Ruins of Smoke (A prequel to the Smokesmiths), by João F. Silva

The Book

Ruins of Smoke
Series: The Smokesmiths
Pages: 130
Age Group: Adult
Published on 8/29/2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Epic Fantasy
Available on:


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.  

My Review

Ruins of Smoke is a prequel novella to the Smokesmiths series, an epic fantasy proposal written by João F. Silva. Set thousands of years prior to the initial novel, we have a really ambitious book which depicts the battle for Ushar, the capital of the Usharian Empire, which is trying to resist the attack of a new Deceiver's avatar.

Weaving together multiple POV, we become spectators of how the city is about to fall against the Deceiver's forces, with several forces working together to protect the king and the Essence, that energy that allowed the Empire to reach their status in the world. However, this time the Deceiver's avatar is somebody known to the king; Agor is trying to make all aware of what he thinks is the truth about the Essence, but in reality, it isn't more than a pawn in the hands of the Deceiver.

In some ways, Silva expands the world of his series, giving us more ways the smoke can be used to gain powers, and introducing us to the Essence in more detail; all while telling us the story of those individuals that are fighting for Ushar, with a wide range of emotions, from the fanaticism of the sisters, to the cowardice that sometimes can be found in Matala.

It works well as a standalone, but it is true that it might be better enjoyed after reading Seeds of War (but in no way is necessary). Silva exhibits a great competence writing, taking advantage of the situation to create memorable scenes, and using several POVs to create a bigger picture of the battle.

If you like epic fantasy, this novella is an excellent pick if you are in the mood for a shorter story that will let you craving for more of the Smokesmiths. A great way to be introduced to Silva's works.

Disclaimer: This novella has been read as part of the SFINCS. This review/rating only represents my personal opinion and it might differ with what the team decides.

The Author/s

João F. Silva

João F. Silva

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.

His novel Seeds of War is the first installment in the upcoming Smokesmiths series.