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A Storm Of Swords by George R.R. Martin – Untimely Thoughts

A Storm Of Swords - George R.R. Martin

Last week, I finished A Storm Of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series. Of course, these are among the most prominent fantasy books in existence right now, thanks to their TV adaptation Game of Thrones, so I doubt I’m alone there.

Having read the other two books after watching their screen equivalents, I thought I’d try this one the other way round. So, how was the experience? Has it affected my expectations of the upcoming series?

SPOILER WARNING: If you’re following the TV show, haven’t read the books and want to remain totally unspoiled for events beyond season two, best not read this.

Vague Review (no real spoilers)

Review verdict out of the way: yes, this is a good book, possibly the best of the three I’ve read. The sprawling universe Martin has created is hugely impressive, even if I sometimes lost track of exactly who was who. In many ways, that makes it feel more realistic –you have a “close” circle of people, then a raft of acquaintances.

He wraps up plot threads stretching back to book one – at times, this reads like the climax to a trilogy. There are a few slightly samey chapters of characters trudging around to get into place, but once you get to about 45% (yes, I read it on a Kindle), the pace is full-speed to the end, which is impressive for such a long book. And the climactic scenes are amazingly satisfying once you get there.

TV Murmurs (minor spoilers)

Indeed, the book is so long that it’s being spread across two seasons of the TV show, which is interesting because of all the set-up in the first half. Based on early publicity and comments from the producers, it sounds like they’re going for the Red Wedding as centrepiece to season three. That’s going to be horrific, isn’t it? I mean, just reading it was bad enough.

And then, presumably, Joffrey’s wedding and subsequent manoeuvres in season four, maybe with some material pulled forward from book four to pad out the remaining space. Danerys really doesn’t get a vast amount to do in the latter half of book three, which might mean a worrying amount of padding to keep her in every episode – which would be annoying, as they already did that in season two.

Still, it was a great read, hopefully an equally good twenty episodes of telly. Definitely got me excited for the series returning next weekend. Let me know below if you have any thoughts about all this – if you can refrain from spoiling books 4-5, though, I’d appreciate it. Ta.


arbitrary said...

I think it's going to be a really strong season 3, the book is definitely one of the strongest in the series. Can't wait to monitor twitter reaction to the red wedding!

Nick Bryan said...

Yeah, I'm curious if they can live up to the nastiness of the chapter. Based on the trailers, it seems like their putting a lot of the good stuff into season 3, so kinda curious what'll be left for season 4 too.

Paul Luke said...

The original editions of storm of swords was in two halves, but they were a bit weird because they overlapped in timeframe partially, but not in POV characters - is the combined edition like that, or has it been rejigged?
I assume the split other users will be nothing like that of the books, as that would have entire seasons without faan favourites.

Nick Bryan said...

The combined edition seems to be a single chronological narrative - obviously, hard to be certain with all the jumping around, but there's no time-backtracking that I can see.

So not sure whether they rearranged chapters for effect in the split editions. I assume they're going to add a few extra scenes for big characters like Theon who don't appear at all in the book, like they did for Robb in season 2.

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