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.
on 8 November 2015
I got hooked on reading the series.
Very enjoyable and unputdownable.
It is a little more complex than the TV series which I have since started watching, and keeping track of the characters can be challenging. The narrative strands that are running by the end of the series (currently 5 books in 7 volumes) are fascinating but will be a challenge to bring together at any point, even after the 'promised' two further 1500 page books (according to one internet entry).
I think we can safely assume that the closing sentence will not end 'and they all lived happily ever after'.
This is the second volume in the third book, in George R R Martin's idiosyncratic numbering system. While Part 1 Steel and Snow was rather slow moving and seemed to tread water, Part 2 Blood and Gold, after a slightly slow start, contained a lot of dramatic and horrifying events, especially surrounding the Red Wedding and King Joffrey Baratheon's wedding. A couple of my favourite characters' fates hung in the balance, but they have made it to the end of the novel. The ending sets the scene for some interesting new directions in the next book, which I may well read sooner than the six month gap I left between the two parts of Book 3.
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!