J. V. Jones


…the first two are all that are out, but they’re good enough to receive **** (4 stars).

The third and next book is expected in October of this year, according to Jones’ official webbie.

Sword from Red Ice - upcoming book 3

She’s put up a preview from the next book, A Sword from Red Ice on that there website. It’s the prologue, and sounds mighty interesting…though we did know that hunk o’ rock would shatter sometime soon.

The Sword of Shadows books are, in my humble opinion, much better than Jones’ earlier work. While The Book of Words trilogy seemed another indelicate traipse down the rutted road of cliched fantasy, often crudely glossing over important details of background, period, and character, these books are pretty sophisticated. I hold back on lavish praise simply because the ending isn’t out for me to read yet, and we all know how important endings are. Never a good book without a good ending. Book 1, A Cavern of Black Ice, had much to offer, throwing the reader straight into an environment so tangibly freezing it was hard not to pull an Orrl cloak about myself, if I had one. Jones takes pains to elaborate on setting (apparently based on the Scottish clans) and history, so drawing out our enjoyment of the tension, in a story that practically twangs with tension. She wastes no time with peaceful pastoral beginnings (think how Eddings’ Garion started, Tolkien’s Bilbo, Jones’ own Jack, the baker’s boy) but leaps straight into a competition of bows and arrows and running rabbits between the brothers Raif and Drey Sevrance. Within a few pages, we already learn of Raif’s strange ‘skills’, and lines later we are presented with a mysterious, tragic but chilling massacre, of which the brothers’ father is one of the fallen. All throughout, a pervading ominous aura keeps us on our guard for more surprises, along with a lingering, disturbing, strange feel: rather like we were aliens, or foreign creatures. This land that Jones describes, the clansmen’s land, is no land we are welcome to, and Jones’ revels in distancing us from it.

That opening scene alone is brilliant. Tense mood, bows and arrows, wind and snow, prey and hunter, a brotherly tussle and a spot of dark magic – and then cold murder aplenty; this is what we can expect of the Sword of Shadows sequence. What happens next?

Fortress of Grey Ice - book 2Cavern of Black Ice - book 1

A briefish synopsis…(I might be getting facts from book 1 and 2 mixed up, so warning: SPOILERS)

Raif is our main narrator, and he’s not too detestable. We are told he used to be a normal, lively child, but at the novel’s outset, he is 16, recently orphaned, and morose, reflective, and bitter. The mysterious massacre took the life of his clan’s leader, so his adopted son, Mace Blackhail, takes over the position as clan Blackhail’s leader. He was apparently at the same camp that was massacred, but according to him, managed to escape. Blaming the massacre on clan Bludd, Mace orders a raid on a group of Bludd carts. Drey is sent out, and Raif insists on joining the raid, though he has not yet sworn a clansman’s oath – that is, not come of age. Raif manages to win the right to take the oath however, and does so, although the clan guide prophesies his betrayal, and bringing of doom – as he wears a raven lore, unlike his brother’s and father’s bear lore. The Bludd party turns out to consist of women and children, the kin of the Bludd lord, and while Drey joins the slaughter, Raif cannot bring himself to kill women and children, and flees back to Blackhail. He finds his uncle, Angus Lok, there, and Angus offers to take him away, knowing he has deserted and so broken his oath as a sworn clansman. Angus also reveals his knowledge of Raif’s ‘magic’. Not without regret, Raif complies, and the two set off toward the south. They stumble on another of our narrators, Ash, who has been kept locked in the city by her adoptive father, Penthero Iss, a weak sorcerer. Ash has the same power, but more of it, and when she attempts to escape the city, finds herself about to be dragged back by Marafice Eye, her father’s man. Angus and Raif help her escape, a move which Raif does not understand, and then set off again, but only after Raif discovers Ash’s great but dark power, and recognises some of that same power in his own skill at marksmanship. (more…)

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yeah, a post without caps generally means an aimless post used for the sole purpose of emptying a guilt-ridden or distracted mind will follow below. Today that’s guilt. I’ve looked at my timetable, and while I have some few weeks to get to the final essays for each subject I’m doing, it’s really not long enough to dally about smashing empires and training soldiers like I’m doing nowadays, over at Fire Emblem Empires, and others. *heaves a sigh* Pity, because I am the favourite daughter of Indolence. I suppose I’d better get my notes arranged and files neatly aligned, and then start opening them up. … I am glad I’m smashing some of these empires though. *grin*

But anyway, I’ve been doing the midnight thing again. I call it my personal habit of walking (more…)

…author of The Book of Words trilogy, The Barbed Coil standalone, and the Sword of Shadows sequence.

J. V. Jones, or Julie Victoria Jones, and henceforth referred to here as simply Jones for the sake of convenience (those full stops. hard. to. type.), is an author I first discovered when searching for new fantasy series I could fall into. I was thinking along the lines of Robin Hobb, maybe George R. R. Martin even; intricate, entertaining, engaging. So when I bought A Cavern of Black Ice on a whim and read it through in one (maybe two) sittings, I realised I might have found what I was looking for. I gobbled up the next book, A Fortress of Grey Ice, and pined for a week or two on discovering Jones hadn’t the next instalment yet. This series is great! I thought. Jones is great! Then I went back to read her first books, The Book of Words trilogy, and had a completely different reaction: it was like reading an entirely different author. Like this was JV Jones instead of J. V. Jones. Subtly different, so that if you read it quickly and inanely you might’nt care too much about it, but if you read it as a fantasy addict (and I proclaim myself one) with an addict’s eye for detail: well, there’s a hell of a lot of difference between JV and J. V.

Crude. Oh, the series was entertaining, dramatic, visceral, with colourful characters and an interlinked web of political and a-political intrigue. But the emphasis is on entertaining, nothing more. The Book of Words would never have risen to match the likes of Hobb or Martin, let alone the Tolkien-standard fantasy authors and readers alike search with roving eyes for, simply because it reads like it was written solely to satisfy the passionate impulses of a highly enthusiastic and lettered amateur. Dramatic really translates to melodramatic, with many an unnecessary “bitter smile” (‘many’ is a euphemism. …) thrown at the reader every chapter or two; the pace quickens or wallows in a pattern that seems dependent on the author’s own attachment to her characters and plot events. Colourful characters actually stands for generic, twodimensional beings used to fuel the plot, such as the Disgraced Knight Who Is Actually Noble, the Thief Child With A Heroic Heart, plenty of unrepentant followeres of evil, and the ubiquitious Chosen One. The plot? This is given to us as a flat map rather than a world as we hoped for; what history the countries may have is ignored, seemingly important characters like Tyren, the leader of the Knights of Valdis, are finally unveiled as horrifically evil and unredeemed monsters and given barely a full chapter of screentime (pagetime?), a ‘return from the dead’ is on schedule, and the political intrigue barely manages to rescue the series.

The characters were probably the least satisfying aspect of the novel.

Basically: generic. While some characters actually started out on a solid, strong note, by the last novel, I was skipping large chunks of story to follow only the characters that still interested me, and that interest was waning. There was nothing particularly unique that I saw in them, apart from an admirable willingness to use violence, and a fairly intricate web of betrayal spun by the higher-ups of the Four Kingdoms and surrounds. Tawl, whom I had initially had hopes for, turned out to be the classic fallen knight, rising to glory after a period of severe depression – and his nemesis turns out to be his father figure, Tyren (Now where have we heard that story before?). And as I’ve mentioned, Tyren is a complete disappointment. I did enjoy reading the malicious Tavalisk, but his fate was regretfully (more…)