Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler

Ship of Smoke and Steel (Wells of Sorcery Trilogy, #1)

by Django Wexler

Ship of Smoke and Steel is the launch of Django Wexler's cinematic, action-packed epic fantasy Wells of Sorcery trilogy.


In the lower wards of Kahnzoka, the great port city of the Blessed Empire, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka enforces the will of her criminal masters with the power of Melos, the Well of Combat. The money she collects goes to keep her little sister living in comfort, far from the bloody streets they grew up on.

When Isoka's magic is discovered by the government, she's arrested and brought to the Emperor's spymaster, who sends her on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship—a ship from which no one has ever returned. If she fails, her sister’s life is forfeit.

On board Soliton, nothing is as simple as it seems. Isoka tries to get close to the ship's mysterious captain, but to do it she must become part of the brutal crew and join their endless battles against twisted creatures. She doesn't expect to have to contend with feelings for a charismatic fighter who shares her combat magic, or for a fearless princess who wields an even darker power.

“Truly epic, fierce, and exhilarating, Ship of Smoke and Steel will capture you and lock you away. With magical combat sequences fit for the big screen, the action is almost as breathtaking as the intrigue.” —Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of the Falling Kingdoms series

Reviewed by sa090 on

4 of 5 stars

Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler

I have never read a book by Django Wexler before and this book in particular I admit wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it on a blog post at the end of 2018, adding it to my TBR was a fantastic decision.


I’m a little behind on writing these thoughts, but I think it’ll be somewhat of a norm from now on given my situation. Anyways, I’ve always been a fan of high fantasy, it’s so easy and completely understandable to imagine mediaeval settings and work your story around it, but I always appreciate it when authors try to create something totally new and I can throw myself in it. Django Wexler created that world for me in this book, even though it started out somewhat in a typical fashion, it went on ahead to become one hell of an entertaining journey to take with Isoka onboard that ship.

I’m not a big fan of ghosts, vampires, werewolves and the like of the supernatural creatures, dragons and elves are more my style, but the way Django Wexler wrote this ship and added stuff to it to make it engaging was insanely fun. The supernatural aspect doesn’t take over the fantasy aspect of it and vice versa, they compliment each other with the somewhat slow progression he had with the plot after we get to the ship. I mean, personally, I didn’t really expect he’ll start me off with an impossible situation, give it a slice of life in a dangerous fantasy setting flare and end it with a huge bang. But I’ll be lying if I said I don’t appreciate it, I love slow journeys if there is something to gain from them and learning about the ship through the mini adventures in this book was fantastic for me.

I did figure out the big plot twist in the end from the minute a certain someone was introduced, but even then the book didn’t actually become boring. No, the way he made it brutal and gory as it should be given the situation while making sure it’s actually needed was an awesome thing to see. It reminded me a bit of Jay Kristoff’e Nevernight, which is another book I enjoyed immensely. The magic system in this book was fun as well, I didn’t see all the applications for it just yet given how we only focused on the more important things this time around, but I’m sure and hopeful the sequels won’t disappoint in that regard.

The characters themselves ranged from very interesting to forgettable, not forgettable in the sense you won’t know who they are after a while, but more so that I didn’t really care for some of them even when bad things really happened to them. Isoka starts off really hard to like, but for me personally a tough as nails persona that isn’t just talk, is definitely something I appreciated. There is nothing more disgusting than seeing an author hype up their character and end up seeing that character act like the complete opposite of what they’re talking about. Isoka was ruthless, unlikable to a degree and ambitious throughout the book which I really appreciate. One last thing I really liked in this book is how Django Wexler handled the romance, it didn’t overtake the plot and it was mostly moments of passion more than anything else while some exploration was going on which is fine by me, the less the better from this aspect when you have something this entertaining.

The thing I wished more of though (other than extra applications of the magic system) is information about the ship, given that it’s not what you’d expect of one, I wanted to know a lot more about the makings of it, the mechanics, other areas and what else it could possibly hold which I’ll hopefully get in the sequels. It was a fun read and for it being his YA debut, I’m really looking forward to see what’s going to happen from here on out!

Final rating: 4/5

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 25 January, 2019: Finished reading
  • 25 January, 2019: Reviewed