The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fast paced and full of lovable characters, my favorite is Rowl. Rowl is a cat with a high opinion of himself but considering he single pawed saved Spire Albion (OK maybe he had a little help from the humans) from the Auroran attack it's well deserved. Some of the smarter humans are able to speak cat and if the cats respect the humans they are bestowed names by the cats such as Rowl's person Littlemouse (a rather large human woman) known as Bridget by the humans. Bridget was very happy working in her Father's vattery and was not thrilled to join the Guard. But she quickly made friends with the Warriorborn (Rowl refers to him as a half-soul) Benedict and his cousin Gwendolyn. When Reggie is giving Bridget a hard time Gwendolyn (who comes from a very important family) steps in and makes things worse. Bridget winds up challenged to a dual by Reggie. Benedict comes to the rescue and starts to teach Bridget how to fight, and Rowl insist on acting as Bridget's second. Reggie objects to having a cat as a second in a dual, but is quickly informed that Rowl is a full citizen of the Spire and as such can be the second. Before the dual can take place Spire Albion, Habble Morning is attacked by the Aurorans.
Captain Grimm is in port having repairs made to his ship Predator when the attack takes place. Grimm and his crew quickly come to the assistance of the Lancaster Vattery and after helping to repeal an attack on the Vattery rush to rescue Gwen, Benedict and Bridget after Rowl comes for help.
Lord Albion gives Francis Madison Grimm (Grimm Ship-Trees) the crystals he needs to repair Predator in exchange for Grimm taking Gwen, Benedict, Bridget, Rowl, Folly and Ferus to Habble Landing. Folly and Ferus are ethrealists and have some rather interesting foibles Ferus can't manage doorknobs and Folly doesn't speak directly to anyone, but speaks to the jar of crystals she carries around. They also have some rather interesting "powers".
No sooner do they dock at Habble Landing than the Olympian ship Mistshark captained by Grimm's wife Calliope Ransom docks. Calliope tries unsuccessfully to get Grimm to leave.
Gwen, Benedict, Bridget, Rowl, Folly and Ferus go to seek lodging in Habble Landing. After being attacked by footpads they visit the Temple of the Way where Benedict was a student. His teacher Brother Vincent tells them of an Inn where they should be safe and after Brother Vincent shows them the library they go to the Inn. Bridget, Folly and Rowl go to get information from the local cats. Clan Chief Naun of the Nine Claws received them in a chamber with his entire clan including the kittens revealing to Rowl, that the clan was under attack by something that frightened them. Naun instructed them to leave a certain way and Rowl realized he wanted them to see something. When they are attacked by millions of baby spiders Rowl realizes it was their nest Naun wanted them to see. Before they can be killed by the spiders Folly uses her jar of crystals to burn them up. They are on their way back to the Inn when they are captured by the Aurorans. Meanwhile at the Inn Gwyn, Benedict and Ferus are attacked by a large adult spider. The spider kills numerous people inside the inn before Gwyn is able to kill it, but she receives an injury to her head in the process. When Grimm hears of the trouble at the Inn he rushes to help and an unconscious Gwyn is carried back to the ship.
The enemy ethrealists Madame Cavendish visits the ship and demands Ferus' trunks in exchange for the lives of Folly and Bridget. The trunks are turned over to Madame Cavendish and Ferus is unable to function without them. Rowl sends Mirl (one of his Father's spies) to tell Grimm where Bridget and Folly are being held and he goes to conquer the Nine Claws in order to lead them against the spiders and the Aurorans. Grimm leads a force against the Aurorans and Spiders but they are losing until the cats arrive to take care of the spiders. After rescuing Folly and Bridget they rush to the Temple of the Way after Bridget tells them of the Aurorans plans for it. The Temple of the Way is already burning when they arrive. Benedict and Bridget rush into the Temple when Rowl alerts them to the fact someone is alive inside. They find Brother Vincent trapped under a large book case. Benedict lifts it off him but he dies shortly afterward but before he does he entrust a book to Benedict. Benedict collapse from all the spider venom in his bloodstream and Bridget carries him out with Rowl's help.
Gwyn awakes back at the ship and helps Journeyman put the crystals in. They barely finish in time to avoid an attack on the docks by Mistshark.
Grimm and the survivors arrive back at the docks and are overjoyed when they realize Predator survived. Folly is able to locate Mistshark since Madame Cavendish took Ferus' trunks aboard. Folly is also able to talk directly to Predator. They quickly overtake Mistshark and gain the upper-hand in the battle that ensues. Calliope surrenders but while Grimm is busy with the Mistshark's surrender The Auroran Battle Ship Itasca is spotted. Grimm releases Calliope and prepares to flee. He risk everything to lead the Itasca into a trap but when the Glorious commanded by Commodore Rook takes heavy fire, Rook flees leaving Predator to face certain death. Grimm is trying to decided rather to fight to the death or surrender when he hears his friend Commodore Bayard's ship Valiant. He pulls off several risky maneuvers in order to blind Itasca to Valiant's approach.
Itasca battles, the Valiant, Victorious, Thunderous and Predator. They all take heavy damage and Itasca eventually surrenders to Grimm. The crew of the Itasca helps save the survivors of Thunderous. Grimm gives the book Brother Vincent gave Benedict and the book Madame Cavendish took from the Temple to Lord Albion.
Folly has a nightmare of the future...................
Not sure why the people don't live on the surface of the planet but instead live in Spires built above the planets surface. Also not sure how many Spires there are.
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