A Storm of Swords continues George R. R. Martin’s epic series in full force. I liked the first book of the series because it introduced me to the rich world of Westeros. The second book, A Clash of Kings introduced more characters, but it’s this book, the third, which really brings everything and everyone together. The first two books felt epic while I read them thanks to the twisting, turning subplots as well as political drama, but they’re nothing compared to A Storm of Swords.
Reading this third book re-emphasized one important aspect of Martin’s writing: no one is safe. There were times where I wanted to throw the book down in frustration and just close the cover completely because so many of the characters I was rooting for were dying. Don’t come reading these books if you want a happy go-lucky ending.
Martin does an incredible job of setting up an incredible battle to come as well as tying together some loose strings to keep me satisfied, but there was also a lot of religious back and forth which I’m usually not a fan of. The Lord of Light versus the Lord of Darkness is an obvious parallel to Christianity. The northmen who worship the “old gods” could very well be another name for Pagans. I hope Martin doesn’t take the coward’s way out and have the Lord of Light triumph over the seven gods and the old gods and all the other gods in the end. So far, he’s been doing a decent job of portraying heroes and villains of all sides so let’s hope he sticks to it.
One of the best things that can be said about this third book is the characterization. I began feeling compassion or at least understanding for a lot of the characters whom I thought of as villains in the first book. By no means do they become heroic or anything so drastic, but character motivations come through in a natural and convincing manner thanks to the way Martin writes. It’s true that many more people seem to be varying shades of gray in this book, but there are still those who are quite obviously good or evil.
The only bad thing about this novel is that it’s so long and dense with drama that I had to take a break from reading it after some parts. The treachery, deaths, and general conflicts in the book never get tiresome, but I felt too tense sometimes — thus the break. This is definitely something I’m going to be keeping on my shelves for many more re-reads.