Category: "A Song of Ice and Fire"

A Storm of Swords - George R. R. Martin

January 3rd, 2007

Storm of Swords by George R. R. MartinOf 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 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 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...

My struggle here will be trying to express things about book three of a series that I have not already said about book one or book two. It is very difficult for me to try to write my thoughts on the book without either saying things I have already said or tripping over my excitement for the series while trying to give you a down-to-earth recounting of the book.

I can tell stories about me sitting up at night reading in bed and getting entirely too animated with my reactions to things Martin wrote...or I can compare it with the first two books of the series. When put that way, I think I'll opt for the latter.

By starting, or continuing, the series through book 3 you will not be disappointed. Not on a grand scale anyway. (One thing about George Martin is that he is not afraid to kill off main characters. As with the first two books, in book 3 main characters die. If you were attached to one or more who is killed/dies then you may be disappointed on a smaller scale.) The series is not new to me anymore; I no longer have the honeymoon feeling with the books. Gone is the initial excitement from finding something I loved, but my devotion is renewed at the end of each book.

The excitement in the series slowed somewhat in book 2, but not in book 3. A Storm of Swords is aptly named for the fast-paced action. There is a lot that happens, and you may find yourself (as I did) going back and forth trying to decide which is my favorite character. Sit tight, it is going to be a bumpy ride, but it will be a fun ride. With George R. R. Martin, I am consistently entertained.

I guess it boils down to this: If you have read the first two books, I would imagine you were somewhat eager to read book 3, but do not want to be let down. Don't hesitate. Get your copy of book 3 today and start reading. I tried to pace myself through the first three, knowing that there are still unwritten books in the series, to spread out the amount of time between books more evenly. I have given up on that idea. Book 4 here I come!

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A Clash of Kings - George R. R. Martin

May 4th, 2006

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. MartinIn this eagerly awaited sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a work of unsurpassed vision, power, and imagination. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare unlike any you have ever experienced.

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of the divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Have you ever been weary of seeing a sequel because you know it will not be nearly as good as the original? Or have you been hesitant to see a something a second time because you just know it will not be as good as it was the first time? I have. And that is how I felt as I tried to talk myself into reading A Clash of Kings. At a time when I was struggling to find any books that I was enthusiastic about, I read the first of this 4-(so far)-part series, A Game of Thrones. I enjoyed it so thoroughly I was hesitant to read the second installment. I was skeptical. The book could not be as good, I thought. The book will tarnish the near perfect reputation of its predecessor, I told myself. That is not fair, I reasoned. And I decided that it was time to read the second book.

To be fair, A Clash of Kings is not as good as A Game of Thrones. From a chronological standpoint I feel that it would essentially be impossible for the second book to be as good as or better than the first. The first was the introduction; everything was new. In the second book, though there is still more to introduce and many things are new, the story continues. And there is much more to come.

I apologize if this comparison carries a negative connotation, because it is not my intent. Book two of the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, in my opinion bears a resemblance to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (also the second book of its series). Both books have "set-up" roles. A lot happens without anything happening, if you follow what I am saying. The pieces are put into place in these books, and they are poised for action in the book(s) to come. That is not to say that there is any lack of action in A Clash of Kings. Far from it, rather. The story is ready to pounce. Book three, A Storm of Swords, should be a thrill ride.

I am still fascinated by the chapter style. Through the entire series George R. R. Martin chooses a handful of characters and each chapter is from the perspective of one of them. Readers are able to be essentially omniscient in the realm of the Seven Kingdoms by seeing the trials and tribulations of characters good and bad, here and there. The book is a series of cliffhangers and it makes the suspense pleasurable is a strange masochistic sort of way. The tension will build and build and then just as it nears its apex, the chapter ends. The action picks up from that point...or not...a few chapters later. It sounds more frustrating than fun, but when you read the books it is actually fun and not frustrating. It also makes the books easier to get through. You will fly through a few chapters to get to the next part about whatever character you are following.

I know that sci-fi/fantasy books are daunting. They seem to all be 700-1100 pages and most are but one piece of a multi-part series. It makes for a lot of reading because by taking the first you may be signing yourself up to read an entire series. I feel the same way and I just try to space the books out so it does not seem as bad. I have a decent memory and found that even though I read the first book almost eight months ago, I was able to pick up right where the story left off. I did not have to re-acclimate myself with the story. This was important because the author does not take time to recap what happened in the previous book. There is a lot of detail and it would make a long book even longer to go through it all.

I do not read many books in this genre, but I truly get excited about these books. I loved A Clash of Kings and I loved A Game of Thrones before it. I look forward to continuing this series.

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A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

October 7th, 2005

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. MartinIn a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win the deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I am typically a Mystery/Suspense novel snob. Rarely have I varied my path from those books, but more and more recently I have been making the switch. At a time when mystery novels have nearly ceased to excite me, I have needed to look elsewhere. I would have never expected to find comfort in the arms of Sci-fi/Fantasy, yet here I am before you.

I have read The Lord of the Rings, but my experience beyond has been disappointing. A few years ago, at the urging of a friend I picked up a copy of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, Book 1 of the Wheel of Time series. My first non-Tolkien Sci-fi/Fantasy experience was a bust. It probably took me a week if not more to read the first 13 pages. Try though I might, I could not find myself lost in Jordan's world. At 832 pages, it was not a book I wanted to take my time and give a truly fair chance.

Needless to say that I was hesitant when the recommendation came to try the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Same friend as before to make the recommendation, but this time he let the book speak for itself. A Game of Thrones spoke loudly to me. I actually read the first however many pages right from Amazon.com and before I knew it I had bought a copy.

Martin's writing style, in respect to different chapters, was very interesting. He titled a chapter as the name of a key character and then the subsequent pages would be some unfolding of the story from that character's perspective. This kept the story fresh at all times; ever-changing.

I will warn you that if you are a reader who likes to see each character to whom you become attached remain unharmed, this may not be the series for you. Martin dares to allow the big name(s) to die. Not all authors will take this step, I like it. It makes you realize that at any time, any one of the characters in the story could be killed. Not that this book needed help creating excitement, but this element certainly added to it.

In true Sci-fi/Fantasy style, A Game of Thrones was a long book (Book 2, A Clash of Kings is even longer). When I would normally expect relief at the end of such a long book (807 pages), here I found actual goosebumps and the burning desire to continue the series.

I applaud the author for his writing; his mix of sci-fi/fantasy with mystery and romance and everything in between, I thank Thomas for his recommendation which I pass on to you, and I order my copy of Book 2.

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