A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow (2000) – George R. R. Martin


Four stars

Read Dec 24 2014 – Mar 16 2015

Book 3.1 in A Song of Ice and Fire

Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. 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.

 I have a weird sort of relationship with the books from A Song of Ice and Fire. See, on the one hand, Martin neatly weaves together all the little threads of each character together, against the backdrop of a vast and iconic world. On the other hand, I have such a hard time deciding what I think of it, let alone being able to write it down in a coherent matter.

 Was it good? Yes. But how so?

 The storyline, of course, is perhaps the most glaringly obvious answer. The main themes aren’t anything groundbreaking in themselves – even a casual reader of high fantasy has encountered dragons and warriors and epic battles. What separates ASOIAF (garnering a worldwide fan base of its television adaption, Game of Thrones), is its complexity.

 It’s not easy to balance out a story with a million characters (I may exaggerate), let alone flesh out every single one to be believable. Add to that a stunning storyline – Martin keeps it enthralling by filling it with twists and turns. The storyline has always been interesting, but this is the first book in the series in which I actually enjoyed the writing – hopefully it’s all uphill for the rest. Martin lets horrible things happen to the characters that we like and fortunate things happen to those that we don’t. And we keep watching it like a macabre car crash. And we can’t stop ourselves from wanting more.

 Just as an aside: what I find most interesting is the development of R’hollar (the Lord of Light). I initially thought he was a sham created by Melisandre to manipulate Stannis so she could somehow take the throne, but could the gods themselves be rising?

A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones (1996)
A Clash of Kings (1998)
A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow (2000)
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold (2000)
A Feast for Crows (2005)
A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust (2011)
A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (2011)


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