Jen reviews Seeds of War, the first book in Joao F. Silva‘s Fantasy series, The Smokesmiths.
I don’t pick up many requests these days but this one caught my attention because of the mention of smoke-magic. Thank you kindly to Joao F. Silva for the ARC!
|Series: The Smokesmiths #1||Genre: Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: April 30, 2023||Trigger Warnings: violence, death, drugs|
|Page count: 588||Publisher: Self-Published|
“He ran like the monster he was. And the smoke followed.”
GIMLORE is a single mother and war veteran turned crime boss set on protecting her family and her town.
ORBERESIS is a petty thief pretending to be God to protect a terrible secret.
REDNOW is the world’s most feared mercenary, but his best days are behind him and there’s one job left to do.
In a world of dangerous monsters and devastating smoke magic, the seeds of war are being planted. Allies must be treasured and enemies defeated.
The Smokesmiths is a gritty epic fantasy series with a harsh world of smoke magic, alien creatures and ancient secrets where characters do their best to come out on top. Peace will not last.
“He opened his herb satchel, removed the chords, and looked for a handful of his Ominous Kas herbs. He clamped the crushed leaves in his palm and opened his hands. He then doused the leaves with a drop of belleaf oil, blew on them and they started burning. The smoke that came from the herbs was different, and it followed Rednow instead of simply dissipating, searching for his nose, eager to be inhaled. Rednow allowed the smoke to engulf him.”
Secrets by Written by Wolves
Ten years ago the Crimson Wars came to an end when a God cracked the earth open and raised the land of Alaskan up from the sea – sending men and creatures to the underworld.
The world is filled with weird and unique creatures giving me a bit of a D&D feel because of the inhabitants, but with a slight sci-fi twist.
I have to admit the smoke magic was pretty freaking cool and had some great visual scenes of its use.
Smokesmiths, the people who use this kind of magic are made by the kingdom. They round up the potentials – mostly orphans and street kids etc. and throw them in a closed room, fill it with the special smoke – a mixture of herbs and such -, and see who comes out alive. Brutal right?
If they live, they have the ability to use these herbs and gain powers. Not all powers are the same. To use the ability, they have to burn the herbs and inhale it and it’s very hard on the person doing it. That was one thing I liked about this whole thing, that the trade-off for these gifts is basically the same as if you were a two-pack-a-day smoker for your whole life. It will eventually kill you. I like magic with repercussions and limits.
An interesting twist on the magic too, is that if you are dying you could try the smoke and see if it heals you… though eventually it will kill you anyway but you may gain some years. The odds are not bad.
Three main characters in different areas of the world whose stories eventually converge.
Gimlore – in a previous life she did a lot of not-very-nice things and was then known as The Viper. Now she has been running a tavern out in the wastelands – collecting all sorts of exiles, and survivors. In the past ten years as their numbers have grown a little town has sprung up around these people. Gimlore is kind of like the den mother in some ways and she feels responsible for this collection of misfits. To support the people, they have been harvesting and selling an elixir, made from mossbacks – a creature that lives in the swampy lands around Heleronde. The elixir, when taken, gives the person a berserker kind of power (speed, strength, and fighting bloodlust). But the King Doemus wants to control this land (and the elixir of course) and now her safe little haven is in danger.
Orberesis – He has been pretending to be a God and succeeding at it, at least for now. Orberesis has amassed quite a large following of people who worship him. His success mainly has been in part because of an orb he had performed miraculous events with in the past. Unfortunately, he has no idea how it works or how he triggered it, and has been trying to keep up his sham as a God, without actually needing to do anything that involves using it. Plagued with migraines and even occasional seizures, he is hoping his status will help him to find a cure and revenge, for the past crimes against his family.
He travels with Tavanar, his oldest friend, and Solvi a smokesmith and the head of his cult.
Rednow – Known as the Blood Collector (and what a great fear-inspiring name that is!), Rednow, a rogue smokesmith, escaped the kingdom long ago. He rescues the children the King would have become smokesmiths, and turns them into soldiers. Giving them a chance at life, and him a rather large mercenary army, with troops in reserve, all over the country; ready to assemble when and where Rednow needs them to be. Rednow is ready to retire. His years using the smoke, have not been kind to him and every use of it now- could easily be his last.
Rednow was probably my favourite character. The old soldier is haunted by regrets and the memories of his dead sister. His choices seem to be not just about money (surprisingly for a mercenary) but also about what’s best for the people under his command. I also loved the two captains that he treats as daughters – Merey and Tellwoon.
Seeds of War ends with a feeling of completeness – no big cliffy-endings but it definitely feels like a great jumping-off point, if you want it to be. There were interesting and cool elements to the world that I really enjoyed, especially with the smoke magic, which btw, I believe may be the first in this style of use for me. And the story gives us just enough of a look at the characters and the world for us to want to see where things will develop for them.
Good solid start to what looks like a very cool series!
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