In continuing my journey into Westeros, I actually was surprised by the fact that I really quite liked this third instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire. Where the previous two books had been hard going, with a lot of characters introduced and extreme difficulty keeping track of them, by this point I felt like I had gotten a handle on who the main players in the game were, and so I was ready to actually engage with the twists and turns of the story.
Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…
Despite really plodding through the first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire, I was drawn in enough to want to keep going, so I made my way through A Storm of Swords, but as I started it, I wasn’t all that excited about where it was going.
Boy, though, was I pleasantly surprised. Mysteries which had been percolating for two books were resolved, new characters were introduced, new alliances forged, and death poked its head up in all kinds of places – both expected and unexpected.
A Storm of Swords was also the book in which two of the things I had heard spoilers about occurred. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was beyond excited about the release of Goldenhand last year, so it was one of my tracked tags on tumblr. However, the tag was also rife with pictures of Jaime Lannister. Hmmm. Suspicious.
The other great happening of this book was the infamous Red Wedding. I didn’t know whose wedding was the Red Wedding, so I regarded every wedding from the beginning of A Clash of Kings with suspicion and alertness until I finally reached the much-discussed scene, and even though I had anticipated it, I was not disappointed.
I have no love for Sansa, nor Danaerys, although she annoys me much more in the tv show than the books, but there are plenty of really interesting characters here, and I’m beginning to appreciate the shifting narrative more, as it draws a more epic story than a book which followed a single protagonist.
Plus, of course, POV characters can die at any time, so that’s fun, and unexpected, unlike in Allegiant, where the introduction of a second POV was a giant red flag…
This is definitely my favourite of the series so far, and I might even go so far as to say that I actually enjoyed it, rather than plodding through it out of a sense of dogged determination.
A Feast for Crows is now high up on my TBR, although it’s being crowded out by a whole bunch of other books that keep popping up and enticing me to read them.