A Cavern of Black Ice (Sword of Shadows)
J. V. Jones
Tor Books (2005)
In Collection
Fantasy Fiction, Fiction / Fantasy / Epic, Fiction / Fantasy / General
Mass Market Paperback 076534551X
This opens the "Sword of Shadows" trilogy from J.V. Jones, whose debut novel was The Baker's Boy (1995). A Cavern of Black Ice is set in a land divided between 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 supernaturally aided attack: Raif's open suspicion of the brutal new leader eventually drives him into exile. Meanwhile Iss, overlord of Spire Vanis city, keeps a chained sorcerer whose powers he channels by revolting means and has unexplained but horrifying plans for his "foster daughter" Ash--herself an unwilling focus of dreaded 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 far above routine quest fantasy is Jones' deft characterisation, 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 has over 800 pages but the narrative grips hard once it's gained momentum, and the pages turn increasingly fast. Book two, A Fortress of Grey Ice is coming soon. --David Langford

Product Details
Dewey 813.54
Cover Price €5.35
No. of Pages 792
Height x Width 142 x 106  mm