Read It Forward is thrilled to share this exclusive excerpt of The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first book in a new series by Jim Butcher, the bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels.
Spire Albion, Habble Morning, House Lancaster
“Gwendolyn 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.”