The Baker’s Boy kicks off the exciting Book of Words trilogy. These are J.V. Jones‘ first published books and already she had pinned down all that we as fantasy lovers enjoy most about our genre: picturesque settings, dangerous cities, noble and mysterious heroes, three-dimensional villains, plotting royalty, charismatic rogues. And it’s all seasoned with just the right amount of sorcery.
I was introduced to J.V. Jones with A Cavern of Black Ice, which I enjoyed so much that I found myself reading all her books. Jones has an unsurpassed story-enhancing gift for detail. Lovable peasants cook up mouth-watering meals in their cozy little cottages. Rowdy backstreet taverns make you thirsty for a cold one. Two-fisted action brings to mind Robert E. Howard’s stories (which for me, like many others, was my first introduction to fantasy).
There isn’t a dull moment in The Book of Words. Even the steamy love scenes kept me hooked (that’s something I thought I’d never say). They burn with passion, but never cross the line. Jones creates a real depth in all the characters, even the most insignificant. Those of honor can be guilty of very grave actions and the most despicable can, at times, show genuine kindness. Like in all of Jones’s works, these stories have many incidences of charity from strangers, which is almost unheard of in the genre.
I noted none of the writing flaws that most new authors are guilty of, and J.V. Jones’ stories are only getting better. With only five books out so far, its been thrilling to follow this writer’s promising career.
The Book of Words — (1995-1997) Publisher: An ancient prophecy, court intrigue, and a world war directed by magical means are the basis for this three-book series set in the world of the Four Kingdoms. It stars Jack, a young man of unknown parentage whose magical talents will be either his salvation or his bane; the highborn young woman Melliandra, determined to run away from her life of privilege rather than be married to a man she despises; the tragic knight Tawl, whose mission is doomed from the day he undertakes it; the evil Baralis, traitor to his King; and a cast of many more, all finely drawn. For countless years magic has fueled a conspiracy to capture the crown of the Four Kingdoms. Now, as the King lays dying, traitorous powers prepare a political marriage to secure the taking of the throne. But the highborn young Melliandra refuses to bethroth a sinister prince, and flees the castle with Jack, a kitchen apprentice terrified by his sudden power to work miracles. Stalked by the conniving sorcerer Baralis, Melli and Jack embark on a dark and wondrous journey — in which an ancient prophecy, The Book of Words, will bear frighteningly true.