• The Aeronaut's Windlass

  • The Cinder Spires, Book 1
  • By: Jim Butcher
  • Narrated by: Euan Morton
  • Length: 21 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (17,078 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jim Butcher, the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors....

Since time immemorial the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion - to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake....

©2015 Jim Butcher (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Obie Award winner and Scottish-born Euan Morton narrates this sprawling opening volume of The Cinder Spires with the spirit of a buccaneer and an ear for a couple of dozen different vocal rhythms and dialects from the British Isles. Morton is especially adept at naturally carrying on the conversations between the growling shipmates and the highborn Gwen. Morton keeps the action moving and speaks 'cat' perfectly." (AudioFile)

“This is Jim Butcher at his best, drawing a fully realized, richly detailed, and downright fun literary world where fearless aeronauts ride the aether, brilliant wizards struggle with doorknobs, and a thirty-pound feline warrior keeps a pet human named Little Mouse. It’s steampunk meets magic with a dose of sci-fi for seasoning. Buy it and read it. You’ll be glad you did.” (New York Times best-selling author David Weber)

"Butcher, the best-selling author of the Dresden Files, now launches the Cinder Spires, a new epic fantasy, steampunk hybrid series that has shades of both Naomi Novik and Cherie Priest.... With shifting points of view, short chapters, fast-paced action, and awesome battle scenes, the large cast of characters, elaborate world building, and intricate plot are revealed quickly and realized fully. It all reminds readers of when they first fell for Harry Dresden.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Butcher opens the imaginative Cinder Spires series with this sweeping fantastical epic.... [It's] a fascinating, adventurous, and intricate story. Butcher brings a fresh and exciting perspective to secondary-world steampunk, giving the reader a thrilling ride.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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What listeners say about The Aeronaut's Windlass

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Brave New World

From the creator of such works of art as the “Furies of Calderon” and “The Dresden Files” Jim Butcher has now focused his immense talent onto, what is being called, the steampunk genre in his latest series, ”The Cinder Spires.”
Steampunk seems to be the latest trending term devising the name from a blending of sci-fi and fantasy with technology and aesthetic design inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery and the cyber punk genre.
The first book, “The Aeronaut’s Windlass,” is rich in Old World aristocratic political structures known as Spires, vintage clothing,” blended with magnificent airships, (reminding me of the airships in the “Grimm Noir” trilogy by Larry Correa) contesting in aerial naval battles, and other typical noir references usually associated with steampunk.
The plot moves quickly and Mr. Butcher introduces many characters and multiple action scenes that, at first seem distracting but soon become distinguishable and fit the story well. Bridget, scion of a once-prominent noble house on the verge of ruin and her cat, Rowl, Highborn Gwendolyn Lancaster, her “warrior born” cousin, Benedict; the grizzled Captain Grimm; and master etherealist Ferus and his assistant, Folly are a motley group of disgraced veterans and novices that are sent off to stop the mysterious force behind a very coordinated and deadly series of attacks on Spire Albion by its rival, Spire Aurora.
There is plenty of action and the society is open for some political backstabbing. I always think that it is a good book when you wonder what is going to happen next.

128 people found this helpful

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Jim Butcher Hits it out of the Park

Jim Butcher's long awaited foray into steampunk lives up to every possible expectation, and they were high. I'm a big fan of the Dresden Files and if possible, enjoyed Codex Alera even more. The world of The Aeronaut's Windlass is entirely different; mankind lives in tall spire cities, away from the dangerous surface of the earth. Peopled by monsters, the surface is to be avoided at all cost. The Spire Cities, Albion and Aurora, are fiercely competitive with a history of warfare. A new round of warfare, initiated by Aurora, is the focus of The Aeronaut's Windlass. Aurora is clearly willing to use whatever means necessary to destroy Albion.

Captain Francis Grimm is loyal to Spire Albion, despite having been treated badly by the Admiralty; drummed out for cowardice unjustly. After his privateer airship, HMS Predator, is badly damaged in an Auroran ambush he must limp home for major repairs. He is recruited for a mission by the Spirearch with the promise of repairs and new crystals for The Predator.
He will be aided in his mission by a motley crew of characters ranging from the admirable to the just plain strange. He is also up against a female adversary who rivals Queen Mab of The Dresden Files and the Vord Queen of Codex Alera for sheer evil. The action of the book is relentless with the characters jumping from frying pan to fire nonstop.

I waffled about the rating on The Aeronaut's Windlass. The world building was almost too organic in that you are thrown into the action with no foundation. I don't mind saying that I had difficulty forming a mental picture of the Spires and airships, at least at the beginning. Euan Morton's narration pushed it from a 4.5 to a 5 for me. I was glued to my device until I realized there is actually no good stopping point in the action. His portrayal of Rowl, Prince of the Silent Paws is spot-on. I highly recommend The Aeronaut's Windlass.

RATING- 5 Stars

81 people found this helpful

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The Aeronauts

If this were not such a trusted author, I am not sure I would have continued after the first few chapters. We are begin with a character who is brilliant, but bored and in order to get what she wants, which is to join the Guard, she is willing to blast her way out of her mother's drawing room. Her Mother tells her house guards that her opposition to her daughter's leaving is really manipulative. Because the daughter only does things she thinks other people do not want her to do, the Mother is only pretending to oppose her. HUH? So what military unit would accept a spoiled brat, where is the wind ship Captain?

But this is Jim Butcher and yes, his characters grow and learn. And the reader is delighted to be with them. The characters and their story lines are woven together so skillfully that by the end of the book, which by the way is non stop action, we not only know them well, but are invested in them. When the book ends we miss them. Jim Butcher just gets better.

I am not sure why the narrator read this book as if he were quietly teaching a course in Victorian literature at one of the British Universities. I think the publishers, really should rethink the direction given to this reader. The choice of voice used here would be great for Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, even Bram Stoker. But the people in this book are warriors.

Euan Morton is a skilled narrator. I listened to his early work, in which he did a credible American soldier's accent, and seamlessly went into an SAS operative, along with family members of these two men. So in spite of the skills he brought to this book, the Publishers chose the most low key academic voice, even during a deadly battle of wind ships, hand to hand combat, and Pub brawls.

And still this is a great book. It is well worth the time spent listening to it.

56 people found this helpful

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great book!

great author, great narrator! Somehow this had 4 star rating when it was launched. not sure how someone could have read it in less time then the book is long. I'm about halfway in and I'm totally engrossed!

36 people found this helpful

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Not up to Jim Butcher's usual excellence

Jim Butcher's books usually have a great depth of characters. Caring about the characters was very difficult in this novel. Too many perspectives made it difficult to really relate to the characters. While I understand this is the start of a series the ending left me quite unsatisfied.

24 people found this helpful

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Classic Butcher

What made the experience of listening to The Aeronaut's Windlass the most enjoyable?

I really enjoy Jim Butcher's writing style, he can actually make me laugh out loud and the performance by Euan Morton was incredible, hope he has the gig for the next instalment.

23 people found this helpful

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Best Butcher Ever! Best sci-fi fantasy of 2015!

What made the experience of listening to The Aeronaut's Windlass the most enjoyable?

Great ensemble cast with strong warrior women and men, wonderful ethereal beings, and evolved cats personalities.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the fast pace. I very much enjoyed the strong characters any one of whom could be their own book. And one just has to love the cats.

What about Euan Morton’s performance did you like?

His performance was absolutely amazing and spot on. He made it easy to distinguish between characters. Mr. Morton is very easy on the ears.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I didn't want any of my favorite characters to die. I absolutely did not want the story to end and I think Jim Butcher should be sequestered and not allowed to rest his pen until the sequel is in the hands of his publishers.

Any additional comments?

I am excited about this new series. However, I hope we haven't heard the last of Senior Dresden.

21 people found this helpful

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Not what I was expecting.. but well worth a credit

Mr. Butcher is an extraordinarily gifted writer. I was instantly hooked on both the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera series. That didn't happen for me with The Cinder Spires. There were a few times during the first half of the book where I just thought "seriously?"... especially when the talking cats came around. It distracted me from an interesting world and made me think of Meow Mix commercials or Milo and Otis. However, as the story progressed I became more and more interested, and by the end, even the talking cats didn't bother me.

If Mr. Butcher evolves this story with as much talent as he did with Dresden Files, then readers will be in for a real treat. I'll definitely be picking up the next in the series.

I was unfamiliar with Euan Morton as a narrator, but I was thoroughly impressed and commend him for his performance. I have no complaints on the narration at all.

19 people found this helpful

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A lot to digest for a first book in a series

I realize there is a lot to establish in a first book when you're planning a series, but this was a LOT to keep in my head. Two things made it difficult for me, personally: The first person point of view kept changing which required mental adjustment while still attempting to follow a new storyline; The cast of characters are just a few too numerous. I can begin to understand the reasons for all of these choices, and I can see as the series unfolds it will become easier to follow these characters within the larger story arch. It just makes this a bit of a slog for book 1 in the series. I've had to re-listen or re-read a number of passages because I lost the thread. I hope books to come make this first book pay off.

16 people found this helpful

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First Jim Butcher but not my last...

What made the experience of listening to The Aeronaut's Windlass the most enjoyable?

The narrator is excellent. I look forward to listening to other books he has done.

What other book might you compare The Aeronaut's Windlass to and why?

It's definitely an adventure with lots of battles. There wasn't much time to catch one's breath. I would say it's a lot like Star Wars in comparison.

What does Euan Morton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Like other wonderful audio books, a great narration brings the book to life in ways that are different from just reading the words. Characters personality and traits are expressed and become almost tangible.

Any additional comments?

I haven't read much Steampunk so it's hard to compare it to anything in that genre, but I will look forward to readying the the sequels. And I LOVED the cats! I have 4 myself and I believe Jim's characterization of them was spot on!

15 people found this helpful

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  • JPA
  • 08-15-16

Best narration I've heard so far. Wonderful story.

Very different to the epic fantasy, grimdark and scifi I normally read, but oh what a refreshing change!

Crystal powered air ships and sword wielding, incredibly polite, officers; gunnery crews and tribal, characterful cats! They all come together in a complex web of intrigue and humour and action, set amongst mist filled skies and sky scraping spires both.

The best narration I've heard of a story so far, after months on Audible. Highly recommended to fantasy, scifi or steampunk fans.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 11-20-20

Very enjoyable.

Enjoyed it a lot. love the world and characters that he has created. Also the narrator was great too.

1 person found this helpful

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  • P. Clementson
  • 07-22-22

The Aeronauts Windlass

I very much enjoyed this story on Audible, well written and well read. With plenty of action and enough descriptions to visualise the scenes. I hope that the following book will soon be available 🙂

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  • Laura Clark
  • 05-19-22

needs a sequel

loved it, was rooting for all of them. especially Bri and Ben. really enjoyed it hopefully there is many more to come

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • owen harkin
  • 04-22-22

Dresden departure

Quite a departure from Mr Dresden, Jim Butcher has woven a very interesting wee slice of something. Aided and abetted by a solid narration, this story has got some character and I eagerly await the next installment.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-11-22

I love this story!

Is it filled with cliché? Yes.
Does that detract from it's success? No.

I absolutely adore this book and cannot wait for Jim Butcher to write the sequel.
Great world building and likable characters with flaws, depth and relatable personalities.
The cats are fantastic.
Also, credit must go to the narrator who does an excellent job in not only delivering the story perfectly but injecting additional personality into each character.
Warning though, it will leave you wanting a lot more Cinder Spires.

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  • Tamlyn Kemp
  • 10-20-21

A tad too YA for me, but still fun

Great narration, a swashbuckling setting, and interesting characters. Could have gone with a little more grit, and been a little less predictable at times. Clearly it's YA material not dissimilar to Reynolds's Revenger series.

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  • Lin Goodwin
  • 07-18-21

Great story

Lots of great characters, and cats too! Filled with adventure. However it does not reach a conclusion and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. So let's have the next book..... It's too hard to wait.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-19-20

Highly enjoyable

Well written and well acted. I say acted because the narrator brought the story and characters to life instead of just reading a book.

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  • Sam B
  • 08-15-20

Very poor collection of clichés

Extremely poor - characters, plot and dialogue are a sad collection of paper-thin clichés. The setting could have been excellent, but this is a huge disappointment. Excellent narrarion is nowhere near enough to save the poor quality of the content.

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  • James
  • 03-06-21

for me it was better than the Dresden files.

can't wait for the next book. the characters were believable, the air ships were fantastic and the plot was pretty solid. clearly the book is meant to be part of a series.

1 person found this helpful

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  • miss jane
  • 06-08-22

I loved this. Wasn't sure I would.

it was great! narrator was particularly good. wonderfully intricate with drama and humour. didn't want it to finish.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-22-21

so good I did not sleep

the core story and world are very good to start with. Then add the voice acting and I found it a deeply compelling book.

just the use of voice acting alone each character became distinct and nuanced. my favourite would have to be Folly. You get a feel for her eccentricity and humanity.

.