David's Reviews > A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
5642737
's review
Sep 19, 11

bookshelves: fantasy
Read from August 20 to September 19, 2011

** spoiler alert ** A Storm of Swords represents the turning point for Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire in many ways. The book sees the relatively abrupt end of the War of Five Kings as the driving force of the series plot. It establishes a number of other forces at work, ranging from the Daenery's continuing story along the coast of Slaver's Bay to the emerging war along the Wall. The new pieces on Martin's board separates A Song of Ice and Fire as something more than just another account of regicide and civil war in some fictionalized stand-in for medieval Europe.

However, the third book in the series is a turning point in that it is frequently the one many readers put down. A Storm of Swords suffers from the problems that were beginning to be emphasized in A Clash of Kings. Martin's scope is becoming so broad as to become a challenge for his audience to work through. A Storm of Swords is a brick that barely misses the thousand page mark. The number of characters in the novel is also trying, even with Martin's strict point-of-view structure, and the middle of the novel is often muddled as the audience is moved rapidly from Daenery's distant campaigns, to the war-torn southern kingdoms, and to the distant perils Beyond the Wall with almost a wild abandon on the part of the author. The end of the book's distance from its point of origin only emphasizes that A Storm of Sword could easily have formed two installments in the Song. Martin's decision to split its sequel into A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons may be the saving grace that makes the latter part of the Song more accessible to its audience.

The detraction of size and the problems of literary logistics aside, A Storm of Swords does improve the Song by expanding the "game of throne's" board to include players with radically different motivations from those established in the first two novels. The introduction of the Dornishmen is my favorite addition to the Song's cast. The Martells and their bannermen introduce the shades of grey that were less noticeable in the Westeros than they were in Daenery's exploration of the lands beyond the Narrow Sea. They demonstrate the vast scale of the Seven Kingdoms--a realm where vast regions can be wholly untouched or even oblivious to a war of succession consuming almost all other major noble houses. The perpetual fatalism of Stannis Baratheon's royal court is a stark contrast to the success of Lannister-dominated King's Landing and the mixed hope and tragedy associated with the Stark's Kingdom of the North. The development of all three courts illustrates a deep appreciation for how the character of the ruler ultimately formed the nature of his--or her--government. Martin's efforts to expand the world along and beyond the Night Watch's Wall is another strong addition to the series, even if the view of this world is made to drab by Jon Snow's narrow outlook on the world around him.

Finally, the Song's third installment embraces one of the most interesting conflicts being played out in Martin's series. The formerly stable world of rational-if medieval-science most commonly represented by the Maesters of the Citadel is being upset by forces that these learned men cannot easily explain. Martin's expansive scope does allow him to explore how deeply this is starting to affect the Kingdoms of Westeros and the world beyond their borders. Many formerly static norms in politics, diplomacy, and society are resting on shaken foundations as centuries of perceived progress are up-ended. While Martin uses the term magic sparingly, there can be no doubt some form of magic is what is at work in many areas of this world. A Song of Ice and Fire may represent the latest fantasy series that successfully exploits a realm of unknown without leaning on it like a fatigued crutch since Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
2 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Storm of Swords.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

Deborah Biancotti >Martin's scope is becoming so broad as to become a challenge for his audience to work through. A Storm of Swords is a brick that barely misses the thousand page mark. The number of characters in the novel is also trying, even with Martin's strict point-of-view structure, and the middle of the novel is often muddled as the audience is moved rapidly from Daenery's distant campaigns, to the war-torn southern kingdoms, and to the distant perils Beyond the Wall with almost a wild abandon on the part of the author. <

So very true!


back to top