Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

The thing that really annoys me about reading these books is that I have to be super careful with my reviews. Although this book was published in 2000 and normally I would just warn you about spoilers, now I have to be super careful because most of this won't be televised for another two years. So if you're one of these people that only watches the show, I'm just going to say it now: it will be impossible to review this book with no spoilers. Look away now.

Are those people gone? Good. Let's get onto perhaps the most complex Game of Thrones novels yet, A Storm of Swords.

Now, I had the pleasure of reading the two volume edition, Steel and Snow and then Blood and Gold. I think it was quite nice reading a long novel broken into two like that. It lessened the load, especially having to carry it around in your purse like I do. I would much rather two five hundred page novels than one one thousand page one.

What I loved about Storm of Swords was that it really changed the game. I will try my best to avoid naming names but I just have to say that Martin has no compunction about killing off main characters in this book. There were several times I had to go back and reread sections because I couldn't believe what I had just read. Had that really happened? No, surely. Oh dear.

The Red Wedding, in particular, was entirely hard to take. I can't say that I had been expecting any of it but it was masterfully handled. The entire sense of dread and uneasiness that you couldn't quite put your finger on, followed by the complete surprise as the plan unfurls. I had to honestly put the book down for a few seconds so that I could absorb what I had just read. It was a powerful scene and one that will stick with me, I think, for awhile.

What I think is impressive, as well, is how the second wedding scene of the novel in no way seems lessened by the Red Wedding proceeding it. The second wedding is one that we've been waiting for for awhile and it added a sense of importance knowing what had happened to the other "joyous occasion" we had previously read. I loved finally reading what had been built up over the course of two books and then being punched in the gut by its ending. Who expected that? I surely didn't. And as badly as I wanted to react to it on Twitter, I managed to restrain myself.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about Storm of Swords was the new narrative voices that we got. Firstly, hearing from Sam Tarly's point of view was lovely. He had always been a well liked character and although I saw how it was necessary to switch to Sam, now that Jon was separated from the Night's Watch, I liked that he was the one that was picked. What a lovely place to be, Sam's mind.

Most intriguing, however, was the chapters from Jamie's point of view. The Kingslayer had been a major figure of mystery for two books now. Suddenly getting his perspective was unexpected and very well played. It was really interesting to hear his own feelings on Cersei and Joffery, his position at court, what his role was to play, and how he truly felt about his nickname. Although Arya is undoubtedly my favorite, I think my favorite bits from this novel were the scenes between Jamie and Brienne. Although I'm not stupid enough to hope for anyone's happiness, I do hope for some more scenes between the two of them in future books. They are a great pair.

Overall, this may have been my favorite book so far. It's a behemoth, to be sure but it's worth it. Go on! Get reading!


  1. This book is probably my favourite of the Ice and Fire series because of its twisting plot and random executions. But those that follow somehow remain as engrossing as this one.

  2. Glad to hear it! I'm about to start book four and was a tad bit worried we'd run out of characters or something. :)