A Storm of Swords

by George R. R. Martin

Paperback, 2003

Call number

SPEC FICT MAR

Publication

Bantam (2003), 1216 pages

Description

Fantasy. Fiction. Science Fiction. Thriller. HTML:THE BOOK BEHIND THE THIRD SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, AN ORIGINAL SERIES NOW ON HBO. Here is the third volume in George R. R. Martin�s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin�s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction. A STORM OF SWORDS Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King�s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . . But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others�a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . . .… (more)

Media reviews

With the end of A Storm of Swords, Martin is half finished his epic. However, so little has been revealed that we have only begun to glimpse what the true saga really is. It's as if you are peering through a dirty window, cleaning small portions of it -- one square inch at a time -- so more and
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more of the room beyond is slowly revealed. Each glimpse uncovers a new wonder, but you can never be sure of exactly what you are seeing.
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Library's review

Perhaps the best of the Song so far...

User reviews

LibraryThing member TheLostEntwife
A Storm of Swords is a game-changer. This pivotal book takes everything that the first two books in the series has built up and it dashes it to pieces on the ground - yet leaves enough for the true story to shine through.

Kings are dying, have died and will die throughout the progress of A Storm of
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Swords making it very aptly named. Cherished characters die, others are redeemed and most of all, Martin gives us a picture of one of the most hated characters and brings his back story into the picture through a mannish woman and a journey taken. That back story had me reeling and feeling pity - the Lannisters, once a family I detested (and I still do with Cercei and Tyrwin) now have two somewhat noble family members. Putting aside the incest, which I admit is hard to do, Jaime is a character worthy of pity and one that, oddly enough, brings hope back into the story.

My heart breaks most in this book for Sansa Stark. Used over and over as a tool, for money, for power, for lust, this 13 year old child has seen more in her lifetime then any of us could possibly imagine. She believes she is the last of her line, she has been beaten, threatened with rape, abused mentally, kicked and betrayed by her own family - yet she still manages a strength of character that makes even Ayra seem the weaker sister.

A Storm of Swords up the game and sets up the remaining story in a masterful, incredible way. pAnd the most incredible part? I still don't know which faction I lean to. Do I look to Queen Daenerys and her dragons? Do I look to the Lannisters, with all of their betrayals and faults? What about King Stannis who, technically, has the right of the crown being King Roberts lawful heir? And the Starks.. where will they fall in all of this?

These questions plague me as I continue to go through this saga. I have to say, no books can hold my attention quite like a fantasy saga - and even more so the king that George R.R. Martin has written. For all of it's baseness, its crude language and behavior, it is a masterful story and one that holds me in its grip.
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LibraryThing member majkia
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."

The above is a constant refrain from several books in George R R
Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series.

I have not read a fantasy series that so captivated me in literally ages.

GRRM constantly put his characters into situations where the 'honorable' choice is often
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untenable, impossible or appears to be entirely without honor. And even when the characters struggle to find the honorable choice, half the time (if not more) the taste of honor turns to dust in their mouths and things beyond their control, understanding, or knowledge, make their choices, their lives, their beliefs shatter apart.

Lots of wars, sword play, heartbreak, and an incredible number of twists, make the books entirely unpredictable. You can't even count on a character surviving. And if they do, death might be kinder. Although if they do survive, you can be certain they've changed and grown and become tempered steel.

Highly, highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member EJAYS17
The best words to describe the 3rd volume of A Song of Ice and Fire; A Storm of Swords, are tour de force. It’s as close to a perfect instalment of an epic that I’ve ever read. It can’t stand alone as it is very obviously an instalment in something ongoing, but it’s one of the best books
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I’ve read in this or any other genre.

I knew I was in for something different when the first actual Point of View (PoV) chapter (I don’t regard the one off prologues as genuine PoV characters) was entitled Jaime. That refers to Jaime ‘The Kingslayer’ Lannister. In A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings to a lesser extent Jaime was a total black hat. One of his actions annoyed me so much in A Game of Thrones that I very nearly ripped the page out of the book in a fit of anger. If he was a PoV character then that meant the readers were going to see more layers to him, that in itself was a mouth watering prospect, whether or not he altered his character much. I regard what George Martin did with Jaime Lannister in ASoS as one of his greatest achievements as a writer. I hated the character with a passion in A Game of Thrones, but midway through A Storm of Swords I was cheering him on, as I suspect were many other readers. It takes rare talent to turn a character around like that, make it believable and inspire passion in the readers. Martin succeeded admirably on this front in A Storm of Swords and the redemption of Jaime Lannister.

It wasn’t just shiny new PoV characters like Jaime that were kicking goals for the author in A Storm of Swords, it was established fan favourites like Dany, Jon, Arya and Tyrion. They were all at the top of their game and right in the thick of the action. There were so many jaw dropping moments from this book. The infamous Red Wedding. The marriage of Sansa to Tyrion and that of Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell and the shocking, but satisfying conclusion to that particular union. The fight between Oberyn ‘The Red Viper’ Martell and Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane. Tyrion’s confrontation with his father. They just kept on coming.

Despite the size of the book (it had to be split into two volumes in mmpb in the UK editions) there’s hardly a dull moment. It’s not all beer and skittles though, although there isn’t anything I could term as a flat spot, the author’s increasing interest in minor details became more apparent, I think a more ruthless editor could have cut some things out without letting the narrative suffer, because most, if not all, of it seemed pertinent at the time readers let it slide.

If Jaime was an unqualified success as a PoV character then his 2nd new one; Samwell Tarly, was less so. The author likes Sam and I know he’s got his fans out there in readerland, but I find him a pretty colourless, two dimensional character. He’s a fat coward who occasionally gets lucky and barely manages to survive, once you’ve read that once it just continues to repeat itself. I also wasn’t particularly enamoured of Bran’s seemingly endless journey northward to discover exactly what we don’t know. However I can forgive even those less than thrilling sections for the inclusion of Meera Reed’s delightful story of Lord Whent’s Tourney at Harrenhal as a fairytale. That was masterful stuff and hints at the truth behind some accepted facts.

For a book of it’s size I read it in double quick time and was left breathless at the end. I’ve read it a number of times since and I always find something new to appreciate in it.
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LibraryThing member JGolomb
I'm almost out of breath after completing George RR Martin's "Storm of Swords", the third in his Fire and Ice series. Each chapter is like its own short story with its own little cliffhanger. Martin's characters are dramatic, melodramatic, genuine, realistic, and so bold and colorfully drawn that I
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find myself thinking about them in between readings. After each book I've needed to take a little breather, but find myself drawn back to the stories and the characters' individual and interconnected dramas, desperate to find out what's happened next, while enjoying the immersion in Martin's world.

While some of Martin's characters are clear 'black hats', and some are 'white'...there's more 'gray' than anything else, which adds to the realism of the ever-changing qualities that the characters display. Some of the black hats start moving toward white, and some of the white drift towards the black. Like real life, few of Martin's story lines have true endings. Even when a character is killed, the ramifications are often far reaching and impact Martin's landscape across multiple books in the series.

One couldn't really get their arms around 'Storm of Swords' without having the background of the previous two books. The author doesn't pander to one looking for detailed background and reminders. He relies on the memories of the reader to connect the dots until Martin's good and ready to connect them outright.

This is the first book in the series that really takes a full leap into fantasy, whereas the first two were more medieval historical novels set in an otherworldly location. Martin introduces some of the evil that's been threatening from the north - Giants, Mammoths, Shadowcats, and the living dead. There's a sprinkle of magic from Melisandre and her Lord of the Light. And oh yeah, and the three dragons with their mother Daenerys, are threatening Westeros from the East.

What drives this series are the characters and storylines. And there are a lot of each. Martin chews through pages like a direwolf through a deer, but things are never dull, and the storylines never dry up. The final 300+ pages absolutely fly by. I'm not a fantasy reader. But I love this series. And book three is as solid, deep and satisfying as the previous two.
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LibraryThing member santhony
If you've read the first two installments of this series, then you know what to expect. I don't see how you could possibly be disappointed. If anything, I tend to appreciate Martin's writing even more as the story progresses.

After reading Book II, I took a short break and read several other works
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before returning for Book III. I found myself becoming impatient to return to A Song of Ice and Fire. The subject matter intrigues me and Martin's style is right up my alley. Though there is never an "ultimate resolution", each chapter results in a kind of cliffhanger that leaves you looking forward to a return of the just completed thread. I can honestly say that none of the threads fails to entertain, some on radically different levels.

Martin can write as many installments as he wishes and I'll read them all.
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LibraryThing member Joycepa
3rd in the series A Song of Fire and Ice.

I may have to start believing commercial reviews, most of which I view as self-serving advertisements that have almost no bearing on the book they’re touting. But in this case, again they’re right on--the 3rd in the Song of Fire and Ice series outdoes
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the other two, and that’s nigh impossible.

The situation basically is the same, except that one of the contenders for the Iron Throne on which Jeffrey, Robert’s putative son, sits, is dead, murdered in a chilling way as we see more of the fantasy element come into the series. The war intensifies in its savagery. Dragons have re-appeared in the world. Living dead, along with wildlings, threaten to overrun the north.

All in a monster book over 1100 pages long.

Martin uses the same structure of multiple narrators in short, fast-paced segments to keep the excitement high. At one point I thought, “This is like some very high-class soap opera!’, and the series does start to have that feel as you whip from one narrator to another, sometimes with no seeming relevance to the story at hand. Familiar characters with whom we have identified disappear, and new ones arise. All are well-drawn, have their own voices, and are believable in their actions, no matter how noble or depraved they may be.

But it is terrific stuff, the best of its kind I have ever read. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member chaostheory08
This is a Reading Good Books review.

Where do I even begin? “Wow” doesn’t even describe this book well enough.

In the words of LOTR’s King Theoden (in the films), so much death. It’s tough to get attached to a character in this series. You’ll never know if and when Mr. Martin will kill
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him/her next. Just when you start to think, “Oh, s/he’s an important character as this story goes on. I’m sure s/he’s gonna stick around for a couple more books.” Wrong. And in this book, there are so many things you will not see coming.

There are so many events going on at the same time. I’ve held off posting a full review on this book because it is so complex. Originally a trilogy stretched on to be a 7-book series because it is impossible to close all ties in three books. It’s deceit, backstabbing, family feuds, warmongering, romance, the supernatural, politics, ambition, life, death… everything in 1000+ pages!

I don’t think I can do a detailed review without spoiling any part of the book. The events don’t really overlap with each other. A Storm of Swords is definitely heartbreaking in some parts. Like the times when the Starks are almost reunited with each other. It frustrated me but at the same time, it broke my heart. Poor Sansa, forever a political pawn. She dreams of fairytales and gets everything but that. Arya’s off to her own adventure with equally cool people. Jon making his mark in the North. So basically, Ned Stark’s children are the Chosen Ones in this ‘verse. Daenerys… I wasn’t a fan of her chapters in this book. I felt that it didn’t contribute to the bigger picture. I admire her ambition but right now, her efforts are rather laughable. As for Catelyn, whatever I said about her chapters in the past, I take it all back. What happens to her in this book is something that I am excited for in the next one. I loved Bran’s chapters because of his conversations with Meera and Jojen. And Hodor. HODOR!!!

Once again, the POV chapters proved very helpful as a plot device. Especially Jamie’s. I liked him so much in this. To me, he went through the most change from the first book. And I really felt sorry for the guy as the story progressed.

I seriously cannot wait to see all this translated into film. HBO, you better bring it!

Rating: 5/5.

Recommendation: Just read it. Just read it.
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LibraryThing member sturlington
A STORM OF SWORDS has more of everything that we have come to expect from this series. More gore, more bloodshed, more mayhem, more betrayals, more twists, more surprises. And more Arya (that's a good thing). I don't think the third installment was a tightly plotted as either of the first two
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books; the scale has ratcheted up, and it gets somewhat bogged down in the middle, especially with Bran's and Catelyn's plot lines. Then comes that one scene, the one that made me so angry I almost put down the book (I won't spoil it, though). I'm glad I didn't put it down, because the book gets way more exciting almost immediately, and the final quarter or so is a nonstop roller coaster ride of plot twist upon plot twist.

Although the metaphor of life in Westeros as a game being played out on a massive scale has been a part of this series from the beginning, here it really starts to show. With so much blood and guts, I had to stop thinking of these characters as people; it was just too much. With all the manipulation and maneuvering going on in this installment, I really began to see how they are players and pawns in a great game that's been going on for generations, and the real question is not who will live or die, but which player will still have pieces on the board at the end.

As with the first two books, this one was a hugely entertaining read and, despite the high level of violence, a lot of fun. I guess I will move on to the fourth book after all.
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LibraryThing member jen.e.moore
I have to admire a man who looks at his series and thinks... I have too many characters. And then does something about it.
LibraryThing member MlleEhreen
If THE SONG OF ICE AND FIRE were a roller coaster, it would start slow. It would warm you up with some loop-the-loops and a few drops big enough to make your stomach fly up to your throat, and you'd be thinking: this is just about the best roller coaster ever, wow, I am impressed. But all the while
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you'd be climbing, climbing, climbing, and you'd hear the gears ratcheting, and all of a sudden you'd find yourself teetering in front of the longest drop you'd ever seen, and you might wish you could turn around and get off but you can't, it's too late, you just have to take the dive.

And that would be A STORM OF SWORDS.

It's not fair to say that A STORM OF SWORDS is the best of the SONG OF ICE AND FIRE books. It's paying out what the first two books built up. In fact, it's got hundreds and hundreds of sustained pages of insane, twisty-turny payout, of climaxes followed by reversals followed by twists.

But the impact of A STORM OF SWORDS is built on the foundation laid by A GAME OF THRONES and A CLASH OF KINGS. This is a series, not a trilogy, but A STORM OF SWORDS ends an act. It's got fanfare and cymbals and chances are that you will cry at least once somewhere along the way, and that you will shout for joy at least once, too.

If you read the first two books, you owe yourself the joy & the heartbreak of this one.

Some spoilery thoughts. Don't read them unless you really don't mind being spoiled about everything. Also: long and rambly.



The rise of the Lannisters always struck me as ominous, because in fiction--and GRR Martin's fiction especially--a rise forecasts a fall. The Lannisters started the series in a position of great strength & they only consolidated it through the first two books. Tyrion & Jaime both suffered setbacks, through capture, but weigh Jaime Lannister's lost hand against Bran's legs and Ned's head, and the most devastating loss the Lannisters suffered in the war doesn't look quite so bad.

And they deserve it, too. As much as I love Tyrion, and as surprised as I was to find myself rooting for Jaime, the Lannisters are awful. Incest really is the perfect, most symbolic crime for them: they only love themselves. They'll cause great harm to win a marginal advantage, and both Tywin and Cersei struck me as dangerously short-sighted. They care too much about appearances; perhaps because the only magic the Lannisters possess is allure (the allure of gold, and riches, which is irresistible but empty).

Poor Tyrion. It's been clear for a long time, and a lot of real people spend their real lives trying and trying to earn love that will always be withheld, but he really finds out what it's like to be the exception to the rule 'family first'. He's the best of the Lannisters, but it's not enough.

All that being said...I was surprised to see things turn sour on the Lannisters so suddenly. The Lannisters had been poised to tear themselves apart for so long, so if only thing stopping them was that base sense of loyalty, it makes sense that turning on Tyrion would start a bloodbath.

I suppose it's the same principle that keeps me feeling hopeful for the Starks. I know this could turn out to be a series about the fall of two great houses. But for all the Starks that have died--I don't miss Robb at all, he was boring, but I adored Catelyn, I loved her POV chapters, and I hated losing her--Arya, Bran & Jon have been gathering strength and skill. If Sansa would wise up a little, she'd be learning plenty too, though I won't hold my breath (I loathed Sansa through this entire book--trusting Ser Dontos? Not making even the tiniest effort to put her marriage on good footing? Wearing the hairnet? She ought to be more perceptive by now). But Arya, Bran & Jon? I think those three could do anything, given a bit more seasoning.

The first real surprise I had, as a reader--having had almost everything spoiled for me by the HBO show, and a moment of weakness when I wiki'd Joffrey to make sure he'd die soon--was when Jon returned to the wall & ended up holding the Wall against the wildlings' attack. When the blacksmith said, "The Wall is yours," I teared right up & then, when Stannis arrived (which: wtf?) and offered him Winterfell, I was sitting there biting my fingers saying, "No, no, don't you dare, not Stannis, he's such a loser."

So when Jon stuck with the wall, and Samwell (Samwell, my favorite! I love him so much) tried his hand at diplomacy, I was cheering. Jon with a raven and his wolf and a home. Made me so happy.

My point is: those three. They've had some rough times, but I can see them rising farther than they've fallen.

I adore Daenerys. Her rise throughout A STORM OF SWORDS is dramatic, but she started lowest of all. Dispossessed, powerless, meek. She's grown as a person and she's grown as a player, and she's the only character who seems to learn lessons from victory rather than (like Jaime, for example, whose lost hand will be the making of him) from loss.

But I worry about her too. Everything about Dany suggest that she might...flame out. The dragon imagery, the fire imagery, the maegi's promise that she would bear no living children. The fact that she's a Targaryen, and that one of her more pivotal growth moments occurred in a fit of madness (walking into the fire).

Most of all, she's soooooooo easy to root for. And that's scary.

Other miscellaneous thoughts.

Stannis is such a loser. He's everything that, as far as I can tell, GRR Martin hates. He's brittle, self-serving, dishonest about his own motives ("he never asked to be King..."), thinks things are 'owed' to him, and most of all, inflexible. I say chances that he will come out on top, or even alive at the end, are around 0%. This makes me sad, though, because I really like Ser Davos.

Jaime & Brienne made an awesome odd couple--but so do Arya & the Dog. LOVED them.

Brienne is one of those characters I just want to hug and protect. I love the name of her sword. I love it when proper, old school high fantasy elements emerge so naturally in the plot. I loved the way that the Brotherhood Without Banners echoed Robin Hood, and Oberyn Martell the Princess Bride, but both were more fearsome and sorrowful in the ASoIF world.

I love Samwell. If I had to marry someone from the series, I'd pick Samwell. I love that Samwell has the opportunity to be brave, that when he's frightened and alone and facing death, he kills one of the Others. But I love even more that, later on in the book, he engineers another major coup with words. He doesn't need to lose weight to prove his endurance, or his bravery, or his intelligence.

I love that this is a series that shows you how important and worthwhile and valuable characters like Brienne and Samwell and Davos are. And Maester Aemon, and Hodor, and Jojen Reed.

I am terrified of Littlefinger. I am curious about Varys. I am rooting for The Dog, who, in his own way, is one of the most honorable characters in the series. He's brutal and uncouth, but he's also honest. He's no fool, and while he's done terrible things when asked to, he's done kind things...just because, almost without knowing why himself. There's something so touching about him.

The Starks wear their honor on their sleeves. The Dog keeps his hidden, but it's just as real.

And Arya. I love how brittle and fierce she is. I love her list, and her deep hurt, and her toughness. I want everyone in Westeros to fear her.
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LibraryThing member questbird
The third in an excellent series. This one suffered from a meandering narrative and a little bit of bloat. There was a lot of criss-crossing the countryside by various characters, and a few too many coincidental meetings for my taste. Also in excess in this book were: travellers' tales and songs on
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the way to elsewhere; and prophetic utterings.

Where this series excels is in the characters and the imagined social space they occupy. Overall this installment is good, but not as good as the first two. I nevertheless look forward to A Feast for Crows.
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LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
The best so far... stunning, shocking, and at times beautiful.
LibraryThing member sdobie
The war for control of the Seven Kingdoms rages on, but now mainly consists of the Lannisters in the south against the Starks in the north. Meanwhile in the far North, a huge barbarian army marches on the Wall with the intent of taking back much of the land to the south of it. In the continent to
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the east, Danerys Targaryen uses her dragons to gather an army for her own assault on Westeros.

So far, this series has just gotten more interesting with each volume, and this is my favorite of the three so far. All of the characters face difficult situations and have to make tough choices. In enjoyed seeing some new environments such as the strange cities in the east that Danerys encounters, and the view of the people north of the wall. The book does exactly what it needs to do; it continues and deepens the ongoing plot lines of the series and made me anxious to read the next book.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
Continuing to slog through this very good but oh-so-long series. Sometimes the suspense is unbearable, and I feel rather mad at Martin for torturing these characters so much. Just want ... a little break, a little happiness for them, a family reunion, not all the constant ROCKS FALL EVERYONE
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DIES.

But I keep reading. I've been with these people for over 3,000 pages, I don't want to stop halfway. I do want them to get that bit of happiness eventually. I hope. Maybe. Or at least an instantaneous death without any pain involved.
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LibraryThing member tanager22
This is the book I just finished. I am liking this epic fantasy series. It doesn't have a whole lot silly fantasy elements like magic, elves, fairies, etc. It is pretty serious stuff, someone commented to me that Martin seems to have a sadistic streak, and it's true that many unfortunate things
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happen to many of the characters. That is part of what makes the series compelling, it surprises you. If you want fluffy fairies and hot chocolate, this book is not for you. There are a huge number of characters to remember, I really can't separate all the lords and Sers.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
(Spoilers for A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but not for this book itself.)

I felt like George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series might be one of those destined to go downhill, since the first book was really good and the second only quite good. Fortunately A Storm of Swords,
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the third in the series, puts a spike in the line graph. Although it starts out slow, the final third of this book (which still amounts to a hefty 400 pages) is as good as the series has ever been.

A Game of Thrones impresses early on when Bran is thrown from a window, and later on when Ned Stark is suddenly and shockingly beheaded. A Clash of Kings didn’t have any shock moments that quite lived up to that, but A Storm of Swords has one that is, if anything, better than those first two put together. It’s not only a violent and grisly end to a character, but to a character who was embodying a whole lot of hope – a death symbolic of the snuffing out of a torch, proof that sometimes the good guys die and the bad guys win. I read in “The Monthly” that this aspect of Martin’s writing was inspired by the death of his friends in the Vietnam War; by a desire to overturn Tolkien’s noble, orderly world and replace it with something more real.

But I don’t want to suggest that great fiction derives from an author’s willingness to spare nobody from the butcher’s knife. Killing off a character too early can be a critical error; indeed, there’s a shock moment in A Clash of Kings which proves to be false, when Bran and Rickon are killed, and which I immediately knew was a psyche-out, because Martin had invested far too much time in foreshadowing Bran’s abilities, and his character arc was nowhere near complete. Killing off a character like that for sheer shock value is a mistake, and I’m glad he didn’t really do it. But Ned Stark’s time had come, and so had that of the unfortunate character in A Storm of Swords. And, as I said, it’s important not just for the death itself but for the manner in which that death shakes up the plot. (In fact, I somewhat guessed it was coming, because another character was about to finally reach safe haven – and I knew Martin wouldn’t let that happen.)

It’s not just this shock moment, either. The final third of the book involves a lot of great story threads finally seeming to push on from the doldrums they’d encountered: Sansa’s passive-aggressive imprisonment in King’s Landing, Tyrion’s relationship with his family, the growing threat beyond the Wall, and Jaime languishing in solitary confinement. I mentioned in my review of A Game of Thrones that it was impressively well-paced, and that it was one of the only 1000-page epics I’d ever read where I never felt my time was being wasted or the story was bloated. That wasn’t quite as true of A Clash of Kings, and it’s not true of the first half of A Storm of Swords, but by the end of the book I felt like things were really moving at a tremendous pace, and I was fairly keen to dive into the next book. (I didn’t, but still.) The only issue I have is the story of Daenerys, which at this stage is almost entirely disconnected from the main plot. The stories of the other characters merge into each other quite well, but when Daenerys pops up, it feels like I’m being interrupted and forced to read a different book entirely. Hopefully she’ll return home soon enough.

The plot moves on to the point where the title of the series (which, thanks to the TV adaptation, is now more likely to be known as “Game of Thrones”) is starting to make sense – there’s an even greater war brewing, between the fiery God of the south and the frozen evil in the north. I’m interested to see how that turns out; Martin is not the kind of writer to paint in blacks and whites, and the strength of the series so far has been largely about political intrigue on a personal scale rather than sweeping battles between good and evil.

I’m consistently impressed, for a fantasy series, of how tight and entertaining the dialogue is. When Martin gets away from tiresome battle scenes and really awkward sex scenes and various other fantasy staples, his dialogue sparkles – one of the reasons the books are translating so well to television.

Overall, an excellent entry in the series, and I look forward to A Feast for Crows.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS COMMENTS AND SPOILERS OF THE FIRST 3 BOOKS

This is not going to be a typical review and there will be SPOILERS, so I would recommend skipping it if you haven't read the books. The bottom line is that I loved them and if you're a fan of massive epic stories with huge casts of
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characters and complicated plots, you should definitely read them!

I put off reading these books for such a long time. Then I marathoned the first two seasons of the TV show and watched the third season as each episode came out. I was hooked! So in December after completing all of my reading challenges I decided to try the first book. I couldn't put it down! I found myself plowing through the first three books without pausing. I was surprised by how close the books stayed to the show. There are some differences, but I thought they did an incredible job recreating this complicated world.

Game of Thrones follows a huge cast of characters as alliances are made and broken in the fictional world of Westeros. Families fight for the crown and watch as those around them rise and fall with the favor of those in power.

Martin's characters are wonderfully complex. He makes someone as clever and sarcastic as Tyrion become defensive and vulnerable around his father. Someone as strong as Daenerys can struggle with loneliness. Catelyn Stark is strong and cunning, but she's also flawed and cruel when it comes to her bastard son, John Snow. I can't imagine how hard it would be to see evidence of your husband's infidelity in front of you every day.

I have a special love for the Stark family. From the first pages we meet the tight knit siblings who are so very different and yet so alike. Tomboy Arya and the prim Sansa; Robb and John, so similar and treated so differently. Then there's wild Bran, who must struggle to come to terms with his new life as a cripple while desperately missing his parents.

The Lannister family is a twisted mess, but like a train wreck, you can't look away. Led by their cold patriarch, Tywin Lannister, the siblings (Tyrion, Jaime and Cersei) each have issues. They are fierce and often cruel, but there's a lot of irony among their ranks. Tywin hates Tyrion because he is a dwarf and his birth caused his mother's death, yet he is the most like his father. Cersei is the most ruthless leader of the three, yet she can't even rule her own fate because she's a woman. Jaime is known for both his skill as a knight and his betrayal of the old king, yet his heart has the most compassion and loyalty of the bunch. Tywin himself is spoken of throughout the first book, but isn't introduced until near the end. He's the puppetmaster behind so much of the book's action, pulling the strings of so many characters.

A Few Random Thoughts:

One thing that surprised me was the age of the main characters. Many of them are much younger than they are on the show. Daenerys is only 13 in the first book and Robb Stark is only 14. By the time Robb turns 15 he is commanding 18,000 men while grieving for his father. Daenerys becomes a widow and the leader of a maurading people as a young teen. It is similar to real history, where people married young and often died in battle.

There such an epic rich cast of characters I started taking notes on each family their sigils, lands and complicated lines. Having seen the show was actually a little easier than it might've been to follow the different plot lines cause I had a face to put with so many names.

Thoughts on my favorite characters:

I love Tyrion! He is by far my favorite character in the whole series. He has the best lines, but he's also a troubled soul with a lot of hurt in his past.

My tough girls: Arya and Daenerys are both incredible. Dany's transformation is one of my favorite in the book. She so we can afraid at the beginning but she finds her strength. She becomes a leader despite dozens of obstacles.

Jaqen H’ghar, who helps Arya and repays her favor with three deaths, is fascinating. I'm hoping that he returns in future books. I also loved her "dance master."
Orlenna, the Queen of Thorns and Margaery’s grandmother, is such a spitfire. She rivals Tyrion for the best lines. For example: "No, don't blush, with your hair make you look like a pomegranate." and this gem about her husband: "A kind man, and not unskilled in the bedchamber, but an appalling oaf all the same."

The direwovlves: Grey Wind, Ghost, Lady, Nymeria, Summer and Shaggydog, they are part of the Stark family. They protect them and become so essential to the story. I haven't wished to own an animal so badly since the first time I saw Aladdin and decided I wanted a tiger.

There are, of course, things to dislike. Martin is famous for killing off his beloved characters. I think seeing the show first actually helped me deal with some of the hardest blows when it comes to loss of characters. I knew the fate of certain characters when I started the books and so I wasn't shocked by any until the second half of the third book. Some people complain about the convoluted cast of characters, but I loved that. It felt a lot like Lord of the Rings or an actual history of the Middle Ages. Each chapter is told from one characters' point-of-view, so some stories are more interesting than others, but you know you'll eventually get back to your favorites.

Honestly, I haven't even scratched the surface of the first three books. I've taken a break before starting the fourth, but I truly hope it's as good as the ones I've already read.
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LibraryThing member peptastic
A Storm of Swords packed an emotional whollop. It took me a little while to get adjusted to the many cast of characters in The Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings but, after reading this one I can appreciate the format. How else can each characters complexities get across? You think you know a
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character after reading two other novels with them but I was surprised by what they are capable of.
Sansa Starke and Tyrion Lannister are still learning not to trust people. Ayra Starke is catching on more quickly. She's already racked up more life experience than her siblings have.

The family dynamic was captured brilliantly in this series so far. Each family seems insane from the inside and often portrays a different view to outsiders.
Each character is shown from their own perspective then displayed from multi layers from the characters they interact with.
I'd still like to read how Daenyerys is portrayed from another character and to connect to the rest of the story. She's the least faceted character as a result.
If Jamie Lannister can make a reader sympathise with an incestous relationship I'm looking forward to reading Cersei's side of the story.

I'm shipping some odd couples:
Ayra & Ja'quen
Sansa & The Hound
Jaimie & Brienne
Daenyers & Jon Snow... yes I know they have yet to interact but the man deserves better than Ygiette. She annoyed me with her constant "You know nothing Jon Snow."
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LibraryThing member Cecrow
This is the highlight of the series so far (although the first two books are necessary to appreciate it). The most astonishing scene in the series, and significant changes in the balance of power. Pure magic.
LibraryThing member thebookmagpie
GRRM finally, almost grudgingly, earns four stars from me.

Things I liked: Jon's story in the second half of the book, SAM, Jaime's story because it was entertaining, Joffrey's big day , Hodor Hodor-ing, Davos, some of the Daenerys stuff (surprisingly, given she's been one of my least favourite
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characters until now).

Things I didn't like so much: Catelyn (STOP MEDDLING IT NEVER TURNS OUT WELL), Sansa (I DON'T CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU ANYMORE), how Arya seemed to keep just getting shifted about all over the place and nothing of any real value happened in her storyline because I love her, the Red Wedding (which was good but telegraphed completely), Jaime's story because it did feel a bit like GRRM was just going SURPRISE HE WAS GOOD ALL ALONG for no real reason except that he felt like it, Robb's continuing lack of personality, everything with Jon and the Wildlings (but that was mostly because doublecross stories always make me feel uncomfortable and sad).

I DID like more than I disliked, despite the list. These books are hugely flawed, and there's a lot not to like, but I did enjoy them. However, I'm stopping here, at least until the last two are published. I've been well enough warned that this is a good time to get out, and frankly, given that there's every chance we'd be waiting another six years or so just to see Winds of Winter, I don't want to get to invested in something that, in the opinions of anyone I trust about books, declines pretty badly over books four and five. I have too many other things to read.
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LibraryThing member MSWallack
It's hard to believe that Martin has been able to keep up the quality of these enormously long and complicated books, but he has. The depth of character development is simply stunning, especially in a genre not always known for characters. And the world that Martin has built is, as I've said
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before, staggering in its detail. Reading this book while watching the HBO series Game of Thrones (based on the first book in the series) was a lot of fun, especially as I found that the show did a fabulous job of capturing the look of so many of the characters. Most impressively, I suppose, is Martin's ability to continue to surprise me, even as I'm waiting and anticipating the surprises. I'd heard references to a particular scene in this book, but knew little more than the setting at which the scene would take place. Nevertheless, when I finally reached that scene (and boy, I can't wait to see that on HBO), I was still stunned.

It's hard to describe just how amazing these books are. I'm sure that many people will refuse to read them because they are "fantasy"; well, those people are doing themselves a disservice.
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LibraryThing member atheist_goat
I inhaled the first book in this series, despite my problems with it (mostly to do with the female characters, which I will discuss later). The second book I found pretty disappointing: it was, like all the others, over a thousand pages long, but the plot advanced maybe 300 pages' worth. So I took
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a long break before reading another.

This was kind of a mistake, since I had forgotten who the roughly five thousand supporting characters were. After a frustrating hour of trying to remember alliances or piece them together from the unhelpful list of characters at the back (it's sorted by house / alliance, not by character, so you have to already know which side someone's on: defeats the purpose entirely), I decided to just go with it, and soon I was back in the flow of things. A Storm of Swords was almost as enthralling, pacing-wise, as A Game of Thrones, and I certainly whipped through it a lot faster than I did A Clash of Kings.

However, I have Issues with these books. Chief among them is the portrayal of women. All the female characters are defined by their relationship to men: wives, mothers, daughters, sisters; and their actions are almost entirely driven by this (e.g., Catelyn Stark is a Mother and acts accordingly). Now, one could argue that Martin's world is centered on royalty and nobility, in which the dynastic usefulness of women is as wives, daughters, and mothers of men. But, crucially, this isn't a historical novel. Martin has written a world in which magic and dragons are real, so why does he need to draw his gender roles directly from fifteenth-century Europe? This is your own world, George! You can do whatever the hell you want! Why not have sons be the pawns in alliances, and have all girls trained in combat as a matter of course? Seriously, why not? There aren't any rules; you made your own world. Why are the gender roles in it the same that we've all seen a thousand times?

(Do not get me started on the female knight Brienne of Tarth; in the chapters featuring her, Martin cannot let two sentences go by without reminding the reader how ugly and unfeminine she is. We're expected to remember characters from two books and 2,000 pages ago, but between paragraphs we might have forgotten Brienne's loathsome appearance. Her shoulders are wider than Jaime Lannister's! Do you hear that, reader? Do you know how disgusting that makes her? Even when she's kicking some man's ass, let's mock her, because if she were a proper woman, she wouldn't be able to do that! And of course we have to eventually contrive a situation in which a man has to rescue her, because this ass-kicking cannot be allowed to go on. I made extremely frowny faces during these chapters.)

Another issue is that Martin is killing off his major characters without replacing them. There continue to be minor characters introduced in manner and number like unto the Catalogue of Ships, but none of them have been elevated to deserving their own chapters. Martin flits back and forth between chapters from different major characters' point of view, which are each titled with the name of said character. So we get CATELYN; JON; TYRION; JAIME (noticeably, not BRIENNE; she is a supporting player in Jaime's chapters); etc. Martin's gift as a writer, which is considerable, lies in ending each chapter with a cliffhanger and keeping you invested in each character's story. But by the end, he's killed off many characters whom I personally found more interesting than several of the ones he's left alive, and the points of view are narrowing. Instead of Characters 1-6 alternating chapters, you get just CHARACTER 1; CHARACTER 2; CHARACTER 1; and so on. And if you find CHARACTER 1 kind of a self-righteous bore, as I do, this isn't a great thing.

But of course Martin's shtick is Don't Get Too Attached, as the internet puts it. He'll kill off anyone, or any wolf. This is another cause of serious frowns around here. Near the end of Storm of Swords the direwolf count (of six) stands at two dead, three missing, and one wounded. George R.R. Martin, you are not welcome around my dogs.

Also, there is the sex. Because to be edgy (and worth HBO's time), fantasy must include lots of sex. And bad words about it. Now, I am not a prude, but language matters. And by page seventy of this book the words "c*ck", "pr*ck", and "c*nt" had stopped meaning anything to me. "C*nt" is the most vile word I know - I often literally flinch when I encounter it, unless the context is something like Irishmen using it as a comma, à la "In Bruges" - and if you desensitize me to it, then you are using it too often. At a certain point it seems childish: SEX! Did I mention SEX? Did I mention it's INCEST SEX? You know, George, I think you did.

I'll be waiting some before reading the next one, though that does create the risk of forgetting all the minor characters again. I'm okay with that. I find, for all my inability to put one of the books down while I'm reading them and the way they all end with cliffhangers, that I don't need to plunge right into the next one. It's still going to be there when I feel like it, and the fifth one is getting stink-tacular reviews (sounds like it has the Clash of Kings problem re: not advancing the plot), so no hurry to reach that one.
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LibraryThing member deholladay
Staring down at the receipt in my hand as the shiny new doors of the Joseph-Beth bookstore swung shut behind me, I wondered if my twenty-two dollar purchase was going to be a wise use of the gift certificate I received for my birthday. Upon beginning George R.R. Martin’s books, my doubts and
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fears were immediately assuaged and I decided that there would have been precious few ways in which to have better spent those twenty-two dollars. I just finished A Storm of Swords, the third novel in Martin’s four part fantasy epic that will astound any reader, and am anxious to see how everything will be resolved in the final book, A Feast of Crows. The cunning and mastery with which these books are written, from the complex, plausible, and detailed plot, to the realistic, dynamic, and varied characters, is plain for the eye to see and the series A Song of Fire and Ice has quickly vaulted itself to a renowned podium for excellence as far as my opinion is concerned.
The Lord of the Rings, The Legend of the Seeker, The Wheel of Time, all these are wonderfully written and well-acclaimed fantasy epics that I have all read, and in comparison, A Song of Fire and Ice, is just as good if not better than any of them. One of the many reasons that I am so awestruck by these books is their realism. Certainly they do have dashes of magic, mythical creatures, and deities thrown in, but they do not overwhelm the story, and in any case, that is not what I’m alluding to. The realism that so impresses me is plain to see in the plot and characters. In other tales, there is always the shining-knight, who eventually struggles to victory over the shadow of darkness, and everything is in a way predictable. While reading how the hero struggles up the icy cliff, the reader sits on the edge of their chair, but in the back of their mind, knows he will reach the top unscathed. This is not the case for Martin’s novels and it makes for a very interesting and refreshing kind of tale. There is no one main character, hero, or villain. Instead the story is told from numerous viewpoints, each revealing a different side to the plot or a character. Many times I have been pleasantly deceived. It seemed as if one character, Robb Stark, was somewhat of a hero in the story, emerging through trials and tribulations, winning victory after victory, uniting his people together, and doing his best to be a good king. Surely, I thought, when this mess is sorted out, he will be the victor, its only right. How wrong I was. That is one of the main reasons I am such a fan of Martin, he doesn’t write by the rules. Anything can happen to anyone, it’s not a story world being written about; it is a real place with real actions, consequences, and twists of fate. This realism carries over into every part of Martin’s writing. I honestly don’t know how to adequately express how astounded I am at his ability to do this. If nothing else, his books are worth reading just for that. The characters are not one-side and stereotypical, they are real living people. Their decisions, descriptions, everything, is all so plausible it’s as if Martin captured the very essence of humanity and instilled it into his writing. Read it and you will believe it and will come to see A Song of Fire and Ice is in no way lacking in the storyline department either. I have always loved fantasy books with sword fighting, magic, mythical creatures, knights and castles occasionally, all of which are included in these four wonderful books.
The shocking realism that resonates so strongly of our own world in every aspect of these books be it plot, characters, or otherwise, coupled with an intriguing storyline and many other key ingredients for an epic fantasy, come together to create A Song of Fire and Ice; a series that in my opinion far outstrips many, is equaled by a few, and a book that is clearly superior is yet to be written.
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LibraryThing member jmaloney17
I finished a book!!! I have so much sympathy for Tyrion after this installment, and I kind of feel bad about it for some reason. I really wish something positive would happen for the good guys. I have started the 4th book.
LibraryThing member hjjugovic
This is my second time reading this book: once several years ago in hardcopy and a second digitally checked out from my library using Overdrive. It was even better the second time. These books make use of POV to devastating effect. It is impossible to figure out who the hero is - when you think you
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have, Martin kills the character off - which means the suspense is ridiculously intense. If you are rereading the book, you will notice even more dry humor and irony that are't immediately apparent until you know what is coming next. This is my favorite book in the series - Martin turns a hated villain into the most interesting character in the series and does Truly Horrid Things to him.
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Awards

Hugo Award (Nominee — Novel — 2001)
Nebula Award (Nominee — Novel — 2001)
Locus Award (Finalist — Fantasy Novel — 2001)

Pages

1216

ISBN

055357342X / 9780553573428
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