by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Everyone loves a bit of steampunk from time to time, and yours truly is no exception.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass and The Olympian Affair are the first two entries in the Cinder Spires trilogy by Jim Butcher - author of The Dresden Files - with the third entry yet to be written.

I’m not 100% sure where the action takes place in the books. It could be a colonised alien planet, it could be in the far future of earth, or it could be a completely novel fantasy setting. Either way, humanity now lives in spires - two mile high arcologies, constructed by the mysterious builders - and rarely ventures down to the surface of the planet out of fear of gigantic and super-scary creatures.

Airships travel between the spires and are powered by crystals grown in vats.

There are privateers, great navies, pirates, merchants, and traders. Think of a traditional high seas yarn, but with airships.

The spires themselves are based on the great European powers, with Spire Albion a stand-in for England, and the treacherous Spire Aurora an easily identifiable Spain.

The story follows three youthful protagonists in Albion’s Royal gGuard (and one cat), along with an unjusty disgraced privateer captain, as they defend Albion and fight against the machinations of Spire Albion in a war that still hasn’t properly started by the end of the second book.

There are wizard analogues, too.

I started these books because I really enjoyed the Dresden Files.

The Cinder Spires? Not quite so much.