Jim Butcher's Cinder Spires Fantasy Series Returns With The Olympian Affair

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Best-selling writer Jim Butcher’s astir celebrated bid is the Dresden Files, but here’s a dainty for fans beyond that ongoing contemporary fantasy: The Olympian Affair, nan 2nd introduction successful his Cinder Spires steampunk series, is arriving successful November—eight years aft it began pinch The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

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io9 is excited to stock a first look astatine nan cover, on pinch an excerpt, from The Olympian Affair. Here’s a summary of nan crippled for immoderate context:

For hundreds of years nan Cinder Spires person safeguarded humanity, rising acold supra nan deadly aboveground world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses rule, processing technological marvels and building fleets of airships for defense and trade.

Now, nan Spires hover connected nan brink of unfastened war.

Everyone knows it’s coming. The guns of nan awesome airship fleets that power nan skies betwixt nan past bastions of humanity will soon speak successful anger, and Spire Albion stands unsocial against nan overwhelming mightiness of Spire Aurora’s Armada and its caller concealed weapon–one tin of destroying nan populations of full Spires.

A trading acme astatine Spire Olympia provides an opportunity for nan Spirearch, Lord Albion, to unafraid alliances that will style nan outcomes of nan war, and to that extremity he dispatches privateer Captain Francis Madison Grimm and nan unit of nan AMS Predator to bolster nan Spirearch’s negotiated agents.

It will return daring, skill, and nary mini magnitude of showmanship to person nan world to guidelines pinch Spire Albion—assuming that it is not already excessively late.

Here’s nan afloat screen of The Olympian Affair—as good arsenic a look astatine a brand-new screen creation for nan first book successful nan series, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, which is getting a trade-paperback merchandise connected October 3. Keep reference for an exclusive excerpt from The Olympian Affair, which comes retired November 7.

Image for article titled Jim Butcher's Cinder Spires Fantasy Series Returns With The Olympian Affair

Image: Ace

Image for article titled Jim Butcher's Cinder Spires Fantasy Series Returns With The Olympian Affair

Image: Ace


Colonel Renaldo Espira, resplendent successful his gold-and-scarlet dress uniform, stalked done nan streets of Flamecrest, uppermost habble of Spire Aurora. Though nan city-sized abstraction could person housed acold much group than it did, it was much of a royal palace successful itself, beneath nan lean, quiet norm of His Majesty, Juan Francesco Tuscarora del Aurora, Spirearch of Aurora and maestro of her scarlet-bannered Armada.

Flamecrest had changed successful his clip successful nan Armada’s service, Espira reflected, and not for nan better. The Ashen Halls of nan Armada, office of nan service, remained arsenic they had ever been, stark and spartan and gloomy—but nan remainder of Flamecrest blazed pinch nan ray of hundreds of thousands of superb lumin crystals. They flashed and rippled done various colors and patterns, arsenic always, though nan artists nan palace chose to put nan circumstantial palette of ray had grown steadily much unrestrained successful their tastes, and nan existent ray statement created an uncomfortable proposal of nan buildings of Flamecrest blazing successful a smokey inferno.

Espira’s nostrils flared. The fume was each coming from nan caller vatteries. Acres of abstraction had been cleared and devoted exclusively to nan caller masonry buildings, which produced reddish ray and achromatic fume successful adjacent measure, and was wherever nan caller ember-colored crystals were produced successful numbers acold greater than should person been possible. The caller vatteries stank. Greasy, chemical-smelling fume lingered successful a semi-opaque pall connected nan level for a artifact successful each guidance astir them, and nan aerial smelled of acrid things that would sear nan soma and pain nan eyes if exposed to them.

The Ash Guards stepping successful a container statement astir Espira marched him past nan vatteries—but alternatively of turning down nan thoroughfare toward nan palace, they took him connected a different route, passing nan palace and nan Ministry of Intelligence and clear connected to nan Etheric University.

Espira shuddered arsenic they passed done nan copper-clad alloy gates of nan university.

His tummy twisted and turned arsenic memories of 2 years past flashed done his mind. Cold and fume and occurrence and blood—and sometimes outright horror, each centered astir nan calm look of nan astir terrifying etherealist Espira had ever met.

“Someone looks for illustration he’s eaten from a tainted batch of meat,” murmured a woman’s voice.

There was a mobility successful 1 of nan severe, gloomy alleys betwixt buildings—the brightest lights resulted successful nan darkest shadows, Espira supposed, and a thin female arsenic gangly arsenic astir men appeared from them. She wasn’t a awesome beauty, but location was a rakish, magnetic value to her that much than compensated. She wore aeronaut’s leathers complete a man’s tunic. Her look and cervix showed an aeronaut’s light-beaten skin, and crossed belts connected her hips carried half a twelve compact pistols on pinch a broad-bladed fighting knife.

“Captain Ransom,” Colonel Espira said stiffly.

She fluttered her eyelashes astatine him successful a parody of crazy behavior. “Oh, please, heroic Colonel, telephone maine Calliope. Aren’t you pleased to spot me?”

“Not terribly.”

She opened her rima arsenic if shocked, and past grinned widely. “How rude.”

“I thought I had champion return nan opportunity to do truthful now,” he said, “as I mightiness not person overmuch opportunity successful nan future.”

Captain Ransom’s grin became brittle. “Ah, that explains your expression, then. Intelligence often results successful a sour tummy erstwhile 1 tin spot what is coming.” She fell into gait beside Espira, taking long, assured strides.

“You’ve been summoned, too,” Espira said, frowning.

“In my experience,” Captain Ransom said, “the reward for a occupation good done is mostly to beryllium fixed a much difficult job. The fastest vessel successful nan entity is astatine Spire Aurora’s disposal. For nan due price, of course.”

Espira frowned astatine nan woman. She dressed and comported herself for illustration a barbarian from Pike, but she intelligibly had wit and an acquisition arsenic well. She had chosen to discard nan mores of modern society. If doing truthful had disturbed her confidence, it didn’t show. He had to look up astatine Ransom somewhat to frown successful disapproval, of which he disapproved.

“Second fastest,” he said diffidently, “according to my observations.”

Something stiff slid up her spine, but her grin didn’t change. “We shall see.” She gave him a look that said she had guessed nan wide guidance of his thoughts, and her grin became sunny and crisp again. “Go ahead,” she said. “Ask.”

“Ask what?” Espira said, arsenic politely arsenic possible.

“Whatever it is that’s rattling astir successful there,” she responded, affably enough. “Colonel, you whitethorn beryllium a tin commander, but I counsel you powerfully against playing cards.”

Espira straightened his spine and sighed. “Have you seen nan madwoman, since Albion?”

Ransom chewed connected 1 broadside of her little articulator for a infinitesimal earlier answering. “Colonel,” she said finally, “the reply to that mobility could beryllium worthy your life. Do you want it?”

Espira cocked an eyebrow astatine nan woman.

If she hadn’t seen nan etherealist, there’d beryllium nary logic to beryllium evasive—so she’d fixed an reply to him without really giving it to him.

“I get successful little problem erstwhile I support my teeth together,” he said. “You would, too.”

Ransom tilted her caput backmost and laughed, and damn nan woman, it made Espira want her to do it again. “How apt does that look to you, Colonel?”

“About arsenic apt arsenic maine being fixed a quiet station astatine nan academy aft being summoned to Flamecrest successful nan mediate of nan night, Captain.” He paused. “Or you being hired for honorable work.”

She laughed again. “I person nary objection to honorable work, provided it doesn’t get successful nan measurement of business.” She narrowed her eyes. “Have you met Tuscarora?”

“His Majesty?” Espira asked. He quieted a flutter successful his belly and touched his fingers lightly to nan Star of Gallantry, Aurora’s second-highest subject honor, pinned successful aureate glory connected his near bosom arsenic nan item of his commendations. “Only during nan grant ceremony. I’ve ne'er spoken to him.”

“We didn’t speak nan first clip I met him, either,” Ransom said, though her reside filled nan condemnation pinch wry, lazy libido. “Stay successful my shadow, and I’ll springiness you what screen I can.”

The Ash Guards paused astatine nan gates to nan university. Passwords were exchanged and nan gates slow rolled up. Espira fought disconnected a yawn. Then they were done nan gates and stepping done nan silent campus, past nan statement of dormitory buildings, done nan amphitheater, and into nan school and investigation halls. The guards took them to an inconspicuous building whose doorway was heavy fortified. This password speech took longer, but yet nan doors were unbolted and opened, and nan group proceeded into nan spirestone building.

They were taken to nan basement. Espira had seldom been connected nan field and ne'er successful this building, but from what he could spot of nan laboratories and workshops they passed, he guessed that they were successful nan School of Medicine.

The guards took them up a mates of staircases, down a nondescript hallway, past 2 much checkpoints of squads of nan black-robed Ash Guard, and into nan study seating of a surgical theater.

Inside were only 3 people.

The halfway of nan surgical level was occupied by an tremendous solid vessel afloat of what looked for illustration water. A man stood beside nan tank, earlier immoderate benignant of power panel, his manus connected a brass dial. Cables ran from nan power sheet to agelong copper rods that thrust down into nan vessel and nan fluid it contained. He was caput and shoulders taller than average, for illustration astir warriorborn, and by nan aforesaid token his build was some diversion and muscular. Hair stood sparsely upon his head, face, and neck, and upon nan visible aboveground of his ample hands, each clipped to astir nan aforesaid short length, for illustration immoderate benignant of bipedal spider. His feline eyes, capable to spot successful nan acheronian pinch cleanable clarity, were group astatine somewhat different angles, and it was difficult to show connected what they were focused. His bare arms were dependable connected nan controls and covered successful a tapestry of pockmarks, each 1 raised from nan tegument beneath it and shaped astir for illustration nan extremity of Espira’s small finger. His sanction was Sark.

A female floated successful nan tank, submerged completely. An aerial hose had been tally into nan water, and her lips were sealed astir its mouthpiece. Dark hairsbreadth arsenic agelong arsenic her assemblage drifted for illustration a large wind unreality astir her, lifted by immoderate benignant of existent emanating from nan bottommost of nan tank. She was arsenic guiltless of clothing arsenic a newborn—and immoderate . . . point . . . was successful nan vessel pinch her.

It looked for illustration an amorphous blob of urine-colored gelatin, moving slowly. It mightiness person passed for immoderate benignant of oceanic debris, isolated from that it was moving against nan existent successful places, and it had wrapped its translucent assemblage wholly astir nan female successful nan tank, folding her mildly into its very form.

The female twisted 1 manus truthful it was thenar up and lifted it, and successful response, Sark turned nan dial slow higher.

Suddenly she thrashed, her assemblage arching successful a weird paroxysm that struck Espira arsenic some arousing and utterly unsettling. Her assemblage strained against immoderate unseen force, gathering successful hostility and seemingly helpless motion—and past abruptly convulsed, her rima opening successful a shriek that spat nan mouthpiece of nan breathing conduit clear of her lips and sent a thick, dense file of bubbles rushing toward nan surface.

Madame Sycorax Cavendish, maestro etherealist and supplier of Spire Aurora, writhed successful either symptom aliases ecstasy; Espira could not show which.

“God successful Heaven,” Captain Ransom breathed from beside Espira. “The lunatic did it. She really did it.”

Sark lifted his manus from nan dial and turned toward nan tank.

“No,” said nan 3rd man successful nan room calmly. He was seated successful a cushioned chair that had evidently been brought into nan surgical bay truthful that he could watch nan process from highly adjacent range. “She will not dice for minutes astatine nan least. I want her to person power for arsenic agelong arsenic possible.”

Sark paused and stared difficult astatine nan man for a moment.

Then he subsided and returned dutifully to his station.

In nan tank, Madame Cavendish thrashed, screaming successful silence, bubbles yet slowing and thinning.

Excerpted from THE OLYMPIAN AFFAIR by Jim Butcher published by Ace, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a section of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Jim Butcher

The Olympian Affair by Jim Butcher will beryllium released November 7; you tin pre-order a transcript here.

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