So, I realize that I’m a bit late to the party on this one. I’ve been avoiding reading it because of what George R. R. Martin’s books do to me. The problem? One all-nighter isn’t enough to finish the book. I get so involved with them that I can’t put them down, then turn into a zombie librarian.
I was going to wait to read “A Storm of Swords” till I was completely done with grad school, but then some assholes on Twitter said something about a Red Wedding, and I realized that I had to read it now or everything would be spoiled.
If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, stop reading now and instead go to Game of Thrones. This review will contain spoilers from the first two books.
Normally I’d write a paragraph or two summarizing the book, but I can sum it up in two words: Everyone dies. Well, not everyone. But if you’ve read the first two books, you know that nobody is safe and that if you get too attached to someone, he/she will die a brutal death. “A Storm of Swords” is probably the bloodiest book in the series thus far. Be warned.
One of the things that I found interesting in this book was the role that religion plays. Each culture or group has its own religion–the Old Gods, the Seven, the Lord of Light, etc. Many of the religions seem to contradict each other, and yet members of them have magical powers. We’ve got Melissandre and her freaky dark magic that often calls for blood sacrifices, and it has been demonstrated to topple kings. Her magic seems to be a part of the same system as the Wight-Walkers and the Others of the North. Then we’ve got Bran and his wolf dreams, as he journeys North on a voyage of self-discovery, showing that not everything above the Wall is bad. Then there’s the Wall itself, which seems to be imbued with the power of the Old Gods. The list goes on. There are a lot of seemingly conflicting mythologies, and I’m curious to see whether one wins in the end or if they are all part of a larger worldview that will be revealed as the story progresses.
As I’m reading, I’m never entirely sure who I’m rooting for. I’ve always hated Catelyn Stark, because she has this holier-than-thou attitude while being mean to Jon Snow. I can’t forgive her for that; you just don’t blame a child for his parents’ mistakes. At the same time, she’s emerged as a major political player, which I didn’t expect. Not a ruler, obviously, but still a force to be reckoned with. Then there’s Stannis–much as Melissandre’s magic just reeks of evil, he’s the only one (aside from the Night’s Watch) that seems to give a damn about what’s going on in the North. And, much as the Lannisters are annoying, their rule had an aura of stability to it before Renly, Stannis, and Robb decided to start a war. It wouldn’t bother me so much if there were some sort of driving ideological difference between them, but there’s not. And Daenerys? Well, she’s off with her dragons, freeing slaves and building herself a kingdom. That’s very noble, but I think staying where she’s at is probably better than uprooting her people and marching off to Westeros.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the first two books, you’ll definitely like this one. Certain characters get their comeuppance, and it’s quite satisfying. At the same time, you’ll be left with more questions than answers. I’m going to wait a while before starting the fourth book (I haven’t caught up on sleep yet), but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.