Friday, September 27, 2013

A Storm of Swords Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   I know I said I was going to come back with a review from Vicious by V.E. Schwab, but I just finished this book (since I started it a week or so before I bought Vicious) and I wasn't planning on doing a review, but, I needed to. This is A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire series. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords...

This is the third book in the series.

(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, it will contain spoilers)
   It's almost impossible to write a spoiler-free review for books in a series as it is, and this book would be even more challenging to do a review for because of 1) the plain massiveness of the book, and 2) because of all the plot twists and overlaps and such. (Also the fact most people who know the events of this book, aware of the plot twists and characters through the show makes me only half guilty for having only a spoiler book review.) So I'll just discuss my thoughts on all the big events of the book and even discuss some characters. 
   Alright, honestly I don't really remember where we left off in the last book. Where our main characters are at this point: 
     -Jon killed Qhorin Halfhand at his request so Jon could spy on the wilding army 
     -Arya is somewhere south of the Neck with Gendry and Hot Pie still trying to get home 
     -Sansa is still trapped at King's Landing 
     -Daenerys is still across the sea to the east 
     -Bran accompanied by Jojen and Meera Reed, Hodor, Osha and the two direwolves have fled Winterfell 
     -King Stannis had to flee back to Dragonstone after the loss at King's Landing 
     -Other characters such as Theon Greyjoy, Catelyn and Robb Stark, Tyrion and Jaime Lannister (wait I think he's under Catelyn's watch), and Davos I don't remember. 
     So for the most part, most of our characters are isolated/separated from society because they're on the run (Bran, King Stannis, Theon Greyjoy?) or have been captured (Sansa, Jaime Lannister) or can no longer remain safely behind the walls of their home and must journey elsewhere to re-establish sovereign (Robb Stark, Daenerys, Jon). While this is a little redundant an may be boring, before I started talking about this book I wanted to make sure we all had at least some idea of where we're starting.
    As all the books have had up until this point is our complex story plots. Characters we feel are gone forever reappear and this makes it not only startling but daunting as well. Should I even begin with the ending of this book? Well, why not since I'm already here? I'll talk about the Red Wedding in a second which was arguably the most unanticipated moment in the book, however the end, where our supposed deceased mother is long past dead and drowned in the river, is revealed to be in fact "alive" and present. Though she doesn't say a word but silently nods as the final act in the book makes her revival in A Song of Ice and Fire series outright haunting and well, as I said before, daunting. Now she isn't the first in this world to become animated and mysteriously returned from the grave, however of all the characters that we're familiar with that have died, we should probably fear her the most-- which is a mixed emotion as it is because we've only seen her as a caring, deeply-devoted mother and now we're seeing her as some walking corpse with who knows what intentions. At the moment of her death, she only had one child left to her still. Sansa was captive in King's Landing and recently wed to Tyrion Lannister, Arya has been missing for I want to guess almost a year since Ned Stark's death, and Bran and Rickon Stark who were before safe in Winterfell had been falsely murdered by Theon Greyjoy. Robb, her oldest and only child, who just oh-so-happens to be king of the north, is the only connection she has to her husband and to her family as a whole. Also right before she and Robb even appear at the Frey's castle, she was already afraid that she was losing her son. She had freed Jaime Lannister without Robb's consent, her dying father didn't recognize her, then Robb got married and she was budding heads with him one for getting out of his oath to marry one of Walder Frey's daughter and marrying Jeyne Westerling (daughter of no one important), keeping his dire wolf Grey Wind away, and probably my favorite, Robb suggesting Jon to be named his heir in case of his demise which Catelyn would always and forever really oppose to. So this poor mother who tries to remain strong for her son really is a woman who I honestly think is still trying to deal with Ned Stark's death. While she may not out right saying anything to anyone and especially her son, this woman who for the past fifteen to sixteen years have lived with her strong and noble husband behind Winterfell's indestructible walls and is now out in the world trying to catch her children who are fleeting in the wind, she is emotionally drained. Once so rooted and now she can't seem to stand strong to anything, makes this revived cold, presumably heartless corpse that bears her name so terrifying at the end of the book. And more importantly, what role will she play in the next book and overall for the series? (Because something isn't right with all these dead people coming back to life.)
    Sorry, that ending is important, and I hope I made sense. Next, to stay around the same topic, I want to give my thoughts about the Red Wedding. Well, months ago when the episode aired, all over twitter and facebook I heard news and reactions about some Red Wedding. At the time I had read the first book but not the second one and I tried to stay as far from the show as possible since it was still a book and a half ahead of me. And honestly I didn't really know what the Red Wedding was about so I was like, something big but I don't know. It wasn't until a couple weeks later I did the stupidest thing imaginable and watched a video talking about fans reactions to the Red Wedding and the hosts said who died. I was a little put back but since I was know where near that point in the series I didn't feel as sad as I did when I read it. And I wasn't shocked by their demises since I heard about it months before reading it so sadly, the Red Wedding wasn't as sad as it should have been. If I hadn't known who died, I probably would have balled my eyes out (like I almost did with the deaths of Ned Stark, and the "deaths" of Bran and Rickon Stark), especially since I was starting to like Robb as a character and as a king. We never read a chapter through his eyes and other than Rickon, he's the hardest to identify with since we only see him when we're in a Catelyn chapter and those chapters he has just come from a battle. So yeah, Robb's death makes me sad, and the fact they mutilated his body, beheaded him and Grey Wind then sewed his direwolf's head to his body is beyond dehumanizing and villainizing the Freys, as well as their mutilating Catelyn's body and then dumping her naked body into the river. I think we all hate them forever now.
    [I just want to add I watched the Red Wedding scene immediately after reading that chapter and Michelle Fairley who plays Catelyn Stark performed up and beyond as an extremely emotionally-sensitive mother and I teared up in that part before Robb was even killed. If you think women or mothers are weak have clearly never met our badass Catelyn Stark. Cersei Lannister I argue is strong as well but she's on the evil side of the badass spectrum, so I'll just focus on Catelyn.] ^^
    I almost forgot, I have to get this off my chest, Jeyne Westerling, Robb Stark's wife, IS NOT at the Red Wedding, she was left back in Riverrun, nor is she pregnant (that we're aware of). Whoever this other chick is in the series just disrupts probably whatever role she plays in the next book if Martin decided to have her return to the series. (Which I don't doubt because he is king of complex story plots, at least the best at them from all the authors I've read.) I have only seen the first season of the show so I don't know, maybe I initially would have liked this other chick's character, but I read the books first (thank God) and I think whoever is in charge of the writing for the show screwed up, and I'll say why. In the show, Robb Stark witnesses his wife and unborn child stabbed multiple times, making his demise even more tragic and so right before he dies, you see him as this emotionally stunned character (which I'm sorry, this boy has gone through enough, he's lost everyone in his family already, minus Catelyn, Sansa, and Jon) who he says nothing solely because of that. I can see that they wanted the fans to have a fit over the wedding, but hey, why not torture our character more and have his wife there, oh yeah, with his unborn child, great writing everyone! NO. We never see this story through Robb's eyes, this is more Catelyn's story than Robb's and having us attach ourselves more to Robb because of the loss of his wife and child than Catelyn is not giving Catelyn the credit she deserves. Like I said before, Michelle Fairley did an absolute phenomenal job in that scene so I think she was the only one really giving the Red Wedding scene justice. (Though I do think the actor who portrayed Walder Frey did a great job well as our betrayed villain.) Also, Catelyn kills Walder's grandson, not his wife. But details, details.
    One of the most shocking revelations in this book is of Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, who as it turns out, was really the one helped Sansa escape. There are many plot twists in this book, but I feel like that one twisted me the most. So wait, Petyr actually is good?? Well not quite, he still lusts after Sansa of course (the dude did own a brothel...), which I shouldn't have been as surprised at. The scene near the end where he and Sansa reconstruct a snow Winterfell I felt more as fatherly and friendly, but yeah that escalated quickly to lust. While he did end up saving Sansa in the final chapter, he still is one we need to all keep an eye out for.
    Martin likes to toy with my emotions and how I should feel about characters. Are you thinking of anyone in particular? I'll give you a hint: Lannister. No? Need more? Okay, Lannister boy. Still, more? Tyrion, or maybe even Jaime? Yes! Actually, both! Tyrion I will always love because he is a great example of an antihero. We shouldn't like him because he is a Lannister and is an ugly dwarf who is the cause of his mother's death and who is constantly sexually hungry. But then he reads, he's smart, he uses wit to be his armor, and his family's gold, he uses his eyes where people ignore, he cares about law and order and doesn't make empty promises but keeps them. Yet he always is seen as the bad end of the stick, he's always being kicked around and getting the worst luck. But he sees evil where evil lies and we connect with that more because usually characters choose to ignore what's right in front of them. So when he kills Shae at then end as well as his father, instead of hating him like I probably should have, I still hold him in the same esteem. He has had a crappy life, why not be "bad" for once and hurt others, especially to those who deserve it? I mean, he never harmed or had sex with Sansa, he never harmed his niece or nephew (Joffrey excluded, in fact he tried to literally knock sense into the boy several times), he even tried to set up a better life for Shae way before she betrayed him, and way back in the first book he gave Bran some plans to a "saddle" so he wouldn't be stuck in one place or carried like a baby everywhere, probably at least somewhat suspicious that Bran's handicap was related to his siblings. So no, Tyrion isn't bad but he isn't all good, and when he murders Shae and his father, it really gives the reader a big fat reminder than these characters are people and are flawed just as we all are. No one pure good or pure bad, we all just weigh good and bad differently. 
     And how about Jaime? Slowly but surely, this Kingslayer begins to transform and become very complex when he begins to share some sort of acquaintanceship with Brienne Tarth. While we all know he doesn't see her as some common woman (excluding Cersei), but he actually grows in a way fond of this creature of the opposite sex and it's clear through his attempts at comradeship in their journey south. It goes beyond that because once he does get to King's Landing, he doesn't lust after Cersei as strongly as before. No doubt, he still loves her and wants to marry her, but he doesn't see her as this perfect woman and sees that there is a world outside of her. For the first time in his life, he had to spend time away from her and he realized that he really only was his name: a Lannister, a man of riches and title who had the respect of all. Once he lost it all (when he was Catelyn's captive), he began to see life in a new way, though he did still walk and talk with a hot head. On his journey south with Brienne, a sort of woman he never got to know before, he begins to unfold in a complex manner and gives his flat character flesh and bone. Such as he hates being referred to as the Kingslayer much as his younger brother hates begin referred to as the Imp. While he never says it outright as Tyrion does, he uses this epithet as a shield, while he does suffer from it internally. Yeah, he may be all bad since he pushed Bran off the tower, murdered many North men, captured and responsible for Ned Stark's death, killing all of Cersei's children that wasn't theirs, but now we see him as someone who doesn't turn back on Brienne or Tyrion and actually didn't even really like his jerk of a son Joffrey. While Jaime and Tyrion's last encounter wasn't the best scene on either part, he held his word and I think [hope] that someday they'll be reunited on better terms. No, their cold farewell will play a role in the future.
     Arya Stark. I love this girl, she has so much spunk. And I just want to put this out there, I don't ship a lot of characters in any books, but I ship her and Gendry. Sorry, but it had to be said. ^^ 
     On to her journey in this book, while I was sad when she parted ways with Gendry, and then even more sad when she was captured by Sandore Clegane (aka the Hound), I'm just happy that she didn't have to witness another parent's demise at the Green Fork at the Red Wedding. When that chapter ends with the Hound smacking her in the back of the head with his axe (which honestly I didn't know meant he simply knocked her unconscious or outright beheaded her), I kept waiting and waiting for another chapter with her name on it. It isn't until 150 or so pages later we see that she is in fact still alive and still kicking. That's my girl. Almost every major death in this series is occurring in some event, so the fact that Arya Stark, one of the most important characters in this series, would have died outside the Red Wedding would have put her death to shame and not glorified her at all. She does have a role to play and I think, with how it ended in this book, she'll play a very pivotal role in this war. If I can, I want to call that if all the Starks are to die (excluding Jon) and there's one left standing, it will be her. Most of our parents/adults have died or probably are about to die, this is the story of children honestly. And this is what makes this series so awesome, these are children putting on the big pants and stepping into roles where otherwise would have been seen through adults eyes. Arya is setting out for the east at the conclusion of A Storm of Swords and while I wished she instead journey back north to at least the Wall with Jon or even back to Gendry (since you already know my feelings about them *sighs*), I can see that Martin wants to show Arya as completely independent even if she's under the care of men (which is seen the moment she leaves Winterfell, I don't count her governess lady who accompanies her and Sansa to King's Lading in the first book). I know that if she remains with Jon or Gendry she might even become a little less independent and while I don't like it, I respect it and will only wish for her happy reunions with them. (But for real, will Gendry one day become king since he's Robert Baratheon's [bastard] son or maybe Edric Storm-- I don't know if I read that correctly and he does die or if he successfully escapes Dragonstone.)
     Jon Snow. I absolutely loved him in the first book and was indifferent toward him in the second (actually I was indifferent to everything in that book), but I'm happy to say I'm back to loving him. Especially how he ends up being Lord Commander of the Wall. Should I say my feelings about him and Ygritte? I think everyone who's seen the show already feels something toward them as a couple, so I think everyone's on the same page here. 
(They better have been represented correctly or I will probably detest this show more after the Red Wedding scene. Okay, not detest the show, detest the screenwriters.)
   P.S. I'm happy at least one Stark was happily reunited with their direwolf. 
    I haven't said anything about Daeneyrs and I really wish I did or had more to say. I still see her as I did in the prior book, not really blown away by her character since she isn't actually interacting with anyone we're familiar with from Westeros besides Ser Jorah Mormont, so all these times we're meeting foreign rulers I'm like, who cares? She'll just kill the rulers or leave them in the end, there won't be any really tension to build off of. Though I do love learning about the cultures on the other side of the sea and how she adapts to it. And I will give her kudos at the end when she decides that she wants to stay, I think that act made me to start liking her again.
    I have never laughed so hard in a book, than when I read how Joffrey dies. Serves that arrogant slime of a child right. (One of the most anticipated moments of season 4 to be sure!) 
   I argue this book is as good or even better than the first one. I think that can be seen. ^^

I give this book 5/5 stars. 

Author's Quote:
"We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky."
-Catelyn Stark, A Storm of Swords

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

No comments:

Post a Comment