A Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

I just finished listening to this book, all 48 hours of it! (I started it on 16 April) It’s the third in the series and was utterly enthralling. As with the previous two audio books, this one is read by Roy Dotrice and he does a wonderful job of bring the characters to life.

The scope of this series is huge and it has pretty much become part of my life since I got hooked on the first one after my second attempt. It took me two attempts to get going on the first one due to the sheer number of characters and their various alliances and family histories.

One of the great things about these books is that the author presents ALL the characters in an objective light. Sure, there are “goodies” and “baddies” in a sense, but the lines are blurred and it becomes easy therefore to feel compassion for whomever happens to have the limelight in the tale.

As with the first book, Martin has no qualms about killing off the central characters, although it does still come as a shock at times. It makes the story more gripping though, as there are times when the reader really doesn’t know if a main character is about to meet their demise or not. They die when it’s not expected, and stay alive when it seems likely that they will be killed.

I won’t give away any plot spoilers, so better leave it there.

I just read a few reviews over on audible.com of the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. It’s read by someone else and that seems in poor taste to me when I’ve got so used to Roy’s voices and accents (strange that Tyrian Lannister should be Welsh though, when his father, Lord Tywin, sounds like Winston Churchill!) It also seems the case that the content of A Feast for Crows was intended to be included in the next book but was spun off for reasons of size, and so A Feast for Crows is pretty much a filler to pad out the story and does not really follow the main characters. So I’m not quite sure whether to wait or dive right in.

Comments

  1. Steve Betz says:

    [this is good]

    Cams — I was blown away by this book — actually by each of the first three.  His constant ability to send the plot into directions you don’t anticipate (at least I don;t anticipate…)

    I think you’re right — he’s done a fine job of “greying” many of the major characters — leaving the completely white-hat/black-hat crowds relatively small.  And by killing off crucial characters you’re never left with a sense of complacency.  After I read Game of Thrones I think I went around for a week saying, “He killed Ned!”…  Good stuff.

    Oddly, this is the second post in my neighborhood about this book — you guys in cahoots?

  2. Steve Betz says:

    Oh I forgot, I thought “Feast” was a bit of a let down — mostly for the reasons you mention.  I think this is the part where the story has reached is widest and it shows.  I’m anticipating (hoping) that the stories begin to condense.

    If you read GRRM’s website, you can tell he struggled getting this book out and is still wrangling with “Dance of Dragons”.  Again, I have a lot of hope that he’ll be back on track as he brings it all home.

  3. Wow, two posts in your neighbourhood about the same book in two days! So I’ve got a new hoodie!

    It was actually another of your hoodies that pointed me to your blog after we’d been discussing Ice and Fire — the one and only greywolf. He was a book ahead of me when I started but I guess we’ve caught up now! He was looking for something else to read and I wrote him a review of Steven Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series. He’s reading the first of those just now (Lord Foul’s Bane) and says he’s enjoying it. Have you read them, Steve?

    So I might skip Feast for now and see if I can hunt down the audio book of something from greywolf’s recommendations, such as His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.I don’t actually have the time to sit down with a book, but I listen to audio books in the car and when I’m out walking or in the kitchen or doing the housework or the shopping…

  4. greywolf says:

    I just love these books, my favorite series in fact.  They are indeed huge yet even after about 3000 pages I’m still wanting more.  I agree with both you guys that the way Martin handles the good and bad characters is one of the strong points for the series.

    According to our old friend Wikipedia both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons begin where A Storm of Swords leaves off and run alongside each other.  He has generally split the POV characters from the south into Crows and characters from the north into Dragons.

    Steve: You now have 3 neighborhood posts about this book as I posted one a while ago that you may have missed.

  5. Steve Betz says:

    Cams — Re: Donaldson — absolutely!  It was without a doubt my first great fantasy read — loved it way more than Tolkien.  I wrote about it in a post before you were in the hood.

    The Illearth War
    The Power That Preserves:
    Stephen R. Donaldson

    The final two books of Donaldson’s anti-hero Thomas Covenant trilogy (the first one).  Gripping and bitter, full of despair and exultation.  It’s amazing when you realize this entire trilogy would probably be one book in a modern series (you know the type — they’re the ones where editors can’t seem to say “no” apparently).

    I thought the second trilogy was good, too.  But not as gut-wrenching as the first.  Donaldson’s later stuff has really depressed me (I think he has a lot of personal problems) so I haven’t even picked up the more recent ones.

  6. Check the second comment in that thread, Steve! Guess I already knew that  you’d read Covenant then. Memory like a sieve, I tell you.

    Did you ever read Donaldson’s GAP series? I really enjoyed those and have also read the series twice. Not quite as deep and meaningful as Covenant, but a great ripping space yarn nevertheless. And the character of Thermopyle is up there with Covenant IMO.

  7. Steve Betz says:

    God — its awful getting old — well, at least we’re consistent in what we say we like!