After a cataclysmic war of the gods, the last of humanity huddles in Bastion, a colossal ringed city. Beyond the outermost wall lies endless desert haunted by the souls of all the world’s dead.
Trapped in a rigid caste system, Nuru, a young street sorcerer, lives in the outer ring. She dreams of escape and freedom. When something contacts her from beyond the wall, she risks everything and leaps at the opportunity. Mother Death, a banished god seeking to reclaim her place in Bastion’s patchwork pantheon, has found her way back into the city.
Akachi, born to the wealth and splendour of Bastion’s inner rings, is a priest of Cloud Serpent, Lord of the Hunt. A temple-trained sorcerer, he is tasked with bringing peace to the troublesome outer ring. Drawn into a dark and violent world of assassins, gangs, and street sorcerers, he battles the spreading influence of Mother Death in a desperate attempt to save Bastion.
The gods are once again at war.
Thanks to the author for an advance reading copy of Smoke and Stone (City of Sacrifice #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.
Ancient, bloodthirsty gods, street sorcerers, rival gangs, faith, and sacrifice all come to play a part is this dark and original tale from one of the best in the biz. It’s bloody, enthralling, and grimdark as f*ck.
I have to preface my review by stating that I, along with Petros of Booknest, alpha, beta, gamma, delta, etc. read Smoke & Stone, gave my thoughts on world-building, characters, the beginning and ending, and even slapped Michael around in regard to the cover design. He was a good sport for the most part.
Having read all of the author’s previous works, I knew that I could expect a grim and bloody tour de force of a novel, but I didn’t expect all of the intricacies the author mixed in to create a truly original story. The use of hallucinogens and wood/stone carvings to morph into god-like creatures, and even gods themselves, and leaving chaos and destruction in their wake. The uniqueness of the world-building as the entirety of it is made of separate but equal rings, each with a significant role to play in the story and its sequels.
I also enjoyed the growth of the characters, especially Akachi. Seeing how he morphed from page 1 to the intense climax makes for a very intriguing read, especially knowing his roots from the first draft. I also enjoyed how the dynamics of Nuru and the members of her caste played out, never seeming to have an edge until just the right moment.
You never quite know what to expect when it comes to Fletcher’s books, but one thing you do know for sure is that you are in for the ride of your life. I still, to this day, do not understand why he, among several other indie authors, is not a more mainstream name when it comes to fantasy/grimdark. I get that his material is pitch-black dark and he uses quite coarse language to get his message across, but Abercrombie seems to do well from what I can see. Fletcher needs to be a household name, and anyone who believes Anna Smith Spark’s and Ed McDonald’s books are phenomenal need to give Beyond Redemption & The Mirror’s Truth a go, let alone Smoke & Stone.