A Cavern of Black Ice opens J.V. Jones's Sword of Shadows trilogy. (Her first novel was The Baker's Boy.) The story is set in a land divided among small warring clans of hunters and more sophisticated southern cities whose lords covet the clan territories.|
Young clansman Raif has a touch of "old blood" magic that guides his arrows to the heart. Bad times come when a hunting party that includes his father and clan chief is wiped out by a supernaturally aided attack, and Raif's open suspicion of the brutal new leader eventually drives him into exile. Meanwhile, Iss, overlord of Spire Vanis city, keeps a chained-up sorcerer whose powers he channels by revolting means, and has unexplained but shuddersome plans for his "foster daughter" Ash--herself an unwilling focus of dread forces. Raif and Ash find themselves fleeing together through wintry, hostile clanlands, pursued by Iss's vilest henchmen, seeking the dubious goal of the Cavern of Black Ice.
What lifts this tale far above routine quest fantasy is Jones's deft characterization, relentless intensity, and unsparing depiction of pain and slow-healing injury. She has a flair for memorably horrid images. Here a sorcerer gloats over one of his nastier tricks: "A man could not fight when his corneas were snapped from his eyes like badges from a chest."
This hefty volume is over 800 pages long, but the narrative grips hard once it's gained momentum, and the pages turn increasingly fast. Strong meat. Next comes book two, A Fortress of Grey Ice.
Source: David Langford, Amazon.co.uk.
In Spire Vanis, the lord commander's foundling daughter is haunted by nightmares of ice; in the Blackhail clanhold, two brothers find their kinsmen slaughtered by swords that draw no blood; at a remote farmstead, a hardened warrior leaves his family to follow a raven's summons.....
And soon, in a deadly wilderness where nature and the gods have no mercy, two young fugitives must confront a millennial prophecy, as J.V. Jones takes readers on a journey deep into the stark beauty, cruel peril, and incredible magic of the Known Lands, in the first volume of a powerful new epic.....A CAVERN OF BLACK ICE.
In the distant Northern Territories, fortress cities cling to barren peaks, fierce clans hunt the frigid steppes, arctic wastes are the last refuge of an enigmatic, ancient people - and an apocalyptic destiny has begun to unfold.....
Once in one thousand years an innocent is born with the uncontrollable power and need to reach across the barrier of worlds, into the realm of the dead - and release the Endlords from their eternal prison, to annihilate all life.
Now, after the millennium of truce, war erupts between the cold giants of the far north. As the great and ancient clan of Blackhail brings war to the Dog Lord of Clan Bludd, two warriors are caught in the bloodshed. Raif and Drey Sevrance are brothers and clansmen alike, but soon cold-blooded schemes of their new chief will tear them apart and bran Raif a traitor to his clan.
Meanwhile, in the cool limestone caverns of Mask Fortress, Ash March stumbles upon an old and terrible evil hidden away from the light. Penthero Iss, uncrowned king of Spire Vanis and the man who calls himself Ash's father, has discovered a monstrous way to steal magic from his captives. And Ash fears she will be next.
Suddenly, Raif and Ash are each helped to escape by Angus Lok, whose amiable manner belies his mysterious past. But Angus is acting on the raven-sent message of a distant shaman; there's nothing accidental about his intervention and his mission to guide Raif and Ash on a treacherous journey to A CAVERN OF BLACK ICE.
Passionately envisioned and filled with richly evoked new characters, this story is the beginning of J.V. Jones's most ambitious and accomplished work to date.