Reviewing George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is hard.
That might sound really daft. I’ve written more than my fair share of book reviews in my lifetime and I can assure you that I am, by nature, a very opinionated person. I guess what it comes down to is perspective. These books are hugely popular, and thanks to the TV series they have gained even more of a following. I doubt there is anything I can write here that you do not know about it already.
That isn’t really the point though. My blog is a place for me to explore my opinions. They may not make a shred of difference to your opinion of the books/series, (especially for such a series as this) but I have to show my appreciation somehow!
A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin
Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…
Some of my favourite events of the book series (so far) happen in A Storm of Swords. Weddings are less of a celebration and more of a curse. King’s Landing is reeling from the recent Battle of the Blackwater and their plans for their allegiance go… awry, to put it mildly!
In A Storm of Swords we say goodbye to two Kings in Westeros – one far more reluctantly than the other! The first time I read this book, I had a tantrum after the Red Wedding. I couldn’t pick the book up for a couple of days whilst I sulked. Turns out things weren’t QUITE as bad as you are initially led to believe. Screenrant classifies the TV episode “The Rains of Castamere”, the episode in which The Red Wedding plays out, as the “most shocking” and “peak moment” of the series. It’s clear it had a profound effect on a lot of people – not just me.
Looking north, Jon Snow is in the thick of it too. Surrounded by enemies, he is spying amongst the Wildlings to discover their secrets and then head back to the Wall. Many are mistrustful of his deflection to the Wildlings and he is treated with suspicion by many.
To the east, Daenerys is coming into her own. She is conquering the corrupt cities of Essos and fighting the losing battle of abolishing slavery. Her ambition has always been to make it to Westeros to reclaim the family throne. Her decision to stay and rule to protect the people in the east is very mature of her. It’s one of her defining moments, in my opinion.
As always, George R R Martin manages to balance the narrative and events to keep us hanging on for the next chapter. Even though there are a number of character perspectives contributing to narrating the tale (10-12), the gaps between each perspective aren’t so long that their part of the story is forgotten.
The depth of the history in his fantasy world and the number of characters (and their families) the chronicle contains is phenomenal. How George R R Martin can keep track and ensure everything is consistent baffles me.
A Song of Ice and Fire is an iconic series that I think will live up there with the greats. It’s my unrivalled favourite fantasy series and I have no doubt that shows in my review!
Have you read A Storm of Swords or watched the TV series? What do you make of the events in this book?