It has been a long time since I wrote my post on the second book of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Clash of Kings, but I have not forgotten about this series by a long shot. As I have mentioned in connection to other series, I often need to take breaks between books that are a part of a series to allow myself some recovery time and Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is no different. Due to the circumstances of life and how busy it can get, it took much longer than I had originally planned, but I was finally able to read and finish the next installment of this epic saga, A Storm of Swords.
Westeros continues to be fractured and torn apart by war between those who believe they have a claim to the Iron Throne while the shadow of impending winter gathers beyond the Wall. Just as with the first two books, A Storm of Swords draws us into the lives of the characters that reside at the heart of this vast story.
All the familiar narrators of the previous novels (that are still alive) return to narrate this installment, but there are also two surprising additions. With Jon separated from the Night’s Watch, Samwell Tarly (not to be confused with Samwise Gamgee) becomes our window into the happenings of the those in black. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Sam as a narrator when I first saw his name, but I really grew to enjoy his chapters. Over the course of the book he grows tremendously as a character. He is still the same cowardly Sam, but he learns how to persevere in spite of that. He finds things that he feels are worth fighting for, worth being brave for and he realizes that being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. By the end of the book, Sam has become a major player and influencer in the events unfolding in his tiny corner of Westeros.
The other narrator added to this book quickly grew to be one of my favorite components: Jamie Lannister. Martin spent close to 2,000 pages painting us a picture of Jamie that was pretty darn negative with next to no wiggle room for interpretation. He was having an affair with his sister, pushed an innocent child out of a window to protect his secret, killed the king he was sworn to protect earning him the nickname Kingslayer – clearly he was not a good person. Yet when we actually got to see into his mind things became less black and white. We gradually see that there is much more to Jamie. He is still a nasty person, but we see that he does have a sense of morality and, in some ways, he is a victim himself. His story was absolutely fascinating to me. I actually have hope that he may develop into a character that I can root for. If he can separate himself from the influence of his sister and the stigma of his name, I believe that he could end up doing some good.
I was pleased to find that Jon Snow’s arc was once more interesting after the slow pace of the previous book. I really enjoyed getting to see the journey that he went on and how much he has grown. My two favorite characters are still Tyrion and Arya, though. Everything I said in my post on A Clash of Kings about these two still stands. I absolutely hate Tywin and Cersei Lannister for the injustice they repeatedly show Tyrion for nothing more than the tragedy of his birth. And poor Arya has had to face more uncertainty and violence than anyone her age should have to face. More than anyone, I want these two characters to triumph and stomp on those who have used them so cruelly.
There is so much that happens in this book that I could talk about, but the things I have mentioned are what stood out most to me. The book is full of twists and turns that will leave you gaping at the pages (I quite literally did that on more than one occasion) and the final image Martin leaves us with is one that will forever be branded in my mind’s eye. As before, I will take a break before going on with A Feast for Crows, but thankfully the second season of the HBO adaptation has begun and I will be able to remain in Westeros a little bit longer.
Have you read any of the books in the Song of Ice and Fire series? Have you watched the HBO series, Game of Thrones? What do you think about the story? Which characters and storylines are your favorite? Least favorite? Let me know in the comments.
If you enjoy the HBO series, you should check out the incredible podcast about it, ‘Game of Owns.’ This podcast is put out jointly through the websites GameOfOwns.com and Hypable.com with a very talented panel of hosts. Be sure to check it out!