Book Review: Seeds of War by Joao F. Silva  - The Fantasy Review

Book Review: Seeds of War by Joao F. Silva 

Esmay Rosalyne’s Spoiler-Free Review of Seeds of War by Joao F. Silva

See also The Wulver’s Library review of Seeds of War!

Expected publication: 1 May 2023
Series: Book 1 in The Smokesmiths Series
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
Pages: 588
Rating: 4 stars

*Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Publisher’s Blurb

“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.

Review of Seeds of War

Review of Seeds of War by Joao F. Silva

Seeds of War instantly became one of my most anticipated releases from the moment I first heard about it. I mean, who wouldn’t be sold on a book with the premise of destructive smoke magic and a cover that is this insanely gorgeous and alluring?!
So, I jumped in completely blind and wow… did this end up being a refreshing and riveting read. This is a gritty character-driven epic fantasy full of morally gray characters, devastating magic, gripping mysteries, alien creatures, ancient secrets, and, of course, brutal battle and war scenes. What’s not to love?

This story follows three adult protagonists who are all not exactly what you’d call your typical heroes. Let’s start with my favourite: Gimlore. She’s a former war veteran who now makes her living as a crime boss, while also raising her two daughters as a single mother. Yes, I know, I also fell in love with this fierce and tough momma bear immediately. Then we have Rednow, an old and worn-out warrior with smokesmith magic who leads an infamous mercenary group. And lastly there’s Orberesis, a petty thief who has somehow gained a cult following by convincing people that he’s God, even though he has some serious struggles with performing any of the god-like things that are expected of him. Now, that’s an interesting cast of characters if I’ve ever seen one.

I absolutely loved following each of their personal journeys and was very impressed with how Silva wove all their storylines together in the end. While I was personally immediately hooked into the story because I loved following these compelling characters, I can see how some readers might struggle with the slower pacing in the first half of this book. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of interesting stuff going on in the beginning, but this is definitely not a very plot-driven or action-packed story… or at least it doesn’t start out that way. I do have to admit that some of the characters’ inner monologue and thought-processes felt a bit repetitive at certain points, but then eventually we did get some very satisfying character growth (or, should I say, character corruption?) that I really appreciated.

At its heart, I would say that this is a very character-driven story about flawed and broken people trying to cope with their trauma and loss, about non-conventional and slightly dysfunctional families who would die for each other, about single parents thriving against all odds, and about older people refusing walk the paths that are expected of them. And all of those things are wrapped up in an absolutely riveting tale full of intrigue, mystery, magic and action.

The world building is also so cool here, I loved getting lost in this gritty fantasy world. These characters’ stories all start on a completely different point of the map, which gives us a nice look into the different cultures and societal structures of this world. The in-world history, myths and legends are woven into the story in clever ways, resulting in some shocking plot twists and reveals that I totally didn’t see coming!
Also, the beasts/creatures that inhabit these lands are unlike anything I’ve seen before and they perfectly showcased the author’s wild imagination. I really appreciated the bestiary that’s included at the front of the book, because I don’t know if I would’ve been able to envision some of these fascinating creatures myself.
And, of course, we can’t forget about the intriguing smoke-based magic system! I always love magic that comes with a cost, but this one was exceptionally brutal and destructive (and I was so here for it). I really enjoyed seeing all the different ways it was implemented into the story and honestly wouldn’t have minded to see it on display even more!

Now, I know I mentioned earlier that this book starts with a rather slow build-up, but then the pacing and stakes increase immensely when these three storylines converge and war comes ever closer to breaking out. The final 25% of this book were absolutely unputdownable, it was just a whirlwind of brutal action scenes, jaw-dropping revelations and all the emotional gut punches. This is exactly why I love slow-burn stories that take their time to establish the characters and allow you to get emotionally invested, because that makes such an explosive conclusion just so much more gripping and satisfying.

Overall, I think this is an incredibly impressive and masterfully crafted debut that has me very excited to see whatever this author has in store for us next. I’m telling you now, Silva is one to watch!

Seeds of War is the inventive and gritty fantasy that I didn’t know I needed, it gripped me from the start and didn’t let me go until I turned the very last page. So, are you ready to join me on this incredibly captivating and wild ride? I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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