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Watcher of the Dead: Book Four of Sword of Shadows by J.V. Jones
Edited by James Frenkel
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765319791
Date: 13 April 2010 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Dangerous forces are gathering and the clans of the North are fighting among themselves. The fourth novel of the Sword of Shadows series revolves around setting up the characters for the final installment. Picking up where the third novel left off, it doesnít take long for some things to go horribly awry. Expect to lose some of your beloved characters.

Raif has the named sword Loss. But his trials have just begun. Some of the Sull have decided that they must make Raif into what they want and need. His training is beyond anything he could ever expect. As harsh as it is, it is likely to make the difference for him as he faces the ancient enemy.

Ash has also been taken in by the Sull, but her experiences are much different. They also will prepare her for the challenges that she must face. Her powers will be needed, but how is yet to be determined.

Angus is on a personal quest to find the murderer of his family. This puts him in conflict with the Phage. They are widespread and secretive, but Angus is very familiar with their procedures and will be difficult to turn aside.

The clan holds face different challenges. Bludd, Blackhail, and Dhoone are fighting for supremacy. The fight to be top dog has caused the clans to lose sight of their actual duty. Each faces troubles at home as well as on the war front. A strong leader has opportunities to make things better, if they are ready to take a chance. Effie decides it is her duty to end the curse of Clan grey.

The story so far section is excellent. It is concise summary of the prior three books. It will be useful to old and new readers alike. This section makes this novel accessible to new readers, but I recommend reading the earlier volumes anyway. Theyíll enjoy the ride.

Told from multiple perspectives, Watcher of the Dead is a fast paced adventure. The main protagonists donít go unscathed through their adventures. They also make some bad choices. This makes the series more enjoyable than the cut and paste typical fantasy plot. The gritty characters should be enjoyed by fans of George R.R. Martin and Dave Duncan. I enjoy most of the points of view, since they tie together fairly well.

I have enjoyed the other Jones novels, but this is her best work to date. She has grown as an author and I look forward to her future works. Hopefully the final installment will come in a relatively short time. Please donít keep the fans waiting too long.

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