Merciless and brilliant.
This was unbelievably amazing. A Storm of Swords could actually be the height of George R. R. Martin’s writing career. I know I haven’t read A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, or the extra books of the series yet, but realistically speaking, it would be bloody difficult for Martin to top what he has achieved in this book.
Picture: A Storm of Swords by Marc Simonetti
I’ll try to make this review shorter than usual and I won’t be talking about the story at all to avoid spoilers. Seriously, you have to experience this for yourself. If you miraculously haven’t watched the TV series, A Storm of Swords encompassed season 3 and 4 of the TV series. I have known the main twists of this installment from watching the TV show but somehow the book was still able to fully capture my attention. It brings me to this point once again: I can’t even imagine how much I’ll love this traumatizing book IF I’ve read it without having watched the TV series adaptation.
“Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit them from time to time.”
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should skip the TV series. Up to season 4, the TV series adaptation remains mostly loyal to the original material. Sure it’s not like the first season anymore where it was pretty much scene by scene adaptation, but I do honestly think that there were a lot of moments that the TV series did even better than the book. I highly loved what I’ve read so far in A Song of Ice and Fire; this novel, in particular, is currently my favorite from the series. However, from my experience reading the series, I can say that I’m not a huge fan of Martin’s prose during his battle scenes. They were great but I personally think there are other grimdark fantasy authors that wrote battle scenes much better than Martin; Joe Abercrombie and Steven Erikson to name a few. The battle scenes were one factor where the TV show excelled in. Also, I will never stop praising Peter Dinklage’s acting performance as Tyrion Lannister that totally did justice to the superb characterizations that the character has; same goes for many of the actor and actresses performance.
“Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.”
I loved reading the series not because of the battle scenes, but for the characterizations, intricate world-building, how Martin set up a scene smartly, and the immense strength in the unpredictability of the storyline; all proven clearly with this book. The myriad pivotal events that occurred in this single installment were simply unforgettable. The Red Wedding, for example, is one of the, if not THE most traumatizing event to ever occurred in a fantasy novel for me; it pretty much has become a standard of comparison for brutality and shocking scale in speculative fiction. “It wasn’t as crazy as The Red Wedding,” or “It was more traumatizing than The Red Wedding.” You probably have read or heard these phrases on reviews or on social media due to the super exposure caused by the TV shows, let me tell you that they’re there for many good reasons.
“It all goes back and back,” Tyrion thought, “to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads.”
At 414k words—roughly 23 hours for me to read—this has become the third biggest novel I’ve read since The Stand by Stephen King and Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. I found it astounding that there was close to zero dull moments; well, I guess there’s Bran’s boring storyline but his role in this book is very small. Excluding Bran’s story, I was completely immersed and I was in love with every page I read. Martin sang a song of violence, grief, and treachery with much impact; the writing was thoroughly engaging, full of memorable speeches, and the phrases were cleverly structured to be evocative.
“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”
Excluding the fame he gets from the TV series adaptation, if you’re ever in need of an evident proof on why George R. R. Martin has become one of the legendary fantasy authors of our time, A Storm of Swords is the answer. Although the series is still incomplete, I honestly think that it’s worth reading the series just to experience the one of a kind reading experience provided in this tome. I loved this book, I’m giving it a full 5 stars rating; I’m extremely confident it would’ve been one of those ultra rare 6 out of 5 stars if I’ve read it without any knowledge of the plot.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)