“A Storm of Swords” by George R. R. Martin

“A Storm of Swords” by George R. R. MartinA Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #3
Published: 2000 by Bantam
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 1177
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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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.

18 thoughts on ““A Storm of Swords” by George R. R. Martin

  1. I read Storm of Swords a couple of years ago and after finishing, I had to charge ahead to the next one. I agree with you on your points. There is lot of different religions going on and a lot of personal animosity between characters. It’s sometimes a little hard to keep up, but it is a very good read. I do love that George R.R. Martin doesn’t make any of his characters safe.

    1. I’m waiting to read the next one till I’m done with grad school, because otherwise I just won’t get any work done. 😛

      I’m curious to see where GRRM goes with the story, although my friends tell me that this was the best book of the series and that the other two go downhill.

  2. That’s okay Grace, I’m late to the party too! I still liked A Storm of Swords and am currently reading A Feast for Crows. My feelings are mixed about the fourth one, though. It mainly focuses on what’s happening at King’s Landing and I miss Daenerys’ perspective. It’s nice to see Sansa finally have something go right for her, though. Well, as ‘right’ as things can go in a messed up world like Westeros. I hope Martin finishes the series in less than a decade, even if he took a decade to write the last two books. Hopefully the TV series gives him a little more motivation! 🙂

    1. Every time I start feeling bad for Sansa, she does something incredibly stupid that pisses me off. Even in this book–she got married off to the best character (and someone who is not Joffrey) and she had to be a big baby about it. You’d think she’d realize when something had finally gone in her favor, but noooooo.

      1. True, but she does get quite a bit better in A Feast for Crows. She actually matures and learns to keep her mouth shut about her situation! I think she’ll definitely be a character to watch in the future, judging by the ending of AFFC.

  3. You just wait. You have to read the next two back-to-back if you want the full story as each is only half the story and half the characters; talk about exhausting! I’m excited to see how the magic plays out over the last two novels as it’s slowly crept in with what might-or-might-not-be magic throughout the series from hints and whispers to (sham) examples.

    1. Haha, even more reason to wait to start them… I need a long weekend, at least. 😛

      I wish I knew when the next book was coming out.

  4. I know how you feel. It is so difficult to avoid spoilers these days. You are practically forced to keep up. As for the book, this was my favorite book in the series so far.

    1. Mhm. I didn’t even realize it was Game of Thrones night until the spoilers started showing up on Twitter. Definitely going to make sure that I read the others before the show catches up to them.

  5. I’ve seen TWO mentions of the Red Wedding and proceeded in a rather “LALALA NOT LISTENING SHUTUP WITH THE SPOILERS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE” kind of fashion. You know, all dignified and such. It is exactly why I’ve started reading as well and for god’s sake I can’t stop thinking “what could the Red Wedding be?” Even that is enough to spoil a reading experience for me. 🙁 Hate this TV show.. I don’t, really, but for some reason people think it’s A-OKAY to spoil something if it’s been on TV. *growl*

    Still, really looking forward to seeing where the “best of the series so far” goes!

    1. I know, right? Like, I realize it just aired, but people should spoiler-proof their conversations just a wee bit. Not everyone has HBO! (or cable, for that matter, tehe)

  6. This man has a habit of turning his readers into zombies – I walked around college for a week in an absolute daze. I haven’t been able to finish A Dance With Dragons, I started to have problems with it. I should probably wait until you get there and see what you think before I say any more. But the other books? Loved.

    Normally I’d write a paragraph or two summarizing the book, but I can sum it up in two words: Everyone dies.

    Haha, have you seen this? 🙂

    1. Haha, that’s awesome! I hadn’t seen it before.

      I’ve heard from friends who have read all of them that A Dance With Dragons is mediocre and that nothing really happens. That’s kind of sad considering how eagerly anticipated it was, and it makes me wonder if maybe GRRM got tired of writing his own series.

      1. I get that impression too, that he’s tired of writing his own series. Too many characters and too many time frames to juggle, perhaps.

        I thought A Storm of Swords was fantastic, and was looking forward to the next. That was A Feast of Crows, where several people went back and forth while accomplishing very little. I did enjoy Cersei’s rise to power and the wise, careful use she made of said power (not) but that wasn’t enough to carry the book. Still, I thought this was a small lapse in an otherwise brilliant series, so I was looking forward to the next book. Dany, Tyrion, Jon, how could it go wrong?

        Oh, let me count the ways…

        1. A lot of my friends hate Cersei, but I’ve come to have a healthy respect for her. She doesn’t sit back and let herself be manipulated, but rather uses the system in her favor to accomplish her goals. They’re not always the noblest of goals, but she’s clearly both intelligent and ambitious.

          I still need to read “A Feast of Crows”. I need a free three-day weekend with no plans though, because I know I’ll hit multiple cliffhangers and want to stay awake reading the book till it’s done.

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