Review: A Storm of Swords – Part 1

This post will include my review of the book A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. It is the first part of the third volume of A Song of Ice and Fire series, released in October 2000.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.


Blood runs truer than oaths

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud as winter approaches like an angry beast. In the northern wastes a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his young sisters in their power. Throughout Westeros the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

This is a very dark book. Nothing particularly heartwarming happens at any stage during this book.

Tyrion begins at death’s door after the battle for Kings Landing, and things don’t improve much from there. Sansa, still flush from being freed of Joffrey has hope dangled before her which is cruelly snatched away – though I’ll admit I found it hard to feel sorry for her because she went on to prove just how shallow a person she is.

Arya, escapes from one captor only to find herself captured again, this time by a band of outlaws and Jon Snow is made to betray his Black Brothers and live amid the wildlings. Bran continued moving North toward the Wall for reasons which I am not entirely clear on but seem to have something to do with his burgeoning powers.

Daenerys appears in only a couple of chapters in this first half of book three, and to be honest her chapters are probably the only ones that contain some positive movement toward a goal.

That said, I can understand why this type of tale is appropriate at this stage of the story. Books one and two introduced the world, and the characters and set the events in motion which culminated in a huge flurry of activity during book two so book three was always going to seem flat by comparison. These are the events of the aftermath of a number of monumental clashes, it would be impossible (and nonsensical) to sustain the level of build-up that rounded out book 2.

I do expect though that there are a few threads being weaved here that will be important in subsequent books. Davos is reunited with Stannis after spending some time in his dungeons, and Jaime Lannister is forced to rethink what kind of a man he is when he is recaptured before reaching Kings Landing. I expect that Brienne of Tarth has been a positive influence on the arrogant heir to Casterly Rock.

With the second part of Book 3 now begun I doubt I’ll see much change in the tone of the next 600 pages but I remain impressed by the scale of the story and intrigued by the characters, but best of all there was no Theon Greyjoy in this book – let’s hope he remains absent in part 2.

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