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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book
This, along with A Cavern of Black Ice (the first book of the series), is definitely one of the best books which I have ever read. Once again J.V. Jones' descriptive style of writing has come to life in this sequel.
A very brief plot summary is needed to really understand much of anything, so here we go. The two most important main characters are Raif Severance and...
Published on 29 Nov 2002 by Amazon Customer

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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fortress of Grey Ice
JV Jones is a writer with an amazing talent. She is able to captivate the reader with a spellbinding narrative in places. Her ideas are interesting and she really stands out from the crowd of fantasy writers. However, I do have to say that she is also one of the most long-winded authors I have come across in a long time. I found myself getting so frustrated with the...
Published on 20 May 2003 by R Wills


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book, 29 Nov 2002
This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
This, along with A Cavern of Black Ice (the first book of the series), is definitely one of the best books which I have ever read. Once again J.V. Jones' descriptive style of writing has come to life in this sequel.
A very brief plot summary is needed to really understand much of anything, so here we go. The two most important main characters are Raif Severance and Ash March. In the book, there are great waring clans, and Raif is an outcast clansman from clan Blackhail. In the previous book, he helped Ash escape from her foster father, Penthero Iss. In the beginning of the book Ash and Raif are sepparated, and, having nowhere else to go, Raif goes off in search of the Maimed Men, unwhole men who live on the outside of the clanholds. Meanwhile, Ash travels with two Sull, people who are above the ways of humans, who are wise, brave, and powerful. The Sull need her for an upcoming war with very powerful undead creatures which had been freed from their imprisonment. There are many more important characters, and much more to say, but that really sums up the plot as simply as I can put it.
There is one definite thing in this book which really gives an edge over many other books. The whole story circles around the taiga and tundra, where the clanholds and the Maimed Men are. And so, you need to have complete and utter coldness. The cold is constantly an element of the book which sets a solid image in your head from the first pages and is never left out of the story. It must be the most important part of the setting, because without it, there would be so few challenges for the characters, and the land would seem so much tamer.
The characters are also quite exelent. All characters are perfected for their roles in the story. From clan chiefs to assasins, from city men to Sull, the characters were perfect. They are consistant in personality, though there is still exelent characterization. Changes to the characters are not ever sudden or obvious, which makes it even better.
As I said, this is definitely one of the best books which I have ever read. This is a book which anyone would love to read, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who can endure the pages of the first book as well as this.
*Please give me feedback-helpful or not?*
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly original - but requires patience, 1 Feb 2004
By 
N. Clarke (Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book II...the quality of the story and the writing continues, 19 April 2009
This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
Even better then the first book!

J.V Jones' 2nd book in the 'Sword of Shadows' series is simply a great fantasy/adventure read.

The story continues where book I left off and follows sequentially Raif, Ash and Effie; their stories take some interesting twists and turns throughout the course of this book. The terrain is the same basic bleak winter tundra (although spring appears to be coming) of the first book.

One of the many strong points of this novel is the deliberate pacing of this story and its telling. Then add to this a great basic story, plus an author's with the ability to weave a good tale, and you end up with a memorable fantasy work. And although different in various ways, this work, at times, conjures up memories of the writing quality and techniques found in George R.R. Martin's 'Iced and Fire' series and Joe Abercrombie's 'The First Law' trilogy. (see P.S. below)

The only niggling complaint would be that the map (and in fairness, the one provided is fairly good) could have provided a little more detail; details that give some names or markings as to where our protagonist were located during some of their journeys. I realize this is probably a 'personal' concern, but I've always liked to have a sense of position and of distance/proximity to other geographic locales when reading fantasy/adventure; it just makes the prolonged treks easier to visualize in my mind.

Conclusion:
A 2nd book in this series that is of the highest order; a great story, superbly told. 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson

P.S.
I defy anyone not be moved to the point of being emotionally distraught by chapter 5 in this book. A subjective opinion...certainly; but read this one chapter and see how it affects you.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - a literary fantasy, beautifully written, 1 Dec 2002
By 
Manda Scott (Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
I read 'Cavern of Black Ice' the first in this trilogy without knowing anything about JV Jones as a writer and proceded to press the book on all of my friends as one of the very few intelligently written, literate, cliché-free fantasy novels on the market. The sequel exceeds it in excellence, the plot flows smoothly with jump cuts to the differing characters in appropriate places, the language is lyrical and exceptionally intelligent for this genre - if it weren't fantasy, someone would have picked this up as genuine literature by now - and the characterisation is lovely. The world inhabited by Raif and Effie Severance is real and believable. Go out and buy one now - it's the best you'll find between now and the next Guy Gavriel Kaye - and possibly better.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fortress of Grey Ice, 20 May 2003
By 
R Wills (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
JV Jones is a writer with an amazing talent. She is able to captivate the reader with a spellbinding narrative in places. Her ideas are interesting and she really stands out from the crowd of fantasy writers. However, I do have to say that she is also one of the most long-winded authors I have come across in a long time. I found myself getting so frustrated with the amount of unnecessary detail that I started skim reading just to get through it. There is only so much that can be written about long journeys through frozen wastes and I'm afraid that JV Jones has overindulged this area to the extent that I found myself groaning every time somebody got on their horse. There are some great characters in the books but they tend to get lost in all the travelling. Cavern and Fortress could easily have been condensed into one book without sacrificing the quality, indeed my enjoyment would have been greatly enhanced had this been the case. I found the plot in Fortress very limited and was so relieved to finally finish. So much more could have been made of the talents of the main characters than has been. Basically, Ash hears a few howls and Raif fires an arrow into the ice. I usually expect a bit more from my central characters than this. Hopefully by the time the next one is released my memory of the tedium will have diminished and I will regain the initial interest sparked by Cavern.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 6 Jun 2003
By 
S. Taylor - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
This book is a very well written story of good vs. evil. All the different plot lines are interwoven wonderfully! I like how there are so many different stories going on at once. And that no character is either purely good or purely evil. This makes the characters seem more real than many characters in other books.The descriptions are so vivid that I could easily picture the scene as I read it. I can't wait for the third one to come out!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 17 Oct 2013
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Just read this series. This is what George R R Martin tried writing, only better and far more fun. Enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Jv Jones as good as ever, 27 July 2013
Always a fantastic read. I could not put it down till i finished and now i need to start on the next one
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow burning sequel, 30 Mar 2013
By 
A. Nunn "Nunnio" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I think Jones is a great writer stylistically. After enjoying his first book in the series immensely I was a little disappointed with this, simply because the story moves along rather slowly. The ending, however, ensures that you will want to buy the third book in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A superior fantasy novel, let down a little by pacing issues, 18 Mar 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows (Paperback)
Ash March has visited the Cavern of Black Ice and stalled the arrival of the evil Endlords, at least for now. She must now make her way to the homeland of the enigmatic Sull, where her true path will be revealed. Meanwhile, Raif Sevrance's role in events seems to have conclude, and he now seeks a life for himself amongst the exiles of the Maimed Men. But it seems that his destiny has not done with him yet, as he is called into the vastness of the Great Want in search of the Fortress of Grey Ice...

Middle volumes are always the most problematic part for any ongoing series. They don't have a clearly-defined beginning or end and structurally can end up as a bit of a mess if the author isn't careful. In the case of J.V. Jones's Sword of Shadows fantasy sequence this is even more of a danger. Planned to be five books in length, this gives her no less than three middle volumes to navigate through and retain the audience's attention.

She got off to an excellent start with A Cavern of Black Ice, one of the strongest opening volumes to an epic fantasy series ever written, one that showed an impressive growth in writing ability since her debut work, the somewhat more traditional Book of Words trilogy. With its considerably more nuanced characterisation, restrained toned and thorough-but-not-overwhelming worldbuilding (particularly showing that the clans may be relatively primitive, but they are not mindless savages and have complex systems of agriculture and mining), the Sword of Shadows is a more mature and interesting work.

This quality carries forwards into A Fortress of Grey Ice, though Jones is only partially successful in navigating through the problems of middle volume syndrom. On the plus side, she introduces several new storylines (particularly the civil war within Clan Dhoone) which make for interesting reading, expanding the scope of the story and the world without resorting to filler. Raif Sevrance's storyline, as he goes from rejected hero to a member of the Maimed Men to searching for the enigmatic Fortress of Grey Ice, is also structurally well-handled, giving the book a narrative spine with its own beginning, middle and end. Book of Words fans will also appreciate the arrival of Crope, a notable supporting character from that work, and his role in this novel (which ends in the death of a major character so impressively offhand that both Paul Kearney and George R.R. Martin would applaud it). Elsewhere, other characters and storylines suffer. Ash March spends the whole book on a journey from A to B and doesn't even get there at the end of the book. Raina Blackhail's potentially gripping story of political machinations within the Hailhouse are given very short shrift. The Dog Lord's storyline, though entertaining, seems to rely on a few too many obviously unwise decisions for it to be fully convincing.

The star of the book - and probably the whole series - is the wind-lashed, freezing cold landscape of the Northern Territories. Jones's research for this series appears to be formidable, with musings on the dangers of frostbite and how the climate works within an ice desert. George R.R. Martin's descriptions of the land beyond the Wall in A Song of Ice and Fire are impressive, but Jones's depiction of her frozen setting is even more impressive (as the whole series is set there).

A Fortress of Grey Ice (****) is well-written and finely-characterise, with a formidably vivid setting. The plot and pacing is not as impressive as in the first book, and some storylines feel drawn out, whilst others are given relatively short shrift. However, this is still a well-above-average epic fantasy and the conclusion will leave readers eager to move onto the third book (which they can do immediately, rather than waiting five years as fans had to back when this novel was first published).
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A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows
A Fortress Of Grey Ice: Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows by J. V. Jones (Paperback - 7 Nov 2002)
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