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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

This is one of the best books I've ever read and I think it's by far the pinnacle of A Song of Ice and Fire (thus far).  I read somewhere recently that the first three books in the series are really one long book - I totally agree.  What Martin sets up in the first three novels largely comes to conclusion in A Storm of Swords.  If I never read another page about Jaime Lannister, the Hound (could be I have), Cersei, or Tyrion, I would be satisfied.  Of course, I've read A Feast for Crows and there's a lot more to come from most of that list.

I think part of the frustration many readers had with Feast stemmed from the brilliance of its predecessor.  If I'm judging a novel by how many times it gives me the chills or ties my stomach in knots, then Storm would quickly be ranked as the best novel I've ever read.  The Red Wedding, Joffrey's wedding, Tyrion's escape, Littlefinger and Lysa, and all the rest just gave Martin's readers satisfaction.  Feast begins again a lot of the building of anticipation that's more associated with the first two books in the series.

Anyway, on to some quick thoughts on the novel:

  • Red Wedding. Red Wedding. Red Wedding.  What an incredible scene.  My stomach was tied in knots from the first sentence of Cat's chapter because I knew what was coming.  At the turn of each page I glanced at the bottom to see if it was going to happen on THIS page and breathed a sigh of relief every time it didn't.  And then it did.  Man.
  • When Jaime frees Tyrion and they talk about Tysha, how can someone not get a little emotional?  For the 2000 pages of the series before this scene Martin has exposed Tyrion time and again to abuse.  And then Jaime tells him that he had something real - or close enough - and it was snatched away by his father.  After Shae's betrayal (so appropriately good), Tyrion's emotions were so raw and Martin brought it home perfectly.
  • Varys, Varys, Varys.  Obviously this guy is the key figure in what's been going in King's Landing.  How much of what's taken place has been at his behest?  The juxtaposition of him and Petyr is very compelling.  I never quite realized that Martin was setting them up as opposing forces until I watched the HBO adaptation.  So much of the body language in their scenes together made a light bulb go on in my head.  For whatever reason I just never focused on them the first few times through.  I'm sure it has something to do with Martin keeping me so engrossed in the POV characters.

I'm going to try to read a few things between Storm and Feast.  If I'm lucky I'll time finishing Feast with the release of A Dance with Dragons.  It is an exciting time!

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1 Comments:

At June 19, 2012 at 6:01 PM , Anonymous France said...

I really enjoyed this book, mostly because of the tight plotting and deft characterisations. Even the unlikable characters become somehow understandable. Like in real life, sometimes the bad guys do good things, and sometimes the good guys mess up. Martin knows how to make his world believable and richly colored, with just enough description, and carefully chosen vignettes that move the plot along.

As for interesting plot highlights -- the terrifing prospect of the walking dead is explored as they move south towards the wall. Even the wall itself becomes a character of sorts, figuring heavily in the plot as the wildings try to move south to escape the wights. (Somehow I failed to notice earlier that the whole wall is made of ice, not just ice bound. This book made it clear.) Daenarys continues to work with her dragons, and grows as they do. Jon Snow wrestles with his honor and his place with the Black Watch. But don't worry. Bad things happen, but it all seems so right in the end.

 

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