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4.3 out of 5 stars41
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 February 2011
I received the book
Starting reading
Partly in bed, partly in bath, partly in bed
And finished it in one day

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on 24 July 2013
Book 4 is as good as all 3 predecessors, and has caused me much lost sleep! I am anxiously awaiting the next book! J.V. Jones builds a complex and exciting plot with credible characters who have such incredible odds stacked against them that it seems impossible for them to ever survive. This book builds layer upon layer of plots and is a compelling book to read for any lover of good quality science fantasy
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on 1 November 2011
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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on 1 March 2013
The story is building and building to what I hope is an awesome crescendo but Jones needs to get writing to finish the series. The only criticism is that the details of the characters journeys is too deep. I get the feeling that in the authors family there is an explorer. There are better things to go into great detail than people walking around.
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on 29 August 2011
JV Jones is one of those writers who gets better with every book. Her earlier series were good but didn't leave a lasting impression. The Sword of Shadows series is different, and Watcher of the Dead, the fourth book, particularly so. From the moment I picked it up, I struggled to put it down. And it's all because of the awesome characters. Within the series there is an overarching plot about the Endlords escaping their prison in the Blind and destroying the world. But within this, each of the different characters has their own story. Raif, Ash, Raina, Vaylo, Angus, Bram, Effie - the list goes on. Each character is brilliantly drawn and you laugh, cry, hate with them all. Ash isn't in this story much but Raif, Vaylo, Raina, Bram and Effie's stories are moved on a pace, with Effie's being particularly interesting. Jones manages to create an incredibly intricate world full of colour and detail that brings it alive. You can smell the treachery in Spire Vanis, feel the cold of the Want, see the beauty of the Sull Heartfires. This is a great book. I just hope we don't have to wait so long for the fifth one.
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on 15 January 2013
I am a dedicated fan of this writer and this series of books, but I also love these types of fantasy books as they always manage to create such fantastic imagery in my mind and transport me to the heart of the story. This is a riveting read and I can only recommend it
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on 8 April 2010
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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on 3 June 2013
Jones is a brilliant writer, drawing the reader into another world, the characters are believable & often make you wish that you could be a character in the book as well.
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on 14 January 2012
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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Raif Sevrance is in possession of the sword known as Loss. Unfortunately, he is also the 'guest' of a renegade group of Sull, who are determined to use him and his abilities for their own ends. Elsewhere, Ash March finds herself in the heart of Sull territory, knowing she will find in them her greatest allies...or her greatest danger. War continues to rage in the clanholds, with the armies of Blackhail, Bludd and Dhoone converging as Gandmiddich for a climactic showdown. In Spire Vanis the new surlord struggles to hold onto power, and in the wilds the ranger Angus Lok relentless hunts down a wily enemy.

Watcher of the Dead brings the Sword of Shadows series to its fourth - and hopefully penultimate (though Jones has hinted that the series may expand to six volumes) - instalment. It's a slightly slimmer novel than its forebears, being a clear 100 pages shorter than the third volume, and benefits from a tighter focus on the core storylines. Raif and Ash get a fair bit of attention, whilst Angus Lok returns to the fore after spending most of the third book missing. Effie's storyline also moves forward more satisfyingly, with her relevance to the main storyline becoming clearer. The Dog Lord and Raina Blackhail also benefit from contrasting storylines in which both seek to consolidate (or re-consolidate, in Vaylo Bludd's case) their authority in the face of opposition.

There are some drawbacks to this. The tightened focus mean there's no time or room for Crope and Baralis, who simply fail to appear. Also, a tight focus on a large cast in a more constrained page count means a relative lack of major progression in any one arc. So Effie spends most of the book in a roundhouse in a swamp and then takes a short trip in a boat (although a hugely important one). Raif spends almost the entire book as a prisoner of the Sull. Ash, having set out to reach the Sull Heart Fires at the start of Book 2, finally gets there halfway through Book 4 and has a couple of conversations (and the revelation of a 'major' plot twist which is tiresomely predictable, the first disappointing plot turn in the series to date). Important things happen in these chapters, but there is definitely a contrast to the very busy and forwards-moving first volume in the series.

Still, the series has never been action-packed and fast-moving, and Jones does give us some good battles. Raina Blackhail's storyline in fact is particularly strong, aided by the arrival of an intriguing new character, and Angus Lok's revenge storyline is extremely tense. Best of all is Raif's character arc. Back in Book 1 he was the very embodiment of the 'callow youth saves the world' trope, but by the end of this volume he is a severely traumatised, battle-hardened warrior desperately searching for himself. The subversion of the traditional fantasy hero's journey is very well-done.

Watcher of the Dead (****) benefits in some ways from a (slightly) shorter page count and tightened focus, but it also suffers from it, with a lack of plot progression in some storylines and some characters simply not showing up. The benefits to characterisation are clear and there are clear signs of the scattered characters starting to come together, but we're not on the home straight yet. The novel is available now in the UK and USA. The fifth volume, Endlords, is apparently still forthcoming but there has not been a firm update on its status from the author in more than two years.
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