The hectic action continues apace. A solid book that picks up where A Clash of Kings left off and true to Martin’s style it is strongly steeped in violent encounters, ravishing lust and twisting, snaking plot lines. Some major players come back on the scene, Tywin Lannister for example, and others have their storylines further developed and greatly enhanced, Daenerys Targaryen. Martin does have a penchant for compicating his plots however, yet he writes in such a style that the reader can follow the twists and turns quite easily. Arya’s storyline for example had me flicking through the chapters looking specifically for those dealing with her storyline in particular.
I feel that Jon Snow’s character also takes a massive step forward in Storm of Sword part one. I read in another blog that Jon is regarded as one character that can clearly be defined as ‘good’ and this made him a somewhat unpopular character. I on the other hand was drawn to his sense of duty and honour, further compounded by Book Three part two. We also get to see his more human side as he falls for the wildling girl. Truly his star is on the rise in this third book and I do hope his is not killed off as a large number of the main characters seem to be.
As somehwhat of a spoiler for part two, I was glad that Catelyn Stark was finlly got rid off as it was a character I hated. Impulsive and manipulative there is a scene in part two where her son Robb firmly puts her in her place. More about that in the review for book two, I have roughly about 120 pages of that one left. But once again it is Tyrion Lanniester that rises above all as a ginat, depsite his stature. I think Martin has certainly hit the bullseye by making this dwarf his fulcrum of so many story plots. Sometimes odious yet sometimes easy to sympathise with. He is well aware of his role in the Lannister family yet he clearly loves his House and would certainly enjoy some positive attention or notice from his Father. Surviving on his wit and guile we see flashes of a softer, dare I say nobler side to him. He is currently in a massive pickle in Part Two but I am sure that he will wriggle his way out of the dark hole he is in!
This brings me to the one character who is developed the most and I must admit, despite being the character I liked the least in the HBO series, one that I have enjoyed being developed: Jamie Lannister. For the first time his character becomes a POV character. Martin develops him as more that the lustful, ruthless individual we see in Books 1 and 2. His crippling by the Bloody Mummers humbles him somewhat and we begin to see some of the knightly honour he possesses in his thawing attitudes to Brienne of Tarth. Though he makes it to King’s Landing and reverts to his incestuous leanings, he does stand up quick strongly to his Father. I am hopeful Jaime Lannister’s development will continue.
The plot is gradually moved on but it is quite tiresome to have ‘yet another’ twist and turn every other chapter, when is Arya’s saga going to end for example. Martin’s writing is still top notch in Book three and I am quickly coming to the point in the series when one reviewer criticised Martin for elongating his tale. I understand the series was meant to be a trilogy, and certainly Book 2 reads as the middle of a trilogy, so I eager to find out how Book 3 finishes. There are several points in Book 3 where one gets the hint of the story coming to an end only for another twist to open. Book four and Book 5 (parts one and two) will be arriving at the end of March so I will wait patiently to see how the saga evolves. So far still a thumbs up but wishing for less twists and turns.
Well its done I’ve finished reading book two of A Song of Fire and Ice and it topped the first book by a mile. A roller coaster of a story that delves into the civil war tearing the Seven Kingdoms apart.
We are introduced to some characters in greater depth. Namely Stannis and Renly Baratheon, the main contenders along with Robb stark and Joffrey Baratheon for the Iron Throne. The book itself is a 800+ page plus monster but the action is so fast paced and frenetic that the pages flow past faster than the Trident. Taking off from the point in Book 1 when Jamie Lannister is captured the story develops and the plots thicken and twist. The Imp, Tyrion Lannister plays a massive role and Martin I feel develops the storyline of this particular character masterfully. He is by far and away my favourite character in the series so far, despite my intense dislike of the Lannisters and their cause! He grows into his role as the Hand of the King and slaps the impudent King Joffrey more than once. Likewise his plotting and scheming to cement his position of power using his wit, guile and clansmen is very well handled by the author. He also becomes somewhat of an unlikely hero in the Battle of King’s Landing as well.
Interesting as well the introduction of the Iron Men of Pyke as major protagonists in the storyline. I was not expecting the turn Theon Greyjoy makes and it was a pleasant, yet shocking, surprise to see how Martin uses these Westernos Vikings to further entwine and complicate his storyline. Running parallel we have the developing situation to the North of the Wall and the deepening sense of dread and danger posed by the wildlings and the hidden menace coming behind them. The very interesting twist within this sub plot is currently making me rip through the pages of part one of Book three! Jon Snow’s character is further developed and is shown to be a multi level and multi faceted character, much more so than the brooding bastard of book one.
Yet the crowing achievement of this book is Martin’s masterful handling of the pendulum swing of a civil war that is currently going on. At different times in the story the Lion of Lannister is paramount, at other times the Direwolf of the North howls supreme only to be cowed by the Kraken of the Iron Islands. The crowned stag of Baratheon as well as the new player, the Lord of Light are also on the brink of victory but fall short. Stannis comes the closest but in true fashion a climactic and truly epic battle evolves at the walls of King’s Landing. I honestly spent four solid hours yesterday afternoon eating up the last three hundred or so pages of this epic tale. What of Daenerys Targaryen? He dragons are growing up but I found her side of the story distracting from the main events of A Clash of Kings. I am sure that all her journeys and experiences in ACoK all have a relevance in the grand and final picture but they seemed somewhat out of place among the truly epic encounters in the story. Yet I do feel she is a major player and can’t wait to see how her role is developed in books 3-5.
In conclusion I can highly recommend this book to all. At times the book felt like I was reading The Two Towers or watching The Empire Strikes Back. That point in a trilogy when the bad guys bit back with a vengeance and their star seems on the rise. The great thing about Martin is his wonderful grasp of Medieval brutality and Machiavellian behaviours so characteristic of the time. Oh my Lord is dead, nevermind there’s another one to take my oath. At several times one or another protagonist is portrayed as the good or the evil side making the reader sympathise with all factions and at the same time dislike them. A great read that is now being followed by Book Three Part One, A Storm of Swords, Steel and Snow.
Well I finally finished Book 1 of A Song of Fire and Ice and having just finished seeing the HBO televised series just before I started reading it I kind of sped through it.
Having the hindsight of the TV series I think, for once, made me enjoy the book somewhat more and was pleasantly surprised to find the TV series staying quite true to the plot George RR Martin sets out in his book. Obviously the book goes into more detail about the fluff of Westernos and its surrounding lands. I also liked the organistation of the book into chapters dealing with the plot and stroyline from a particular character’s POV, taken both in isloation and relation to what was happening elsewhere. I immediately picked up the second book, A Clash of Kings, and promptly stayed up to 1:20am last night devouring the first 120 or so pages of it! I was eager to learn how the story develops in this second book and to see how Martin drives the plot onwards.
As for Game of Thrones, I found it a very easy and pleasant read. A good mix of high paced action and long drawn out schemes and plots that puts some of the HBO stuff into better perspective, for exmaple the way the City Watch turn on Lord Stark, and the role of Littlefinger and Varys play in the Eddard’s downfall is explained more thoroughly. Likewise I also enjoyed learning a bit more about Joffrey and what makes him tick. Interesting as well how this stroyline will develop in the second book with his Uncle Tyrion as Hand of the King! I got a very strong impression that The Imp is more of a good guy rather than a bad un, well as much as a self centred, selfish person can be considered as good! I grew fonder of the character as the story progressed, already cementing his position as my favourite character in the HBO series. The initial chapters in Book 2 only cement this more.
I enjoy Martin’s style of writing as it makes for easy reading and the intertwining, complex plots much easier to follow. As numerous story strands are linked in many ways, often as complicated as the family ties and connections in Westernos, his fluent yet at times simple style make it easy for readers to follow the many plots and leads. This in marked contrast to a review I read about the books I have waiting for me to read on the shel (ie books 3 and 4). I hope the reviewer was wrong as I am eager to keep exploring Martin’s world. ‘…Winter is Coming.’
Having watched the HBO series of Game of Thrones I was immediately hooked on the storyline and wanting to learn more about the setting for this great tale. As such I ordered the first four books of the A Song of Fire and Ice series of books on which the TV serial is based on written by George R. R. Martin. I was quite pleasently surprised to see the TV programme stay relatively true to the book, at least to the point where the Imp is imprisoned at the Eerie. I am hoping the postie hurry’s up with books 2 and 3 (the latter is in two parts) so I can get my GoT’s fix!!!