Friday, 21 June 2013
Review: A Storm of Swords
Having finished the last pages of 'Blood and Gold' mere minutes ago I think it's safe to say: bloody hell! Books very rarely render me speechless, I can only think of a handful of times; this is one of those.
Many of the characters are suffering from the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater. Tyrion Lannister must come to terms with his thankless father reclaiming the spot as the King's Hand, as well as the more personal afflictions that came in the wake of the disaster.
The Onion Knight pays dearly at the hands of the Pyrcomancers, and must now decide where his loyalties truly lie. War is savaging Westeros, as Brienne of Tarth attempts to see the Kingslayer home in order to return Catelyn Stark's daughters safely. Jaime, ever the walking target makes this as difficult as humanly possible. Meanwhile Jon Snow struggles with the vows of Black Brothers, as he rides alongside the Freefolk; and Arya Stark continues her journey across the lands with Hot Pie and Gendry.
Part One was a strange thing for me, Martin kindly left a note at the beginning about the sequencing. He made it clear that the opening chapters overlap what happened in 'A Clash of Kings' and doesn't follow directly from where it ended. Taking a break from all the bloodshed that happened in its predecessor, 'Steel and Snow' focuses more on the plights of its characters.
Considering the amount that happened within this first part, the pacing is akin to the ascent of a mighty roller coaster. It was slow going, and probably the longest I've taken with any other book in this series. At times the anticipation was a little too much to bear, and I gave up reading for weeks at a time. I managed to pull through it though, the end of the book reached its peak height I knew it was only a matter of time before I was sent thundering down. And around. And upside down.
This is where Part Two came in, as well as the absolute sickly bittersweet greatness that is George R. R. Martin.
Everyone pays for transgressions in this book, whether it was theirs to begin with, or not. Bodies are stacked higher than the wall the Black Brothers guard. No one is safe, no one. Not the characters, and especially not us. If you think the books pages will keep you safe, I assure you they absolutely will not.
I was left reeling by the end of this, my head was spinning and my legs felt like jelly. I spent most of my time reacting as though I'd just been sucker-punched in the solar plexus. To reach for my earlier analogy this really was one roller coaster ride, and I was thrown about in hopeless abandon.
I'm back in the place where I won't tell you what happens in this part of the book because I feel like as a reader you need to get there yourself. One great thing I can tell you about is the character development of Jaime Lannister, his chapters are a welcome addition to the story and I pray to the Fantasy Gods I get to see a lot more of him.
Before you pick this up, I highly suggest you read these two books back to back. It seems like a daunting task and I admit the first part is but it is essentially one book and should be treated as such; 'Blood and Gold' should come to you as easy as breathing. You won't regret it, and remember to applaud Mr. Martin as I did, he certainly deserves it.