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The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires -1) by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher

Cinder Spires Trilogy — by Jim Butcher


Genres and Sub-Genres[]


Series Description or Overview[]

The Cinder Spires is set in a world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface” and follows a war between two of the Spires: Spire Albion and Spire Aurora. It’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies. ~ Goodreads | The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1) by Jim Butcher

Lead's Species[]

Primary Supe[]

What Sets it Apart[]

Steampunk by Jim Butcher

Narrative Type and Narrators[]

Books in Series[]

Cinder Spires Trilogy:

  1. The Aeronaut’s Windlass (Sept 29th 2015 by ROC)
  2. The Olympian Affair (Nov 7th 2023 by ACE)

Shorts, Novellas, Anthologies and Guides[]

Warriorborn - a Cinder Spires Novella (Sept 22nd 2023)

Other series by Author onsite[]

Dresden Files series

World Building[]


Set in a world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface”


  • Spire Albion: at war with Spire Aurora
  • Spire Aurora: at war with Spire Albion

Supernatural Elements[]

✥ airships, crazy sorcerers, privateers, warrior monks, intelligent cats, ancient evil rewoken, sinister mist, terrible creatures, ,


  • Spirearch: Each spire is ruled by a Spirearch
  • core crystal: powers a ship

Groups & Organizations:[]

  • Predator: merchant ship commanded by Captain Grimm, protagonist — "When Predator sailed into war, she sang."
  • Council: runs things, not the Spirearch


world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface” and follows a war between two of the Spires: Spire Albion and Spire Aurora.

The series is set in a world in which an unexplained event made the world's surface uninhabitable. The enormous black spires that now house all of the Earth's population were constructed from Spirestone (obsidian) two thousand years ago by the mysterious Builders, who "had taken the secret of its working with them when they vanished from the world." The nearly indestructible stone spires provide safety and security from the mist-shrouded surface, which is a hellish land that is overrun with monstrous predators. Each spire is a separate kingdom, and within each kingdom are groups of habbles (city-like divisions). All communication among the spires is conducted by airships. Each spire is ruled by a Spirearch. The Spirearch of Albion is His Majesty Addison Orson Magnus Jeremiah Albion (aka Addy), who is considered by many to be irrelevant because the Council pretty much runs things.

The spires are enormous. Spire Albion, where much of the first novel takes place, is "Ten thousand feet high, two miles across. There are two hundred and fifty habbles, of which two hundred and thirty-six are occupied."

"While the Builders had created Spire Albion in the shape of a perfect circle, each habble was laid out as a square fitting within that circle. The extra spaces, at the cardinal points of the compass, were filled with a variety of supporting structures—cisterns, ventilation tunnels, waste tunnels, and the like."

The sapient cats. Butcher describes them as "fuzzy, egotistical Libertarians." Reviewers are either totally pro or totally con on the cats. Personally, I enjoyed their antics. These are intelligent cats who live not with, but next to, the human population. They live in the vents and keep the spires free of the smaller vermin. "It wasn't unheard of for the creatures of the surface to gain access to a Spire. In fact, the smaller beasts did so regularly. A Spire contained literally hundreds of miles of ventilation tunnels and ducts, water channels, cisterns, sewage channels, and compost chambers. Metal grates were regularly installed where they could be, but constant contact with the outer atmosphere degraded their cladding and eventually left them vulnerable to iron rot." The cats also gather intelligence because of their access to the tunnels that run through and around the habbles.

The "steampunk" part of this world shows up in the usual gadgets, goggles, and weapons. For example, the most common weapon is the gauntlet, a blasting weapon that's like (in Butcher's words) "a Tony Stark Iron Man gauntlet, only way steam-punkier." It consists of a weaponized crystal held in the palm of the hand and connected to copper wires that form a cage on the forearm. The user fires blasts of energy at the enemy through the crystal. In this series, the goggles actually have a purpose: to protect human eyes from the sun and from the etheric currents. Most of the gadgets involve crystals and etheric currents in some manner.


Captain Grimm:


Name: — What: — Sidekick-to: — About: — Book First Seen In:

List of Main Characters[]

Captain Francis Madison Grimm: Captain of the privateer AMS Predator. He was thrown out of the Fleet for cowardice (a trumped-up charge) and refuses to discuss the matter with anyone. He is the Harry Dresden of this series—the hero: intelligent, honorable, and pragmatic (but more serious and not at all magical).

Gwendolyn (Gwen) Lancaster: the 16-year-old daughter of an important noble house that is responsible for creating the etheric crystals that provide all of the power in Albion. Gwen is used to getting her way and tends to speak and act without much thought as to the consequences. When she fails to recognize the Spirearch and berates him for being impolite, Benedict tells her, "You really must learn to shut your mouth from time to time. You'll taste less shoe leather." Later, Benedict enumerates Gwen's "diplomatic efforts": "instigating a duel, threatening a detachment of Fleet Marines with charges of treason, throwing away a tidy little fortune in bribes, and abruptly discharging a gauntlet into an otherwise nonviolent situation."

Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster: Gwen's warriorborn cousin, a heroic Spire Guard. The warriorborn are human, but have super-strength, speed, and reflexes and some feline physical characteristics (e.g., "golden, vertically slit eyes...with the blood of lions in his limbs"). They appear to have been hybridized with felines. The cats refer to the warriorborn as "half-souled."

Bridget Tagwynn: the only daughter of a meat vatterist (a butcher) whose legendary noble house has nearly dwindled away. Bridget and Gwen function, in Butcher's words, as the "idiots"—clueless characters who ask the world-building questions that readers want answered. Gwen's description of Bridget reminds me of Brienne from Game of Thrones: "one of the largest young women Gwen had ever met…Her blond hair was long and thick. She had shoulders as wide as some men, thick wrists, and strong-looking hands and forearms."

Rowl: Bridget's arrogant, egotistical, and adorably furry feline companion, who taught her how to speak cat and who tolerates her presence much more than he does any other human.

Efferus Effrenus Ferus: a powerful, eccentric, mad etherealist (a wizard or sorcerer). "For most of us, etheric currents flow around us, like a stream of water flowing around stone. But for some folk, etheric energy doesn't go around—it courses right through them. They draw it to them." Ferus does his best to cope with the world, but he sometimes forgets to put on his clothes and has trouble with doorknobs: "I say, dear boy, could you get the doorknob for me? I never could learn the trick of the blasted things."

Folly: Ferus' apprentice, also an etherealist, who can speak only to her jar of crystals. She has prophetic dreams.

Captain Calliope Ransom: a mysterious woman—a frenemy—from Grimm's past.

Sycorax Cavendish: an etherealist and the primary villain. Butcher describes her as an evil Mary Poppins who probably won't kill you while you're being polite, but if you slip up on your manners, she'll most definitely claw your eyes out. ~ Source: Fang-tastic Fiction: NEW SERIES: Jim Butcher: THE CINDER SPIRES

Characters Chart[]

Characters What About
Captain Grimm Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion; commands the merchant ship, Predator;
Kettle steers the ship during battle sequence;
Creedy XO 2 I/c to Capt Grimm.

To expand the table, right-press on a row of the table or (Control-press on a Mac)—choose add row.

Jim Butcher-brick wall

Jim Butcher—Author


Jim Butcher

Bio: Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri. Jim goes by the moniker Longshot in a number of online locales. He came by this name in the early 1990′s when he decided he would become a published author. Usually only 3 in 1000 who make such an attempt actually manage to become published; of those, only 1 in 10 make enough money to call it a living. The sale of a second series was the breakthrough that let him beat the long odds against attaining a career as a novelist. All the same, he refuses to change his nickname. ~ Goodreads


Cover Artists[]

Artist: Chris McGrath

Other Contributors:

  • Audio Book Narrator: — Source:
  • Editor: — Source:

Publishing Information[]

  1. The Aeronaut’s Windlass: Hardcover, 512 pages, Expected Pub: Sept 29th 2015 by Orbit—ISBN 0356503658
  2. Untitled ()
  3. Untitled ()

Book Cover Blurbs[]

Windlas character

Windless Character

BOOK ONE—The Aeronaut’s Windlass (Sept 29, 2015): 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… ~ An Exclusive Glimpse of Aeronaut's Windlass! and Goodreads | The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)

First Sentences[]

  1. The Aeronaut’s Windlass (Sept 29th 2015) —
  2. Untitled () —
  3. Untitled () —


Goodreads | Jim Butcher Quotes (Author of Storm Front)



Read Alikes (suggestions)[]

— If you like these, you may like this:

See Also[]

External References[]


Book Readings:

Excerpts and Freebies:


World, Characters, etc:






Community, Fan Sites:

See Also[]

Gallery of Book Covers[]