Customer Reviews


46 Reviews
5 star:
 (22)
4 star:
 (14)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book II...the quality of the story and the writing continues
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...
Published on April 17, 2009 by R. Nicholson

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Know What You Are Getting Into
This novel, and the series have so much potential, but there are a few fatal flaws that weaken it. I feel like prospective readers, wondering if they should dive into this series should know what they are getting themselves into. I will write some pros and cons about this book, and the series itself, which will hopefully give the inquiring potential readers out there...
Published on February 5, 2011 by Lucas Trengove


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book II...the quality of the story and the writing continues, April 17, 2009
This review is from: A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows (Mass Market 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sophomore Jinx, August 17, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Lexington, MA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's almost impossible for the second book in any series to live up to the expectations created by such an excellent beginning, and Fortress of Grey Ice is no exception to the rule. However, that needn't condemn what is still a very good book. Considered on its own merits, this is still better than 90% of the fantasy that's out there, and it's a piece of something even greater.
Some of the plot consistency I mentioned in my review of CoBI is missing, with events a bit less connected and motivations a bit less clear. Almost every character at some point seems just a little too willing to trust a stranger, jump to a conclusion, or embark on a quest for no discernible reason. Some storylines seem to rush ahead at a breakneck pace, while others that will surely connect with them seem adrift.
On the plus side, all of the atmosphere and strong characterization that made the first book such a wonder are still there. The world though which they move is rich and detailed. There are new characters, new places, and new connections. There's every reason to believe this second installment is just a lull before the other side of the storm hits in the third book. Even LotR had sections that dragged a bit, but those are often necessary to set things up for the grand sections that follow.
The one thing I truly hated about the book was the cover, and that can't be blamed on the author. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that whatever's depicted on the cover is totally unrelated to anything in the book itself, and the art is simply not very good besides. Don't let the third-rate cover fool you into thinking this is anything but a first-rate book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Series...... pretty great anyways..., November 22, 2006
Love the series and have even re-read the first 2 books while waiting for the sequel... Waiting 2 years now! I would highly recommend Sword of Shadows to pretty much anyone looking for depth of character, great story lines and some of the best descriptive writing around. I would highly recommend you find another few writers too if you want to pass the time waiting for the sequel. Sword from Red Ice has been advertised for like 3 years and you still can't get it.... a word to the publisher, you aren't the only game in town. If you want loyalty, don't make us wait a decade....
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still good, weird writing at the end, June 3, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows (Mass Market Paperback)
Well, I've read the second book now. No waiting for me, as I just discovered the series. It was still good. The writing is still ...immersing. She separates completely the stories, and I did as others have done, and skipped to and fro to finish each story line, except for Raif and Ash. It was all worthy, all good, no problems, very exciting.

And that brings us to the end, the very end (not counting Angus Lok and the firehouse). Raif's bit. So, after all that build up, he kills the monster, it falls on him, and he's like "oh better get up! time to start a new nice life." and his pony runs to meet him and they ride off into the sunset, no problems. Like he just read the Sunday newspaper. Like that. In like 4 sentences.

A whole book of amazingness, and then wraps it up in a little bitty paragraph that makes no sense to what went before. THAT was SO weird. I'm not sure how to take that. Did she just get sick of it and want to go to bed? I dunno. Despite that, the whole damn book is written fantastically, so still gets 5 stars in my eyes. Looking forward to the next, that everyone says is "filler". That's ok with me. Still: Weird, almost contrived and unpleasant ending.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent second book, October 9, 2003
By 
After reading Jone's first book I couldn't wait for the second to come out, and I wasn't dissapointed. Jones retains all the mystery and sensetivity in her characters that she showed us in her first book. Even with several characters her story flows together well.
Jones spins the story of the clans going to war and now Raif is abandoned by Ash and travels in search of acceptance from a people he has been cast out by. Ash is being led to the Sull's mysterious land and has been invited to become Sull. Between these two characters alone I was so enthralled that I wouldn't put the book down until I had finished it.
Her book is at a perfect pace, not too slow or too fast, but a pace that lets you think about whats going on and at the same time throwing in some interesting action scenes.
Along with all of her other characters, Jones has definetly written a winner that is on par or even better than her first in this series.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic fantasy at its finest, September 12, 2011
By 
Chip Hunter "chips_books" (Gainesville, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows (Mass Market Paperback)
This second volume in the Sword of Shadows series (now up to 4 books) continues the emotionally-intense, hard-hitting epic style that so impressed me in A Cavern of Black Ice. Here, J.V. Jones takes advantage of the already established setting to focus more on character and story development. Raif, Ash, and the rest are helplessly swept along towards their destinies, facing daunting trials but growing throughout this book into remarkably fleshed-out characters, something that was arguably missing from the first book. At the same time, the story maintains the same level of intensity in this book as it had in the first, as Jones continues to elevate the plot and build up towards a still-mysterious climax that I can't wait to reach. She puts her characters through absolutely terrible scenarios, described in a no-holds-bared way that may be too much for some readers. She is among the best at evoking emotion in the reader, and utilizes that talent frequently during this book to create some frankly disturbing scenes. Even a hardened veteran of dark fantasies like me couldn't help cringing at parts of this book (the fate of the old Shankshound), another thing this one had in common with its predecessor, and one of the reasons these books are so powerfully captivating.

The cast of POV characters has changed a bit since the first book, and now includes: Raif, Ash, Effie, Penthero Iss, the Dog Lord, Raina, Bram Cormac, and Crope. Bram is half-brother to the would-be Dhoone King, Robbie Dhoone, and mostly just serves as another eye in the Clan Wars, but is starting to develop into an interesting/important character in his own right. Crope is a great new character that starts as a slave in a diamond mine but soon escapes and sets out to rescue his old lord, the Bound One. He'll be loved by all readers, and his story is sure to continue and be very impactful on the overall arc in the next couple of books. I would actually say that Jones did an even better job in this book than the first in selecting her POV characters and in pacing the novel to each of their individual stories. And they really do remain individual in this one, but will almost surely start coming together in the next? And as is stands now, you don't get the feeling that Jones has overreached with too many stories or characters here. For the most part, each of the individual stories and characters seem to be heading towards a single, uniting goal.

With this second novel, the series firms up its position amongst my favorite epic fantasies. Can't wait to read more adventures in this cold, gritty, and unforgiving setting! Highly recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of Clans and Heartkills, September 17, 2003
By 
Scott Baerst (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
I stumbled across A Cavern of Black Ice quite by accident. I think I finished it in a day or so. A Fortress of Grey Ice was a good sequel.
JV Jones writes really well. I read it during an Arizona summer, and I could still feel the cold.
The basic setup is great -- simple and clean. You've got the southern cities, the northern clans, and the mysterious Sull. It's the clans and the Sull who do it for me. The reader slowly learns more and more of their fascinating societies and history.
I'd call the settings low-magic, another thing that appeals to me. There aren't wizards and sorcerers walking around lobbing fireballs and lightning bolts. Instead, there's a hint of magic, magic that often comes with a price.
I'm reading George R R Martins Song of Fire and Ice Series right now. He and JV Jones seem to have a similar style. Their characters tend to think alike. I think it works in some respects, but not so well in others. The characters too often seem all knowing. It's as if they're always able to tell when another character is lying, and they're then able to sense the underlying motives for that lie.
Both authors make use of telling the story through the eyes of several characters. I sometimes get the feeling that each author has written two template paragraphs for each character and then copies and pastes them at the beginning of each character section.
Back to Fortress of Grey Ice ... I think Jones has just about the perfect amount of detail interwoven with the story. As the characters move through the harsh clan holds, the reader is treated to some brilliant writing on the difficulties and challenges of surviving in that environment.
Good story, good setting, and interesting, well-developed characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STUNNING!, August 5, 2003
By 
soulwielder (missoula, mt United States) - See all my reviews
J.V. Jones delivers another amazing manuscript with A Fortress of Grey Ice. I have been a fan since her first book, The Baker's Boy came out 8 years ago, and she has only continued to improve with astonishing ease. With her new novel she advances the overall story of the series in some surprising, but delightful ways. The only real problem was that for the last hundred pages I had to force myself to read, not because it was terrible, but because it was so good, and I knew once I finished I would be overcome with depression at the thought that I would most likely have to wait another three years for the next book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Know What You Are Getting Into, February 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows (Mass Market Paperback)
This novel, and the series have so much potential, but there are a few fatal flaws that weaken it. I feel like prospective readers, wondering if they should dive into this series should know what they are getting themselves into. I will write some pros and cons about this book, and the series itself, which will hopefully give the inquiring potential readers out there some food for thought

PROS:
*This novel fixed a lot of the crummy stuff from the first novel. You don't hear about the particular kind of grease people are rubbing on each part of their body every other paragraph. The heavy repetition is lightened (i.e. saying "watcher of the dead" over and over again to the point of humor), and the plot is sped up. The great detail she writes in the first one is still there, but all the frivolous stuff is toned down, which is pretty cool.

*The author's characterization, style, and flow within a chapter are great. She does a great job flowing things along; there are no clunky or awkward passages. The world she builds is seriously realistic as well. I mean you can feel the cold in your fingers when she details the character's stories. I love how detailed the clothing and culture is.

CONS:
*Ughhh, the flaws in these books are such a bummer. These novels are a tough job to enjoy. First off, each chapter is shaped a bit like a movie preview. The chapter will start with an introduction; getting the characters' thoughts, location, and general mood down. You also hear about what they have been up to since their last chapter and how long it has been. Then something happens, tension builds, dialog starts flowing, foreshadowing is added, and just as the chapter is starting to reach the climax, IT ENDS. I would say 80% of the book is like this.

What really infuriates is that the climax doesn't ever get played out. The tension is built, and by the time a new chapter comes along, the event is long gone. Oh my God it's gold! Never mind, skip that potential interaction, let's talk about a stuck wagon instead. How tense is it to read about a character thinking about a past dangerous situation? They are alive right? Must not have been that tense...

After the frustration wears off, apathy starts to set in. I got to the point where I knew a chapter was coming to an end as soon as characters actually had something interesting to say. Every chapter would start with four or five pages of reflection and back filling, which could be quickly skimmed. Then something interesting would happen that would foreshadow something else cool sounding. The chapter would end, and we would start with that character again after the cool event occurred.

To sum it up, the structure of these chapters meant that for a lot of the potentially exciting conflicts and tense scenarios, the author writes them as ancient history. The best chapters of this book are when Raif had the archery competition. Instead of explaining what happen, the author actually showed us. It was awesome. Three or four chapters back to back, tension, unknown outcome: great!

*The characters are pretty weak. Not to say their characterization is weak, but they themselves are weak. They all lack a strong inner drive. A lot of times things just happen to them. They might act strong and come off to other characters in a strong way (Dog Lord), but take a step back and you see that they are not doing much of anything by their own volition. The Dog Lord is a great example. Did you realize he hasn't really done anything since taking Dhoone in the first few chapters of book 1? I mean it's tough to take someone who is a conqueror seriously when he doesn't actually...ya know... conquer. I don't know about others, but I could care less about many of these characters; they are drifters. The only guy who stood out as actually dynamic was Mace the Blackhail Chief; can we get some chapters about him?

*Lastly, the plodding of this novel is terribly slow. The funny thing is that it doesn't have to be. Things actually do happen that could potentially be exciting, but the author never writes them! Half the time you hear about exciting things later as a reflection (The Knife's wedding could have had a ton of political intrigue). There are raids going on, land is being taken and retaken, but we get to hear about setting up the camp fire, which trails to take, what the widows sew, etc. Slow slow slow.

CONCLUSION:
I have chosen to discontinue reading this series. From what I have read about the next couple books, the pacing does not pick up, and the characters continue to be bleh. There is definitely something in these novels that is great, but you have to work really hard to get to it. I may come back eventually, but right now, it isn't worth it to me. I don't want to trudge through these novels for those few gems scattered here and there. Trust me, if you are reading these, there is so much better out there. Some authors won't make you skim paragraphs and fume at the five dialogue lines that take four pages to get across because of all the damn thinking and reflecting. The book isn't a great page turner, and if certain parts are, you are probably getting close to the end of a chapter and the start of an Effie chapter.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Genius?, September 22, 2005
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows (Mass Market Paperback)
First of all, I should state emphatically that this book (and the earlier book in this series) is excellent. Jones has a strong, detailed, highly imaginative writing style that is refreshing to read in a genre that has nearly run out of promising authors. Most other reviewers on this site have thoroughly covered all of Jones' many strengths, and it serves little purpose to rehash them.

That being said, I have noticed several problems that seem in stark contrast to her otherwise great writing. It would be unfortunate if one were to buy these books after hearing nothing but rave reviews that will not discuss her faults.

One of the more frustrating of these is the authors desire to endow her characters with almost supernatural mood-reading abilities. Personally, I have never been in a conversation with someone and read much into a "darkening of the eyes", whatever that even means. In fact, so much is conveyed in the conversations in this book "under the surface", without words, that I'm starting to doubt my own conversation skills. There's a whole world of communication that I've been missing! I want to emphasize how distracting this writing style is. There are conversations that involve more thinking and analyzing of the other's thoughts than actual speaking. Imagine a converstation like that! "Thank you for coming. We have a lot to talk about." Five minute pause while both people stare at each other, analyzing every minute facial movement and gesture. "Well, you asked me to come here. Should we start?" Five more minutes...you get the point. Its more than a little ridiculous.

A second, more glaring issue is Jones' overuse of narration. There are literally whole chapters where no action takes place and no words are spoken between characters. Perhaps if that were to happen in just one chapter, when all others moved swiftly, it would be powerful. But the author seems to feel the need to TELL us what her characters are thinking, rather than SHOWING us through actions or dialogue.

This point may be a little niggling, but I've noticed that no one ever does anything "roughly", it is always "not gently". There have actually been several times I had to re-read a sentence to understand exactly how character A grabbed character B, and what that implies, because of the author's reluctance to use a phrase that does not involve a qualified gentle action.

Finally, and this is perhaps my most serious critique of Jones' writing, is the egregious lack of judgement--or worse, lack of action--of her characters. So many of the problems in the story could be solved if people simply DID something, usually the painfully obvious thing. For instance, so many of the problems in the Blackhail clan could be solved if Raina would simply tell everyone she knew that her bastard of a husband had raped her to force her into marrying him, which was itself a rather ridiculous plot device in the first book. In another example, Raif suffered days of torture and faced imminent execution for a crime he never even committed, but refused to tell his captors of his innocence because he did not want to stain the honor of his clan--who had banished him, and had in fact committed the very crimes Raif was being accused of! Simply put, it is maddening. It reminds me of those old 80s sitcoms where the entire infuriating episode is driven along because of some ridiculous misunderstanding, and where if one character just stopped for a moment and had an open conversation with someone else, the entire problem would be solved.

Don't misunderstand me. This is very, very good book. However, these problems are so distracting that I cannot honestly say it deserves more than 3 stars. Any fan of the fantasy genre will definitely enjoy it. Think Robert Jordan mixed with George Martin. If Jones manages to avoid the "Jordan Bug" and wraps this up in another book or two, this could well be one of the best series to be published in the past 10 or 15 years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows
A Fortress of Grey Ice: Book Two of Sword of Shadows by J. V. Jones (Mass Market Paperback - August 1, 2004)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.