Book Review: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

Title: A Storm of Swords

Author: George R. R, Martin

Publication Date: 2000

Why did I choose to read this book?

I first read this book about seven years ago. At the moment, I’m in the process of re-reading the first four books in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series in preparation for the release of book five, A Dance With Dragons, in July. A Storm of Swords is the third book in the series.

 

Summary

From Amazon UK:

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud, and winter approaches like an angry beast. Beyond the Northern borders, wildlings leave their villages to gather in the ice and stone wasteland of the Frostfangs. From there, the renegade Brother Mance Rayder will lead them South towards the Wall. The men of the Night’s Watch are ready for the coming of a great cold and the walking corpses that travel with it. But now they face a horde of wildlings twenty-thousand strong – hungry savage people steeped in the dark magic of the haunted wilderness – poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. But Robb’s defences are ranged against attack from the South, the land of House Stark’s enemies the Lannisters. His sisters are trapped there, dead or likely yet to die, at the whim of the Lannister boy-king Joffrey or his depraved mother Cersei, regent of the Iron Throne. Cersei’s ambition is unfettered while the dwarf Tyrion Lannister fights for his life, a victim of treachery. And on the other side of the ocean, the last of the Targaryens rears the dragons she hatched from her husband’s funeral pyre. Daenerys Stormborn will return to the land of her birth to avenge the murder of her father, the last Dragon King on the Iron Throne.

Review

The fact that I’m re-reading these books should make it pretty clear that I’m a big fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. In fact, I’d be willing to say that this is the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. I loved The Lord of the Rings, I loved Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books, I loved Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, and I loved J. V. Jones’ The Book of Words trilogy. But this is better!

George R. R, Martin has created a fantasy world which is as believable and richly detailed as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and combined it with an incredibly intricate plot and fully-rounded, three-dimensional characters. The sheer scale of the series is breathtaking. The story takes place across two continents and is told through the eyes of a whole host of point of view characters. However, despite the epic scale,  the plot never feels disjointed or confusing, and it certainly doesn’t lack pace.

It’s quite hard to review the books in this series as separate entities. It’s really just one massive story. However, I think it’s safe to say that A Storm of Swords is my favourite installment so far. Whether that’s because it features a lot of chapters told from the points of view of my three favourite characters – Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Arya Stark, or whether its due to the fact that some of the events in this book are truly and shockingly unexpected, I’m not sure. What I am certain of though, is that A Storm of Swords strikes the perfect balance between politics, warfare and traditional fantasy elements (magic and dragons). Although the previous books in the series hinted at the existence of magic and supernatural powers, these come more to the fore in the third book, adding another dimension to the plot.

I can’t really say enough good things about A Storm of Swords. Never before has such a long book (A Storm of Swords is more than 1000 pages) captured my imagination and sustained my attention from start to finish. I really cared about the fates of the characters. It’s a testament to George R. R. Martin’s skill that he can advance such a multi-faceted plot while still writing characters and scenes which fully engage the reader.

I would thoroughly recommend this book (and the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series). I think you would enjoy it even if you’re not a fan of the fantasy genre.

I’m looking forward to re-reading A Feast for Crows later this month, and I can’t wait for the publication of A Dance With Dragons.

Rating: 9 out of 10

2 Replies to “Book Review: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin”

  1. Are all of the books being rewritten? If so, is it because of the HBO series Game of Thrones? I’m a huge fan of that series and understand if follows pretty close to the books. I’m interested in reading the books, but as my blog is YA and MG know I can’t review them there. Still…but is every book as fast paced and mesmerizing as this one seems to be? Your review has me wanting to read the whole series, but I’m a die hard start with book one kind of girl. Great review! I’ve wondered how the books were and could only find people that read them when they first came out and didn’t remember them and could only say vaguely that they were good.

    Heather Rosdol

  2. @Heather Thanks for your comment. George R. R. Martin hasn’t yet completed the series. Book 5, A Dance With Dragons, is out next month, and it took him years to write it. I hope book six doesn’t take quite so long!

    I would definitely recommend the entire series.

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