A Cavern of Black Ice - J V Jones:
JV Jones is an author who cropped up whenever I googled books like the Song of ice and fire series. Many people agree it is good; some even go as far as to say it is better. If I was to sum up the book I would say it is more of a cross between Robin Hobb and Conn Iggulden. For those of you who have seen my other reviews, you will know that is a good thing.
The story follows the paths of two main protagonists: Raif Severance and Ash.
Raif is a member of a clan and this is where the story has a similar feel to Conn Iggulden’s Genghis series. He feels a strong loyalty to family, to the clan but at the same time holds true to his own beliefs. When a tragic incident occurs and the clan starts to move in a direction away from what he feels is its true course, he chooses to commit the ultimate sacrilege and desert the clan and his family. It is the inner conflict that follows between holding true to himself whilst still trying to remain loyal to the clan that deserts him which makes up the majority of the book and makes for compelling reading. This is coupled with the truth the Raif shows signs of exhibiting the “old magic” something which is shunned by the clans
Ash on the other hand, is more of a mystery. When we first meet her she is held a captive of sorts in Spire Vanis by Iss ,Iss regards Ash as his “Almost daughter” as he found her abandoned at one of his gates. From the onset it is clear that something is amiss with the situation and JV Jones does a wonderful job of unravelling the mystery. When the reveal happens it occurs naturally and is very satisfying.
Sprinkled amongst these two points of views are a host of other secondary characters who have their own chapters. Raif’s sister is probably the pick of these, but the Dog Lord, a leader from a rival clan is also intriguing. Then there are other characters such as the Listener who are clearly introduced to feature later on in the series.
As I mentioned earlier, the story has a Hobb feel to it. Things are revealed in a gradual sense. Characters slowly reveal deeper layers to their personality and the mystery thickens. The Sull are extremely interesting as is the network of various clans with their own ways.
The few negative reviews that this book does get mainly focus on the violence. This is surprising. There is nothing in here that you wouldn’t find in most fantasy novels but JV Jones is ruthless in her treatment of characters like George R R Martin. The world is well realised but not especially so. It is not always clear where the various cities are located and so the map comes in handy. What is excellently portrayed is the atmosphere. The world is frozen and JV Jones makes sure you feel it. I would go as far as to say I have never encountered a world where the atmosphere is so well portrayed. Throughout the novel you really get the sense that the cold is always a threat to the characters.
Magic is hinted at but has its limitations. I like that. It means that there is not one uber powerful character that is superior to everyone. The idea behind the heart kill is fantastic and is certainly unique to me.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed, “a cavern of black ice.” It is the start of what I hope will be an excellent series. My rating: 8.8