Watcher of the Dead: Worth the wait

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy epic reviews J.V. Jones Watcher of the DeadWatcher of the Dead by J.V. Jones

Watcher of the Dead has a momentum that’s like watching black clouds grow in mass for a storm you just know will be enormous.

In a world fraught with clan wars and military invasions, the individual power struggles grow even more desperate as the ancient evil called the Endlords opens a breach into existence. Sadaluk No Ears, the Listener for the Ice Trapper people, may never return from a dangerous trek into the frozen wastes. Raif Sevrance, now possessing the sword called Loss, is learning the hard way what it means to be the Watcher of the Dead. Ash March must choose a Sull name, and even though she is finally in the land of her new people, she still finds no safe haven. Raina Blackhail becomes more entrenched in treason against her husband, the chief of the Clan Blackhail. Bram Dhoone begins his training as a member of the Phage, a clandestine group dedicated to defending against the Endlords.

Meanwhile, Angus Lok proves just how dangerous a Phage can be, as he must go rogue to protect his daughter. With the return of the Endlords, Vaylo Bludd, the war-hardened chief of Clan Bludd, may be forced into another treacherous alliance. Little Effie Sevrance discovers that she also has a significant role as she investigates the curse of Clan Grey, who has taken her captive. And the Sull, well, the Sull are just “bad-to-the bone.”

J.V. Jones paints a world of wild artic forests, frozen wastelands, snow-capped mountains and — just south of the Clanholds — an occasional frontier city. Knowing that I was returning to her world, I felt cold before I even opened the book.

In fact, it’s the believability that makes this all so much fun. J.V. Jones knows this world like she’s lived there. She’s a master with little details and uses them cleverly — never too much and written in a simple matter-of-fact way. I’d love to know where she gets her inspirations, because it’s all so fascinating.

SWORD OF SHADOWS is written in a multi-person point-of-view format, but unlike many fantasy epics that have the occasional “filler” chapters devoted to a character that’s not particularly interesting, every SWORD OF SHADOWS character is exciting. Because of this, the reader is eager to start each new chapter. Even their names are flat-out-cool and they’re easily pronounceable, which (fantasy authors please take note) makes the reading flow effortlessly.

I’ve read all of J.V. Jones’ books and thoroughly enjoyed each one, but with the SWORD OF SHADOWS she proves that she can stand up to any of today’s popular fantasy authors. Watcher of the Dead reinforces my belief that this series should be getting as much notoriety as George R.R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE or Steven Erikson’s MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN.

Sword of Shadows — (1999-2010) Publisher: As a newborn Ash March was abandoned — left for dead at the foot of a frozen mountain. Found and raised by the Penthero Iss, the mighty Surlord of Spire Vanis, she has always known she is different. Terrible dreams plague her and sometimes in the darkness she hears dread voices from another world. Iss watches her as she grows to womanhood, eager to discover what powers his ward might possess. As his interest quickens, he sends his living blade, Marafice Eye, to guard her night and day. Raif Sevrance, a young man of Clan Blackhail, also knows he is different, with uncanny abilities that distance him from the clan. But when he and his brother survive an ambush that plunges the entire Northern Territories into war, he yet seeks justice for his own… even if means he must forsake clan and kin. Ash and Raif must learn to master their powers and accept their joint fate if they are to defeat an ancient prophecy and prevent the release of the pure evil known as the End Lords.

J.V. Jones Sword of Shadows: 1. A Cavern of Black Ice 2. A Fortress of Grey Ice 3. A Sword from Red Ice 4. Watcher of the DeadJ.V. Jones Sword of Shadows: 1. A Cavern of Black Ice 2. A Fortress of Grey Ice 3. A Sword from Red Ice 4. Watcher of the DeadJ.V. Jones Sword of Shadows: 1. A Cavern of Black Ice 2. A Fortress of Grey Ice 3. A Sword from Red Ice 4. Watcher of the DeadJ.V. Jones Sword of Shadows: 1. A Cavern of Black Ice 2. A Fortress of Grey Ice 3. A Sword from Red Ice 4. Watcher of the Dead

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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  1. I can’t wait to start this series. I’m waiting until she’s a little closer to done, though….

  2. Yeah that’s my one complaint about this series; it seems to have one of the longest waits between books.
    I could be wrong but I get the impression JVJ won’t take as long for the next one.

  3. I just want to know when the book following “Watcher of the Dead” will be published.

    I am 76 years old now and I don’t want to die wondering.

    • I’m right there with you Don. I’m a fan of J. V. Jones’ books but it’s rediculous how long it’s taking tl finish this series. The world is rich enough to support several story arcs but not if she won’t finish this one. She’s got George R.R. Martin beat.

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