A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords continues the groundbreaking series that began with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. It's a massive tome that weighs in at almost 1,000 pages and continues Martin's tradition of shaking up the characters and the world with momentous and surprising events.

Rob, King in the North, continues his fight against the Lannisters -- winning great victories on the battlefield, but conscious of his two sisters held as hostages. Sansa languishes in King's Landing in need of rescue, desperately trying to negotiate her way among the hostile Lannister nobility, while Arya continues her journey home incognito. Many of the southern lords come into play, and we learn much more about the politics of the south in this volume. Meanwhile, Jon on the Wall faces tough questions, and continues to mature as a warrior and a leader.

It's hard to review the book without spoiling it, because there are so many new elements. In general, the themes of the prior two novels are continued: everyone exists in shades of grey rather than black and white; magic is slowly returning to the world; the threat from beyond the wall grows stronger, while the south remain oblivious.

It's safe to say that there are some earth-shattering events in this book, and while a careful reader might manage to see them coming, they are nevertheless very surprising. If you like puzzles, keep your eyes peeled for some of those little details and you will be rewarded with the opportunity to understand the truth behind some of the most momentous events.

Martin also spends more than a little time setting up the characters for the next book in the series. A Feast For Crows is still being written, but there are enough hints about where the story is going to ratchet up the anticipation significantly.

There is also quite a bit of prophecy, which represents a substantial change from the series tone earlier. We're starting to get hints about the future in ways that allow us to better understand events of the past. One aspect of Martin's writing that we begin to see clearly here is the consequences of inherited rule: events in the present and future are being driven by the unresolved conflicts of the prior generation. It's almost as if the story is moving in two directions at once; forward in time, but backwards in perspective, so that we can see more of the whole story as we gain a better understanding of history.

This entry was published Sat Sep 04 13:18:01 CDT 2004 by Matthew and last updated 2018-06-08 01:37:22.0.

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