On vacation, no posts this week

Hey folks, unfortunately this will be the first week since I started this that I do not have a post. We are all on vacation in Seattle at PAX, and did not get organized enough to queue up some posts. Sorry for the short hiatus, but we will be back next week with some great stuff. See you then and happy Labor day weekend!

Ninth City Burning – Kids Don’t Like Being Called Kids

27417551As this blog has gotten more successful (which is all thanks to you readers and I love you), I’ve gotten an increasing number of requests to review books. I get about 3-4 a week these days, and I make an effort to accommodate every request I get. As a result, I find myself more and more unwilling to spend time on a book that I’m not enjoying, and much more likely to put it down. I probably leave about 1 in 8 books I read unfinished, which isn’t bad. The books I don’t finish, I also don’t quit until around the 30-50% mark, in an attempt to give them a fair shot. My editors tell me I am crazy for reading even that far, but I like to give every book a chance as lots of authors have difficulty starting books. That being said, I usually don’t review books I don’t finish; but today I’m making an exception to talk about a certain problem in writing I’ve been seeing a lot recently – tonal consistency, in particular with younger characters.

Ninth City Burning is a new sci-fi debut that started out really strong. It has a refreshing take on a classic concept – the alien invasion. The book takes place in a world when an alien threat has come to wage war on the earth, and all of society has been socially reformed to assist the war effort. First there is the legion, soldiers on the front that go through a military school to train in fighting the enemy. In addition, several other locations in the world have been transformed into logistical hubs to churn out all the supplies to assist the war effort. We also have the perspectives of some pacifists who have run off into the woods to avoid fighting. The plot follows a series of characters from all walks of life and shows how they directly affect the war effort. It actually has some pretty awesome sci-fi concepts behind it boiling down to something along the lines of cross-dimensional/reality fights. The book sells you on this extremely well, and has some great set up except for one problem – the characters have absolutely no tonal consistency.

The author tells you the ages of the children, but I actually couldn’t tell how old they were because of the huge differences in how they speak. One of the protagonists, Naomi, feels like she only talks in baby speech, despite being a teenager. It felt like being trapped in a train next to a mother trying to calm her child down by speaking to them in baby speak. Reading her chapters physically hurt me sometimes. Also, she brings up that she doesn’t like being treated like a child roughly once every two pages. Anyone who has ever been a child (so everyone), knows that kids don’t like being told they are too young to do anything. Its pretty much a universal constant in all children. This issue is compounded by a second protagonist, Torro, that works at the factories. He is an older teenager, but for some reason the author decided this means he should use ‘like’ every other sentence, like somehow talking like this would, like, make the character seem more authentic, or something. Whatever.

These issues confuse me, as they are stylistic choices and not deficiencies in Black’s writing ability. The other two characters are excellently written, one an adult and another a child who both has a realistic, but not off putting, outlook on life that was still relatable to me as a reader. He has the needs and desires of a younger kid, but you don’t feel like tearing out your eyes as you read him. As such, Ninth City Burning has a problem because two characters make the book feel as if it’s aimed at older sci fi readers, and two characters make it feel like it’s for really young adults.

I did not finish Ninth City Burning, so there is always a chance I will revisit this and reassess everything I said in the future. However, for now I have quit the book at around 35% as I cannot take another chapter with two of the characters. This is a real shame as the book has a lot going on for it outside this singular issues. If you do not think the tonal problem will bother you, feel free to check it out and tell me about it, but I will be holding off on reading more of Ninth City Burning for now.

Rating: Ninth City Burning – DNF 35%

Guest Post: The Hatching – Spidery Horror that’s not quite spooky enough

I am letting Will slowly build his own spooky corner on the blog, as I am told horror books are pretty good but I am a huge pansy. Enjoy as he sets up a few cobwebs:

the-hatching-9781501125041_hrLet’s get this out of the way right at the start. If you couldn’t guess by the cover art consisting of cobwebbed lettering backed by silk, or the name The Hatching, this novel is about spiders. As such, this review will also at least be partly about spiders. If you have arachnophobia, or if they just give you the willies, you should ABSOLUTELY READ THIS BOOK.

Now that we’re done with the disclaimer, friendly reader, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would recommend a book about spiders to those with arachnophobia. I’m recommending it specifically because it’s a horror book, and horror is supposed to freak you out. That said, for spider lovers, spider enthusiasts, and the spider agnostic out there, while this book entertains I think it falls a little short of the mark in terms of spooks. This isn’t to say that The Hatching isn’t fun, it maintains a quick pace and achieves what it’s going for to a respectable degree. To me, though, it was notably lacking in chills running down my spine.

The Hatching is the debut novel in The Hatching Series, by Ezekiel Boone. In it, we follow a wide variety of characters as they find out about, and react to, an invasion by hordes (swarms?) of man-eating spiders. Think Arachnophobia on a global scale. It riffs heavily from previous novels of the “world catastrophe” genre and I was particularly reminded of both World War Z and Robopocalypse with their large casts of characters from around the world. In typical fashion, the world is given warnings that are ignored or dismissed before everything gets completely out of hand. Subsequently, a group of people (this group containing members with varying importance, from world leaders to a marine Lance Corporal) are forced to deal with the fallout. The fallout is spiders falling from the sky. Literally. Oh, and some nuclear fallout. Really, there’s fallout of all kinds to deal with.

Sadly, that fallout doesn’t really get dealt with. While that is likely due to Boone saving the meat of the crisis for later in the series, the satisfaction of the story within The Hatching itself suffers for it. The choice to write this story as a series of short to mid-length books, rather than one larger self-contained book, is a departure from the genre standard, and one I don’t entirely agree with it. Horror is significantly less effective when you’re given a chance to decompress from it, and breaking up what was a lightning fast, headlong rush into global catastrophe right at what felt like the denouement was a letdown to me. We’re left on a somewhat unsatisfying cliffhanger that sets us up for the next installment of the series, which precludes this book standing on its own. All this combined with a long wait for the next book, and some issues I’m about to get into, lead me to find it difficult to maintain the hype that I imagine the author, publishers, and readers were hoping for.

While I enjoyed the plot of the book well enough for what it was (crazy huge spider attacks, OH NO), the characterization left me feeling cold. We begin the book with 9 consecutive chapters from different viewpoints, two of which are never visited again. I still have no idea what the purpose of one of those two was, perhaps that will be fleshed out in the next installment? This could be easily moved past if these characters felt more real. We are introduced to three scientists, the White House Chief of Staff, an agent for a government organization that is never actually identified, a doomsday prepper, and a marine Lance Corporal. While that’s a decently diverse list of characters, I had some problems with exactly how they were made to feel human and their roles in the story. It seemed to me like Boone’s go-to character flaw was a sexual or relationship failing of some kind. The White House Chief of Staff and one of the scientists are divorced from each other, the agent is divorced and struggling with his wife’s new relationship, the President is cheating on her husband with the Chief of Staff, and the phrase “want to spend a week in the bedroom with ____” was used with such frequency it bordered on the inane. In addition, I don’t understand the purpose of the doomsday prepper character. Considering they are shown to live in underground bunkers they choose to seclude (read: trap) themselves in, I went in with the belief that they would be a highlight for swarms of carnivorous spiders. I was left confused and let down, as it almost seemed to be an exercise in simply showing how a specific subgroup in a population would react if things got weird. I don’t think they added much to this story, and while I’m sure they’ll be a more important part of the series going forward, I think they could have been completely excised from this novel without any negative impact. With such a large cast for a novel of its type, some of these issues are understandable, excusable even, but I can’t help but think that had Boone decided to crib a little more heavily from Brooks style in World War Z the errors wouldn’t have been quite as noticeable. Brooks’ use of a journalist as window dressing helped to smooth out any inconsistencies in his characters, and I think a similar device would have been an improvement here.

However, all of the issues are forgivable, as long as the book is scary. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the horror never quite hit the mark for me. A common complaint of horror fans in film is the oversaturation of jump scares and body horror. It is, understandably, much more difficult to sell an atmosphere of horror than it is to gross people out or have some supernatural icky thing appear with a string accompaniment in D minor. The Hatching falls firmly into the body horror category. While it is not without its tense moments, the constant descriptions of what was happening to people physically as they were overwhelmed by swarms of voracious spiders felt more gross than scary. To illustrate, one distinct thing that makes these spiders different is the fact that they “chew” on their food instead of the typical arachnid feeding method of injecting venom and sucking out the liquefied tissue from their prey. The distinct “clacking” noise that their mandibles make as they chew on the flesh of their victims is frequently and relentlessly described. This, in addition to a few other examples of behavior unnatural for most spiders (that I can’t go into because of spoilers) firmly cement this as gross-out horror, rather than the creeping, all-encompassing kind that I personally prefer. I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I would recommend this book to people that have already existing fears of spiders. As someone who isn’t afraid of spiders, this book missed the mark for me in terms of scares, but someone with a preexisting fear of them that enjoys the horror genre would probably find this scary without being so sinister and horrific that it would make them put it down.

The Hatching is ultimately a flawed book, but still enjoyable to readers that both know what they’re getting into and are fans of the genres it straddles. I enjoyed it well enough that I’ll likely be picking up the sequel once it arrives, but I’m not going to rearrange my reading list to do so.

The Hatching is fast and fun, but not without its issues, and is given a hesitant recommendation by the author of this post.


Three Parts Dead – A Gift I Didn’t Know I Needed

threepartsdead_150You can probably guess I enjoyed this book a lot from the title. One of my favorite things when reading is to stumble onto a book that gives me a new experience. It isn’t required for a book to be great, but it can rapidly catapult a book to the top of my reading list. If you create something that I can get nowhere else, I am willing to forgive a lot of flaws in an author’s written prose, and if there aren’t a lot flaws then you have written something that will sit in my top tier of books. So what is Three Parts Dead, and what does it offer that I haven’t seen before? Read on to find out.

Let’s start with the what; Three Parts Dead is the start/middle of the Craft Sequence series by Max Gladstone. I say start/middle, because it is both the first published book in the series and the middle chronologically of the story. This is confusing as all hell, but Gladstone published a piece apologizing for it and explaining about the reading order here and you can learn more about the pros and cons of reading in chrono vs. publish order here. In a one line summary, Three Parts Dead is about necromantic lawyers hired to resurrect a recently deceased god. The book follows two major protagonists, the first being Tara, a recent graduate of magic college who has just been hired on at a large law firm and is out to prove herself. The second is Abelard, an entry level initiate in the faith of Kos Everburning, a deity who governs and powers a major metropolis, and who has just keeled over. Tara essentially partners up with Abelard as a key witness, and the two of them set out to discover a) how the god was murdered and b) if they can bring him (or something that resembles him) back. They are supported by a cast of side characters who are also phenomenal, and while you spend a chapter here and there in their heads, the book primarily is kept between Tara and Abelard.

Which is fine, because those two are fantastic. The character building in this book is deep and captivating. On top of our multidimensional protagonists, the antagonist is one of my favorite of all time (the smarmy teacher/boss you have always wanted to punch in the face as hard as humanly possible). The magic in the book is unbelievably complicated, but Gladstone takes the time to lay down some ground rules and guide you through. This is important, because the lawyering is also done to an impressive degree and fits rather nicely within the confines of his magic system. The world building is also fantastically well done, with Gladstone constantly name dropping places, people, and things with enough exposition to get you craving more details, but never explaining everything. However, all of this falls short of what this book does best – workplace wish fulfillment.

Being an adult can be truly terrible. When I am not writing this blog, I am working full time in an office at a job I love, but which can be unbelievably frustrating. In addition, I have had other jobs that I did not love, working with people who were impossible. This book is the first fantasy/sci-fi experience I have had that gives you workplace wish fulfillment – dealing with shitty bosses, succeeding at a new job, getting back at the impossible client. It fulfilled a lot of deep workplace fantasies that I didn’t even know that I had. Wish fulfillment is a really powerful force when it comes to enjoying a book. Someday I will write a piece on how I think The Name of the Wind is successful because it is a giant wish fulfillment without you realizing it. Wish fulfillment lets you fulfill deep fantasies and experience your ideal life, and it is usually contained to being a child with a destiny of greatness in fantasy. Three Parts Dead instead focuses on two new hires trying to make it at two different companies of sorts, and the trials they go through on the job. Reading this book made my job more enjoyable for a decent period after it. The antagonist I mentioned before was the perfect strawman for every bad boss I have had, and several passages gave me satisfaction that I felt deep in my soul. If you have ever had a job you didn’t find completely fulfilling (so all of you over 21), this book will likely speak to you.

Amongst all this praise there were two areas I would like to see improved as I move into the sequels. The magic system was interesting and detailed, but at its core Three Parts Dead is a murder mystery, and I did not feel like I had all the tools to solve the mystery myself, This meant that the book became more about waiting to be told what happened, rather than trying to figure it out myself, which is always part of the fun in mysteries. The second complaint, is that Gladstone introduces an incredibly interesting city for the stage of Three Parts Dead, but does not explore it nearly enough. We get to see several key areas, but I was left wanting more as I failed to get a great sense of the city as a whole.

Other than those issues, the book is a blast from cover to cover and has one of the most satisfying endings I have read in awhile. I am extremely confused by the order of the books and hope that the overarching plot line does not suffer from all of the shuffling. However, with its focus on creative magic, the Craft Sequence is off to a strong start for making it into my top tier of books. The Quill to Live absolutely recommends you go out and pick up Three Parts Dead right now.

Rating: Three Parts Dead – 9.0/10


Unbreakable and Indomitable – A Detailed Sci-Fi Military Romp


Recently I was approached by W.C. Bauers, and he graciously offered me free copies of his debut book Unbreakable, and his upcoming book, Indomitable for review. Upon seeing their kick-ass covers, and reading their intriguing blurbs about a marine trying to survive in a hostile political situation, I said I would be happy to take a look. I recently finished reading through both novels and my feelings are mixed. It is rare for me to read books that work for me in so many ways, while simultaneously falling short in others. I believe these books will be extremely polarizing, rising to the best-in-class for some readers while being completely unreadable for others. Please use this review to find out if you would fall into the former or the latter.

The first thing I need to praise Bauers on is his ridiculously meticulous and granular world building. Seriously, if Bauers told me he had a 3-story tall white board for world planning I would believe him. The amount of details that are carefully planned out and worked into the story borders on the psychotic (in a good way). Bauers has clearly spent an inordinate amount of time planning out his world, military, character back stories, character interactions, technology, and everything else. These details can both feel engrossing and completely overwhelming depending on how you read books. I found that Unbreakable and Indomitable were not books that I could passively read on the beach. They require serious investment of time and attention, or you will get lost instantaneously. This can be either a really good thing if you are digging the book, as it transports you into its fully realized world, or a bad thing as you have to slog through descriptives with the density of lead as you make your way through scenes. Next up we have the combat which, while infrequent, was pretty spectacular. Bauers has a real talent for describing everything from hand-to-hand combat, mech-suit brawls, and spaceship dogfights. The moments of high velocity battles added a lot to my enjoyment of the series and I would rank Bauers highly among his contemporaries when it comes to action in books.

On the other hand, he also has some areas where I felt the book could have been improved. The political intrigue in the story was fantastic, but short lived. Instead the books favored spending time on the personal trials and tribulations of its protagonist, Promise T. Paen (promised pain, really? That’s worse than my puns, touche). In book one, I found Promise just north of intolerable and had a really hard time getting behind her character. She seemed frankly a little too angsty to fit in at her officer role in the military, and I found her constant complaining exhausting. This does improve noticeably between books one and two, as Promise mellows out and becomes a more reasonable human; so I believe Bauers is finding his character range and will get there. There are some supernatural elements to her story that I cannot understand the purpose of, as it adds very little impact to the plot. Bauers seemed like he had an impressive grasp of the logistics involved in military operations, but might need to think a little more about how his main character would react to certain situations. Luckily the support cast is actually pretty fantastic, but as the books spend almost all their time with Promise, that only goes so far.

While the characters became much better written, and deeper, between books one and two; I thought the pacing actually moved in the opposite direction. Unbreakable has a very clear and direct plot that moves quickly from one impressive set piece to the next. It never slows for a second and is a ride from start to finish. On the other hand, Indomitable meanders a great deal, and at the end of the story I thought it suffered a little from a lack of focus, despite enjoying its story more.

I have seen other reviewers say that these are books that “any fan of sci-fi military stories will enjoy” which I completely disagree with. If you really enjoy sci-fi military stories, you likely will love this, but if you are someone who drops by the genre occasionally like me, it might be hard for you to penetrate. While these books were not my favorite, I think Bauers has more potential than anyone I have read in a while in Sci-fi. If you love Sci-fi world building and the intricacies of the military, this book series might be for you.

Rating: Unbreakable – 6.5/10
                Indomitable – 8.0/10

The Guns Of Empire – Learning To Lose

25845201The Guns of Empire, by Django Wexler, was one of my most anticipated books of 2016. The predecessor, The Price of Valour, was my #3 book from 2015 and pushed The Shadow Campaigns to one of my all time favorite series. With that in mind, Empire had big shoes to fill and I was concerned that it might not live up to its predecessor. Unfortunately, in some ways my worries were warranted, as The Guns of Empire is a weaker book than Valour. However, it certainly wasn’t a bad book and there is still a lot to like. As this is a review of the 4th book in a series of 5 there are some mild spoilers from book 3, so do not read on if you want to remain pure.

When we last left our intrepid cast at the end of book three, they had declared war on the church of Elysium and vowed to march to the church’s mountain fortress and make them pay for their sins. The book follows our group of three, Winter, Marcus, and Res as they lead and accompany the army north through treacherous woodland to wage war on a new set of foes. The real issue I had with The Guns of Empire is that it feels like a book entirely designed to set up the series finale. While I can forgive a certain amount of ramp up approaching the end of a larger series, a bridge book still needs to firmly stand on its own merits as it builds to the finale. The first half of Empire exists to drive home the idea that our protagonists are fallible. We see them make mistakes, regret their choices, and feel the first bits of doubt since the beginning of the series. Though I agree that they had too much hubris, the book spends a long time driving home a point I got in the first few pages. In addition, the second half of the book spends an inordinate amount of time setting up the final villain of the series. The villain is exciting and a great new direction for the series, but it still feels like too much time was spent introducing them.

On the other hand, Empire still follows through with many strengths of the earlier books such as: a truly one-of-a-kind group of protagonists, excellent setting, a creative magic system, and great writing quality. Res, the Vordan Queen, still continues to be one of my all time favorite characters. I wish I could read a book just from her POV, but Winter and Marcus are a blast as well. Wexler has a way with character development that feels organic. His protagonists evolve a great deal as people throughout the novel in ways that feel right for the events and settings. Character reactions to death, loss, and romantic difficulties feel refreshingly realistic and helped immerse me in the story more fully. However, while the character growth was great, Wexler’s expansion of his world had some bumps on its journey.

The fourth book continues to expand the ever growing world map of The Shadow Campaigns, and introduces us to multiple new countries. I felt some frustration with the book as the introduction of the novel led me to believe I would get to see new places and cultures that Wexler had dreamt up; and while we do get to explore some new cultures, it was not nearly to the extent I was expecting, or compared to what we saw in previous books. The magic system continued to impress, with a myriad of interesting new demons our cast had to contend with. However, a large part of the book revolves around dealing with the environment on a march which I found less satisfying that the smart political intrigue that was the highlight of earlier novels.

Despite my complaints, I still really enjoyed The Guns of Empire. It was an exciting book with a great cast and continued to raise the stakes in an interesting plot. I do, however, feel it could have been better and did not quite reach the high bar set by The Price of Valour. One thing The Guns of Empire did accomplish in spades was pump me up for the final book of the Shadow Campaigns, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it. With all the setup out of the way I have complete faith that Wexler can deliver a stunning conclusion to this great series.

Rating: The Guns of Empire – 8.0/10

Of Sand And Malice Made – A Captivating Jaunt Into The Desert

of-sand-and-malice-made-med-1A while back I was given the opportunity to read the great Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, by the talented Bradley P. Beaulieu (whose name I have yet to spell correctly the first time I have written it). The book had a slow start, but turned out to be one of the best epic fantasy newcomers I have read in years. The story follows a female gladiator named Ceda as she attempts to seek revenge on the twelve ruling kings in a metropolis in the middle of a desert. You can read my review of that book here, but recently Bradley has released a prequel novella to the book called Of Sand and Malice Made that I managed to get my hands on through netgalley. My hope was that this story might provide a slightly better start to the novel I enjoyed so much.

Of Sand and Malice Made follows our protagonist Ceda in the months before Twelve Kings as she tried to live through three different mystical encounters. The gods of the world, and their creatures, have taken an interest in Ceda and she must go to great lengths to turn their gaze elsewhere. The short story is split into three parts, each one covering an otherworldly encounter. The first involves escaping a magical drug den, the second rescuing a captive, and the third is about Ceda finally “breaking free” from the magical creatures who have bound themselves to her. Honestly the plot is fascinating and exciting, and I would have loved to read this short story before I started Twelve Kings. The story made me a lot more invested in Ceda than the beginning of Twelve Kings did and Bradley’s prose is in fine form. Mr. Beaulieu has a real talent for describing the desert that is transportive and mesmerizing. Ceda can be a bit obnoxious and stubborn at times, but this novella continues to build my affection for her. In addition, Bradley continues to have a great cast of side characters that help me move past any issues I have with Ceda.

There was only one real criticism I had for Of Sand and Malice Made. The book weirdly felt like it should be a sub plot in a larger novel as opposed to its own stand alone story. The transitions between the three parts of the novel are a bit jarring as time passes between where the first chapter ends and the next picks up and you are not eased into these jumps at all. I think this could have been smoothed immensely if this story was nestled in a larger book. One small note is that I also can never tell how much the general citizens of Sharakhai are aware of the mystical side of their city. Some people react with extreme shock, while others act as though it is not big deal.

However, in the end the positives in Of Sand and Malice Made greatly outweigh the negative. The short story accomplishes exactly what I wanted, giving a strong introduction to Ceda’s character and endearing her to me much more quickly that the beginning of Twelve Kings did. The story has a creative and captivating plot that explores the magic of the desert and left me extremely excited for the sequel to Twelve Kings. If you are looking for an epic fantasy with a hot and sandy tone, The Quill to Live recommends both Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and Of Sand and Malice Made.

Rating: Of Sand and Malice Made – 8.5/10

The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Cautiously Optimistic

io9coverI am a Butcher fan. However, even though I am a fan, I am often terrified of how huge his following is and how rabid some of his readers are when it comes to defending him. I know multiple people who basically exclusively read Dresden and pretty much nothing else. So I tend to take all Butcher reviews with a massive grain of salt as Butcher could print a blank book and some people would claim it to be a writing innovation. That said, I like to think of myself as an impartial judge of his work. I really like some of The Dresden Files, but also think some of its entries are fairly weak. In addition, while I thought Butcher’s Furies series started out well, I feel that it spiraled downward in quality as it progressed. As such I approached Butcher’s new book/series, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, expecting it to be alright as I thought Butcher didn’t know how to write anything other than Dresden. I am happy to say, while the book was not perfect, I was wrong and The Aeronaut’s Windlass definitely exceeded expectations.

Windlass tells the story of Spire Albion, a giant stone tower rising out of the ground in a steampunk world. The surface of the earth seems to have been taken over by bloodthirsty creatures that want to murder all humans, so humanity has relocated to a number of these giant stone towers in the sky to survive. The spires have limited resources in the sky so they often end up going to war with one another. The spires go to war in what are essentially flying pirate ships made of wood with tons of cannons. It’s a really fun concept that Butcher builds out really well. He breathes tons of details into his world that makes it feel vivid, complex, and well thought out. Our protagonists are two young recruits in the Albion guard, one a noble and one a commoner, a lovable airship captain with a sordid past and a grizzled jaw, and a cat (I will come back to this). The cast gives a nice diverse set of perspectives that serve to flesh out the world and add layers of context to events as they happen. The plot of the book follows these characters as a war breaks out between Spire Albion and a neighboring Spire.

The strengths of the book come from three key pillars: world building, mystery, and swashbuckling action. As I mentioned before, the world building is excellent. Butcher spent a lot of time thinking about how his spires work, and small details such as how the ships dock, how the economy works, what foods are available, and what various interesting jobs exist on giant stone towers are nice touches. All these pieces lend the book the feeling that you are reading something original and different. Butcher also manages to create a strong air of mystery throughout the narrative. You will constantly be curious as to what is going on, and almost every character has a mysterious past for you to ferret out. The book is overstuffed with secrets and big reveals, which help to make the book exciting. Speaking of excitement, the book’s final strength, and maybe its largest, is the fact that it is packed full of fun, awesome action. There are several thrilling airship battles that kept me on the edge of my seat, tons of witty dialogue, and kick-ass combat that just make the book fun.

On the other hand, while the book is a lot of fun, the characters are not particularly deep. The protagonists are fairly one dimensional, and while I loved many of the side characters, I only felt tepid affection for the protagonists. In addition, one of the concerns I had for the book is that Butcher specializes in writing shorter episodic books and might stretch a concept too thin in this longer epic. This rears its ugly head for me with Butcher’s decision to make cats talk and include them as major characters. In The Aeronaut’s Windlass, house cats are “people” and can talk. While I initially loved the idea, I found that over the course of the 700 page book it started to wear on me noticeably until I got pretty tired of it. In addition, while I was ok with the amount of mystery in the story, I wish we learned a little more about the secret pasts of our protagonists in the first novel (it is intimated that it will be revealed in the sequels).

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is fast paced, has some climactic scenes, has excellent world building, and is an overall fun time. It is not the best book I have ever read, but it is certainly good enough to get me excited for the sequel and feel cautiously optimistic that this series will be better than Butcher’s Furies. I have a strong suspicion that the sequel, The Olympian Affair, will either elevate the series or tank it and I am excited to find out which it will be. The Quill to Live recommends The Aeronaut’s Windlass to anyone looking for a fun sky pirate adventure.

Rating: The Aeronaut’s Windlass 8.5/10