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Friday, 11 March 2016

A Storm of Swords, Part One: Steel and Snow by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever,

but if the Wall is breached,

no king will live to claim it...

768889

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 569
Chapters: 41 (Plus a prologue and an appendix.)
Publisher: HarperVoyager

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Okay, so I made a promise to myself, years ago, that I would complete A Song of Ice and Fire before I started the TV adaption... Well, I failed, I'm sorry, the pull was just too strong. Being all caught up kind of put me off going back to the book series (stupid), but I've always been adamant that I'd come back. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my (sub par) reviews for the first two entries that two years have passed!

Whaaaaaa!?

Picking up part one of book three, which, at least so far as in the UK, has been split into two parts, I am furious with myself for leaving it for so long. What is wrong with me? How could I willingly put off such mastery? Despite knowing a lot of plot points thanks to the show, A Storm of Swords is not only a fantastic piece of literature, but also one hell of a fantasy story populated with the richest cast I have ever encountered.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

The war for the Iron Throne wages on.
King Robb Stark hasn't lost a battle, but the war is slipping away from him.
His sisters, Arya and Sansa, fight different battles to return home, with the latter imprisoned beneath King Joffrey's thumb and the former a hostage of brigands.
At the Wall the worst has happened, Jon is stuck as a spy as the Wildling army marches forward and the Night's Watch is decimated by the mystical Others.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys struggles with her conscience as she builds an army to invade Westeros.
None of them will matter if the Others are allowed to rise...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

I don't feel worthy, I just don't. How do you encapsulate and review a novel such as this? Martin's rich storytelling portrays prejudice, betrayal, hope and a million other things without ever making the plot feel cluttered. Thousands of pages into the series and the quality and fascination do not dip in any way. You're struck by the dozens of small and large battles, breathless with adrenaline, while never forgetting that the biggest battle has yet to come.

I'm falling in love all over again.

The intricate way threads weave together or splinter apart is still thrilling even though I'm all caught up with the show. And if any reader feels the same way I did, hesitant because of the size of the novels and the fact that the adaption seems a little easier to swallow, pull yourself together! Martin will capture you from page one, and the divergences, both little and large, that separate the books and the show are fantastic little nuggets to find.

A Storm of Swords, Part One: Steel and Snow never, ever becomes boring or stale. The sheer amount to take in is never cumbersome, so going on this adventure is nothing but a treat. Even when the author isn't progressing the overall story he upkeeps the quality and world building.

Things end a little abruptly, but that's more because the third entry's been split in two.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series that will consume your time. The pace is consistent, with intense battles to break up the adventure and exposition, but the quantity and quality will have you up late at night, hooked. But there are a lot of pages, so prepare yourself for when you start, give it time.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

It's so easy to slip into Martin's cast of distinct and divisive individuals. The fun comes in the form of a contradiction: No matter whose overall side you're on as the reader, you want some of your 'enemies' to succeed. There are of course the characters you truly love (Daenerys) and the ones you absolutely hate (Joffrey), but the majority have this power to climb inside your emotions and make them conflict.

I did have little paragraphs for each main character viewpoint, but after typing them out the review was far too long. What I will say is that there are no duds. There's a purpose and a plot for each character; a destiny that is delightful to journey to, despite how uncertain it is for each character. My personal favourites come in the forms of Catelyn, Tyrion and Daenerys, but the other viewpoints and cast members are no slouches at all.

I love how the majority are underdogs on different sides, the story just works so well with them. Maybe in the future I'll go a little more in depth, but for now be assured that the kind of talent that has gone into this cast is hard to come by.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

When I started the series, I was a little overwhelmed by how much the novels contain. Now, I'm in love. I crave all those details. And while there are a ton of things to remember, the handy appendix at the back does wonders for the holes in your memory or knowledge. 

The smooth way things are set and progress; the vivid and imaginative world; the author's mastery of the English language; all of it is in a league no one can touch, and if I have to repeat myself for each subsequent review, I will be more than happy to.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

I've got a couple other books I want to jump into before I carry on, but carrying on is in my very near future.


Previous Instalment: A Clash of Kings


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