on 13 February 2007
This book is the best in the series by far. I read the first in the series of George Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' and I was blown away by it. So much so I wrote a review here on Amazon to exult it to those considering buying it. I have now read Book 1, 2, 3 part 1 and this book, A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold, Book 3 Part 2. I was let down by book 2 and 3 part 1, they were good but not great and if I tried to write a review I could not because the plot all amalgamated into a fuzzy series of events that I think should have been shortened down. However this book makes up for the previous 2 completely. It is a fantastic read and truly insomnia-inflicting! I could not put this book down virtually till I finished it. There are more twists and turns in this book than any of the previous. Events that were dragged out in the previous two are teetered over the edge and thrown off into a thundering development that you cannot help but get swept up in. Remarkably characters that were evil redeem themselves, characters that were good frustrate and annoy the reader.
Martin's use of the written language makes him a master at his craft and can slow or pick up the pace at will and completely manipulate your emotions. If you are reading this review then I presume that you have read at least the first one in the series 'A game of Thrones' therefore I wont summarise the plot incase I ruin it for anyone.
If by book 3 part 1 your getting a little stuck in the mud from the length of the story and the lack of significant movement then please read on because it is worth it to reach this far.
I must admit that I am loving this series of books, which becomes quite addictive once you start. I am not really that much into fantasy as such but this series leans towards a more historical bent. With Westeros, or the Seven Kingdoms at loggerheads as war rips through the land, there is also a threat from the far North, with those from beyond the Wall, as well as Daenerys Stormborn over the sea.
As Daenerys starts to conquer she has her heart set on regaining the Iron Throne and ruling Westeros, where her family once reigned. With trouble in the North the wildlings want access to Westeros as the undead walk in their lands. Already leading a sortie in the last novel it now becomes a full on attack on the main entrance through the Wall as the wildlings become desperate to get away from the evil.
If this was not enough though, Westeros is still not fully settled from war and as some still fight it has become a time for many to start making alliances and consolidate power, with an eye to the future. And there are many surprises and occurrences in this particular novel. George R R Martin never shies away from killing a main character when it become necessary which is all to the good, as it mirrors real life.
Reading more like historical fiction about the past in Europe this and the other books in this series so far make riveting reading and are vastly enjoyable. As we flip between different characters and locations we never really know what will happen next. We can make assumptions about this or that occurring next, but then Martin comes up with a surprise by altering things with characters dying, or situations changing. In all this is a really good series to curl up with and escape into.
on 4 October 2013
The plot ever thickens!! This has got to be the most exciting and heartbreaking book so far, but despite everything that happens, you are compelled to read on! Also, don't skip the epilogue! Has to be one of the biggest twists yet!
The Battle of the Blackwater has radically shifted the balance of power in the War of the Five Kings. The Lannisters and Tyrells are now allied together, granting the boy-king Joffrey a vast army against which it appears that Robb Stark, the King in the North, and his allies cannot stand. In the distant lands beyond the Wall, Jon Snow has infiltrated the wildlings to learn more about their plans and objectives, but finds his loyalties torn when he learns that even the free folk have their own codes of honour. And, far beyond the eastern seas, Daenerys Targaryen attempts to hire an army of warriors to her cause from the stinking cities of Slaver's Bay, and decides to bring justice and freedom to these lands, despite it delaying her return home to Westeros.
A Storm of Swords is both the third volume of A Song of Ice and Fire and, individually, the finest work of epic fantasy published since at least The Silmarillion in 1977. George R.R. Martin's writing skills in the first book were good, better in the second and hit impressive new heights here in the third, with growing layers of description and writing giving the Seven Kingdoms more colour and more depth with each passing volume. The characterisation remains strong, and in A Storm of Swords Martin delivers one of his masterstrokes by upgrading the hitherto villainous and reprehensible Jaime Lannister to full POV status. By taking us into the head of one of the 'bad guys' and showing us what makes him tick without descending into cliche (Jaime is still a dangerous and somewhat unpleasant character), Martin achieves some very fine character description and growth.
Elsewhere, Swords gives us some of the most out-and-out memorable moments in fantasy fiction in a long time. The duel between the Red Viper and the Mountain That Rides, several confrontations between Tyrion and his father, two certain weddings, the epic battle of the Wall, Bran and his companions' journey northwards and much more all resonate very strongly indeed. There is also some very nice subtlety, such as Meera's 'story' which is clearly not just a story, and Daenerys' realisation that having royal blood isn't enough, she must also earn her crown through experience and wisdom nicely subverts some of the more dubious cliches of fantasy fiction centering on noble families ruling through 'divine right' alone.
There is one slight cause for concern: Martin's writing definitely becomes more descriptive with each passing novel, contributing to their growing sizes and page-counts. Arguably not much more happens, in terms of sheer important incidents, in Storm than in Thrones, but the book is over a third longer. Whilst the pacing and writing quality remains superb in this volume, this growth in size and depth does evoke troubling memories of what happened to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series around its sixth volume. Also, whilst it's not a problem for Storm, the decision to hold back some story developments from the end of Storm (where they chronologically belong, such as the ironborn kingsmoot and so on) for the then-planned five-year-gap (and later inserted into Feast instead) does contribute to some of the writing issues in the two subsequent novels, and their resultingly epic writing times. On the plus side, this does result in Storm having a very strong and somewhat final ending. It's certainly not a full resolution of all the stories in progress, but those stories are 'plateaued' or put on hold in a manner that does not demand immediate resolution (probably why the wait for Feast was not as onerous for many fans as the one for Dance is at the moment). For those put off from reading A Song of Ice and Fire so far due to its incomplete status, the fact that you can read the first three books alone and reach a natural pausing point rather than a cliffhanger may be useful information.
A Storm of Swords (*****) is an excellent fantasy novel, rich in memorable characters, classic moments, fierce battles, quieter moments of reflection and some almost stomach-churning moments of genuine shock and betrayal. It remains unmatched among modern epic fantasy novels (although some have come close to unseating it) for combining a sheer epic scope and a real sense of humanity at the same time.
on 30 July 2013
Book three and a half of A Song of Ice and Fire is really the second half of the third book, but I've read it a few months after finishing the first half, and thought it worked well on its own, being a length that felt more manageable to read in one go.
This is a really action packed episode in the story, full of unexpected twists and events that really shake up the ongoing storyline. I love how unpredictable the plot can be and how Martin can play with my perceptions of each character throughout.
I found my criticisms of earlier novels in the series swept away - the pacing was perfect, the points of view more at good intervals, and there was never a moment that I didn't want to dive straight into the next chapter.
This is probably my favourite entry in the series so far - it brings a lot of character and plot, and if the following novels are this good, I'm really looking forward to reading them.
on 18 September 2013
If you have enjoyed the series so far, this will not disappoint you. I love 'em all, so I'm biased.
on 6 June 2016
Blood and Gold is the second instalment of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series which you might know better as the series that Game of Thrones, the TV series, is based on. That makes this technically the fourth book, and so far I’ve been able to read them in order and to stay ahead from the series, although the first episode of the sixth season aired the day before I finished the book. I’ve been holding back on watching it, because I prefer to imagine the characters in my head before I witness them on the screen.
This book is probably my least favourite book so far in the series, although I still gave it an 8/10 which is above my general rating for a professional quality book. It also features a lot of key plot elements, including the Red Wedding, which I’d already heard about before I even started on the books. Luckily, I didn’t know the specifics, and so when it did happen, I got to experience it for the first time – it is a pretty big deal, but it felt over-hyped when I got to it.
Here, you get to watch character development in action – in particular, Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly of the Nights Watch grow even more three-dimensional, and we can start to see them coming into their own. Stannis Baratheon also made a couple of decisions which impressed me, and which simultaneously changed my opinion of his character whilst reinforcing who he was all along.
But there are also a couple of lazier elements to the plots – one of the problems that I have with George R. R. Martin is that he seems to keep on killing people off and then bringing them back to life again. Done well, this can create a decent twist in the story – however, when it keeps on happening over and over again, it jerks you out of the story every time someone else dies. Instead of accepting it as a part of a story, you start to question whether the author’s telling the truth, and that makes you unsuspend your disbelief and leave Westeros for the next couple dozen of pages, until you have the death independently confirmed elsewhere.
Still, I read this across the space of eight days – I wouldn’t have been able to read it that quickly if I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m still showing no signs of slowing down. There are two more books for me to read until I’m up-to-date with the author’s latest releases, but he’s due to release another one pretty soon – either way, once I’m up-to-date with the books, I’ll be able to watch the series just like everyone else.
One good thing about Martin’s work is the level of detail that sits behind it – in this book, even more new characters are added, and several minor ones become more major. With each additional book in the series, you get to see another layer of the complexity – some of the story lines in this book were set in motion in A Game of Thrones, right back at the very start of the series. Considering the timespan of the books’ releases, you start to see how much planning must have gone into it – he’s tying up loose ends here that he introduced ten years earlier, and there are still other elements of Martin’s epic that are on-going even now.
Overall, then, whilst this isn’t my favourite book in the series, it’s still well worth reading if you’ve made it this far. And keep your eyes peeled for a couple of high profile deaths.
on 24 June 2014
These books are quite simply the best fiction i have ever read. George R.R. Martin is a genius. If you have heard all the clamour about game of thrones and are thinking of reading it, or have been watching the TV series, the books are brilliant. The early episodes follow the storyline in the books very closely at first but there is increasing variability as they go on.
Why is GoT so successful? Why do I say its brilliant and awesome? Well its because this is ground-breaking stuff. The character development in GoT is brilliant. None of this 'goodies' and 'baddies' stuff, characters are multi-dimensional and interesting - more like real life than in most books. George has created something with an element of fantasy here, but does really well in making the storyline and the characters drive the book, not fantasy. By making the element of magic and fantasy very light, he prevents it from taking over the story. For example, it could easily become too much about the dragons. When characters are introduced to the story, it is easy to think of them in a certain way - the letchurous dwarf, the cocky brother... but then they go forward and you realise that there is so much more to them. Jamie Lannister is a very complex character for example, when at first you expect just a good-looking but arrogant guy, obsessed with himself. But he turns out to show so many completely different traits. Secondly, is about formulaic literature. Too many books are constantly working a plot towards the goal they have - the central part of the plot, or the end of the book etc. Plots then become highly formulaic, twisting the each individual scene to contrive towards these goals. But GoT seems nothing like that and in fact its impossible to see where the plot is going. I am sure, that whilst George wrote the book, he didn't know where he was going with different elements of the plot and with certain characters. In GoT, many of the main characters get killed off, You never know who will be next. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Being able to read the book alongside the tv series is very good as well I find. The books of course do expand a little on what you see in the tv episodes at times. Generally, central elements pif the story are the same in the books as they are in the tv series, but actually there are an increasing number of differences, So I would recommend these thoroughly.
on 23 February 2014
One of the first books I have downloaded in Kindle edition to read on my tablet, and I actually feel guilty for not having a hard copy now. I would probably say it was the best one so far, especially towards the end. I appreciate that it is the second part of a bigger book so will naturally open and tie up more loose ends than would normally be expected, but some of the twists and turns in the last few chapters are amazing and completely unpredictable.
I love pretty much everything about this book. The writing style seems more developed than the previous books, and the story is more focused. Plenty of death and gore. Characterisation fantastic as always, a few people we all thought to be good turn out to be pretty horrible, others who we all initially found cold and boring are slowly coming into their own. Can't wait to watch this on TV!
If I have to be picky, there are 2 very very minor downsides to this book. One is that there is one death in particular that everyone will fuss over, when actually its not the best death in the book in my opinion. The other downside is that I now need to read the next book. As if this book wasn't a tough enough act to follow as it is, a lot of characters have either died or are on the run by the end (not saying who!), so I'm not sure if the next book in the series will be as good. However, if there's one thing we know about A Song of Ice and Fire its that pretty much everything is completely unexpected, and the fantastic Epilogue has reassured me that exciting things are still to come.
This is the second tome of Storm of Swords (Blood and Gold) from the UK edition. The tomes are sold in one massive volume in the US, which is preferable since Steel and Snow is a bit of an anti-climax when compared to Blood and Gold with the heart rending game-changes all happening in this tome.
I don't know about the gold, but you certainly get masses of blood in this one. Although I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, a good half a dozen of the characters come to a very "sticky end", most being murdered rather killed in battle. It very looks like Martin had fun bumping off some of them, if only to introduce some more chaos and further disruption into the war-torn continent of Westeros. Once again, everything is up in the air, with some of the "fans" howling like direwolves because one of their favourite characters (pick your choice after finishing the book!) has been somewhat brutally removed from the scene. Of course, as we have now become accustomed, all this happens with a suitable amount - meaning a lot - of treachery and deception with most of the murders happening at, or shortly after, weddings.
However, this book is not only about marriages, treasons, vengeance and murders. There are also some interesting evolutions in the personalities of some of the main characters who seem to become much more statesmen-like. One is Jaime Lannister, who starts taking his role as Commander of the Seven very seriously, even if it means clashing with other members of his family and making family loyalty come second. Another is Jon, whose feats in defending the Wall will be duly rewarded. A third is perhaps Stannis Barratheon, although his sense of duty is perhaps more doubtful since the expedition that he undertakes and the help he provides also happens to fit his own interests.
Even the epilogue is rather gripping with one of the characters that was thought to dead having obviously survived a rather grievous wound and seeking retribution. Expect much more blood-letting in future volumes, as the story gets to include Oldtown, Dorne and the Free Cities, areas of Martin's world that we have not yet discovered...