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A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3 Part 1) Paperback – 7 Apr 2003
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‘Nobody does fantasy quite like George R.R. Martin’
‘Colossal, staggering… all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome’
‘The sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias’
Split into two books for the paperback, the third volume in George R.R. Martin's superb and highly acclaimed epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire continues the richest, most exotic and mesmerising saga since The Lord of the Rings. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud, and winter approaches like an angry beast. Beyond the Northern borders, wildlings leave their villages to gather in the ice and stone wasteland of the Frostfangs. From there, the renegade Brother Mance Rayder will lead them South towards the Wall. Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown in the Kingdom of the North, but his defences are ranged against attack from the South, the land of House Stark's enemies the Lannisters. His sisters are trapped there, dead or likely yet to die, at the whim of the Lannister boy-king Joffrey or his depraved mother Cersei, regent of the Iron Throne. And Daenerys Stormborn will return to the land of her birth to avenge the murder of her father, the last Dragon King on the Iron Throne.See all Product description
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As with all the other books in the series this one has a helpful section listing the characters and their relationship to each other and a (slightly difficult to read) map of the land. It is set up so that a right or left click on the navigator button on your Kindle will take you forward or back a chapter so that you can remind yourself where you last left a character
How wrong could I be?
Once I returned to the book I immediately started recognising that I had either forgotten some event, or that it was explained far more elaborately than the TV version could hope to do.
The whole world you become involved in is quite literally sumptuous. The characters are full of depth and the plot has many twists and turns, but all there for a logical reason.
This has immediately become my favourite book series, surpassing many other tomes I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past.
The author should be commended. If you have even the slightest interest in fantasy novels, check this one out. Just be warned though - it can often be quite brutal in nature. If you are of a sensitive nature, you may prefer a less 'intense' alternative.
One of Martin's habits, or at least it is getting into a habit, is to introduce into each of his volume some new features of his fiction world. In this one, we get at least two. The first is linked to Daenerys and to Slavers' Bay, where we get introduced to the brick slaver cities, with their square pyramids and their slave merchants. I couldn't help trying to guess what inspired him here. Perhaps it was the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. Anyway, the slave soldiers seem to be a bit inspired by the Turkish Mamluks and the Ottoman janissaries, except that they also seem to be eunuchs. Another nice piece that most "fans" have probably loved (me included) is that we see the dragons in action, fire and all.
The second piece that interested me is what is happening in the war-torn central part of Westeros in the absence of major battles: the "day-to-day life" in a war-torn zone infested with marauders from all sides. This is heavily inspired by the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses, with war bands from both sides digging themselves into the various castles and fortresses that they might have taken, living of the country, and raiding whatever territory is controlled by the other factions. This is very much the situation that prevails between the Twins and Kings Landing and we get a glimpse at some of the various bands of warriors and mercenaries serving on each side, and sometimes changing sides.
Regarding the characters, there are a few comebacks, such as Beric Dondarion and Thoros of Myr, the Red Priest, both of which are much changed. We also see quite a bit of the Hound, Sandor Clegane, who, after escaping from King's Landing and the Lannisters, travels with Arya and runs into the two characters mentioned above. The main comeback, however, is that of Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, who manages to get back to his side but is no longer the dashing, rash and near-invincible swordsman that he used to be. Finally, we have the continuing adventure of Jon with the wildlings which he manages the get rid of at some cost.
Anyway, volume 1 of Steel and Snow is still rather good, if perhaps slightly less so than the previous instalments.
I definitely agree with another reviewer on Amazon.co.uk - this is bordering 4 stars, but not quite that - although we happen to be coming at it from two opposite directions.
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