Tanja's Review

Book one in J.V. Jones' new trilogy, The Sword of Shadows, immediately gets your full attention. The first three paragraphs will have readers who are familiar with her first trilogy, The Book of Words, thinking "Oh....so that's the connection!" With that delightful knowledge in hand, A Cavern of Black Ice begins with a fast pace, and holds to it to the final, intriguing word.

It is the story of Ash March, a foundling, and Raif Sevrance, a young man cast out from his clan. These two characters are instantly likable, and Jones does a wonderful job in terms of believability. Some of the best moments of the book are when Raif leaves behind his initial resentment of being burdened with helping Ash in her quest, and realizes that she has in fact become his entire world, effectively replacing his clan.

Characters seem to leap up from the pages. Those who enjoyed the wickedness of Baralis and Kylock from the first series will not be disappointed with this new cast of villains. Penthero Iss, Ash's foster father, desires power regardless of the cost. He is ruthless in his usage of everyone to achieve his goals. Marafice Eye, his sword arm, is so chilling that I would definitely want that man fighting on my side. Preferably on a different continent. In another century. I particularly liked Vaylo Bludd. The ability to have a reader be thoroughly repulsed by a character and then make them feel sympathy for said person is priceless. The lesser characters receive the same attention to detail. They are numerous, and yet the story is enriched by them all.

One of the aspects of Ms. Jones writing that continues to amaze and delight me are her fabulous descriptive powers. The icy setting of the book is described in such harrowing detail that one is hard pressed to not periodically check fingers for signs of approaching frostbite. One shudders equally at the thought of the Dog Lord's 17 black and aching teeth, as at the description of the repeated beatings Raif receives at the hands of a rival clan. Paradoxically, Jones also can be very entertaining without offering any detail at all. I am sure I am not alone in wanting the answer to the question, what exactly are the 12 secret uses of whale blubber?

A Cavern of Black Ice resolves the immediate story line, but makes it clear that this is only the beginning. I for one can't wait, as I enjoyed this book immensely. Ms. Jones has written a book with a gripping plot and unforgettable characters. She is one of the most gifted fantasy writers in a long time, and easily ranks with the likes of Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks. If she continues writing in this fashion, she will surpass them.