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32 Reviews
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag - better book, derailed series
Okay, first the good. The book itself is something of a return to form. Benefitting immensely in pace by shedding about 40% of the flab from the second and third books whilst actually seeing more plot movement. This continues to be a character-driven series and there is a welcome return for Angus Lok as well as more action for Raif, Effie and Raina. The basis of the...
Published on 6 Jun 2010 by Ben W

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh no, not another ever-lengthening fantasy epic.
Quite a bit smaller than the three books which preceded it, Watcher for the Dead doesn't really progress the story as much as it should have. The quite poorly-written recap at the start of the book is its worst feature, with the evolution and development of the main characters and story too slow to leave readers waiting expectantly for number five. Hopefully Jones will...
Published on 21 Oct 2010 by Daghda


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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading, 14 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
As part of a series this book lives up to the standards set by the others.
JV Jones is a writer who knows how to hold interest and keep the reader wanting to know more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars watcher of the dead, 1 Nov 2011
This review is from: Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
I came late to j.v.jones writing, and have read most of them now.
i love them all, i cannot honestly say ive been disappointed in any of them, and here comes the BUT, this series is sooo exciting I am desperate for more, so come on jones, get writing, please, I am dying to find out whats happened to all the wonderful characters that are so real.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Better than the last, 26 Sep 2011
While this was better than the last and I didn't skip any chapters I've given up on this series now.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Adds something, but not much, 17 Aug 2011
An ok addition to the series, Watcher of the Dead does not progress the series as much as it should have. Jones is a good writer, but the central characters lack a bit of substance, while the secondary characters are invariably more interesting. Not on the same level as Martin or Erikson, the Sword of Shadows series is however enjoyable if somewhat formulaic in its construction. Having said that I look forward to the fifth instalment, something ominous is coming...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy that happens in real-time, 15 July 2011
I marked the day that book two was published in the UK in my calendar, a long time ago, considering the author one of my favourite writers. Many years on, Watcher came out and was a library choice for me. I'm sorry to write a bad review, but here's why.

This is the lure and punishment of JVJ's writing- she wants to put you directly in the head of her characters. You enter the clanworlds or the cities through all this highly descriptive writing that seems to spare little expense. Sentences describe the infinitesimal shifts in weight by a standing character, the creak of lone tree branches, the material that the reins of a horse's tack are made from... The books are stuffed with detail.

But indeed, because so much time is devoted to *seeing* all this, the characters don't come off as particularly quick people. By book four, I'd say almost all the characters spend the majority of their time standing round thinking. Remembering. Worrying. In between all this, they look at things (so you, dear reader, can get the whammy of visual details) and occasionally travel places. Sometimes they fight. Most of the time, though, they're just people trudging through the 24 hours of each day.

Now the first book was swept along by a nice, well-established plot. Ash was a young girl with the power of a medieval atomic bomb inside of her, and she needed to get to a mysterious power-absorbing cavern as soon as possible before she (exploded) Reached and unleashed evil dark spawn into the world. The problem with later books has been the lack of definitive plots in each book, and the widening of multiple character strands throughout the whole series.

Given the time between published books, and the enduring mysteries that are hinted at but rarely revealed (where do Reaches come from? Who made the Cavern? Who are the Phage? What is reachflesh? Who made Loss? What's Drey been doing? What does Baralis want? What exactly is the Sull's problem??) I am afraid that I have become one of those readers who doesn't wish to spend quite so much time in each character's head.

I don't want to experience the world in real-time as they do- I want to be told a good story. I enjoy the descriptive pace in the scenes of confrontation, of action, of revelations, when they do happen. But as for the rest... it's been about ten years and four books. Get on with it!!

(MINOR SPOILERS - I must also take this chance to say that suddenly introducing moonsnakes was as convenient and as sudden a plot device as Horcruxes were to Harry Potter, and that keeping someone alternately in a drugged sleep or making them fight with real blades till injuries stop them, does not sound like a very likely training regime to me...)
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4.0 out of 5 stars JV Jones epic fantasy cycle, book 4, 31 May 2011
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
I've lost track of how long Jones has been writing this: I think the first volume was published in the late 90's, and I think there was a 5-year gap between books two and three. But this is proving to be Jones' most ambitious and best work yet, a 5-volume (at least) epic fantasy cycle set in cold northern snows with warring clans, secret societies, outcasts and nomads, and the fringes of civilisation looking to extend their grasp.

While all of these petty conflicts are going on, of course there is an end of the world type threat - the Endlords - which almost everyone is ignoring for various reasons, but it is this which will presumably become the climax of the series. What makes this epic fantasy is the myriad plot threads, multiple point of view characters, and the fact that at times our protagonists, Raif Sevrance and Ash March, seem to barely be doing anything at all.

That's fine though, since everyone else is up to interesting things, even if it seems as if come the end of the world such actions are more or less pointless. The characters are distinct and well-drawn, the harsh, frozen world is beautifully rendered, and the plotting is such that it all makes sense why the characters as acting as they do.

This is not the best epic fantasy going around, but its not far behind.
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4.0 out of 5 stars keep up the good work!, 24 Jun 2010
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i have read all 4 of the books (thus far) fairly closely together, and I'd say this is the best so far. As other reviewers have said - the characters are developing well and there is definitely moer action in this one than the last two.

I like the distinct nature of the different 'races' - the sull, the ice-trappers, and then within the humans the cultural differences of clan vs city.
there are quite a lot of POVs to keep track of, and yet they are all compelling in their own right - I particularly like the destruction of Raif in this book - although like is perhaps the wrong word to use - but it is an interesting tack to take with the 'hero', Ash & Raina are finally become more action oriented than passive which is good news too.

My only concern really is that this becomes never-ending with massive delays between books, so far I don't feel like it is being dragged out - rather the opposite I think the series is becoming richer as it progresses - i am just wary of the GRR Martin curse!

But overall if you've got through books 1-3 there is a lot to like with this one.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Woefully inadequate..., 8 April 2010
By 
A. V. Tran "Book God" (Uk) - See all my reviews
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Perhaps after months of anticipation, I thought my expectations would be met with the latest book, yet sadly it was not. Before i had even started reading, I was met with dissapointment: it is about 3/5 of the length of the last book. Perhaps after spending 2 or 3 years on one single novel, you would expect it to be quite a bit larger. Enormous even. Yet, I consoled myself and said to myself quality over quantity. I began reading.
Perhaps what was most dissapointing of all is not how J V Jones tells the stroy (indeed it is good quality work, decently drawing the reader in) but what happens. Almost nothing at all happens. In 400 or so pages, there were NEXT TO NOTHING! No major events just many minor developments, that by page 200 I was gnashing my teeth, shouting at the book to get a move on. By the end I was weeping tears of blood.
But perhaps this is not a fault of Book four but a fault of book 3. For in book 3 she has added too many POV characters with little relevance to the main themes that is developing. To satisfy these additional POVs more space is needed and the plot moves at a snail's pace. Serious readjustments are needed if Jones is not to be put into the same class as Goodkind.
So perhaps it is with some confidence that I say the next book will not be the last. There is simply too much for her to fit into one single book unless it is 1500 pages long. There will be a book six. Likely even a book 7. So get ready to wait for another 10 years for the next book, and hope it will salvage this series which is near dead already. This series will probaly turn out to be the most anti climatic series ever. Where did the woman who wrote A Cavern of Black Ice went?
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ended too soon, 13 May 2010
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In my opinion JV Jones is one of the best fantasy writers out there. Her books run different storylines while at the same time bringing her characters together. She manages to bring her characters alive and helps me care for their fates through her craft. Especially little Effie touches me. That little girl is full of guts and brains and manages to make difficult choices despite her young age. The way Jones has made that little girl come alive is impressive. I would really like to see more of her in the next book.

What I hated about the book was that it ended. I wanted to keep on reading about this crazy little world with its clan wars and intrigue and deception. It's not difficult to see that while there are rays of light, like Raif towards the end of the book, darkness lies ahead.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great follow on to first 3 books, 13 Jun 2011
By 
Chris Wall (Newbury Berks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
J.V.Jones writes a great story. Full of real characters one can believe in & get to know, and plenty of action. Watcher of the Dead is no exception, I just can't put it down. Do hope the 5th episode is not too long in coming. If you like Robin Hobb you will love J V Jones.
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Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows
Watcher Of The Dead: Book 4 of the Sword of Shadows by J. V. Jones (Paperback - 3 Feb 2011)
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