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Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R. R. Martin

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. 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. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is 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. . .

Released: January 1st 2000          Pages: 1177
Publisher: Bantam                       Source: Library

First, I love the title of this book.  The paperback cover is mediocre (the Spanish one is awesome, though), but the title is fabulous.  Also, 1177 pages is a lot of words, which means it took me forever to read this.  That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, just that it had 1177 pages of small, cramped words. 

It's about time Joffrey got what was coming to him.  I feel kind of bad saying that about a 12-13 year old kid, but then I think about how incredibly bratty and terrible he is, and Ned Stark...and then I'm completely cool with what happened.

This is not an easy book to read.  Not only is it long, it's also fiercely complicated.  There are at least half a dozen different point of views that George R. R. Martin switches around to during the story.  It's like braiding--you only actively use one strand at a time, but you still hold the others, and they're still an integral part of the braid.  A Song of Ice and Fire is a story-braid with a zillion strands. 

It's also difficult sometimes to get over the content of this book.  People die in this book.  That isn't a spoiler--George R. R. Martin is famous for his use of the "anyone can die" trope.  No character, no matter how loved and central to the story, is safe.  The question with character death becomes not "if", like with so many other books, but "when", "who", and "how".  (I read somewhere that this series is like Twitter.  There are 140 characters and bad things are always happening.)

And then THE RED WEDDING.  This Red Wedding bingo accurately describes my feelings.  Denial + pain + anger + no, no, no, no, no! + shock + Come on, the direwolf too? = Red Wedding feels.  You know how this series works?  The good guys/girls die, and the evil, selfish, and cruel people prosper from the deaths and live on and increase the number of evil people.  I now understand that eCard that floats around the internet and says "I hope your wedding ends better than Edmure Tully's."  What is it with weddings in this series?  And I will now never be able to have red in my wedding colors.

Speaking of weddings...I loved Tyrion already, but his treatment of his...situation...with Sansa increased my respect for him exponentially.  He could've been a jerk about it, but he was sensitive to Sansa's feelings instead. 

Also noteworthy, though, is this series' treatment of women.  I'm not the first to bring up this complaint.  There are many good, strong female characters that get time in the spotlight--Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark, DAENERYS TARGARYEN, to name a few.  But this positive aspect is horribly outweighed by the fact that the author is apparently incapable of bringing a female character into a scene without making some reference to female body parts/intimacy.  Not only is it annoying to read (especially if the reader is female, like me), but also completely unnecessary, immature, and downright degrading.  I refuse to believe that this is how real men think all of the time.  (If I'm wrong about that, I think I'll go become a nun.)

And finally...what happened to Rickon Stark?  Did he just disappear off the face of the earth, or what? 

Other than my one major complaint, I enjoyed this.  Er, appreciated it, becomes sometimes it becomes hard to enjoy when your favorite characters start dying.  But my major favorites are still alive, so... *crosses fingers*

I leave you with this GIF of Jon Snow being skeptically majestic, much like Thorin Oakenshield.

Similar Books: Eragon, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Possibly Dragons of Autum Twilight? aGoT is much more political than Eragon, and much less quest-y than LotR. Its only similarities to DoAT are that they're both high fantasy and they both have this gigantic epic tome feel to them.  It has a similar premise and feel to Falling Kingdomsand kind of The False Prince, though TFP is a million times tamer (and smaller).  It also reminds me of the Seven Realms series.  (Why is seven the magic number of kingdoms/realms?) 
Side Note: I've been MIA this past week.  For good reason, though--I spent a few days in New York City (did you see people with sousaphones on the Today show?  That was us.), then had a section speech meet, and then piles of make-up work.  Here are some various thoughts:
1. I saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.  It was incredibly awesome.  I felt like this the whole time:
2. '21 Guns' by Green Day is a great song. 
3. A fan of A Song of Ice and Fire is apparently incapable of going past the HBO headquarters in NYC without saying "Brace yourselves...HBO is coming."
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a terribly overrated movie, and I didn't like it at all. 
5. Times Square is like being at Buffalo Wild Wings, in that there are screens everywhere.  Except in NYC they're a hundred times bigger.
6. War Horse, the movie.  Great movie, but they killed Tom Hiddleston!  And Benedict Cumberbatch and Hiddleston were in the same movie, which is kind of cool.
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  1. Ooh, I saw Phantom of the Opera at the Westend in the summer :) It was amazing. I'd love to see it again :)
    I read the first in this series and really liked it. Then my dad caught me reading it and told me it was inappropriate - probably due to the treatment of women... 0___0

    1. Has your dad read the books, or is he basing it off the show's reputation? I know that the show (which I haven't seen, so I can't personally attest to this) has a reputation for some questionable content when it comes to women. From what I've heard, the book is nowhere near as bad as the show.


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