Madhurabharatula Pranav Rohit Kasinath's Reviews > A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
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Dec 26, 2011

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(I am attempting to keep this book as spoiler free as possible both for the earlier books as well as for the one I am reviewing. However, it might not be possible to hide everything sometimes so be warned)
Hmm, and so I finally managed to complete book 3. It was a long process and book three is a lot longer than the previous two books in the series but I made it through and I must say my thoughts and feelings about this series are mixed.
After getting used to Martin's writing style I find myself recognizing the cliches all to well. Every second paragraph is a description of some new character's clothing and every second line talks about some piece of meat spitting and sizzling over a fire. There are exaggerated details of a sexual nature in almost every chapter and women are treated like cattle. Martin, is falling into a trap here, he is not really doing anything new with his writing and in the process, I found myself expecting the content of a lot of the chapters well before I could finish reading them.
A Storm of Swords is merely a continuation of the Civil war plaguing Westeros when we conclude A Clash of Kings. There are currently Four Kings vying for power in this divided land we know so well. In the west, we have Balon Greyjoy who wishes to crown himself the King of Pyke and the Iron islands. In the North we have Robb Stark and his bannermen who seek to avenge the death of Eddard Stark. In the East we have the Iron Throne of the Targaryens and King's Landing which is overseen by Joffrey Baratheon the incestuous offspring of the union between Queen Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime Lannister. In addition to these three factions, we have a a fourth embittered regent in the Lord of Dragon Stone - Stannis Baratheon, who is under the thrall of the menacing Red Priestess Melisandre.
This is, but a simple portrait of the simmering political climate in Westeros at the opening of the Third book. Jon Snow has gone over to the Wildlings in an attempt to fulfill the last wishes of Qhorin Halfhand, Samwell Tarly is on the Fist of the First Men, anticipating Jon's return and the Night's watch is poorly armed while facing a threat of an imminent wildling invasion. Arya Stark is growing into a cold hearted killer and quickly losing her innocence while Sansa Stark is captive in King's Landing, all her dreams of princes and fair maidens and of the beautiful life she envisioned in court turning out to be a lie. Tyrion s in a fever dream after the mortal wounds he suffered in the previous book.Catelyn Stark is at the side of her son Robb grieving her family while Bran is presumed dead by the world at large. Daenerys Targaryen is at the Slave city of Astapor in her search to buy an army of Unsullied and the Dornes of house Martell are seeking vengeance for the death of Elia. Meanwhile Jaime Lannister and Brienne are making their way towards Kings Landing.
Even under normal circumstances, dealing with a linear narrative is daunting and sometimes hard work. What Martin is doing here is keeping the threads of almost six to seven stories separate while ensuring that they all contribute to the general political climate in Westeros. This is, by no means an easy task. However, I am beginning to feel a lot of disappointment in this series. At the end of the third book, when I looked back on the first two books in the series, I realised that not much had actually happened. When you are reading about a character in a book, I think it is important for the reader as well as the author to have a vision in store for the character and to ensure that the reader has some form of idea as to where the character is heading. It does not matter if the reader is wrong eventually but this vision is important. As far as character development is considered, A Storm of Swords delivers in spades. We see the characters dealing with new issues and new challenges, new tragedies and new losses that they must come to terms with. However, I notice a severe lack of vision for this book and I think that it is high time Martin decided to cut the number of events he deals with in every book down and more focus into the story.
The story of Theon Greyjoy has been completely neglected while that of Daenerys does not get the amount of space that it merits. Tyrion Lannister is still my favourite character but he seems to be a mess and incapable of handling his troubles with the aplomb he is used to. Sansa and Arya have absolutely no character development and while their stories are promising I am tired of them getting shunted from one troubling situation to the other with no resolution to their plot lines in sight. There are SEVERAL deaths in this book but I am beginning to dread them. They did upset me, because I am deeply involved in the story right about now, however some of them seem to be thrown in as an afterthought and almost as a shock factor rather than genuine deaths that move the story forward. The Death of one of the characters occurs off screen almost and is mentioned while what Tyrion does at the end of the book seems forced, rushed and somewhat too drastic a step for his character. It ought to have cooked a little in the author's head and he should have made it more of a rousing climax. The Wedding of Edmure Tully is still one of my famous scenes in the book and one of Martins well written and more forceful plot points. All I can do is wish Edmure a happy married life!!!
Of all the characters, it seems like only Bran and Jon have had any major plot progression, not to forget Samwell and I am happy about that. They are certainly the best characters in this saga. However, I will have to wait till book 5 to hear more from the first two because the 4th book is concentrated entirely in the South of Westeros and I am going to have to spend an entire book without getting a glimpse of Tyrion, Daenerys and Jon Snow in the story. It sucks. I also like Jaime Lannister's point of view and he is certainly another favorite character of mine, merely for his amazingly ambiguous character he makes every bit for the compelling anti hero.
While I can in all certainty say that I enjoyed this book it was also disappointing because things got back to square one at the end. These are ominous signs of a writer who does not seem to have a fixed idea of where his novel is heading and is unable to bring his story to a conclusion. A lot of plot points are resolved but for some reason they felt anticlimactic and some of them did not make any sense, and seemed to have been hastily penned. So I liked this book, but the whole seemed a little less than the sum of its parts and I am beginning to doubt whether Martin can ever bring this series to a satisfying conclusion within the next four books.
On to book 4 now.
My Rating - 3.5 stars on 5
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