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.
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 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!
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.
The War of the Five Kings takes a remarkable twist when three of them are suddenly killed. In the far east Queen Danaerys begins breaking the city-states of the slavers, whilst in the frozen north, the Wildlings reach the Wall, with the Others not far behind.
I simply cannot explain to a newcomer how good Martin's book's are. He is constantly surprising you, with characters you thought invincible dying and other you thought villains proving themselves honourable (Jaime Lannister). The author's not afraid to challenge our expectations, showing time and time again that nothing is certain. Of all the fantasy author's out there, Martin's characters are the most thoroughly developed and realistic and his plotlines are entirely believable. He has chosen to introduce magic to his series very slowly, an idea which I applaud for it's tension building qualities, and here we just begin to get the impression of a far more dangerous threat in the north.
Only three things I can possibly complain about: 1) My favourite character, Tyrion, is always getting the bad end of the stick. 2) His stories are a little too historically realistic and as such, quite depressing. 3) I've got to wait until next year to find out what happens next!
on 22 October 2001
Martin's skill with the written word, his magical ability to steal your attention and lose you in this magical world of his is utterly stunning. But it is not just his ability to draw a picture in the mind but also his capability in writing a hundred different twist and tricks into his plot that make it such an astonishing read. no character is safe from his machinations, no event is totaly predictable, nothing is obvious and everything is to be expected. One critic suggested that his books were on a par with J.R.R.Tolkien, i say that there has never been more truth to a statement.
on 15 August 2001
The third book in this high quality series is the best yet. I'd give four stars to the other books in this series because though the scope of imagination and plot are far beyond most fantasy novels this often made the opening books in the series a liitle slow at times.
In this installment we start to see some resolution in the convoluted political situation of the Seven Kingdoms (although not quite as you might expect from the earlier books), and along with the growing influence of Daenerys the story feels like it is starting to shape itself.
Also, the as to now mainly suggested fantasy elements of the story, seem to be hovering on the horizon ready to push the characters in a direction they cannot foresee.
All in all both parts of the third installment were thoroughly enjoyable, especially the second, and the series seems to be building more and more momentum as it goes on. If you were one of the very few who didn't continue with the series after the first book go back and have another look.
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 14 July 2011
I have just finished this fourth book in the series, and will be reading no further. I am getting bored out of my skull, with what started out as a fabulously-engrossing story in Game of Thrones, but has now deteriorated into an endless series of 'cliffhanger' chapter endings and an endless parade of characters, created apparently only to be killed off or passed around, ad infinitum. I no longer give a rip who becomes 'king' or IF anybody ever becomes king, who survives, who doesn't, or who-marries-whom. Ho-bloody-hum.
Is there any resolution to this saga in sight? Well, no, apparently not yet. I understand this author has written, what, 5 books, 6 books, and STILL his 'story' isn't anywhere near being finished? I do think Mr Martin is having us on here. As long as people keep buying these books, he'll keep on churning them out. Why kill the Golden Goose?
What a waste of such a strong writing talent!
A GOOD story -- any kind of story, short OR long, including 'fantasy' sagas -- must have focus, a beginning, middle and end. The ending need not be happy, but all loose threads need to be tied together in some satisfactory and believable way at the conclusion. And there really DOES need to be a conclusion -- hopefully one the author had in mind from the very start. Mr Martin should take a gander at Joe Abercrombie's First Law fantasy trilogy, to see how a multi-viewpoint, lengthy and complicated 'gritty' story SHOULD be constructed.
Soap operas differ from stories. Soaps just diddle on and on and on from day to day, until somebody finally pulls the plug on them. Exciting events come and go, original characters have their dramas, leave the show, new characters appear, hang around, have THEIR dramas, then THEY leave ...etc, etc... Sound familiar?
A Song of Ice and Fire isn't a story any more -- if it ever was; it's a long-running paperback soap opera.
There are obviously folks out there who enjoy this kind of never-ending saga, but I'm not one of them. I'm away. If somebody ever comes to me and says 'Hey -- did you know George RR Martin FINALLY finished his Song of Ice and Fire saga?', I might pick it up again and read on. But until that day dawns, I'm through. Sorry.
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.