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 Beth C. on

4 of 5 stars

Ok, I'll be honest I've had a copy of this book for a full year without reading it. I know it's a year, because there's a date inside from when I got it. So...yeah. Having finished it last night, I'm regretting not reading it sooner.

The characters are excellent - there really are nuances that many authors don't manage to catch. It's truly rare for someone to be *all* good or *all* evil. Everyone has the capacity to be EITHER, depending on their choices - and Wexler captures that very well here. Particularly as this is his first YA book, he very clearly is not talking down to the reader, and that is fabulous. Also - very LGBTQ friendly, which as a bookseller, is excellent. I love having another title in my arsenal for those who request it.

The story is unique - after finishing it, my brain is still pondering some of the things I read about. Yes, there's magic of a sort, but the different wells, and THE SHIP OMG THE SHIP. Absolutely fascinating, this floating world where weird things happen and no one understands. No spoilers, the ship plays such a large part that it's pretty much a character in its own right.

Which brings me to the setting - again, this ghost ship, this giant floating world that no one knows anything about but that collects "tributes" at different ports, mostly those with some form of the well magic. This ship that somehow becomes a city in its own right, but with an element of thunderdome. Wexler's descriptions are so well done that I had little trouble picturing the levels, the creatures, or the humans that somehow all occupy this space.

Overall, I really enjoyed this title, and I'm quite looking forward to book two - because I HAVE QUESTIONS. The story does have an ending, so there aren't any major cliffhangers, but...there is still much more to the story that hasn't been revealed yet. I can't wait until the magician pulls back his curtain to reveal what happens next. #ShipofSmokeandSteel

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 3 January, 2020: Finished reading
  • 3 January, 2020: Reviewed