Audiobook review: The Olympian Affair by Jim Butcher
The Olympian Affair is the second offering in Butcher’s fabulous Cinder Spires series and picks up two years after the conclusion of the battle between the Albions and Aurorans depicted in The Aeronaut’s Windlass. This series is complex and must be read in order, and with there being eight years since the first book, I also recommend a re-read of The Aeronaut’s Windlass (which I did).
The series is set on a world where the surface of the planet is inhospitable and has been all but abandoned. Most humans and cats live in large towers called spires that are miles tall and endlessly large. We aren’t given many details on how they were built or why the planet has deteriorated. The protagonists live on Spire Albion, and their primary enemy is Spire Aurora, which continues to aggressively plan war using never-seen-before weapons of mass destruction.
This time around, our original gang of youthful soldiers, unbalanced etherealists, and experienced privateers is augmented with high ranking Albions and a new cat clan. I like that the book is primarily set away from Albion and readers get to see additional cultures from this world. There is a summit of the most powerful spires taking place at the commerce hub of Spire Olympia, and Albion hopes to sway them away from its neutral stance in the conflict with Aurora. We also meet the sly Atlanteans and additional Aurorans. Finally, there is a side story involving the cats that takes two of the primary characters to the surface, where readers witness some of the deadly creatures lurking.
Similar to the first book, The Olympian Affair is shared via the POVs of a number of key characters, primarily the protagonists, but some from the antagonists. We heard from nearly all of the narrating characters in the first book, making this one a bit easier to follow. With that said, I kept a running list of the key players in order to retain their names and key attributes. And while the primary plot is based on political machinations and conflict, it’s the characters that drive the series. The various relationships are ever shifting and engrossing to follow. My heart and mind are heavily invested.
The Olympian Affair is large and fantastic. It’s long but never boring. The character-building is elaborate: some utterly evil, others gloriously good, but many fall within shades of gray. I love the uniqueness and complexity of each, and we witness several struggle with conflicts between duty and personal code. Seeing some characters go against the grain to do what’s right-witness them change and grow-is delightful. Even cat prince Rowl and newcomer Finley mature as the book goes on. The story is rich in detail and fulfilling emotions. They are gruesome moments, bright moments, frightful moments, quiet moments, and heroically triumphant moments. I cried tears of sadness and joy.
Narration: Morton utilizes a British-accented masculine voice for all third person POV narrators. He successful alters each character’s dialogue for gender, age, social class, and geographic region, creating an entire catalogue of unique voices. While some differences are subtle, each character is identifiable. I was blown away by the richness of his voice no matter what character he portrays. Morton also infuses the performance with the appropriate amount of emotion, adding much value to the entire reading experience.
On the surface, The Olympian Affair is a story of political maneuvering. However, this time around we learn more about the powerful player who is manipulating and using the Aurorans to achieve an unknown endgame. I look forward to finding out more about everything this world has in store. It is so good!
About the Book:
The fate of the Cinder Spires may be decided by crossed swords in the next exhilarating fantasy adventure in the New York Times bestselling series of noble families, swordplay, and airships.
For centuries the Cinder Spires have safeguarded humanity, rising far above the deadly surface world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses rule, developing scientific marvels and building fleets of airships for defense and trade.
Now, the Spires hover on the brink of open war.
Everyone knows it’s coming. The guns of the great airship fleets that control the skies between the last bastions of humanity will soon speak in anger, and Spire Albion stands alone against the overwhelming might of Spire Aurora’s Armada and its new secret weapon–one capable of destroying the populations of entire Spires.
A trading summit at Spire Olympia provides an opportunity for the Spirearch, Lord Albion, to secure alliances that will shape the outcomes of the war, and to that end he dispatches privateer Captain Francis Madison Grimm and the crew of the AMS Predator to bolster the Spirearch’s diplomatic agents.
It will take daring, skill, and no small amount of showmanship to convince the world to stand with Spire Albion–assuming that it is not already too late.
Author: Jim Butcher
Narrator: Euan Morton
Series: The Cinder Spires #2
Genre: Fantasy, Etherpunk
Audiobook Release Date: November 7, 2023
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio
Length: 20 hrs and 23 mins
Audio Speed: 1.5x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)
Reviews in the Series:
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (The Cinder Spires #1)