Review: A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R.R. Martin

Five kings. One throne. When you play the Game of Thrones you win….or you die. In George R. R. Martin’s epic high fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, plenty of characters meet their valiant demise, but there can only be one king who will sit the Iron Throne….but which king?

In the third book, A Storm of Swords, many different plot lines and POV’s finally begin to come to maturation but just when you think you have the series, a plot line, or character all figured out and summed up….Martin takes you in an unexpected direction.

For me, this was the best book in the series so far. The first book was really about getting to know the history and background of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms while the second book was more about the war and strengthening the concepts of the first book but this third book was more about the characterization for me.

Martin is totally blowing my mind right now with this series! This book has been exciting and surprising till the very last word.

Martin has challenged what the reader has come to expect from traditional fantasy books. Most readers are accustomed to reading a hero’s quest, the battle between good and evil, and saving the damsel in distress….there is always a clear hero above reproach and a distinct villain. What I love about this series is the characters are all flawed and Martin makes the reader address their feelings about each character through his use of alternating POV’s.The different narrators and POV’s are phenomenal.

I was most excited to read from Jamie’s perspective. In the two previous books, Jamie is almost past redemption. The reader has labeled him a scoundrel….a Kingslayer. An oath breaker. The villain. We have not known him as anything else and only from other characters perspectives so when I saw that one of the POV’s in this book was from Jamie’s perspective I was intrigued. In some ways I thought I would hate him more, but after a while I found myself reassessing his overall character and wondering how much of how I saw him was based on other character perspectives and assumptions.

One character that I think would be interesting to read from would be Ser Barristan Selmy. We only see him from other character perspectives. Others call him an honorable man, but is he really? What does he make of all these kings fighting to the death? What did he think of Robert’s rebellion in the first book? He has served many different Kings during his time in the King’s Guard….I bet he could tell a lot of stories. But since we only read him from other POV’s we are limited to what we are told by other narrators.

In this third book, the Seven Kingdoms are still at war. In this book we are reading from ten POV’s: Jamie Lannister, Jon Snow, Catelyn Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Samwell Tarly, Davos Seaworth, and Daenerys Targaryen.

In the North, winter has come. Bran Stark and his companions (Meera and Jojen Reed) venture north of the Wall in search of the three-eyed crow who will help Bran discovery the mysteries of his newly discovered power: Bran is a skinchanger. The realm thinks he is dead so they travel in absolutely secrecy, avoiding all the major roads and cities. Jojen is troubled by disturbing Green Dreams  which Bran (nor his companion) fully understand.

On the Wall, Jon Snow and his sword Brothers of the Night’s Watch wage war against ‘the king beyond the wall’ Mance Rayder and his army of wildings. But when Jon becomes separated from his brothers, he must make a difficult choice between his crow brothers and the wildings…life or death. Turncoat or sword brother. With Jon gone, Samwell Tarly remains behind with the other brothers only to be attacked by the white walkers.

Catelyn Stark remains with her son Robb Stark who is trying to hold the strategical strong hold of Riverrun and maintain an alliance with the proud Frey’s who hold one of the main river crossings. But she grows restless and desperate when she still has heard nothing from her daughters Sansa and Arya Stark….Catelyn turns to an unlikely source for help.

Jamie Lannister, the Kingslayer, is heading south to King’s Landing in search of redemption and family….specifically his sister though he tries to keep it a secret. Escorted by ‘Lady’ Brienne, Jamie finds an unlikely companion and something that has been lurking in the darkest parts of his soul since the day he killed King Aerys….his conscience and honor.

Sansa remains in King’s Landing where Cersei and King Joffrey hold her captive. Arya hasn’t been heard from since she escaped King’s Landing after Lord Stark’s death. Arya escapes detection disguised as a boy and manages to stay away from the clutches of Cersei and Joffrey….but she can’t run forever.

In the meantime, Tyrion Lannister is busy keeping the kingdom one step ahead of disaster as the newly appointed Master of Coin. Lord Tywin Lannister has returned from the wars to take his place as rightful Hand of the King, moving Tyrion to Master of Coin. Tyrion and Lord Tywin struggle to maintain control of King’s Landing with the unruly King Joffrey sabotaging them at every turn.

King Stannis is licking his wounds when Davos Seaworth (presumed dead) turns up on his doorstep. Stannis names Davos has Hand of the King and they soon plot their glorious come back but they are still ruled by Stannis’s red sorceress, Melisandre. Davos does not trust her and for that he might pay the ultimate price.

And across the Narrow Sea the dragon sings….Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, builds her army and marches for Westeros to reclaim the Iron Throne for herself and the House Targaryen. She has awoken the dragon.

Though Martin at times can be long winded and extremely detailed in his descriptions, there is a certain eloquence in his prose. Of course at times his style can be a little grating and tedious but this story didn’t drag….the pace was constant. One can’t help but admire the intricate story line and plot. This is an incredibly thought out series, much more in depth than I expected even after reading the second book I wasn’t prepared for how sweeping this story was going to be. Martin has literally thought of everything and then some!

I am entirely blown away by this series….I liked the first two books, but this book solidified the series for me as an absolute must read.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire Book #3) by George R.R. Martin

  • Paperback, 1128 pages
  • Published March 4th 2003 by Spectra (first published August 10th 2000)
  • ISBN 055357342X (ISBN13: 9780553573428)

This book counts toward: Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) Reading Challenge 2012 

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (uniquely different epic fantasy, worth every page and so far best in the series!)

Genre: Fantasy, epic, epic fantasy, Medieval fantasy, high fantasy

Memorable lines/quotes:

Courtesy is a lady’s armor (89)

One voice may speak you false but in many there is always truth to be found (112)

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8 Comments

  1. I seriously need to start this series.. I’ve been on the wait list at the library for about a month now for the first book!

    Reply
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