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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey through ice, snow and personal nightmare
I must admit to be a real fan of J.V. Jones, she is a wonderful author who manages to transport you to her worlds with consumate ease. A Cavern of Black Ice is no exception. As an avid reader of fantasy I can honestly say I have never read an initial book in a trilogy that promises, and gives, as much as Cavern does. It is a sweeping plot set in an ice bound land...
Published on 5 April 1999

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly finished the 3rd book - overall impression
Plenty of reviews describing the merits of this series so ill just say what lessened my view.

This series is a rather slow paced affair. Significant plot developments are few and there is alot of material inbetween. I did not really get into the first book until I was already 2/3rds through it.

For reasons I cannot put my finger on or articulate into...
Published on 2 April 2011 by Syrio


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey through ice, snow and personal nightmare, 5 April 1999
By A Customer
I must admit to be a real fan of J.V. Jones, she is a wonderful author who manages to transport you to her worlds with consumate ease. A Cavern of Black Ice is no exception. As an avid reader of fantasy I can honestly say I have never read an initial book in a trilogy that promises, and gives, as much as Cavern does. It is a sweeping plot set in an ice bound land that has you turning the heating up as you read it. Julie's character's are always excellent, they are believable, human and heroic (or of course demonic and vile!). In any of their guises you very soon become caught up in their epic struggle of good and evil with ancient magic. Cavern is a long book and so much the better for it, the pace is just right the plot and characterisation is given time to develop into a deeply woven and spellbinding epic. If you only buy one book this year make sure that its A Cavern of Black Ice, you won't regret it. Just make sure you wrap up real warm while you read or you'll have frostbite before you know it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book out there. Period., 9 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Well, I couldn't wait for U.S. bookstores to stock this book. As soon as I heard it was available in the U.K. I had to order it, because I am a huge fan of the Book of Words trilogy. Even though different, anyone that has read any of J.V. Jones work will LOVE this book. Actually, anyone who can READ will love this book!
I had heard people say that a book they were reading was "impossible to put down", but I have never before read a book that kept me that deep in the story. That has now changed! The characters are complex, the descriptions of the landscape and weather are enough to make you wrap up in a blanket or two, and the story line keeps you turning the page until deep into the night (or early the next morning)!
In addition to worrying about Ash (who one of your reviewers gave a bit too much away about) escaping her horrible foster father and his devious plans, you feel heartsick for Raif and the pain he must endure for the sake of his clan. Sometimes you just want to reach into the story and shake him and yell "Just tell them what happened!" Their story alone would keep you turning pages, but you also have to wonder if Drey will be the one to stop the loathful Mace and how will he keep his and Raif's sister Effie safe? Or their clan? What of Angus (and the whole Lok family)? Who are the Phage? Why won't the Dog Lord just pull those darned teeth? What will happen to Raina? And that psychotic Marafice Eye, Penthero Iss' right hand man. Why won't he just die already?
These are just a FEW of the questions you'll be asking yourself! I, for one, can't wait to learn more about the Sull! (And of course, all the new questions you'll be asking yourself after reading the last word on the last page! I'm warning you, don't ruin it for yourself and read the last page first, you'll be very sorry! And if you figure it out for yourself before the last page, my hat's off to you!)
Just so you know, this is a darker book than the Words trilogy. There's not a lot of comic relief running through the story (sorry, no Grift and Bodger wannabes in a alehouse handing out advice to unsuspecting baker's boys), but don't for a minute think that's a bad thing! The unforgiving land this story is set in doesn't leave much room for lighthearted humor. The humor it does have is very earthy and real, just like the surroundings and the people that make up this world.
All in all, I can't recommend this book highly enough. I have read A LOT of Fantasy, but this is by far my number one pick of all time. Don't miss out!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best novel to date, 1 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: A Cavern Of Black Ice: Book 1 of the Sword of Shadows (Hardcover)
An excellent start to her newest trilogy--better than the Book of Words novels even though it's set in the same world. 'A Cavern of Black Ice' is a compelling read with complex characters and a strong sense of place that permeates every page. The protagonists are strong interesting characters who are far from perfect heroes, and nobody writes 'baddies' better than J V Jones. She's a bold writer who never shirks from making shocking choices when they're needed and despite writing a long book even by fantasy terms, Jones skillfully winds up the pace and keeps you reading right to the end.
This is one you'll want to read again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and dark, 30 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Very interesting and very dark.
I was reluctant to pick this up after the utter rubbish of "The Barbed Coil" and the disappointing ending to, the otherwise excellent, "The Book of Words" trilogy (by disappointing I mean boring and unmemorable) but I decided to give it a try and it is excellent.
Very dark and atmospheric with interesting characters and is so far avoiding any normal fantasy clichés.
My only worry is that this was all true of "The Book of Words" too, I just hope the ending to this series manages to match the quality of the plot!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of storytelling, 26 Nov 1998
By A Customer
I was fortunate to be able to read an advance copy of this book. A Cavern Of Black Ice is a masterpiece of storytelling, which begins the author's latest trilogy, Sword of Shadows. That this is only the beginning of the story is remarkable, considering the epic scope of this first volume. From the first page, the book transports the reader to a world of great beauty, and even greater danger. While set in the same world as The Book Of Words, the portion of the Known Lands we find in this book is a harsh, demanding environment of ice and snow. This is a land where society exists, not so much as a way to maintain order, but as an essential ingredient to one's survival. If you are the type of reader who immerses himself or herself in a book, then be sure to wear warm clothing and turn up the heat while reading this one, or you will be feeling the frostbite on your fingers and toes. The book also contains the author's usual assortment of complex, multidimensional characters. In keeping with the setting, this is a dark story, full of unexpected plot twists. A real page turner. I can't wait to read the rest of the story in the subsequent books of the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only thing I hate is the long wait for the sequel!, 6 Feb 1999
By A Customer
J.V Jones' newest novel is quite brilliant. I bought it as a reward having finished my exams, and had trouble putting it down. From the vivid and sometimes painful prologue, A Cavern of Black Ice grabs hold of you, and doesn't let go until you've finished it.
As usual, J.V Jones has created a wonderful gallery of characters, all excellently described, both villains and heroes. The book is set in the same world as her first trilogy, A Book of Words, so old readers will recognize similarities, yet new readers will have no trouble at all, deciding to aquaint themselves with Ms. Jones' books starting with this.
I had a wonderful time reading this book, and can recommend it to everyone. Now I am eagerly anticipating the sequel, so I can find out what happens to Raif, Ash, Effie and all the others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous fantasy!!, 28 Feb 2004
I have read many fantasy novel's, both good and bad but this one certainly outshines them all. J.V jones creates a vivid world in which the reader becomes a part of the story instead of a mere observer and creates vivid character personalities which readers will come to love, or hate. this series is her best yet, and i know it held me enthralled for the better part of a week, while i read the first two books in this absolutely fabulous trilogy. i am currently eagerly awaiting the release of the third book, and certainly hope it will live up to the standards set by this book and the next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional opening volume to a strong series, 7 Mar 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The chief of Clan Blackhail has been killed, allegedly by raiders from the rival Clan Bludd. The new chief, Mace Blackhail, calls for war, but one of the witnesses to the attack, Raif Sevrance, knows that the Bludds were not behind it. When Blackhail's reprisal attack results in the unintended massacre of innocent women and children, Raif abandons his clan and family and flees in the company of his uncle, the city-born Angus Lok.

Meanwhile, far to the south in the city of Spire Vanis, Asarhia March is a virtual prisoner in the fortress of her foster-father, the city's surlord. When a chance to escape arises, Ash takes it without hesitation. But her adopted father has spent sixteen years preparing for the sorcery within Ash to awaken, and he will not surrender it without a fight.

A Cavern of Black Ice, originally published in 1999, is the opening novel in J.V. Jones's Sword of Shadows sequence. This series comprises five novels, four of them now available. Prior to this series Jones wrote a well-received trilogy, The Book of Words, and a successful stand-alone novel, The Barbed Coil.

The Sword of Shadows takes place in the same world as Book of Words, with A Cavern of Black Ice commencing about sixteen years after the events of Master and Fool. The two series share two characters in common, but otherwise there are no major links between them, and Sword of Shadows can be enjoyed by itself. This is helpful because Book of Words, though entertaining, was certainly not brilliant. The work of a new author, it was a mixture of clumsy writing mixed in with variable characterisation and a dark sense of cynical humour, its main distinguishing feature. Solid, but unspectacular.

Sword of Shadows is a very different series. A Cavern of Black Ice is subtle where the former trilogy was overt, restrained where the older work was indulgent. A Cavern of Black Ice is, basically, as good an opening volume to an epic fantasy as has ever been written, better than Gardens of the Moon, The Eye of the World or Magician and almost as strong as A Game of Thrones. It's an epic work but one that does not flounder or pad. It tells the reader exactly what they need to know whilst still sprinkling in enough worldbuilding details and secondary characters to make the setting feel alive and vivid. Jones seems to have grown immensely as a writer between the two series, an improvement in writing quality between books which I believe is unparallelled in the subgenre.

One of the things that sets the work apart is the setting. The clanholds and the northern territories are lands of freezing tundra; windswept, bare forests; and frozen, treacherous rivers. There is a constant chill on the air which Jones paints so vividly some readers may find themselves reaching for their gloves. The clanholds themselves are depicted with impressive depth and realism. Jones has clearly done her research on surviving in subarctic environments, and we learn about how these clans survive and live. Refreshingly, these clans don't just consist of warriors but also farmers, smiths and weavers, with women having an important and vital role to play, sometimes as chiefs. Jones doesn't go overboard with the details, but the clans are shown to be close-knit communities made up of individuals. Jones's biggest improvement has been with characterisation, developing an almost George R.R. Martin-like ability to introduce a character, nail their characteristics in a few words and ensure the reader remembers who they are when they next show up 200 pages later.

This extends to our supposed villains as well. Penthero Iss and Sarga Veys are fairly obvious antagonists (though still well-depicted) but the brutish Marafice Eye has a whiff of the Sandor Clegane about him, a brutish lackey with unexpected depths. Vaylo Bludd, the Dog Lord, who is set up early on as one of the main bad guys, is surprisingly humane in his own POV chapters but is still a violent and occasionally remorseless killer. Only Mace Blackhail really faills into the stock bad guy department, complete with psychopathic and rapist tendencies (for once, actually used to further the plot and character in a meaningful way rather than a random act of porno-misogynistic violence thrown in for supposed grit), though also a silver tongue which gets him out of some pretty tricky situations.

Our protagonists are more interesting this time around as well. Ash and Raif at first glance appear to be cover versions of Melisandra and Jack (the protagonists of the Book of Words trilogy), our callow youth heroes, but are altogether more complex characters. Ash discovers she was put on the world for a single purpose, and must thwart that purpose before thousands are killed by it, and Raif is apparently cursed to have death following in his footsteps at all times. Both characters have elements of tragedy attached to them, which makes their stories more compelling.

Jones rarely falters. The book is well-paced with only the conclusion feeling a little rushed. But otherwise A Cavern of Black Ice (*****) is an excellent, deftly-executed opening volume to a longer series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly finished the 3rd book - overall impression, 2 April 2011
Plenty of reviews describing the merits of this series so ill just say what lessened my view.

This series is a rather slow paced affair. Significant plot developments are few and there is alot of material inbetween. I did not really get into the first book until I was already 2/3rds through it.

For reasons I cannot put my finger on or articulate into words the story has not imprinted alot of caring or interest in the main characters for me. There is no single main character, rather a large ensemble of major characters. The chapters shift between them constantly which can get annoying when it switches from someone in the middle of an event to someone else making camp for the night on a journey.
Perhaps its partly because two of the central characters (Raif, Ash) generally have no idea whats going on and just coast through the whole story reacting to the consequences of being clueless and aimless.

The overarching antagonists of the series are somewhat vague and esoteric. This could make them mysterious and intriguing but in this case they are just uninteresting and detached from the story and the lore of the world. I am on the 3rd book and this far into the story the main threat has still barely been touched upon. The threat has shown itself less than 4 times and been quickly eliminated each time but what's frustrating is that the threat is constantly alluded to in the background.

Lastly, but most of all, JV Jones is relentless in mundane details. She goes into detail on every single subject and I find myself by the 3rd book skimming rather than reading some sections because its just page after page of minutia. Clothing, the act of making camp, the act of making dinner, traveling, the scenery, the terrain, the characteristics of items, the random internal musings of a character on anything and everything.
To put it in context an entire chapter can be about a few hours or days of traveling including near every chore involved in being a human being, outside, on the road.
Even when its not whole chapters worth, its irritating to have a character pause during an interesting moment to ponder the fascinating attributes of a block of stone for half a page. The way it looks, feels, bends light, where it came from, how long its been there, the skill in its working, the colours and so on. You get the picture.

The series has enough to make me finish it but I will not be putting this on my re-read list.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, but it would be better if not part of a series, 13 July 2002
This is probably the best book which I have ever read. The characters are great, the plot's great, and so is the setting. There is, however, one problem which I feel makes the book worse. I think that this should have been just a single book, not part of a series.
Before actually saying why this book is so great, this is a very short summary of the book so people reading this actually can somewhat figure out what I'm talking about. The two most important main characters of the book are Raif Severance and Ash March. Raif is an outcast clansman from the Blackhail clan, and he helped to rescue Ash from her foster father Penthero Iss. Ash is very important to the story because she is a Reach, someone born every 1000 years who has the power to unleash great horrors from behind the Blindwall, where the most terror filling beasts are held imprisoned. If she touches the Blindwall, it will fall appart and the creatures within will be able to walk the Earth again. There is only one way for her to stop herself from breaching the wall, and that is if she discharges her energy inside the Cavern of Black Ice, where her power will be contained and the Blindwall will not be damaged. So, she and Raif must travel north to find this cavern, before she loses control and destroys the wall. May be fairly confusing if you haven't read this book yet.
It seems to me that J.V. Jones was trying to wrap up the book too much at the end. She tied up a few loose ends-will Ash and Raif make it to the cavern, and will Efie (Raif's sister) manage to stay away from the people Mace Blackhail (chief of Clan Blackhail) has sent after her.Those really could have stayed unanswered until the next book, and I find that I am not so excited about A Fortress of Grey Ice as I could be. I have bought the book, but instead of being really excited about it and reading it straight away, i've put it away until i finish a few other books.
Really, appart from that, this is probably one of the best books which I have read, right up with R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy, and also in my opinion with The Lord of the Rings, though in truth it is very different from both.
Something which makes this book so great is definitely the setting. The setting was very important to the whole story because so many challenges which characters face are caused by the snow covered plains, the taiga, and the bitter cold of the north. Reaching the Cavern of Black Ice would have been simple if there wasn't so much danger of frostbite or disease caused by the amazingly cold temperatures. Without the same setting, there wouldn't be a challenge, and then the book would just be boring.
Also the characters and character developement are very imortant to the book. I think Raif was the perfect character to play the role of helping Ash to reach the Cavern of Black Ice. His pride for his clan never ceased to p**s me off, how he wouldn't do anything to dishonor them, even though he was an outcast. It was because of his loyalty he felt that he was so determined to reach the cavern, and it was because of his loyalty that he so often got into situations in which death was right ahead of him in his path. Ash was also a great character, her stregth of mind and will were very important in reaching her goal. Both characters developed well, coming to like each other more and more, while not losing traits which they had earlier in the book.
Really, this is probably the best book I have ever read, so I would recommend it to anyone who can endure 932 pages in one book. If you have any doubts about it, just buy it and read it, because it's worth the money and the time spent reading it.
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A Cavern Of Black Ice: Book 1 of the Sword of Shadows
A Cavern Of Black Ice: Book 1 of the Sword of Shadows by J. V. Jones (Hardcover - 7 Jan 1999)
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