The confrontation among the different candidates to the throne in this third book in the series is heating up, and the supernatural elements begin to have more and more relevance. Joffrey Baratheon is currently sitting as acting king, but there are several challengers to his power, including his “uncle” Stannis, Robb Stark, the king in the north, and the last of the Targaryen, Daenerys, who is coming with her three dragons! (Reader’s should thank Phyllis too for making Martin put in the dragons)
This setup, together with an abundance of interesting sub plots make this the most entertaining fantasy series I have ever encountered. For example, Jon Snow is beyond the wall in the north and has proven his loyalty to the wildlings by killing a brother. He is acting as a spy but without the rest of his brothers from the Night Watch knowing it, and while the Night Watch prepares to defend the wall against the wildlings and the Others (terrifying undead creatures), Jon needs to find a way to help them. But at the same time he needs to keep the wildlings’ trust and deal with the added inconvenience of love.
One of the characteristics that make this series so remarkable is that the author establishes extremely interesting situations in which the characters need to be extremely cunning to succeed in their quest. In this regard, one of my favorite characters is Tyrion Lannister, the Imp, who is a dwarf that was almost killed in the previous book and in the process was disfigured and left even uglier than he already was. He has only one weapon, his intelligence, and seeing him use it is a true pleasure. The fact that as happens with many other characters in the series, it is hard to determine if Tyrion is “good” or “bad”, makes him even more interesting. The match of brains between Tyrion and Littlefinger will satisfy the most demanding of readers and leave you smiling with pleasure. To sum up this idea, there is nothing better than to let Tyrion’s father express it in these simple terms: “Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens”.
The second aspect of the series that is a true delight is Martin’s willingness to let go of characters, and by this I simply mean: he kills them without remorse! Some people may find this to be a negative point, since you may become attached to a character and the author kills it when you thought he was going to be the hero of the story. But I find this extremely refreshing and makes the books even more interesting for me, because the author keeps us on our toes and constantly wondering what the next surprise will be.
Finally, I enjoy the non-linear aspects plot, with the author jumping around from one character’s viewpoint to the next. In this installment, besides alternating among characters and locations, he goes a back and forth in time due to the long time span of some events, but the action it is still easy to track and enjoy. Besides those characters I already mentioned, this novel deals mainly with Arya Stark, the youngest sister of the king in the north (Robb), who is on the run from Joffrey’s claws; Sansa Stark, the oldest sister, who is still trapped in the castle from which her sister escaped, Catelyn Stark, the mother who is desperate to get her daughter’s back, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion’s brother who is the real father of king Joffrey and not his uncle, and many others colorful characters.
Martin has created and developed an amazing setting for his story, and the situations that he continues to present keep us constantly engaged and eager to know what will happen next. With the recent release of “A Feast for Crows”, some of the storylines that are left in suspense in this novel will be resolved, but since this new book deals only with events in the south, we will have to wait until the next installment to know what is going on in the north. One thing is clear to me, as long as George R. R. Martin keeps them coming I will keep reading them.