Book Review: A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin [TSS]

Title: A Storm of Swords
Author: George R. R. Martin
ISBN: 9780553573428
Pages: 1216
Release Date: March 4, 2003
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first two books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings.

Summary:

The war for the throne of the Seven Kingdoms continues in the third book in George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Prince Joffrey is still on the throne in King’s Landing, while Stannis Baratheon has fled back to his sorceress after a crippling defeat. Robb Stark has won every battle he’s engaged in, but somehow he isn’t managing to win the war. And Daenerys Targaryen continues her trek, accompanied by the last three dragons in the world, intent on recapturing her family’s lost throne.

Review:

When a series is as hyped as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s easy to think that each book will decline in quality. After all, these books are the size of rather large doorstops, and they could easily have too many characters and be overly complex. So, imagine my surprise when I sat down with A Storm of Swords, and not only was it the only thing I wanted to read for all of its 1000+ pages, but it turned out to be my favorite book so far in the series.

George R. R. Martin shakes up his series completely with A Storm of Swords. The entire series thus far has been about the war for the throne. While that’s still a central part of the books, the characters are becoming weary of treachery and bloodshed. What’s the point of fighting if you don’t seem to be able to win? It’s becoming increasingly clear to these characters that simple battle isn’t going to achieve their ends. It’s difficult to discuss it much more without getting into details, so I’ll just say that Martin took an incredible risk with this novel, gambling with the lives and deaths of characters the reader has become attached to, and it paid off completely.

Though I’ve said it in previous reviews, I have to say it again: Martin’s character development and complexity of worldbuilding is absolutely unmatched in almost any book I’ve ever read, fantasy or not. It’s hard to believe that these characters aren’t real. Their stories are so detailed, and Martin gets the reader so far into their heads. I am absolutely and completely in awe of the author’s imagination, his writing ability, and his ability to create nuanced, realistic characters that leap off the page.

Weeks after finishing A Storm of Swords, I’m still reeling from the events depicted in it. Readers will be shocked at who they’re rooting for in this book, as the characters that they want to hate turn out to be the most appealing. What’s more, readers will be left in the ashes of Martin’s imagination, as he takes swipes left and right, cutting down characters that readers thought were indispensible to his story. Martin proves that taking risks can pay off tenfold; I’m already counting down the days before I allow myself to start the next book in this series.

Other books by George R. R. Martin:

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings

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