Captain Francis Grimm, commander of the merchant ship Predator, is running out of options. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, one of the large, floating sanctuaries of humanity, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora. When 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. What Grimm cannot foresee are the dangers that he and his team will encounter and that the conflict between the Spires is merely the overture to an even greater war.

One of the biggest challenges for new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels is the concept of Worldbuilding. This involves creating a fictional world and, oftentimes, an entirely fictional universe. Jim Butcher’s Worldbuilding in The Aeronaut’s Windlass is one best parts of the book. The world of The Cinder Spires is fascinating and described in detail but not overly so. It’s a world that invites and encourages the reader to want to know more. Windlass is the first book in The Cinder Spires series.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass would be an excellent book for fans of Action and Adventure novels looking to break into Science Fiction and Fantasy. The action is almost non-stop and Butcher’s prose is easy to read and understandable. Mystery fans will appreciate the story as it progresses as there are multiple layers to uncover and a variety of twists. The ending is solid and leaves the door open for sequels to come without feeling rushed or artificial.

One of the, admittedly few, shortcomings of The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the handling of some of the characters. There are a few times throughout the book that characters are introduced in extra detail and then are discarded quickly. While it gave me a sense that every character could potentially meet their end, I ended up not getting as invested into some of the characters as I should have.

Overall The Aeronaut’s Windlass shows Butcher at the top of his game. Those of us who have read his series The Dresden Files can see the progression he has made as a writer. The Aeronaut’s Windlass is proof that The Cinder Spires series is not one to be missed.