The Aeronaut's Windlass

ALSO BY JIM BUTCHER

T
HE
D
RESDEN
F
ILES

Storm Front

Fool Moon

Grave Peril

Summer Knight

Death Masks

Blood Rites

Dead Beat

Proven Guilty

White Night

Small Favor

Turn Coat

Changes

Ghost Story

Cold Days

Skin Game

Side Jobs
(anthology)

T
HE
C
ODEX
A
LERA

Furies of Calderon

Academ’s Fury

Cursor’s Fury

Captain’s Fury

Princeps’ Fury

First Lord’s Fury

ROC

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Jim Butcher, 2015

Interior Illustrations by Priscilla Spencer

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

Butcher, Jim, 1971–

The aeronaut’s windlass/Jim Butcher.

p. cm.—(Cinder spires)

ISBN 978-0-698-13800-1

I. Title.

PS3602.U85A68 2015

813'.6—dc23 2015009056

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

For Prima and Sirius, Silent Paws

Contents

Also by Jim Butcher

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Prologue

Spire Albion, Habble Morning, House Lancaster

G
wendolyn Margaret Elizabeth Lancaster,” said Mother in a firm, cross voice, “you will cease this nonsense at once.”

“Now, Mother,” Gwendolyn replied absently, “we have discussed the matter at length upon multiple occasions.” She frowned down at the gauntlet upon her left hand and rotated her wrist slightly. “The number three strap is too tight, Sarah. The crystal is digging into my palm.”

“Just a moment, miss.” Sarah bent nearer the gauntlet’s fastenings, eyeing them over the rims of her spectacles. She made a series of quick, deft adjustments and asked, “Is that better?”

Gwendolyn tried the motion again and smiled. “Excellent. Thank you, Sarah.”

“Of course, miss,” Sarah said. She began to smile but glanced aside at Mother and schooled her expression into soberly appropriate diffidence.

“There has been no discussion,” Mother said, folding her arms. “Discussion implies discourse. You have simply pretended I wasn’t in the room when I broached the subject.”

Gwendolyn turned to smile sweetly. “Mother, we can have this conversation again if you wish, but I have not altered my intentions in the least. I will
not
attend Lady Hadshaw’s Finishing Academy.”

“I would be more than pleased to see you enter the Etheric Engineering Academy along with—”

“Oh!” Gwendolyn said, rolling her eyes. “I’ve been working with those systems in the testing shop since I could
walk
, and I’m quite sure I will go mad if I have to endure two years’ worth of introductory courses.”

Mother shook her head. “Gwendolyn, you cannot possibly think that—”

“Enough,” Gwendolyn said. “I
will
enter the Spirearch’s Guard. I
will
take the oath. I
will
spend a year in the Service.” She turned to regard her reflection in the long mirror, adjusted her skirts marginally, and straightened the lapels of her short bolero jacket. “Honestly, other daughters of the High Houses take the oath. I cannot imagine why you’re making such a fuss.”

“Other Houses are
not
the Lancasters,” Mother said, her voice suddenly cold. “Other Houses do not rule the highest habble of the Council. Other Houses are not custodians of the sternest responsibility within all of Spire Albion.”

“Mother.” Gwendolyn sighed. “Honestly, as if the people living in the lower levels of the Spire are less worthy somehow. And besides, those great vats and crystals all but mind themselves.”

“You are young,” Mother said. “You have little appreciation of how much those crystals are needed, and not only by those of Habble Morning or the Fleet, or of all the planning and foresight that must go into producing a single crystal over the—”

“The course of generations,” Gwendolyn interrupted. “No, apparently I have not been enlightened to your satisfaction—I would, however, submit to you that another repetition of this particular bit of pedantry seems unlikely to correct the situation, and that therefore the least frustrating course of action for all involved would be to abort the attempt.”

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