Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review - A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

Goodreads Description: 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 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 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...

The stakes are higher than ever in the third gripping instalment of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire saga. A Storm of Swords is actually split into two volumes, and introduces yet more characters and subplots to an already complex narrative. Yet it is to its strength, rather than its detriment, because each of these brings something new to the story.

For instance, we get Jaime’s perspective as he is escorted back to his father in a reckless exchange orchestrated by Catelyn Stark, who is desperate to bring her own daughters back to safety. But nowhere in the Kingdom of Westeros is safe. The Wildlings are moving to attack the kingdoms from beyond the Wall, and three kings jockey for power. Robb Stark retains his crown in the north, but the cunning Lannisters rule the south, and Stannis, the brother of the dead king, continues his alliance with the red sorceress Melisandre. Meanwhile, beyond the wall, the dead are rising, and only the Black stand between the army of Others and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms…

The narrative threads are expertly woven together, with the fates of many interlinking and no one side claiming our support. As before, the characters do not have black and white personalities but their decisions are morally ambiguous, and I found myself supporting characters I had previously despised. And Martin proves once again that this is no fairy tale. Characters both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ die – I still can’t believe the fate of some apparently major characters – and ‘villains’ get away with murder in the deadly game of thrones. There are no winners in this fantasy story which only gets more complex as it progresses. This series has me addicted, and I’ll be moving on to the next book without delay!

Rating: *****


  1. I think that's one of the most interesting things Martin does; he makes us hate certain characters absolutely, and then he turns the tables and redeems them. I'm waiting for A Dance with Dragons to come out in paperback.

  2. Martin is a master at creating characters you hate then love. In this one I really became fond of Jaime though I hated him so much in the first book. So happy you enjoyed this one.

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