Saturday, August 6, 2011

Girl on Book Action: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
ISBN: 0-553-57342-X

Aside: Here is your obligatory spoiler warning – the blurb will contain spoilers for books one and two, so if you care about these things I suggest you stop reading now.  Perhaps I can interest you in my review of A Game of Thrones or Wren’s thoughts on the first episode of the TV show instead.  For the rest of you, let’s boldly forge on through Westeros.


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, Daenarys, mistress of the only three dragons left in the world.  And as opposing forces maneuver 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...


My Thoughts:

I know that a lot of people started reading this series and just tore through it without a break, but I need to take breaks (which is to say I’m taking one again right now).  So much happens in each book that it takes me some time to process it all. I also try to read different stuff for the blog each week - you probably wouldn't want to read the Westeros 24/7 blog (Okay, you might, but I don't want to write it).

Overall, this book suffers from the same problems and has the same strengths as the previous instalments.  The Bran chapters are insufferably boring, Sansa still seems to believe in fairy tale endings despite everything that’s happened to her to show her otherwise, Catelyn continues to do stupid, hysterical things that make things worse for everyone around her.  And it wouldn't be part of the Song of Ice and Fire series if we didn't get two more points of view.  This time around we get to read about Samwell (boo) and Jaime Lannister (big, resounding yay!). Of course, Arya and Daenarys are still great; both of them continue to grow.  And Jon Snow continues to deliver appropriate amounts of broody, way-too-young eye candy (at least one of Dany’s new friends meets more of my literary crush requirements to distract me a bit).

Arya’s attempts to reunite with her family are especially sad – she comes so close only to be foiled again and again.  Her relationship with the Hound made me like that mean old guy a whole bunch more.  Seeing Lord Beric and his merry band of outlaws added another layer of intrigue to the Seven Kingdoms for me, too (and it was nice to see this particular fantasy trope put to good use).  Daenarys’ trip through the slaver’s towns and the battles she fights show her coming to terms with being a queen and having to make tough decisions.  I still miss Drogo as much as she does I think, but at least we have the prospect of Daario as a mediocre replacement.  Jon’s storyline is really picking up with each book and the end of Storm of Swords puts him in a very strange position.

And because I hate them, I won’t write any further insights about Bran, Sansa or Catelyn – out of spite.

Getting to see what Jaime thinks about the world and what’s happening was one of my favourite parts (I’m not on team Lannister, who says that I am?).  In a way, his point of view helps to humanize the Lannister clan since, aside from Tyrion who is a bit of an outsider within his family, we only see them cast as villains.  I’m definitely a Jaime fan.

Power has shifted significantly since the outset in Game of Thrones and I love that Martin is absolutely not shy about killing off his characters (I’m sure you’ve seen the meme of Martin and J.K. Rowling, right? If not, Google it!).  The Red Wedding scene is a good example of this lack of timidity and the whole sequence filled me with an increasing amount of unease.  In other words, it was really well done.  I think it might become one of my favourite scenes if I had to make a list of top events from all the books I’ve read (no, I don’t intend to actually write this list, unless you beg me and offer me cake).

Actually, without getting into too many details the ending of this book was the part I enjoyed the most.  The journey to get there was all well and good, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome (though in looking back I realized I should have seen it coming, woe for getting too caught up in the characters to pay attention to plot points.)  The last 150 or so pages (when did that start to be an ending rather than a whole book?) had me plunging ahead breathlessly to see what would happen and I was not disappointed.  The happenings at The Wall filled me with that rare breed of giddiness only found in good books while Tyrion’s struggles added an undercurrent of sadness.  And the revelations about how the Seven Kingdoms were thrown into this state of chaos confirmed my attraction to a certain side-character (I won’t tell you who so as not to spoil it) for being a devious scoundrel.  It was worth reading the 1100+ page tome just for the last bits.  It was engaging up to the last sentence of the epilogue.

Eventually, I will read book four, but I’m currently on another book-buying ban so it might yet be a while.  I am looking forward to seeing how things unfold, though I admit, mostly I want to read the adventures of Jon Snow and his roguish half-sister Arya, with a little bit of Tyrion and Daenarys thrown in for good measure.  For now, I'll go wear my "Winter is Coming" t-shirt with a sense of world-weariness and try to overcome my continued attraction to the oh-so-delectable, but way-too-young Jon Snow.

No comments:

Post a Comment