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A Cavern of Black Ice

(Sword of Shadows #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  8,477 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Raif Sevrance, a member of the Clan Blackhail, and Ash March, a girl who is plagued by sinister dreams, are plunged into a realm of magic, war, and danger.
Hardcover, 736 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Aspect (first published 1999)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  8,477 ratings  ·  198 reviews

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Dirk Grobbelaar
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, fantasy
I loved this novel. It certainly isn't run of the mill, especially as far as the setting is concerned. It's also a pretty grim book, with some rather visceral torture and battle scenes. There's a lot of ambiance in here, which is always welcome, and a lot of world lore and history, even though it is revealed in piecemeal and cryptic fashion (which I actually thought was a nice touch). Being the first in a series, it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, albeit a pretty tantalising one. I'll be add ...more
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-sff-faves
You know what, I went into this book not knowing anything much about J V Jones and not even fully understanding what this book was going to be about. I had heard very little about Jones as a writer and although there is a quote from Jordan on the front cover saying, 'wonderful' I didn't know if I would agree because she does seem to be a very under-hyped author. Therefore when I did dive headlong into this story and found that the world, writing and lot were all wonderfully realised I couldn't g ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A slow, but gripping start in a dark and complex tale of war, politics and sorcery.

This is basically a classic epic fantasy, but in an extremely depressive setting in a cold and hostile environment. There are only few scenes where the characters are not about to freeze.

It took me more than 200 pages to find into the story, because the situation of the protagonists was described in such a hopeless way, that I dreaded to read on. But as soon as the plot started moving and I could feel at least a t
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The One with Reaching Arms Beckons

Days Darker Than Night Lie Ahead

An intriguing, if somewhat slow start to the series.

From the prologue I was immediately pulled into the bleak, harsh arctic landscape. Throughout the book, you are constantly aware of just how bitterly, unforgiving the world can be. The snow and ice are a persistent obstacle, and the characters are always conscious of the various threats of cold exposure. The descriptions were so vivid I found myself wanting to pull out a th
Jack Tripper
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, fantasy
Back in 2006 or so I went on a pretty major epic fantasy binge after being utterly consumed by A Game of Thrones and the subsequent three (at the time) volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire. For a while, though, that series basically killed my desire for reading. "Other books can go screw themselves!" I'd say after looking at my bookshelf for something to read. I wanted more Ice & Fire. I knew it'd probably be another year or two before the next installment (ahh you sweet summer child*), so I ev ...more
Michael Evans
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you pick up this book, be prepared to miss sleep and your train station.

A fantasy novel for those who don't want to read about worlds overflowing with magic or crazily powerful good guys who just need to find a magic sword or book to 'win'.

Jones builds a dark world, and against this, starkly contrasts the (usually very small and very humanly-tempered) strengths and sparks that each heroic character has, and the sickly thoughts and urges that the vile characters have. Her attention to detail
Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen
This one felt like it took me FOREVER to finish!

To be honest, I had a hard time connecting to the characters except for Effie. Her character was written perfectly.

But Raif and Ash --- I found their roles to be one dimensional which took away from the story a bit.

This is a book where while you are can't believe how slow this story goes and keep wondering if it's going anywhere important...but then when you put the book down - you start going over everything that happened and realize
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the plot and the world building of this book, but most of all I enjoyed Jones' writing. The author creates visuals that are so crisp that they seem almost tangible. I could see the settings in vivid detail, and even feel the bite of the cold that the characters endured. The story is a bit dark, and pretty engaging, but you will definitely be drawn into it by Jones' writing style. I would definitely recommend this for readers of dark or epic fantasy.
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought it was time I read a series that’s been staring at me for over a decade.

JV Jones’s series (now up to Book Four, Watcher of the Dead, with Book Five currently being written) is initially set in a sub-Arctic-type world, with a culture and a subsistence lifestyle which made me think a la Inuit. Raif Sevrance is a young clansman with a secret magic power (the ability to guide, with his mind, arrows to the heart of a living thing) whose father and clan group are mysteriously murdered whilst t
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've accidentally started another fantasy series that looks like it will never ever get finished. The series has been on hiatus since 2010, and although the author seems to be getting back on track,it could still be a few years before we get the next book.

Never mind- I actually found this novel works pretty well as a standalone. It's a fantasy novel featuring a young clansman,Raif, and an girl named Ash who was adopted as a baby by a powerful and sinister man. The pair both have magical powers b
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a very promising start to a fantasy series. The dynamics of the ice tribes or "clans" and the settled cities with their differing gods and beliefs was really interesting. I fell in love with most of the characters and my heart was almost ripped out by how cruel the author was to them. Very solid, very enjoyable. 4 stars.
Chris Gousopoulos
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow story full of winter and nice characters. It felt more like a big set up for the events that will follow but it didnt lack in emotions or action. There is much cruelty but not like in grimdark literature. It is more like a dark classic fantasy book. The prose and the mood is closer to the likes of Tad Williams or Robin Hobb.
I liked the worldbuilding and the setting a lot. Especially the clans and the glimpses on the Sull race. Also the hints of the darkness that surfaces slowly and mena
This novel is at its best when weaving a tale of intrigue. All the characters are hiding secrets or discovering secrets about themselves. It’s exciting to try and piece together all of the elements and understand all the motivations. Raif’s moral dilemmas are compelling and complex. Where the novel fails for me is when the travelogue takes over. The long descriptions of nearly every geological feature the characters come across, the occasional history lessons surrounding all the rivers and clan ...more
Marija *There's No Poetry In My Soul, Just A List Of Lies I've Told*
At first, this book reminded me a lot of A Song Of Ice And Fire series by G.R.R. Martin. I even compared the characters and found parallel ones in the other series. That feeling never completely left off, but I guess it's quite different from ASoIaF.

I liked the story. It was easy to get into and the writing style kept me interested enough. It was a fun read. Although a long one (it took me two months! University be damned!!!), but if I had more time, I could have finished it earlier. I liked th
Ed McDonald
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do think that if this series had been completed that it would reign alongside the current biggest names in the genre as one of the top five fantasy series of all times. I'm going to review as a series, rather than as an individual book. It's worth noting that if you've read previous works by Jones like The Barbed Coil or The Baker's Boy then Sword of Shadows is about twelve times better, and a clear leap up in terms of story telling.

The thing that elevates Sword of Shadows above most other fan
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Got the 2nd book on hold at the library. The characters are so well described you can virtually see them in person. The harsh world of frozen tundra is a new world for me, survival is foremost a part of everyday life, the author is so amazing at describing the extreme weather you can imagine being half frozen yourself! The things they have to do just to survive! I have been ill in bed when I read it and was feeling sick anyway but when I read of them drinking horses's blood to get by I ...more
Grayson Craddock
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy buffs and people who enjoy epic sagas
I had forgotten that I had read J.V. Jones's books before. Several years ago I read "The Book of Words" series start to finish (3 books) and just like that series, the "Sword of Shadow" series is a solid fantasy read, with wonderful characters, that are engaging and compelling. You always feel like there is a great history and vision to her worlds, while at the same time she only provides history and geography on a need to know basis, keeping you hungry for more and keeping the story focused on ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started out really strong. I couldn't put it down, and I was engrossed in the tales of Raif and Ash. Mace Blackhail was the kind of villain that made my blood boil and I just had to keep reading to see him get his comeuppance. Then as the story unfolds and widens, it started to lose me. Ash's father, the Halfman, and Marafice Eye are all cardboard stereotype villains. As Ash and Raif's storylines come together, it's mostly just annoying. And the whole resolution isn't really explained ...more
Steven Montano
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my 3rd time reading J.V. Jones' brilliant Sword of Shadows series, and it never fails to impress me. Her attention to character development, pacing and gritty detail is unparalleled. As the series stretches on, some of the secondary characters get too much page time when I'd rather be reading about the primary characters (Raife and Ash), which tends to make the novels feel a bit padded, but the central story and characters are so strong and so compelling I'm willing to overlook that mino ...more
Eilidh Collins
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before getting this book, I had never heard of the author before. I'm so glad I have now! I had planned on giving this book 4 stars, but upon finishing it I changed my mind. It's so well written I actually felt cold while reading it. The characters are well-formed and interesting. It's 3.30am but I have to start the next one. There's no way I have the restraint to wait until tomorrow. Fantastic read.
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, one of the best Fantasy books I've ever read. Some of the finest prose that I can think of. Superb world-building. Great pacing and plotting. Terrific characters. Excellent villains. This is a masterpiece on the same level as Martin's Game of Thrones or Abercrombie's First Law.
Stef Rozitis
My considered and careful review was deleted by a bad internet connection (yes I know I really ought to use word and draft).

My objections to this book were as follows

1. Too long with too many points of view, irrelevancies and descriptions of absolutely everything.

2. Too much rape culture across what are supposed to be different cultures and too little female agency (even though one of the main characters is female, once she meets her love interest we stop seeing through her eyes and even she bec
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this book (first in the Sword of Shadow series) many years ago and stalled after the second book because Jones hadn't finished writing the series. I remember really loving this story arc, and was surprised to find it even more enjoyable the second time through.

This first book is an excellent introduction to a long story arc. (In fact book 5 is due to be released this fall (2012). It is too bad that there are such long delays between book releases.) With that said, this is a wonderful fan
Danny Bennett
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Characterization: The characters in this story are the strongest element. Not only are the two main characters, Raif and Ash, extrodinary, but even the supporting cast have incredible depth. Jones is able to bring the inner emotions of the character to light with wonderful detail, so much so that I connected to the characters almost immedietely.

Plot: The plot moves very slowly, especially for the first 250 pages which seems to tell two completely separate stories at once. However, once Raif and
Randall Krekelberg
4.5 Stars

Full review to come. Just a few quick thoughts. First of all, I really have to thank one of my favourite booktubers (Kaitlin from Kitty G) for reviewing and recommending this book on her channel. It is because of her and a few other booktubers that I have been able to find and read such amazing books. You guys are honestly amazing!
This book, while I went in with some idea of what to expect, still managed to completely shock me.
If anything can be said of Jones it's that she has an amazin
Kiel Van Horn
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Set the stage for this world very well. I liked the "Sull" who were introduced only cursorily in this, mostly mentioned in passing. They seemed like an analogue to elves. Had a good, mysterious feel to them, though.
Strong characterization work. Good world-building skills here, and very good at evoking an underlying "feeling" to certain aspects. The development of the clan culture, with customs, a definition of honor, etc., was neat. Made me realize I need to do more work at research
Che Adventure
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grimdark-fantasy
If you like George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb's writing style then immerse in J.V. Jones's world of cold dread, dark adventure, and a gloom-and-doom atmosphere.

J.V. Jones's writing is what drives the story-telling. Although slow paced at times to the point where it brings a dreamy narrative, Jones does a fantastic job bringing this world to life with its clans and cultures.

To me, J.V. Jones is the godmother of grimdark. She writes gruesome scenes, survival realism, and hopeless characters.

If yo
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A silver haired foundling who vomits ancient, evil ghosts, a raven-blessed hero with the ability to explode hearts and and a tortured sorcerer bound and tortured for thirty years whose flesh is fodder for flies with magical properties... I found this book to be engrossing in the way I love fantasy to be engrossing, where it is 3 a.m. and still I must have more. While fantasy conventions are all clear and accounted for, save the dragons perhaps, she still manages to create interesting characters, ...more
Karen Azinger
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think J.V.Jones is an excellent writer. I love her writing voice and her vivid characters and complex plots. I really enjoy her books. I like the complexity of the world she created in A Cavern of Black Ice and I particularly like the arctic tundra setting. A very good epic fantasy read. I just wish there was not such a big time lag between the publication of her books.
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read 600 pages of this book so far just waiting for it to get good. I feel like if te pace would just pick up a little, it would be worth reading. As it is, I'm stuck not able to figure out if I should put it down or not. I might have to read something more interesting and come back to it.
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Does this go anywhere? 1 18 Feb 18, 2015 10:30AM  
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Julie Victoria Jones was born in Liverpool, England. She has been writing for years, and is currently working The End Lords. She lives in San Diego, California.

All three books in The Book Of Words Trilogy are #1 national bestsellers, and have been bought for publication in England, Poland, Russia, Germany, France and Holland. Her fifth book, A Cavern of Black Ice, is the first in a new series.


Other books in the series

Sword of Shadows (5 books)
  • A Fortress of Grey Ice (Sword of Shadows, #2)
  • A Sword from Red Ice (Sword of Shadows, #3)
  • Watcher of the Dead (Sword of Shadows, #4)
  • Endlords (Sword of Shadows, #5)
“She supposed it felt like freedom, if freedom was a fall into the unknown.” 0 likes
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