A Sword From Red Ice is the third book of the 5 book series by J.V. Jones. I must say that a lot was happening in the book – although not everything seemed to push the story further along. That’s fine by me – though I can imagine that it would be frustrating for some people.
A lot of things are happening in the clanholds and the cities. Raif is now a Maimed Man and is struggling to cast away his clannish ways, while worrying about the state of the world. The world and its troubles just won’t leave him alone and Raif soon finds himself on the road again, visiting strange places like the Want and meeting new people. And that isn’t necessarily a good thing: all the people in his current life are pushing him towards his fate. A fate he does not want that comes with new name and a new identity. Mor Drakka. Watcher of the Dead. Raif Twelve Kill – formerly Sevrance – has to go and search for the mythical sword that will shape his future and the future of the world. Loss.
War is brewing in the clanholds as the soldiers of Spire Vanis move in on their lands, eager to claim it for themselves. But there are also battles fought between clans: Blackhail, Dhoone, Bludd. Peace is nowhere to be found. Back at Blackhail, Raina finds her roundhouse overrun with Scarpes. And she decides she is going to do something about it. Effie Sevrance finds herself not only waylaid but kidnapped by two men of the clan Gray. She is to be sold to the cursed clan, which may appear desolate and worn down, but looks can be deceiving.
Ash March is on her way to the Heart Fires of the Sull, but has no idea that treachery will find her, wherever she goes. After all, she is a Reach and if she isn’t with the Sull, she is against them.
I thought this book in general contained a lot less action than its predecessors, which is understandable because it’s the middle book of the series. I actually found the character building (which some people might prefer less than action) very interesting. I got to know more about some of the main characters in general, about how they viewed the world and how their minds worked. I was especially interested in Raina, who slowly develops into a stronger and headstrong woman during this book. And since she’s one out of the three likeable women in this series who are still alive – Wrayan Castlemilk and Nan are the other ones – I’m very invested in her story. I’m not counting Effie here because she’s still a young girl and Ash…well, she has certainly lessened in my eyes.
Initially I was fine with her leaving Raif, because it was needed and she was still occasionally thinking about him in the previous books. But in this book Ash became a bit of a damsel in distress again and even more strange/disturbing; she had sexual encounters with a Sull she didn’t even know that well and was actually quite suspicious of. That just turned me off and my regard for her and her well-being was pretty much destroyed. Though this could just be me.
I was also very glad to learn more about Vaylo Bludd and Bram Cormac and was overjoyed that Angus seemed back in the game. Though he seems to be unhinged now and I fear for his mind and his life. I hope J.V. Jones won’t make him go crazy; the Sevrance/Lok family has enough to deal with already! Especially now that Raif is accepting his fate as the Watcher of the Dead. I also like the friendship between Raif and the two Maimed Men Stillborn and Addie Gunn.