Ruins of Smoke by João F. Silva (Reviewed by Lena)

 Book Review: Ruins of Smoke by João F. Silva

Ruins of Smoke by João F. Silva

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OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: João F. Silva was born in a small town in Portugal but now lives in London, with his three feline co-workers/bosses. He writes Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror and has been on the jury for the 2020 and 2022 editions of the Best Newcomer Award at the British Fantasy Awards. His short fiction was published in Grimdark Magazine and Haven Speculative.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The Usharian Empire rules the Known World with an iron fist. Imperials protect their world from the tainted hand of the Deceiver, but he is back with an avatar capable of breaking the Empire and grounding humanity into ash.

JEHA is a sentinel of the Empire, willing to fight and die for kinship and duty.

AGOR is an imperial general. Disgruntled by the darkness he sees seeping into everything he loves, he makes his move.

MATALA is a young smokesmith who sees his courage tested as Ushar burns.

ALAMAKAR is the world’s most powerful man, but even strong blood ties can hold him down and tear him apart.

As the Deceiver threatens the Usharian Empire’s heart, fiends walk the streets of the capital. Men and monsters clash in a battle fit for gods. And the smoke follows them.

FORMAT/INFO: Ruins of Smoke is the prequel novella to Seeds of War (Smokesmiths Book 1), debut novel written and published by João F. Silva. The publication date is August 27, 2023. It has four points of view characters and 130 pages in the paperback version.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Ruins of Smoke is the wonderful prequel novella to Seeds of War (Smokesmiths Book 1), debut novel by João F. Silva.

I absolutely love this novella. It has everything I love in themes, plot, world building, magic and pace.

There are four points of view characters. Battle sister and sentinel Jeha, Smoke Rider Matala, Agor (Red Sun King’s brother) and Alamakar (Red Sun King). I absolutely loved each one of them. Jeha is an amazing character, her love for her sisters and their world, and her decisiveness in the face of terrible odds made her the perfect first point of view. 

I think everyone could relate to Matala inner conflict, specially being an apprentice and having to face the destruction and beasts he does. Agor is one hell of a point of view. I found him very relatable as his conflicting emotions defied his own reasoning and his actions contradict themselves. Alamakar is a very interesting character, his relationship with the Essence and with the world around him is wonderful to see through his eyes.

I can’t shake off the feeling of how small the scale of what we see in this short novella is. How these two brothers (this family) were pawns in a much larger power play that has existed for who knows how long, and how everything and everyone around them becomes collateral damage in the face of either of them crushing the other.

CONCLUSION: This is an absolutely brilliant novella that gives you a taste of what this author has in store. Through a fantastic fast paced plot, brilliant magic system, great characterization and amazing world building, Silva leaves a great impression in so very few pages. I highly recommend it.

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