- Series: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book 3)
- Mass Market Paperback: 1216 pages
- Publisher: Bantam (March 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 055357342X
- ISBN-13: 978-0553573428
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.9 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4,452 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3) Mass Market Paperback – March 4, 2003
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Is George R.R. Martin for real? Can a fantasy epic actually get better with each new installment? Fans of the genre have glumly come to expect go-nowhere sequels from other authors, so we're entitled to pinch ourselves over Martin's tightly crafted Song of Ice and Fire series. The reports are all true: this series is the real deal, and Martin deserves his crown as the rightful king of the epic. A Game of Thrones got things off to a rock-solid start, A Clash of Kings only exceeded expectations, but it's the Storm of Swords hat trick that cements Martin's rep as the most praiseworthy fantasy author to come along since that other R.R.
Like the first two books, A Storm of Swords could coast on the fundamentals: deftly detailed characters, convincing voices and dialogue, a robust back-story, and a satisfyingly unpredictable plot. But it's Martin's consistently bold choices that set the series apart. Every character is fair game for the headman's axe (sometimes literally), and not only do the good guys regularly lose out to the bad guys, you're never exactly sure who you should be cheering for in the first place.
Storm is full of admirable intricacies. Events that you thought Martin was setting up solidly for the first two books are exposed as complex feints; the field quickly narrows after the Battle of the Blackwater and once again, anything goes. Robb tries desperately to hold the North together, Jon returns from the wildling lands with a torn heart, Bran continues his quest for the three-eyed crow beyond the Wall, Catelyn struggles to save her fragile family, Arya becomes ever more wolflike in her wanderings, Daenerys comes into her own, and Joffrey's cruel rule from King's Landing continues, making even his fellow Lannisters uneasy. Martin tests all the major characters in A Storm of Swords: some fail the trial, while others--like Martin himself--seem to only get stronger. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The third volume of the high fantasy saga that began with A Game of Thrones and continued in A Clash of Kings is one of the more rewarding examples of gigantism in contemporary fantasy. As Martin's richly imagined world slides closer to its 10-year winter, both the weather and the warfare worsen. In the north, King Joffrey of House Lannister sits uneasily on the Iron Throne. With the aid of a peasant wench, Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, escapes from jail in Riverrun. Jaime goes to the other youthful ruler, Robb Stark, to secure the release of Joffrey's prisoners, Robb's sisters Arya and Sansa Stark. Meanwhile, in the south, Queen Daenarys tries to assert her claim to the various thrones with an army of eunuchs, but discovers that she must choose between conquering more and ruling well what she has already taken. The complexity of characters such as Daenarys, Arya and the Kingslayer will keep readers turning even the vast number of pages contained in this volume, for the author, like Tolkien or Jordan, makes us care about their fates. Those two fantasy greats are also evoked by Martin's ability to convey such sensual experiences as the heat of wildfire, the chill of ice, the smell of the sea and the sheer gargantuan indigestibility of the medieval banquet at its most excessive. Perhaps this saga doesn't go as far beyond the previous bounds of high fantasy as some claim, but for most readers it certainly goes far enough to command their attention. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It wouldn't be possible to adequately sum up everything that happens in this book in an appropriately succinct manner, so I'll just give a brief, bare-bones overview. Westeros is still caught up in the war raging for the Iron Throne. With five claimants competing to rule the Seven Kingdoms, it doesn't look like there's an end in sight for the violence and destruction. Things are also brewing in the North, where the Wildlings beyond are organizing an attack to break through the Wall, overwhelm the severely undermanned Night's Watch, and invade. Meanwhile, in the East, Daenerys continues to amass resources to aid in her plans to attack for the Throne. She moves through the cities of Slaver's Bay, gaining support and exercising her growing authority as both the Khaleesi and the Mother of Dragons.
I'll start by addressing perhaps the most obvious characteristic of "A Storm of Swords:" it's huge. Granted, if you downloaded it for your Kindle like I did, the monstrous size of the novel might not be as immediately striking, but you'll undoubtedly notice pretty quickly that it's over a thousand pages long. Books this long tend to be one of two things: unnecessarily descriptive with plenty of filler to pad out the pages or complex with an intricately layered story that fills the pages with content. I'm pleased to say that this book is definitely the latter of the two possibilities. It would perhaps be feared that the middle book of a lengthy series, especially one with a humongous page count, would be repetitive and full of fluff and padding, serving only to lengthen the series and sell more books. Again, that simply isn't the case with "A Storm of Swords." The plot doesn't stall at all; in fact, every chapter moves the story forward and works to develop the overall plot. The story is exciting with so many power players devising and implementing their own schemes as well as the war raging over the Iron Throne. Martin has a lot to say about his world, which makes for a fascinating story and guarantees that none of the thousand-and-some-odd pages are boring. With the pace being consistent throughout the novel, you'll be flipping through pages with the desperate need to know what happens next to your favourite character or faction. For the first time I can recall, I finished a thousand plus page novel thinking that it wasn't long enough! Martin's story is so enthralling, unique, and captivating that you'll want more than even a book this long can offer.
I'll also note that the story is far from predictable. I've mostly given up trying to guess what will happen because the actual events typically far exceed my predictions. I'll probably end up mentioning this in every "Song of Ice and Fire" review, but I ended up taking a bit of a break from fantasy due to being frustrated with the same plots and tired clichés that seemed to crop up in every book. Martin has actually managed to write not only a unique fantasy novel, but a series that stands above many others simply because he strays from the commonly tread path. Pretty much anything can happen to anyone; good characters aren't given immunity and bad characters aren't doomed to death (and really, calling characters good and bad isn't completely accurate since most are various shades of grey). The plot twists and turns like crazy, but it's handled deftly and the author clearly knows where he's going, putting the reader an exciting ride and a gamut of emotions. And just when you think you've got it figured out, something comes up that throws your predictions out the window. It's a nice change from being able to guess everything before it happens, as tends to be the case with other books in the genre.
It's well established by this point that Martin doesn't shy away from the violence of war...and "A Storm of Swords" practically has blood dripping from its pages. With the war for the Iron Throne in full swing, the death count in this book is high. The horrors of battle are portrayed in all their gritty glory; these aren't nice people and they don't do nice things. As I've mentioned in other reviews, neither the violence nor the sex present comes off as gratuitous (for the most part), but instead works to flesh out Martin's world and reinforce the concept that no one is safe. Yes, this is the book with the Red Wedding. There are a couple weddings that take place, so it's not immediately obvious which one will be THE wedding if you haven't already been informed. And yes, some well-loved characters meet their end in this bloodbath, families betray one another, alliances change...all the jazz that one can expect from such an event. There are also other grisly surprises that determine the fate of some, well, not as well-loved characters. In the East, Daenerys is faced with the brutality of slavery and the effects of anarchy as she conquers the Slave Cities, and it's not pretty. If you were bothered by the dark content of the two previous books, you probably shouldn't read this one because the author has really upped his game in that aspect. Personally, I'm of the opinion that the grittiness adds authenticity to the world, but I've always preferred a darker, more realistic setting.
While I usually don't find the sex and violence in these books to be gratuitous, there is one instance of it that I'll have to complain about; and weirdly enough, it's probably one of the more "normal" sexual relationships we see in the book: Jon and Ygritte. I totally get the significance of Jon breaking his vows with Ygritte, both in terms of his background as a bastard and as a member of the Night's Watch, and I enjoyed seeing him struggle with his conflicting emotions on the matter. However, I got a little tired of reading about them getting it on in detail multiple times every night. Sure, a few times is fine to give us an idea of Jon's situation, but the frequency came off as really unnecessary. Of all the gruesome things one could complain about in this novels, that's what stuck out to me as being gratuitous and over the top...who'd have thought?
The characters just get better and better with each book. That's not to say they necessarily become better people (in the brutal world of Westeros, that almost never seems to happen), but they definitely grow and become more intriguing with each installment. With so many storylines and characters, it would be easy to shove a couple off to the side, but, again, Martin seems to have this under control and every character is more than adequately fleshed out. The changing point of view in each chapter works well because it ensures that every story and every character continues to move forward. Each chapter, and therefore each point of view, is in some way significant; I never finished a chapter wondering what the point of it was or what it added to the story. The characters continue to be portrayed in shades of grey, each one unique and changing and none of them fall into the typical archetypes. You'll be frustrated with some and cheer on others and, as I mentioned earlier, some well-loved characters (and some that we love to hate) meet their ends in "A Storm of Swords." You never know what the characters are going to throw at you (or at each other, as the case often is) or who's going to make it out alive...and in a book as brutal as this one, that certainly adds a level of suspense and excitement.
"A Storm of Swords" adds Jaime as a point of view character, and he quickly became one of my personal favourites, especially with Tyrion's viewpoint also being maintained throughout the book to provide a different Lannister perspective. Jaime is an incredibly nuanced character and begins to undergo a lot of change in this novel, and much like Tyrion, he walks the line between protagonist and antagonist, never really being one or the other. With his background and unique perspective, I hope we see Jaime as a point of view character (and, indeed, that he survives whatever the next books throw at him) in future books.
This is also the book where certain characters began to stand out to me as being just plain annoying and, surprisingly, boring. As I've mentioned in my other reviews, "A Song of Ice and Fire" is so great partially because different characters will resonate differently with each reader, so your favourite character may be someone else's least favourite. As I was reading this book, I found that the character that tended to make me groan aloud when I started a chapter and saw his name was Bran. That's not to say he's a poorly written character; he just doesn't really appeal to me. Perhaps it's because there are so many other plot lines to focus on, but I found him and his story to be a tad boring. I don't doubt that he and his quest will be significant since he's one of the few characters that encounters magic (a rarity in this world), but his position as the wise, future-seeing, up-and-coming mage just doesn't interest me personally.
Despite my couple complaints (which are really more personal in nature than anything necessarily "wrong" with the book), "A Storm of Swords" is a solid entry in the series. It takes the themes and plots from the first two books and builds upon them to create a novel that is better, darker, and more intriguing than the first two. The plot is still steadily moving forward, building momentum and adding layers of story with each book. With the cast being as massive as it is and the number of storylines being many, I find myself wondering how Martin will tie everything together. He's proven to be a capable writer so far, so I'm sure he'll figure it out. At any rate, this monstrous book is one Hell of a good read. Five stars!
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.