|Submitted by Ihsan Alnasrawi|
(Apr 25, 2000)
Growing up reading ROBERT E HOWARD's tales of the Cimmerian CONAN, I started reading ROBERT JORDAN's own chronicles of the most famous of all barbarians (I loved Jordan's narrative style from the start - it's been said that nobody alive writes CONAN better than Robert Jordan) and so naturally progressed to reading the brilliant WHEEL OF TIME series (and despite it's annoying meanderings and frustrating side-tracking sub-plots, I still feel it will be, when completed, the single greatest fantasy series of all time, and probably the largest!).
So when I stumbled upon JV JONE's first volume of the BOOK OF WORDS, it was an immediate hit with me - it's very much in the Robert Jordan vein, both in terms of the depth of the characters and their continuos and detailed development, and the style of story telling, but without the sometimes vast long-windedness and distractions that Jordan is prone to.
I wouldn't say the characters and story settings are as in-depth and detailed as Jordan's worlds, but they are delightful and extremely intriguing and interesting. I've read plenty of fantasy and I've always looked for that "gem" amongst the immense pile of mediocrity that is fantasy literature, and I found that gem in JV Jones - something that for me is a must-read, ranking way up there near Robert Jordan - above the also-ran, formulaic authors, of which there are so many to trawl through when you're trying to find something you really like.
At first I noticed certain initial parallels with TAD WILLIAMS' unnecessarily lengthy "Memory, Sorrow & Thorn" series and other fantasy titles - with one of the central characters being a "ordinary" person who actually turns out to be someone immensely important who is destined to hold fate of the world in his hands, and certain other aspects - but from there the resemblance ends. The characters are instantly endearing - every single one is likeable in its own sort of way. There is a lot of humour amongst what is really a book for the more mature readers - it contains many adult themes which guys like Robert Jordan (who seemingly attempt to reach as wide a demographic of readers as possible, young and old, male and female) avoid going into. I used to be somewhat of the mind that a book written by a woman would tend to the softer, less explicit and brighter subjects (okay, I've got a few preconceptions, but JV Jones shattered them utterly!), but I was sorely mistaken! At times, her work is as dark and deadly as anybody's - even GRR Martin - she does not fear to encroach into subjects that most authors would happily avoid to appeal to a wider readership and keep sales high.
One of the great things about JV Jone's work is her short, concise, straight-to-the-point style (as opposed to Robert Jordan's longeurs), very much in the vein of GRR Martin and David Gemmell, though the adult content is definitely not up there with GRR Martin (I know of no other mainstream fantasy author who delves so deeply and explicitly in adult subjects). The chapters are short and so you're left constantly craving to know what happens in the next chapter. It's immensely exciting!
The "bad guy" characters are really, really great - JV Jones is something of a master here, right up there with Jordan and Martin - the back-stabbing and skulduggery, the plots-within-plots, the conniving, the jealousy, the greed for power - there's layer upon layer of character there, all woven together in a bewilderingly rich tapestry for each individual that's quite staggering and well though out.
Overall, the first BOOK OF WORDS, and indeed the entire trilogy, is an absolute must-read. It's incredibly fast-paced, extremely well thought out, well-written, with a well-structured, mature, no-time-to-be-bored-to-death story-line that makes it definitely a GEM in the fantasy genre. Read it if you haven't already, it's well worth it.