Title: A Storm of Swords
Author: George R. R. Martin
Published: 2000; Bantam Spectra
Date Started: June 8, 2012 Date Finished: July 13, 2012
Worthy of Note: I am probably not as ashamed as I should be about looking up all the plot details before reading this book. The offensive Wikipedia event in question happened the very day I finished A Clash of Kings, with a giant WTF?! stamp blazing on my face, and not in a good way. Just as there is funny-haha, funny-strange, and funny-ewwww, there is WTF?!-amazed and WTF?!-I-can’t-believe-I-just-wasted-a-thousand-pages-on-that. A Clash of Kings was most definitely the latter, for me personally. After a year, and after Game of Thrones season two had finished, I finally felt ready to approach this series again.
Every man must die, Jon Snow. But first he must live.
I am happy to report that my reading experience with A Storm of Swords much more resembled the one I had with A Game of Thrones – with my WTF?!-amazed face practically plastered on with every turn of the page. And though I dreaded a lot of what was going to happen, I still looked forward to reading it. Knowing the plot did not spoil anything really. There were still surprises to be found in Martin’s actual writing, in his words and descriptions, and in that way it was perhaps a better exercise for my writing brain to not just get caught up in who was killed/maimed/arrested/kissed in a particular scene.
Though I loathe to draw comparisons – especially among fantasy novels, because I hold them so dearly and have to bite back strong words whenever people say “So it’s like Lord of the Rings?” – this book did have a major LotR connection for me: the music. There was more verse here than there have been in any of the other Song of Ice and Fire installments (though not nearly as much as there is even in The Fellowship of the Ring). I wonder if that was Martin’s little homage to Tolkien, or if he had other reasons for doing it. In true Martin fashion, though, the music was used a little differently than it was in LotR. Its presence is almost sinister – used to drown out a dangerous conversation, or to underscore something truly horrific. Since the second season of the television show had already aired by the time I started the book, I could not help but read “The Rains of Castamere” as it had been performed by The National in the closing credits of “The Battle of Blackwater.” An absolutely perfect rendition, in my opinion. I cannot wait to hear how it is incorporated in season 3/4.
I’m afraid I cannot report on much else without causing major spoilers. I will say that the parts that I anticipated to be heartbreaking were so, but there were other moments that I did not expect that hit even harder. This being the third book of the series, readers know by now to expect the bad stuff, and the even worse stuff. There were a few scenes in A Storm of Swords, though, where something good almost happened. It was the sad resolutions of those moments that struck best. Another unexpected: Jaime Lannister has become one of my favourite characters. His journey over the course of this one book is easily on par with the PoV characters readers have had since the first book.
Unfortunately I did not have the foresight to buy A Feast for Crows before The Great Book Ban of 2012 came into effect. I will have to wait until next year, and until then I will tremble with anticipation. Or maybe that’s just the book-junkie withdrawal…