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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
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on 27 August 2003
Well, here's an oddity. An American book published as one paperback volume in the US, yet split into 2 in the UK. It's usually the other way around.
It is perhaps a little unfair to have this split into two. It's one book, and designed to be read as such. After all, no one is going to pick up part one, being the third book in an ongoing series, without reading part two as well. Besides, all of the big, widescreen moments happen in the second half, and the first volume is left without even a partial resolution or cliffhanger.
That said, this is brilliant. Make sure that there is a clean spot on the carpet in front of you before you start reading this, because your jaw is going to be spending a lot of time on the floor. If you thought the first two books in this series were amazing (they were), then you ain't seen nothing yet.
Martin's biggest strength is his characters; no one is good, no one is evil, everyone is just shades of grey. His second strength is his plotting - just when you think you know what's about to happen, he pulls the rug out from under you, and the exact opposite occurs. Things that should happen don't. Things that shouldn't happen do. Bad things happen to good people, and there ain't no justice.
This book left me scratching my head wondering how on earth one man can conjure all this out of his imagination.
But perhaps the best thing I can say about this is that after 3 books and 3,000 pages, we start to get a glimpse that perhaps Martin is not telling us the story that we thought he was...
Let's hope we get more of Daenerys next time round.
Valor Morghulis...
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on 3 November 2011
...like the way your favourite characters are brutally killed off and the story veers off past their barely cold remains...
...or the way that Martin switches your point of view full 360 degrees and the villain of the piece you've been hoping gets his or her come-uppance for two lengthy tomes, you now find yourself plotting with and rooting for.
...let me not forget (or forgive) the fact that key chapters of the story, which you're desperate to see unfolding, happen 'off-camera' as it were and you only find out about the dramatic events in a short third-hand and maybe untrustworthy report.
If I'd been writing these books House Stark would have been triumphant long before we reached book 4 but Martin's genius is that he tramples on and overturns all the clichés of the fantasy genre and still leaves you hungry for more. 5 stars dammit!
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on 30 May 2001
With a complex weave of fantasy and reality, George Martin continues to write this stunning series with an amount of depth and attention to character that I can't remember seeing recently in any high fantasy series. He continues on with his brutal look at a realistic world where no man or woman is spared from the bad things in life.
Characters are so believeable in their creation with a heavy dose of flaws and range of emotion. The look at the world as a whole and lands outside of the main continent are terrific giving the whole tale a mighty scope that only whets your appetite for more.
This third book finally starts to bring in the more magical aspects of the universe with subtlety and then smacks you over the head with a couple of stunning twists. The great thing is that the magic doesn't overshadow the deadly court intrigue and human wars, but mingles with it so perfectly that it seems very natural for it to be included.
Unfortunately I see that the next book isn't going to be released for over a year! Aye caramba! I don't know that I can hold out that long to find out what's going to happen next. I can't say enough positive things about this series. I recommend this to anyone that enjoys reading, not just those fantasy geeks like myself. It's a very fulfilling ride that just gets better with each page.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2014
Three books into the GOT series, and I realise that this is a reading experience that can’t really be equated with any other – especially since I am not an avid reader of sci fi or fantasy. I’ve read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Robert Rankin, Tad Williams (a couple of books) etc. However, this is by no means my genre. I can appreciate that for many hardcore fantasy fans, GOT must be at the pinnacle of the genre. It’s no exaggeration to say that people could probably do a degree on the subject! It is, without a doubt, a work nearing pure genius. So, why only three stars? Well, it’s simply because I am judging it according to my level of appreciation as someone who doesn’t read widely within this genre.

I would imagine that there are many readers who know all the houses (major and minor) and revel in (and can remember) every tiny detail. However, the sheer scope of these books is also, in some ways, what detracts from the enjoyment. Unless you’re prepared to read one after the other in quick succession, you will, undoubtedly, forget things that have gone on. Many characters populate the novels and you can go for numerous chapters before you return to a favourite character’s POV. But, for those who relish the details, I acknowledge that this is part of what makes GOT so compelling.

Personally, I find the books an utterly immersive experience. They are not page-turners in the conventional sense and, particularly in this instalment, there’s much detail but not a lot actually happening. That said, this isn’t supposed to be a stand-alone book and, from what others are saying, the action picks up in the second part. Despite the slow(ish) pace, I found myself returning to the novel if not with hungry anticipation, then with a sense that there was a group of friends within the pages with whom I wanted to catch up again. While reading Martin, you are drawn utterly into his world and, yes, that world does have faults: some characters are less well developed than others; sometimes you don’t hear enough from your favourite characters; it can be slow at times; the detail is too great (I don’t necessarily care to know what the coat of arms are for each house); it always irks me when Americanisms creep into the writing (like gotten). I know, I know – Martin’s an American writer. However, the strength of GOT is that it’s sort of timeless – but, if you had to place it anywhere in your mind, it’d be Mediaeval England/Europe (probably why British actors have been used in the TV version).

Despite these faults, you can’t help be awed by the landscape and people Martin has created. My favourite characters are Daenerys (you know she’s got so much more to give as a character) and Tyrion. For me, Tyrion is the best-drawn of the characters; he’s witty, wicked, deep, kind-hearted, loyal – he might be an Lannister but he’s one of the good Lannisters (at the moment)! He just seems more fleshed out than some of the others who own POV chapters. With some, like Bran, I feel that Martin is simply narrating what happens to him – but with characters such as Tyrion and Daenerys, you feel that you’re getting into their minds more. Jamie also emerged, in this instalment, as an interesting character with a wit that’s not quite on a par with Tyrion’s but could get there.

So – to conclude. If you’re reading these reviews, you’ve probably read the first two books and I’d say it’s definitely worth continuing. Just don’t expect any great plot twists this time and probably bear in mind this is the set-up to what’s going to come next.
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on 2 March 2015
I began reading these books after watching the TVs series so as I read this book I knew what was coming but this did not spoil things as I was able to appreciate how well this part of the saga builds the tension and sets the scene for part 2 ( Blood and Gold)
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on 17 January 2012
This may seem like an unfair review but I'm trying to express my experience of the Song of Fire and Ice so far and my expectation of what is to come. After a very kind friend bought me the first four books in the series for Christmas I settled down to start reading on Boxing Day. I read the first book in days as I was so utterly enthralled by it. The second book took me about a week! However, by the end of this book I experienced something that I have NEVER experienced before....I started to find that I did't really care who lived and who died as I don't particularly like any of the characters and I'm getting bored with them (I have a weird fondness for Tyrion but I'm sure that's just me!). For some reason I then read reviews of the last three books in the series, only to discover that they aren't the last three books and it appears that this tale will go on and on forever without end. Before this, the longest series I have read was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (at six books to the series) and that felt long....but at least it ended. Take a look at the reviews of Book 6: A Dance With Dragons....the breakdown of scores out of 5 look a lot different to the ones for this book with people expressing frustration at the rambling never-ending nature of the saga.

I'm sure I'll get lots of criticism for this review but when I read I always find myself enjoying the journey whilst looking forward to finding out how it all ends. I can't face reading the next three books only to find that I'm no closer to an ending than I was at book 1. My plan is to stop reading now and wait until the series is finally concluded before I venture any further. Patience is not one of my strong points!!!
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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'.
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on 4 June 2014
Yet again I really enjoyed the beginning and the end, but found the middle part to be lacking. Don't get me wrong there were some brilliant bits in the middle but I just found some of it a bit tedious. Arya, Sansa and Jon Snow are really starting to stand out for me along with Tyrion, I just hope that there parts carry on to be as exciting in the next book.
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fantastic and frustrating in equal measures. i'm reviewing the series of books as a whole because that's how it has to be read. yes arguments can be made that the books could have been structured better and this has resulted in some "bad" ones, but the author is limited by how physically big a book can be, so hard decisions have to be made!

fantastic because of the huge world, the many characters, the many storylines.

frustrating because at times it's like the author goes out of his way to not give you what you want.

can't wait for the next one!
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