(Cover picture courtesy of Barnes and Noble.)
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 left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver 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….
A Song of Ice and Fire series just gets better and better as I go along. Not only was the plot full of unexpected twists this time around, but the characters took some pretty surprising turns. Characters who were once insignificant now play much more interesting roles and betrayals are around every corner. Plenty of the betrayals blindsided me and some of the changes in characters’ personalities made sense, but were definitely unexpected.
Part of the reason why I liked A Storm of Swords so much is that George R. R. Martin did so much more world development. We got to see things from the perspective of wildlings, but also other peoples across the Narrow Sea as well as in the Free Cities. Not only that, but we got to learn more about the history of Westeros and the surrounding countries in a more natural way rather than having all of the backstory dumped on us. Martin’s world isn’t the typical fantasy world I thought it was in the first book, in part because Martin actually understands politics. It’s not a simple good versus evil fight and the characters are completely good or completely evil; there’s ambiguity all throughout the novel.
And of course, where would this series be without its awesome characters? Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow all get pretty good page time like in A Clash of Kings, but characters like Jaime Lannister and Samwell Tarly also get their say. I admit that I like some characters a lot more than others and sometimes the points of view of my least favourite characters were annoying, but that’s just personal preference. Pretty much all of the points of view Martin uses are necessary to move the story along.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but when of my favourite things about George R. R. Martin is that he’s not afraid to kill off important characters. Some authors hesitate about killing off their personal favourites or even fan favourites, but not him! He actually makes his characters suffer to the point where you wonder if it’s too much. Still, it makes for an excellent novel filled with all kinds of drama set against a brilliant fantasy world. It’s a thousand pages of pure awesome, to put it bluntly. Seriously, if you haven’t read this series yet, you should start.
I give this book 5/5 stars.