Monday, June 4, 2012

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A STORM OF SWORDS 1 - STEEL AND SNOW ~ GEORGE R.R MARTIN

A Clash of Kings left us with some major cliffhangers, and in the author’s note preceding the first chapters, author George R.R Martin makes mention that A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow does not so much follow the events of A Clash Of Kings, but the events occur more simultaneously with the battle of the Blackwater at the end of A Clash Of Kings.  In A Storm of Swords 1 we follow the people of the realm as they deal with the aftermath of the Battle of  Blackwater.  We pick up with Catelyn Stark pressing a sword to Jaime Lannister’s heart, Arya Stark fleeing Harrenhall with Gendry and Hot Pie, Sansa Stark awaiting her fate after her engagement to King Joffrey is called off, Daenerys Targaryen finally moving to return to Westeros, Bran and Rickon Stark fleeing with the help of Meera and Jojen Reed, the Night’s Watch deciding to attack Mance Rayder and the wildlings rather than wait for them to reach the wall, and Jon Snow posing as a turncloak, unbeknownst to his black brothers. 


Where do the Kings find themselves?  King Stannis is recuperating after the failed attack on King’s Landing, King Joffrey prepares for his wedding to King Renley’s widow, an unexpected turn of events causes King Robb to lose some of his greatest bannermen.  The Ironmen weren’t mentioned this time around, so who knows what King Balon is up to?  Queen Daenerys is finally, slowly but surely, coming ever closer to battling the Kings for the iron throne that is hers by rights.  Her journey is quite eventful and managed to even have me break out in sweat once.  No kidding.  With her army she is finally on her way to Westeros. 

As for the others, Bran and Rickon part ways so that Rickon will be safe as Bran searches for the three eyed crow to better understand his abilities, and some of the Stark children must even part from their direwolves.  Can all be well in the realm when everyone is separated from their loved ones?  Jon Snow must pose as a turncloak joining the free folk, but true to his cause, can  he convince the wildlings that he is one of them?  How much of himself is he willing to sacrifice to the play the game?  Sansa must still navigate the games in King’s Landing as Arya must navigate the dangers of being on the run.  As Tywin Lannister takes up his position as Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister must deal with being sidelined after his success at the battle of Blackwater, and named Master of Coin, Tyrion is left with the task of getting King’s Landing out of debt.  Quite a mission.  Added to this Tyrion must hide Shae from his father’s loathing eyes, find proof that Cersei ordered him killed, and lastly take a step nobody in the Seven Kingdoms could ever have seen coming. 

There weren’t as many new characters introduced this time around, and my favourite has to be Lady Olenna, Margaery Tyrell’s grandmother.  What a delightful old lady!  Painfully honest and unwittingly hilarious, I wish there had been more of her in the book. 

A very interesting phenomenon is how Bran, Arya and Jon seem to slip into their direwolves’ subconscious; I’m very excited to see what this might mean in future.  Of course I’m still clinging to hope that Nymeria will return to Arya at some point!  Another fascinating aspect of this story is how very close the characters come to one another this time around, without knowing it.  At one point Arya is two days’ ride away from Robb and her mother, and Bran and Jon are only mere meters apart.

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow is an action-packed read no less exciting than the previous books, and sure to keep you captivated until the end.  Every character's journey is unique and dangerous, and Mr Martin does a fabulous job of keeping everything straight.  Many times I was very impressed thinking just how finely he must have plotted everything before he even started writing - the A Song of Ice and Fire series is a literary masterpiece. 




Product Information:
Title: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords 1 - Steel and Snow
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 688
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 9780007447848
ISBN-13: 9780007447848 

The HBO television Series Game of Thrones has been renewed for a third season, which will be based on A Storm of Swords 1.  To my delight Lady Olenna Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns will not be omitted from the series, and Meera and Jojen Reed will finally make their appearance! Other characters who will also make it to the Season 3 screen are Mance Rayder, Beric Dondarion, Edmure and Brynden Tully.  I quite like the Tully’s so I’m happy to finally have them join the tv series. King Stannis’ family, Lady Selyse and Shireen will also be cast for Season 3. 

Speaking of the television series, season 2  of Game of Thrones was quite different from the book (A clash of kings).  My favourite new characters (Meera and Jojen) were left out, Arya served Tywin Lannister, Shae served Sansa, Dany’s dragons were stolen, Ygritte trapped Jon… the list goes on.  The changes didn’t bother me too much as the story still flowed nicely, and the major outcomes remained the same.  Parts of book 3 were already introduced in Season 2, probably because book 3 is so action packed.  The battle of Blackwater more than makes up for other slights.  It was brilliantly done, and even more spectacular than what I had imagined reading it.  Apart from more completely unnecessary nude scenes, I am very happy with Season 2.

The Wildfire explosion at the battle of Blackwater

Filming of Season 3 will commence towards the end of the year, and Season 3 will premiere on 7 April 2013.

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