A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The game of thrones ends, but lurking in the cold shadows of the far north the real fight it awaiting the survivors of “A Storm of Swords”, the third book of George R.R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire. In a series already known for its unexpected twists on fantasy tropes, this book sent fans into the depths of depression as well as the joys of delirium only to realize that there was so much more to go through.
After the battle of the Blackwater, the Lannisters are in the ascent as the war turns against Robb after he breaks his marriage agreement with the Freys. Things get worse after his biggest bargaining chip is released by his own mother as Jaime Lannister heads to King’s Landing only things quickly get out of hand on his turn to Cersei’s bed as well as his view of himself. Yet in a series of ever worsening weddings Robb and Joffrey perish sending the North and the Riverlands into the chaos while Tyrion Lannister is put on trial for his life for the death of his nephew.
As southern Westeros becomes a wash in blood, the Mance Rayder’s Wildlings attack Castle Black from the south and the north after the failure of the Great Ranging. Like in the first two books, Martin kills his first point-of-view character in the book in the prologue as wrights attack the Fist of First Men that less than half of the Night Watch survives. Through Jon’s POV we see first his journey with the Wildings over the Wall before his escape to warn his brothers and then lead the defense of the Wall before a surprise attack ends the Wilding threat. Meanwhile Samwell survived the Fist and has an encounter with Bran, the Reeds, and Hodor as each tries to get to the other side of the Wall. Meanwhile in Essos, Daenerys travels to Slaver’s Bay and begins liberating the three great slaver cities taking first the Unsullied as her army then conquering both Yunkai and Meereen in turn before settling in the later to learn how to rule.
“A Storm of Swords” shows that wars usually end in very messy ways and that the fallout will have lasting repercussions, Martin really drives this home when he has his first Epilogue chapter that shows the sins of crimes committed in war not only live on but can have dire magical consequences in Westeros. As in the first two books the political intrigue, the growing power of magic, and combat are in abundance but the reader is also seeing the real consequences of decisions that are having decided effects on all sorts of conspiracies and strategies. “A Storm of Swords” is the bloody conclusion to the first act of George R.R. Martin’s magnum opus leading to a second act full of feasting crows and dragons dancing.
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