THE AERO­NAUT’S WIND­LASS

Air­ship Troop­ers

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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.

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