“Men and monsters clash in a battle fit for gods. And the smoke follows them.”
Ruins of Smoke is the prequel novella to Seeds of War and takes place several thousands of years before the first book in The Smokesmiths series.
It’s filled with complex characters, exhilarating action scenes, imaginative yet terrifying creatures, inventive smoke smith magic, and a whole lot of emotional gut punches. Simply said, this is a novella done right!
Through the eyes of four very different yet equally compelling characters, we experience an epic final battle that will change the course of history in the Known World. A sentinel of the Red Sun Army, a troubled imperial general, a young Smoke Rider, and a king bonded to the divine; the fate of the Known World lies in their hands, and they will stop at nothing to fight for what they believe in.
Once again, and maybe even more so than in Seeds of War, Silva’s wild imagination and masterful storytelling skills are on full display here. We get to see a lot more of the incredibly cool and cinematic smokesmith magic, encounter more horrific creatures, and dive much deeper into the intriguing lore of this world.
And for a novella that is so fast-paced and action-packed from start to finish, it’s truly astounding how well developed these characters turned out to be. They are all so complex and have incredible emotional depth, which means that all the emotional beats hit way harder than you could ever have expected.
Though, what I maybe appreciated most of all is how they are all fighting two battles; the literal one against the creatures unleashed by the Deceiver, and the one inside their own minds.
Within just a couple of pages, Silva manages to tell an unforgettable story of bonds, family, strength, resilience, and sacrifice. This story deeply explores the dangerously thin line between good and evil, between strength and weakness, and between love and hate.
The stakes are sky-high, the action sequences are thrilling, the displays of magic are mesmerising, the easter eggs are incredibly exciting, and all the crazy twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your seat (or nervously pacing through the room, in my case.)
Now, I personally read Seeds of War before diving into this prequel novella, but it honestly does not matter where you start. If you want to see a lot of the unique magic system on display and like the idea of a more fast-paced and action-packed introduction to this world, then I’d recommend starting with this novella. But if you are totally here for the slow-burn and character-driven approach, then I’d check out Seeds of War first. No matter what route you decide to go, I am certain that Silva will immediately manage to capture your imagination and leave you hungering for more in the best way possible.
Ruins of Smoke is one of the best prequel novellas that I have ever read and it has me incredibly excited to explore this world further in the future.
You can grab this novella for free by signing up to the author’s newsletter, but I also highly recommend getting the paperback to drool over the gorgeous cover and to admire the illustrations in the bestiary. Either way, just do yourself a favour and pick up this dark and inventive fantasy series if you haven’t done so already. I am calling it now, Silva is going to be an author to watch!
Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.