Top positive review
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Make way for the Kingslayer
on 9 April 2012
Steel and Snow is the first part of the third volume of the saga, A Storm of Swords. So far it has lived up to the expectations created by the climatic ending of A Clash of Kings, but this review feels incomplete because most of what happened in Steel and Snow is a build-up to the second part, Blood and Gold.
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater, the losers are licking their wounds while the victorious are capitalizing on the momentum by building new alliances, so expect more politics and less warfare. Unfortunately we get less of Tyrion, whose role is hampered by the arrival of his father to King's Landing, but his chapters are enjoyable as always. Even though the Starks keep winning in the battlefield, their position has never been more fragile.
North of the Wall, Jon Snow joins the wildlings to learn everything he can about them, but will find out that living as a spy is even harder than he supposed it would be, not because of his wary enemies, but because of new unexpected friendships. We also get some chapters from the point of view of Sam Tarly.
In the East, Daenerys continues her struggle to raise an army capable to get her throne back.
In my opinion, the first half of A Storm of Swords makes me believe it will be the best book of the saga so far. The War of the Kings and Jon Snow storylines keep up the high standards we got used to. However, the Daenerys storyline really kicks off, as the last Targaryen shows the world she is no longer the naïve princess that was presented to us in Pentos. But the real surprise for me was the addition of Jaime Lannister as a point of view character. His chapters were absolutely stunning, showing us a lot more than a simple minded villain who only cares for his sister or fighting.
+: Jaime Lannister added as POV character; Daenerys finally rises as a real menace to those who oppose her
-: Tyrion being pushed to a more secondary role
=: This first part really sets high expectations for Blood and Gold; all storylines are compelling from the start, which is something the previous two volumes lacked; less Tyrion is fully compensated by much more Jaime and Daenerys