Thorns of War (The Smokesmiths #2), by João F. Silva

The Book

Thorns of War
Series: The Smokesmiths
Pages: 469
Age Group: Adult
Published on 5/5/2024
Publisher: Self-published
Available on:


One breath. One jump. One death.

The Known World is in peril once again. Old grudges are made anew and settled only on the battlefield, with threads of smoke flowing in the air.

Gimlore saved her town and her family, and she has even learned that trusting people may not always be a bad thing. But with ancient powers stirring, her whole world is shaken again, and the pains of the past come back stronger than ever.

Rednow's retirement plan was successful but didn't last long. He is both in the eye of the storm, and the storm itself. Blessed or cursed by powers he wants to reject, he questions whether the faith everyone seems to deposit in him is even warranted. After all, he's still just an old man with bad lungs.

Orberesis blossoms under the tutelage of a new master and awakens ancient, forgotten arts. He rose from thief to the impersonator of a god, and now true divinity might just be well within his grasp.

My Review

Thorns of War is the second novel in the grimdark series The Smokesmiths, written by João F. Silva; picking after the ending of Seeds of War, Heleronde is enjoying of brief moments of peace. The free city established by Gimlore is an alternative for those that wish to start a new life, and Rednow is enjoying of his retirement plant; that's until the old grudges between gods come back and set it as the center of the perfect storm.

The Old One has tricks under the sleeve, and uses Orberesis as his avatar to unleash chaos over Heleronde, as the first step to recover the control over the world, while trying to eliminate the Essence. However, both Gimlore and Rednow manage to flee from Heleronde, starting really different paths, but with a common target: stopping Orberesis and his power craving.
Gimlore will confront the hardest pain a mother can experience, and her path will take her to the Two Nations, where Orberesis is making contacts to gather an army; however, the god will play his cards faster, putting Gimlore in a situation that she swore not to repeat.
Rednow, in the company of Pinesy, will travel to the land of the Builders, unwillingly becoming part of the Essence's schemes, a position that will unleash new smokesmith powers on him. Gathering an army of smokesmiths, he will prepare for the last stand against Orberesis' plans.

A sequel that puts us into the action from the beginning, but without losing the focus on those characters that lead the plot; we will get more snippets of their past, and see how they are pushed towards the limit by powers they cannot comprehend, which are fighting their own ancient war. Gimlore's arc could be called the more mundane one, but it is well intertwined with our two other characters, which are on the opposite sides of the conflict.

The world is expanded in the same ways the characters have been developed; probably an experience that also is richer if you have previously read Ruins of Smoke (my recommendation is to read the novella as the bridge between Seeds and Thorns). It is especially interesting when the Builders and their mythology are exposed in the eyes of the reader.

Thorns of War is the sequel that Seeds of War deserved; smart and well written, it further develops the characters while giving us an epic story with many emotional moments. I'm really curious to see how Silva continues the series in the next books!

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.