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This is the second installment of the hard-going Book Of Words trilogy that is as much hard work as the late Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series but much shorter in stature and ambition. This time around, Prince Kylock is just as determined and focused as ever upon creating a new empire but, when his father finally succumbs to his deabillitating illness brought on by poison, his plans are given a real boost and he begins a war of terror against all who oppose him and his new regime. Meanwhile Jack, the baker's boy, and his companion Melliandra are seperated from each other and find themselves being drawn into the slots appointed them by Fate; their actions already predetermined to fullfill a Destiny and ancient prophecy....
Once again, the political intrigue here flies thick and fast and the novel reads very much like George.R.R.Martin's Game Of Thrones series it is so complex. The advantage here though of course is that with this epic, an end is plainly in sight and fans of this variety of fantasy will be gratified that an ending is very shortly forthcoming with the next volume rather than waiting to see what comes first- the conclusion of the series or the author's death before completion.
Although the book is hard-wearing at times, it is nonetheless enjoyable and the plot-heavy story is lightened by the presence once again of guards Bodger and Grift. I am not sure whether the inclusion of badgers in a dialogue with Bodger at one stage is intended as a less than subtle nod at it's readers but it succeeded with me in bringing back very funny memories of the children's T.V show Bodger and Badger. (Everybody knows...Bodger likes...MASH POTATO!) Also the Arch-Bishop is back once more with his humourous slights at his ever-patient loyal servant and this, again, lightens the mood and alleviates the pace at times! This is ever nessecary as there are times when the plot becomes thicker than your dear nanny's porridge!!
This is a great and phenomenal trilogy that goes from strength to strength but is perhaps a tad too derivative to become a true fantasy classic. There are better fantasy authors out there but not many and though Jones may not be up there with the big girls and boys, he certainly gives the genre a run for it's money.
Would I read this again? Probably not but that doesn't mean it is any less enjoyable first time round only that it would not warrant a repeat performance. There is no catch-up at the beginning so familiarity with the previous novel is essential and I wouldn't leave it too long between installments.
Overall this is pleasent enough fantasy that leaves the reader itching to find out how the story will conclude...
Have you ever been really looking forward to the next book in a series only to read it and be disappointed? Well you?ll not find that with this book, J.V. Jones just gets better, her writing juicier and her plot thicker in this second work of her book of words series. Is it fair to assume that if you are reading this review you've already read my review on ?"Bakers Boy" Well if you haven't either be prepared to be flung in the deep end or go and read it now. I'll wait for you to get back...now hurry. All you who have read my bakers boy review please stick with me whilst I play some annoying tinny music whilst we hold on for the others. Ok so are we all up to date now? Right so I can get on with actually talking about the book (well that is the point of this review surely) Kylock is now king. He killed his mentally ill father with no remorse and is now waging war against the neighbouring country, pillaging, raping and burning everything in his army's way. In this book the separate lives of people begin to overlap and come together. We begin to see the relationships of all these many differing characters and a glimpse of how things might end is seen. Melli ends up in Bren as consort to the Duke and after a terrible riding accident the Duke proposes to her, she accepts, severely putting the dukes Daughter Catherine's nose out of joint as she is to marry king Kylock and would have been queen over a vast majority of the northern lands. Maybour and Baralis have also ended up in Bren to finalize the marriage details for Kylock and Catherine. Maybour is reunited with his daughter and Baralis continues to plot and conjure and bribe his way into power whilst continuing in his attempts to assassinate Lord Maybour. Tawl our knight of Valdis runs away (for reasons I will not reveal as I do not want to spoil any surprises or plot twists) and Nabber his friend and side kick follows h
im into, yes you've guessed it, the city of Bren. Tawl is in a sad and sorry state, fighting other men for money and in the end he is reunited with Nabber who seconds him in a match against the Duke's champion. Tawl wins and replaces Blayze, swearing an oath to the duke. In his capacity ads Dukes champion he meets Melli and becomes her protector. I guess you are all wondering what has happened to Jack, after all he does seem to be the main character in this story, well after being separated from Melli he ends up with a strange family of folk. Rovas is a merchant who has many cunning tricks to make his wares last a bit longer and he lives with Magra a seemingly high born woman and her daughter Tarissa. Rovas tells Jack that Melli is dead and begins to train Jack with a sword so he can avenge Melli?s death by killing the captain who allegedly killed her. Jack and Tarissa fall madly in love, though when Jack finally kills the captain and is captured he realises that everything Tarrisa and Rovas told him was a lie. He finds out Melli is still alive and sets about finding her. He performs many acts of wild sorcery on his way and is wanted man before the book comes to a close. This book is compelling and so wonderfully detailed and well written, each character is developed more and more till you feel as if you?d know each one if the walked past you in the street. She brings the world in which they live alive, the smells, the tastes the sights and sounds are all there in her writing. J.V Jones has a wonderful way of keeping her readers up to date with the main thread of her story and she uses two bit part characters through which to achieve this. Grift and Bodger are guards. They are terrible at their job and really just want an easy life. Most of the time the sit drinking ale and Grift imparts his vast knowledge and wisdom to his younger partner Bodger. Bodger takes every word to heart especially the advic
e he receives about how to bed a lady. Such gems as "...The real way to tell if a woman is a virgin is to put her in a room with a badger." And "What food does get the women going then, Grift? Asked Bodger ?Bread pudding Bodger, the strongest aphrodisiac known to man" After imparting these pearls of wisdom Grift and Bodger always discuss the latest gossip on the grapevine, through this the reader knows what the main thread of the story is. Keep reading, I urge you this series only gets better and better, in fact I can even tell you the third book is shaping up to be a hum dinger of a conclusion but that is all I shall say on that subject until I finish the book and write the next review.
Second in the 'Book of Words' series.