A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3), by George R. R. Martin

My Copy: 9780553573428 (image from bn.com)

Well, it took me a couple of months to get through this one (I blame gardening and having to go back and re-read things because I had to set it down for a week). But then the past few days I had some time off I didn’t expect. And last night I stayed up WAY too late to try to get through the last 300 pages fast.

I’m up to my hips in dirty laundry and dishes that need finishing, and I’m tired as hell, but it was worth it.

A Storm of Swords is definitely worth the hype to me (the book hype, still haven’t seen the series). I love good character-driven stories, and this one has really milked it’s characters for all they were worth. The tricky part was maybe the first few hundred pages, because there were so many names to keep track of and remember, but as the story’s events unfold, it gets easier to remember who they are and what they’ve done. That’s what slowed me down–I spent over a month trying to finish this book.

But wow–you have Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth making their way to fulfill his promise to Catelyn to get Sansa and Arya back to her, made first to Tyrion.

Tyrion’s fortunes change wildly in this one, and he has perhaps the most ups and downs in this book, all the while making more enemies as he goes along. There’s a lot to learn about the Lannister family during Tyrions sections of the book. I wanna give him a hug, actually.

There’s Danerys with her dragons, making enemies as she travels to new cities and getting loving support from those she’s freed (her learning curve and moments of self-reflection are fascinating reading of their own).

Then there’s Sansa, stuck with the Lannisters in King’s Landing, and a game of who she’s going to end up marrying, since the Tyrells of Highgarden have sent their lovely Margery to wed the monster, King Joffrey, instead… with some interesting friendships, deals, and results to follow.

Jon Snow’s been with the Wildlings and is trying to get back to his brothers and the Wall, though there are more dangerous things they’re all beginning to learn about in the far north that will require men of all types and allegiances to fight, far more dangerous than the Wildlings.

Robb, the young king of the north has made a mess of some alliances due to a matter of honor and Catelyn and his uncle, Lord Edmure Tully, have to try and rectify what’s happened with the cranky, unforgiving Walder Frey.

Stannis is still pursuing his claims on the Iron Throne, but ends up choosing some interesting counselors among his men (with the help of his witch Melisandre) and we get some more info regarding him and the people who can see into the flames and the future per the “lord of light.”

Bran and Rickon are with their frog-people friends trying to reach the Wall and Jon, and meet some interesting folk when they least expect it.

And Arya gets into one scrape after another as she’s supposed to be ransomed to her mother, but as she changes hands, she also ends up with an uneasy ally.

I can’t boil down the plot around the other several dozen figures in the book, you’ll just have to read and figure what happens to them, or what their part in this book is.

Other things that come about in this book are several weddings (including The. Red. Wedding.), trial by combat, kinslaying, false accusations, family spats (taken to the extreme) cross-country treks, the Others, learning more about the secret of dragonglass, more about the purpose of the Night’s Watch, betrayals, love, feuds, and a family’s quest for revenge.

As far as the Stark clan are concerned, I am enjoying the growth of Jon Snow. Jon is rapidly becoming a good man and a leader in his own right, though there are some meetings and circumstances that make him really question who he is (as a bastard son of the Starks) or what he can do in such uncertain times.

Sansa has begun keeping things a bit closer to the chest, which considering the circumstances is a good idea (her own desires and tongue messed things up pretty well for her father, after all). She’s been in a lousy situation, but I gotta admit, her choices in who she trusts still stem from her inner romantic more than anything. I was annoyed with her because though she’s not in an ideal situation, it became very clear to me very quickly that probably the only one she could reasonably confide in and trust to do right by her so far would be Tyrion, but she won’t. The Hound called her a “trained little bird” often and for good reason: she basically says whatever she thinks men want to hear the vaguest way possible (which frustrates Tyrion, and I can’t blame him because I’m sure he’s starved for pleasant conversation and friendship, especially since he’s been alienated after his illness and extra deformities at the end of Book 2).

Yeah, you can tell I like the sarcastic little man.

In a way, Catelyn is a more emotional version of Sansa. She is determined to get her girls back but makes things difficult for Robb, who is trying to be his own man. You can tell the men in the family are getting tired of her single-minded intentions, especially when it meant letting the “kingslayer” go with a slim hope of getting Sansa and Arya back.

Bran is getting better with his warg abilities, but his moments are few and far between. I’m starting to wonder why Rickon’s even in these books because he’s done nothing except be an unruly child. I don’t think he said a sentence in this whole book, and certainly isn’t helping anything. Maybe something happened to him and I missed it in the myriad of pages.

Arya, I can’t wait to know more about. She’s emotional but determined, vulnerable because of her age and gender. But she’s always thinking, trying to get back to her family somehow while the world and people in it change all around. She’s developing some capability for restraint, though, and I’m wondering how far it will take her.

I really wish there was a chapter on Robb in this book and what’s going through his head most of the time, but we take what we can get. Robb seems like how Ned was during his youth, I’m sure, which is probably why Catelyn’s proud and frustrated by him in turns.

There’s so much that happens in A Storm of Swords, far too much to try and describe. Just be sure there’s enough there to keep you interested, especially if you like multiple characters like I do.

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