I’d been interested in reading something in the ‘Steampunk’ genre that wasn’t going to be too depraved, nor too scientific, nor too magical. Enter Jim Butcher, the creator of a magical noir series (The Dresden Files). I’d read some reviews about this book and how Butcher is a masterful storyteller, as well as how The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a crowd pleaser of a book.
The story has flying airships, that are admittedly sometimes difficult to visualize, but the blend of magic, science, as well as strange biological creatures, a talking cat, and many more details makes this story surreal but not in a way that magical realism makes a story unreal. For all of this stories strangeness, the world created by Butcher feels authentic, and is extremely entertaining. It reminded me of a modern take on the ‘swashbuckler’ adventure story, and it never ceases to please.
The beginning of the book was the most difficult, and there was actually a moment where I wasn’t sure I would continue forward — the book opens with an airship battle and it was so foreign to anything I imagined that I wondered if I’d be able to continue on. That said, I stuck with the story and it was quite fulfilling. There are moments in the novel that address larger themes of war and honor that never hit you over the head; you never feel as if the story were an allegory for the present world, but that it’s meant as entertainment for the sake of entertainment — and entertain it does.