Review Revisited: George R. R. Martin – A Storm of Swords
Length: 1180 pages
Originally Read: 27 June 2006
Re-Read Finished: 19 July 2011
Where did it come from? My “fantasy favorites” shelf; originally purchased from Amazon.
Why do I have it? The first time I read them, I ordered books 2 & 3 about halfway through book 1.
Kings continue to
squabble, but something dark is
building in the North.
Summary: While Robb Stark and his Northmen begin to realize that there is more to winning a kingship than simply winning battles, their prisoner Jamie Lannister has been released by Catelyn Stark, in the care of the woman knight Brienne, to return to King’s Landing to be traded for Catelyn’s daughters. Unfortunately, Arya Stark is sill roaming lost in the riverlands, although she’s soon taken by bands of brigands to be ransomed back to her mother. Sansa is still trying to determine her place in court, now that she is no longer to marry King Joffrey. Tyrion Lannister recovers from the battle of the Blackwater only to find that his father has come to court, claiming what little influence Tyrion had managed to accumulate for himself. King Stannis continues to plot with the Red Woman and her foreign magics. The men of the Night’s Watch are still beyond the wall, facing threats from within as well as without, while Jon Snow must pretend to be a turncloak and ride with the wildlings, seeking information about their plans. Bran Stark heads north towards the Wall in search of the three-eyed crow, and across seas and continents, Danerys Targaryen is still trying to raise an army with which she can retake Westeros, but all she can find are slaves, not soldiers.
(I realize that that’s not so much a plot summary as a listing of where all of the main characters are at the beginning of the book, but give me a break: this is a huge book with a lot going on.)
Original Review: Still good, although I’m starting to get a bit tired of this series (not enough to stop me from devouring this book, but just a little tired). It might be the fact that I’ve read 2000+ pages of it without a break, but the constant plotting and scheming and ten million characters and the chapter-ending without explaining anything and the low-level misogyny is just starting to wear a little thin. Still, he’s a good writer, enough to get me emotionally involved, to the point where I actually had to put the book down and not read it for 24 hours because a plot turn upset me so badly.
Thoughts on a Re-read: I enjoyed this book quite a bit more the second time around, actually. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that the first time I read A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords straight through, with no break in between. This time around, I read a few books in between, and read this book more slowly, taking days off to read something else before going back to it. That slower pace did mean that I lost some of the details from page 100 by the time I’d reached page 1100, but it also meant that the little niggling things that bothered me the first time around didn’t have the chance to get so overwhelming. I’m not sure what exactly I was on about when I said “low-level misogyny”; yes, it’s a world where women are conisdered good only for bedding, politically advantageous marriages, and bearing sons, and yes, there are a lot of characters – even characters I like – that refer to women in some pretty crude and derogatory terms (for all that I don’t normally mind swearing, I do not like the c-word, and it gets tossed around a little freely for my tastes). But on the other hand, Martin’s world has its share of awesome, strong, independent female characters, and it’s hard to get my knickers in a too much of a twist over any misogyny when Danerys kicks more ass than most of the male characters put together.
My terribly leaky memory also meant that a lot of the plot was a surprise this time around, as well. If you’d asked me six months ago what happened in this book, I would have been able to come up with 1) the Red Wedding, 2) the very end of Tyrion’s arc, 3) the very very end of Arya’s arc, 4) the very very very end of Jon Snow’s arc, and surprisingly (given how much nobody likes Sansa), most of Sansa’s arc. Other than that, though, it was all more-or-less like new. I was particularly surprised by how much I liked Jaime by the end of this book. I remembered that his character develops some interesting shades of grey over the course of the series, but I had thought it wasn’t until A Feast For Crows, so I was surprised to find that every time I was cheering for a character, if it wasn’t Danerys, it was Jaime. The more we get his perspective on his backstory, the more he becomes an interesting contrast to his brother Tyrion: both of them are trying to do right as best they can (albeit “right” according to their own self-interested moral code), and neither of them ever quite gets the credit they deserve… and I think it rankles both of them equally. It’s fascinating, and it really caught my attention and my sympathies this time around. (Even on a re-read, though, I still can’t keep all of the minor characters straight, particularly the roughly six million bands of soldiers/mercenaries/outlaws/rebels roaming around the Harrenhal/Riverlands area, which is where this book spends a lot of its time.)
And then there’s the Red Wedding. Part of why I took this book slowly this time was that I knew it was coming, and didn’t want to get to it. I’d never read anything that upset me as badly as that scene did the first time around, and this time, every little bit of foreshadowing – and there’s a lot – just broke my heart all over again. But when I finally did get to it, it turned out not to be nearly as horrible the second time around. Still horrible, of course, but forewarned is forearmed, I guess.
One last thought: one nice thing about reading them more slowly this time around is that instead of being burnt out, at the end of the third book, instead I’m eager to dive into A Feast for Crows and re-immerse myself in Martin’s world. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
First Line: The day was grey and bitter cold, and the dogs would not take the scent.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 537: ““Too many of my men ride rounseys, drays, and mules against foes mounted on coursers and destriers.” – A common hackney horse; a nag.
© 2011 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.