Not truly a sequel to A Clash of Kings, many of the events in this installment take place concurrently with the great battle besieging King's Landing...moreNot truly a sequel to A Clash of Kings, many of the events in this installment take place concurrently with the great battle besieging King's Landing at the end of the last book. A large part of the action takes place in the frozen north, in the lands beyond the wall, as the Night's Watch ride out ranging against the wildlings, introducing a new selection of characters to the vast cast.
Information gathered by the Night's Watch beyond the wall, combined with the development of Daenerys's baby dragons as she continues her journey far to the East, advances the evolution of the fantasy and supernatural elements in the books, easing them ever closer to the core of the books. I'm rather glad of this slow-burning fantasy development, as a more heavy-handed approach would have have left me feeling cold a long time ago.
Several additional characters step forward to voice chapters, becoming more rounded, ambiguous and human as a result. Again, what actions are right, honourable and fair, and which characters you should root for, becomes ever more clouded and unclear.(less)
Pellegrino recreates the romance and glamour of 1950s Rome through the life of Serafina, the eldest of three daughters brought up by their prostitute...morePellegrino recreates the romance and glamour of 1950s Rome through the life of Serafina, the eldest of three daughters brought up by their prostitute mother in a tiny flat in the Trastavere district. Determined to carve out her own path through life, Serafina ends up with a job as the personal assistant to the wife of Mario Lanza, a real-life matinee idol of the era, famed for his tenor voice.
However her dedication to caring others means she often sacrifices her own happiness, placing her at odds with those that care for her. And if you know anything of Mario Lanza's life, there are many tragedies that she has to weather before finding contentment.(less)
This is the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, which I felt compelled to read after enjoying A Game of Thrones. And I'...moreThis is the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, which I felt compelled to read after enjoying A Game of Thrones. And I'm still hooked; the next book is on my library lending list.
At the opening of this installment, (view spoiler)[cruel King Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne of Westeros, with his ambitious mother Cersei acting as his regent. His late father's brothers also lay claim to the crown; popular, loveable Renly with his gathered forces in Highgarden, and cold, aloof Stannis, with his small fleet on the distant island of Dragonstone. The men of the North have named their own king, Robb Stark of Winterfell, and in the icy wastes beyond there are rumblings from Mance Rayder, the King beyond the Wall. The old usurper Balon Greyjoy, the King of Salt and Rock, and his heir Theon, on the distant Iron Islands, view an opportunity to exploit. And far across the seas, Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, heir to the Targaryen Kings, builds her khalasar and plots her restoration to the Throne. (hide spoiler)]
And clash all these kings do, both in politics and on the field of battle. As alliances are made and broken and the tides of battle ebbed and flowed, it is never made clear to the reader which side to root for. Events unfold, with devious twists and shocking turns, far darker than AGOT, and all the reader can do is hold on for the ride.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the dark of a North Atlantic night passengers abandon a stricken ocean liner, the Empress Alexandra. It is 1914, with the memory of Titanic fresh i...moreIn the dark of a North Atlantic night passengers abandon a stricken ocean liner, the Empress Alexandra. It is 1914, with the memory of Titanic fresh in the minds of the characters, and the wartime torpedoing of the Lusitania still to occur. Adrift in an overloaded lifeboat, with scant provisions, and the uncertain hope of rescue diminishing by the day, the survivors form alliances and grievances, with the dawning realisation that for some to live, others must die.
The story of the survivors is recounted by Grace, as she faces trial for murder alongside two of her fellow passengers. But is Grace confused and traumatised by the exertion and exposure in the lifeboat? Was she just a passive witness manipulated into complicity? Is she deluding herself about her role in events? Or is she just as cold and scheming as the others? Rogan leaves it for the reader to conclude. (less)