 640 pages | Hardback/ Ebook
Author Jim Butcher
Publisher Orbit Books
Ignore the thin veneer of brass plate; Dresden Files author Jim Butcher’s new Cinder Spires series is pure space opera.
That’s actually quite a relief, because the elements of Victoriana don’t really work. In particular, the dialogue when characters are in formal situations ( over the inevitable cup of tea) is excruciatingly stilted and affected.
Butcher’s created a fascinating world though, a misty planet where wooden airships powered by crystals and ether ply between towering “Spires”, each a nation in its own right. Most of the characters are fairly bland; the ships are the real stars. The battles between the Albionbased privateer Predator and the military ships of Spire Aurora are genuinely gripping, as are the hand- to- hand fights between humans and the vicious, insectile silkweavers – they all feel as realistic as those in Bernard Cornwell’s historical novels.
The main problem is that despite the battles, everything feels terribly safe. The characters, from grizzled airship Captain Grim to cat- hugging novice guard Bridget, are all rather nice, and you get the feeling that nothing bad could ever really happen to them. In the end, that drains the excitement. Miriam McDonald
At 10,000 feet tall, Spire Albion is over three times as tall as Earth’s current tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.