The Aeronaut's Windlass

I finished reading The Aeronaut's Windlass (the new Jim Butcher) last night. As some of you know, I was having trouble getting into it, but I ended up enjoying it once the plot started to happen. It's a fun, light, escapist read that clears the Bechdel test with flying colors; there are a variety of different characters for every taste, including a female pirate captain who is EXCELLENT (/unbiased), and the antagonists -- aside from the one who is clearly EVIL with a capital "E" -- are mostly sympathetic and likable people. It is very much the first book in a series, setting up a lot of dominos which will clearly be important in future installments; very little is explained, but a lot of intriguing hints are dropped re: the worldbuilding and the characters' respective backstories. My only real problem with the book is that there's a character I found so annoying I had to skim his POV sections, but mileage probably varies on that.

... The character in question is Rowl. Someone drop Rowl off the side of the Spire, please. It's partly the over-cutesiness of the cat POV but mostly the fact that I don't find extreme arrogance/"I'm better than you" an appealing character trait in the slightest -- unless it's a setup for bringing the character back down to earth and making them realize they actually aren't better than the hoi polloi (i.e. Tony Stark) but that's clearly not happening in Rowl's case. Strangely enough I don't find the female cat (Miri?) quite so irritating, although maybe that's just because we don't spend as much time in her head. It wouldn't bother me so much if the cats were less ... uh ... cat Sues, basically (e.g. if the humans reacted with agoraphobia to their first sight of the bright wide-open world outside the Spire, the cats -- used to small, enclosed dark places -- should have been even more that way ... but NOPE, perfectly calm and condescending to the nervous humans).

But otherwise I had a lot of fun. I speculated throughout that there's a science-fictional explanation for everything (colony on another planet? post-apocalyptic far future? "ether" is really ambient electricity from a powerful planetary magnetic field?), especially with some of the cryptic hints about the Builders, "iron-rot", etc, or Grimm's plug-in electric kettle. I still think there's something like that in the works (I'm tentatively guessing sci-fi colony world, with an extremely strong ambient magnetic field), although the ending makes it look like there may be real magic afoot as well. (But it could all still be nanites and computers! The red glowing light associated with the Enemy is especially machine-like.)

Also ... continuing my general habit of falling for minor characters who are probably going to die ... BAYARD. :D And CALLIOPE, who also had me at hello. I enjoyed the younger set of characters (it was especially nice to see Folly come into her own as a character) but I would totally be on board if the entire series was just Bayard, Grimm, and Calliope snarking at each other and occasionally saving each other's lives. I want to meet the elusive Abigail, and find out what happened all those years ago with Grimm and Bayard and Rook, or Grimm and Calliope's epic skyboat race! If I'm buying the next book upon its release, it will be mostly for these three, and to find out more clues about the nature of their world.

(Very minor historical/worldbuilding nitpick: if wood is expensive and rare, why do they make paper out of wood pulp? Historically, paper was usually made out of rags. The only reason why wood was devised as a substitute was because it was cheaper; the paper was inferior, and the production process was more complicated. There is absolutely no reason why people on a world that doesn't have abundant wood should do wood-pulp paper at all, and every time they mentioned how books are expensive and rare because WOOD, it made me twitch.)

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But ALL paper is made of wood. Nothing else was EVER used before or since, didn't you know that?!! *rolls eyes* Yes, I think I'd be twitching over that too!
Yes, Rowl and that entire sentient-cat cast of characters can go over the side and never be heard from again. But otherwise, I'm looking forward to the next book.

Hopefully, it doesn't end up like the Codex Alera, which turned out to be a major disappointment for me.
Yeah, I'm definitely on board for the next installment! It's clear that he's got a long-term plan and is setting up a lot of interesting dominos here. And I like a lot of the characters.

Glad it's not just me about Rowl & co. though.
I love cats, but this whole thing with them being sentient/condescending sounds super annoying! It's probably because it annoys me when people treat their pets like humans, so this just pushes that button.
YES. That is exactly it. "Not so much about cats, as how humans THINK about cats", as a commenter on the DW side said. I really do like cats, and I would have enjoyed cat characters who were like actual cats, but this just felt overly cutesy and twee. I think it's very similar to how I really like actual children, and I enjoy written versions of children who act like real kids, but hate the syrupy, overly cutesy variety that you often get instead.
I actually liked Rowl up to a point. It was that rich girlI didn't like (I can't even remember her name.OkayI literally can't remember any of their names which doesn't bode well) not until the end. I didn't really love or hate any of the characters. They were mostly just there for me. I guess I liked Grimm since I can at least remember his name.
Gwen? I liked her! But I like Grimm's group best (Grimm, his friend from Fleet, and his pirate-captain ex). They're so much fun. The book in general didn't grab me as hard as it might have, but I'm definitely going to be there for the next one. I can see myself getting hooked on this series eventually, when there are more books out.
I liked her better at the end when her ability with mechanics came out. I didn't dislike her. She just didn't grab me.

This is the sort of book I'm glad there are libraries for so I can follow for free