The sequel to J V Jones' _Cavern of Black Ice_ repeats the feats and folly of the first. Her world of icy wastelands and warring clanholds is wonderfully rich in detail, and described in such flowing prose that it's frequently a delight to gorge upon. J V Jones has always been an incredibly gritty fantasy writer, and never more so than here: the reader feels every wound, tastes every morsel, and smells every stench along with her characters.
Add some believable, complex characters (shamed clansman Raif and his 'odd' young sister Effie being the standouts) and an entertainingly twisty plot, and this is a winning combination for anyone tired of doorstep fantasy that expends countless pages on anorexic pseudo-medieval worlds and identikit Tolkien-esque cliches.
The drawbacks are twofold. First, at times it can be all *too* rich, and I imagine the detailed accounts of arduous journeys could grow tedious for some, although for me this was mostly staved off by frequent point-of-view changes. Secondly, as yet the more overtly fantastical elements of the plot (nameless evils from the beneath the ice) are sitting a little uneasily alongside the sheer, breathtaking realism of the world. I certainly found myself far more engaged by the grittier, faster-paced plotlines centred on the clanholds - when, to all intents and purposes, this is a mere preliminary to the main, world-shattering event. It remains to be seen how this will be reconciled in the third - but I will certainly be reading it!