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

Book Blogger Q&A: Borough of Books

Iben from Borough of Books answered some questions for The Book Base. She’s the 18th contributor to our Book Blogger Q&A series.

Here are her responses:

How long have you been a blogger?

I have been blogging since I was 15 back in the summer of 2005, so.. some 6 years? Back then it was purely just a semi-private diary-like whiny thing at livejournal. I still have that one, but it’s friends locked (and still quite whiny).

I’ve always been an avid reader and in the summer of 2010 I started writing reviews. Soon I realised I was enjoying myself and in August I started Borough of Books, which has been going strong ever since and I’m loving it.

Approximately, how many books do you read every year?

Approximately… 75-100 maybe? I only read one at a time and have to balance it out with University homework and work.

What were your favourite books as a child?

I remember being very fond of the Laura Ingalls books. There was also a Danish author called Lars-Henrik Olsen who wrote some amazing books concerning a modern boy and the Norse Mythology. As I reached my early teens Tamora Pierce won me completely (and still holds a tight grip on me).

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan. I bought the trilogy almost 4 years ago, but somehow never got around to reading them. So far it’s very good.

If you had to pick one, what’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months?

The Warded Man by Peter V Brett springs to mind immediately. I came upon it by accident but I couldn’t put it down at all. It’s high fantasy, demons, magic and wow. (I have to mention The Hunger Games too though, how can I not??)

Who are your three favourite authors?

Tamora Pierce, David Eddings and George RR Martin

Which book has had the greatest impact on your life?

I think either Harry Potter 1 or the Lord of the Rings series. I read both when I was 12 and it really opened up a door to a fantastic imaginative realm. I’ve been a huge fan of fantasy books all my life, but both these series really meant a lot.

Which books are you most eagerly anticipating?

There are 3 books I can’t wait to get my hands on right now. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory, The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett  and last but certainly not least, the latest book in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.

If you had to invite some book characters round for dinner, who would you choose and why?

A good deal of the characters from Tamora Pierce’s book would be very interesting to meet, as well as the trio from Harry Potter (I’m such a child). I’d also love to give Snape a hug!

What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Focus on good content. Many bloggers rely very heavily on all sorts of memes and that’s fine, but it can become very boring and silly for a reader. Many potential readers will turn down a blog if all they can find are memes rather than “actual” posts (I know many memes contain thoughtful content, but still).

Which other book blogs do you recommend?

I’d definitely recommend Tiny Library. It’s less YA and often more (in my eyes) advanced literature. The big classics and other masterpieces I’d never dare to attempt, but dream that I could.

Many thanks to Iben for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out her great blog, Borough of Books, and follow her on Twitter.