A Storm of Swords

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Is George R.R. Martin for real? Can a fantasy epic actually get better with each new installment? Fans of the genre have glumly come to expect go-nowhere sequels from other authors, so we're entitled to pinch ourselves over Martin's tightly crafted Song of Ice and Fire series. The reports are all true: this series is the real deal, and Martin deserves his crown as the rightful king of the epic. A Game of Thrones got things off to a rock-solid start, A Clash of Kings only exceeded expectations, but it's the Storm of Swords hat trick that cements Martin's rep as the most praiseworthy fantasy author to come along since that other R.R.

Like the first two books, A Storm of Swords could coast on the fundamentals: deftly detailed characters, convincing voices and dialogue, a robust back-story, and a satisfyingly unpredictable plot. But it's Martin's consistently bold choices that set the series apart. Every character is fair game for the headman's axe (sometimes literally), and not only do the good guys regularly lose out to the bad guys, you're never exactly sure who you should be cheering for in the first place.

Storm is full of admirable intricacies. Events that you thought Martin was setting up solidly for the first two books are exposed as complex feints; the field quickly narrows after the Battle of the Blackwater and once again, anything goes. Robb tries desperately to hold the North together, Jon returns from the wildling lands with a torn heart, Bran continues his quest for the three-eyed crow beyond the Wall, Catelyn struggles to save her fragile family, Arya becomes ever more wolflike in her wanderings, Daenerys comes into her own, and Joffrey's cruel rule from King's Landing continues, making even his fellow Lannisters uneasy. Martin tests all the major characters in A Storm of Swords: some fail the trial, while others--like Martin himself--seem to only get stronger. --Paul Hughes

Here is the third volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A Storm of Swords

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. . .

From the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • This Series
    In my opinion, every book in this series gets five stars, mainly for the following reasons:

    Gritty without being gratuitous

    Real while still very original

    Gray characters that surprise the reader (you'll find your sympathies changing, along with whatever "side" you were last rooting for)

    No character is safe (there's no thinking, "This character won't die in this sword fight because he's the hero" - anyone can die, and it keeps every encounter thrilling)

    High emotion (horror, humor, suspense - Martin has it all)

    Everything you want without clich¨¦s (there's no, "The simple farmboy didn't know he had magical powers until he discovered he was the Chosen One named in the prophesy and received a sword of great, mysterious powers")

    I eagerly await his next book. :-) ...more info
  • The Best yet
    This is the best of series so far. I'm excited to get started on a feast for crows....more info
  • Does not disappoint as a follow up to the first 2
    This is another great book from Martin. If you liked A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, you'll certainly want to read this next, and you won't be able to put it down. One word of warning for people who haven't yet started the series though: There are only 4 books out right now, with another 1-3 expected to complete the story, and these books are not exactly coming quickly. If you're someone who wouldn't want to read part of a story and then pause for several years, you might want to wait to pick these up. Certainly I want Martin to take the time he needs to do it right, but from another perspective, you're basically buying part of a product here, with no finished product available....more info
  • More Fire than Ice, this series just keeps getting better...
    I was blown away by the first two volumes in this series and I approached the third with fear and trembling, wondering if it would live up to the precedent set and if so, which of my favorite characters may finish the book dead.

    On both counts I was not disappointed. No filler here. GRRM continues his story in full-throttle with even more plot twists and shocking turns than the first two novels. The story remains character-centric and what I love about it is the way the author expertly molds the clay of their personalities and actually manages to change my opinion of characters over time. Some of those I would have pinned for the most heinous in books one and two begin to show some redeeming qualities that are only countered by the "good guys" revealing their own demons within.

    In true ASOIAF form, no character is safe, regardless of galantry and "heroism" and some of those who don't make it to book four alive will undoubtedly prove to have been a favorite or two. That said, this is what makes this series so wonderful: the suspense is real. The question isn't "how is this character going to get himself out of this?", it's, "IS this character going to get out of this?". And often the question doesn't even have the time to be asked as a tragedy befalls a character like lightning from a clear-blue sky (which happens more than once in this volume).

    I've said it in my reviews of the first two, but it bears repeating: if you are looking for formulaic fantasy with all the usual suspects and archetypes, this one's probably not your bag. That said, this series is in my opinion, unequivocally the best series epic ever written, and by ever, I mean ever. You may not line up with me on that point, but as they say, if you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you land among the stars.

    Don't miss this one....more info
  • Unbelievable
    It is incredibly difficult to put into words how you feel after reading George RR Martin's work. There are many before me who have written extensive reviews of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire and I feel there is little I could really add or detract from any of them. To put it simply, if you are a fan of fantasy, and I mean from a casual reader who picks up a novel every couple of years or a die-hard fanatic, Martin's books are worth their weight in gold. The story is incredibly rich with detail, history, action and most importantly, intrigue. It is not written in the epic nature of the Lord of the Rings but challenges Tolkien's great work by instead offering a reader a world of fantasy that is startling similar to our own. Martin's realism, proven by his extensive historical research and adept knowledge of human nature, is what raises these books toward becoming classics. Like any other fan of the books, I can't say enough how much you should read them. Do not feel intimidated by their size as you will quickly move through the books once you are entrapped in the stirring stories. Go buy this and the other books.

    Hopefully Martin will finish the series within the next ten years......more info
  • Long, drab, and intentionally shocking
    Besides being overly long, basically going nowhere that would signal any end in sight, and his love for describing what everyone is eating in great detail(Book 2 it was clothes, this time it's food) George Martin seems to be going out of his way to make his novels unreadable. Sure, he has technical skill with language and can string a sentence together pretty good. But he's got nothing to say, which is why he makes noise for over 1100 pages or whatever. And what does he have to show for it? Basically, in the end, his worldview seems to be....the mean crush the good, there is no honor in this world, and everyone is vile and wretched. There are no heroes and truth is only demonstrated through a use of power, and power is only weilded by those who would kill a child or rape someone without so much as a blink of the eye.
    First of all, his thesis is as inane as one that posits that everything in the world is roses and rainbows. His story is so overwhelmed with heartless, evil characters that it literally is no world I know or have ever been in. It really is fantasy, cause its so damn implausible. His characters are wooden and so one-sided in their darkness(except for a few of course, but he keeps killing them....by the end of Book 4 they should all be dead).
    Secondly, Martin seems to have missed the reason people read fantasy or anything in the first place. It's entertainment--how can it be fun when every character that had any depth or interest is killed off? At this point, 3 books in, I care none for any of the living characters...so why keep reading? I don't care whether they live or die. The two that I would consider giving a care about, well by now I just think they are dead men walking so I don't bother to worry about it.

    All in all, a lot of promise, but nothing on the delivery. The genre seems to have devolved into 1000+ page mega-schlock--stories started full of promise that end up just being excuses to make another book for more money by artists of limited skill whose worlds and sagas are too large to control. Perhaps it's the genre that needs the change, maybe this style of story is doomed to fail precisely due to its lack of vision and conciseness. Martin and Jordan should get together and talk to each other till they both collapse of boredom....more info
  • Not as Engaging
    While I was able to finish reading the third book, I did find myself skimming a great deal of it because quite frankly I find GRRM's writing pedestrian and tedious. I found myself laughing at a reviewer of the 4th book using the expression "blah blah blah" because I had exactly the same reaction. This book could and should have been edited heavily... as a fan of Neal Stephenson I'm no stranger to long-winded epics, but GRRM is just not *that* talented a wordsmith! Most of the plot twists were telegraphed well in advance, so there were no surprises and in the end you are left feeling like you have read a book, not entered a world. GRRM never lets you forget that the plot is not flowing naturally, but is in fact heavily contrived. Kurt Vonnegut said it best: "...and so on."...more info
  • 3,000 pages are waiting to be read
    I have just finished reading the whole "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga cover to cover. It took me about 3-4 months and the stroy did not lose its grip at any point. I was compelled to keep going till I knew and understood more and more about the characters, and the narrative revealed itself during this process.
    What more is there to say? Just that it is a true literary achievement, by any standard.

    I do have only one slight "complaint". As you read the three books consecutively you notice that Martin does not change his writing technic regarding the timeline of the chapters themselves. Each one of them is opened in the wake of a recent activity which was implied to in a preceding chapter (of the same character). Then, after a page or two the narrator flashbacks and speaks of that recent activity. What we have in the end is an ever recurring cycle of:
    Present-> Flashback (recent past)-> develpoing present...
    I am positive that had Mr. Martin wanted to be more versatile regarding the structure of the narrative he would have added to the saga a new dimension, which would have kept the readers on their toes, a bit more.
    ...more info
  • great but wait
    best start to a fantasy series i've read. But definitely wait till they last 3 installments come out before diving it. It's no fun to wait a few years between books.

    it's the best of the first four books (that are out now) ...more info
  • Continues the MASTERFULLY WRITTEN saga!
    With this book, GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire has been cemented as my favorite fantasy series of all time. Martin's epic saga is able to draw you in, mesmerize you, beat you up, and spit you out as nothing else in literature. A STORM OF SWORDS continues the same powerful, gritty, complex, and enormous tale, and maintains or intensifies the same fast-paced, emotionally-draining pace as the first two books. Some of the world-altering, storyline-changing twists found in this book come as such surprises (for me) that you'll find yourself needing a pause just to really consider what just happened and the implications for the rest of the story. Most of the same great characters (except for those that have been killed off) continue to develop here, and some of those you previously hated begin to earn your grudging respect and admiration. Also, in this third book, you finally get a little more in the way of maps. Both the Eastern continents (partial) and the lands north of the Wall are detailed in the same convincing way as the old maps (which haven't disappeared).

    I should be used to it by now, but Martin's twists and sudden redirections of the plot continue to catch me off guard. Every time you think you have the feel for where the plot is taking you, something major and usually unexpected occurs to send it off in a totally new direction. And Martin doesn't take his time with this development. Every single chapter chronicles some plot-altering event that you just couldn't imagine leaving out of this tale. No wasted space here, even with a book approaching 1000 pages. I hate to see other reviewers complaining about how long his books are taking to get published because I'd much rather Martin take the time he needs to write this story as masterfully as he has up till now than throw something together that is less than perfect. He has built this story up into something so huge and amazing that it would be all to easy for it to come tumbling down into disappointment with a couple of poor decisions or corners cut. Even though it is torture waiting to find out what will happen, the reward is sure to be well worth the wait. I only feel sorry for those aging fans that may not live long enough to see this through!

    I do have a couple of friends that have read this series up to this point and been less than pleased.. It has always puzzled me as to how that could be, when the series is so powerfully written and intense. I've come to the conclusion that it must simply be too much for some people. This emotionally-draining roller-coaster ride with never-ending and catastrophic twists, turns, and wrecks can be completely exhausting, and for the less-than-dedicated reader willing to give their full attention, this book is too complex, too intense, and simply too big. But for those of us that love getting lost in a world this well-developed and vivid, this series is the absolute best!

    I am making myself wait to read the next book, A Feast for Crows, for as long as I can so that I can prolong the enjoyment and so that I'll have as short a wait as possible for the book after. I'm not sure how long my plan will hold however, as I'm already itching to pick up FEAST, and damn the consequences....more info
    I've got two books of my own published and have worked like a dog to achieve that. And here comes George R. R. Martin with this gigantic book and larger series and breaks every rule--and charms me! Totally. I have to say--I'm mad at the literary establishment. The teachers and professors at writing conferences tell us don't do this: And then Martin does, and it works.

    But who needs a 1200+ page novel? This cult favorite breaks every rule of the literary fiction/creative writing major/MFA crowd. It's got more characters than an ant hill has ants. A hundred story lines moving forward in a dizzying, incomprehensible maze. Names. Dates. Serial numbers. It's huge. Martin makes no attempt at creating a beginning, middle and end to this multi-volume epic--not to the whole thing or any volume. He just ends the thing--probably when he couldn't lift the manuscript any more--leaving threads untied, tales unfinished. Readers drooling.

    My editors and writing coaches would ring their hands at this monster. But they haven't sold like Martin does, and they haven't created a very large jewel like this, either.

    I loved it and started the next volume immediately. I'm not even done with that, and I'm asking my daughter, "Wasn't there a sequel on the way?" "Did you say there's a chapter to be downloaded?"

    It's addictive and I'm addicted. No one can describe pageantry or create an imaginary world like Martin.

    I gave the book 4 stars rather than 5 because of the publisher's cruelty to the reader. Packing this mother around was painful. It could be marketed as a form of exercise or maybe even a weight loss program. It's just too big. Why couldn't they have packaged it into two 600+ page books rather than this gigantic phone book? And why the submicroscopic print in the mass paperback versions? Please, you've got addicts, treat them nicely.

    I'm midway through book 4 of the series and expect to wait, panting, for the next volume. ...more info
  • Quite possibly my favorite book ever
    If you've liked the previous two installments of the ASOIAF series, then A Storm of Swords is the very definition of a must-buy; it takes the already great plot, characterization and overall workmanship of the previous two books and turns it up a notch or ten.

    Be warned, though, several plot developments might result in your book being slammed to the floor or thrown across the room in rage/frustration or (if you're so inclined) wild celebration. ...more info
  • Buyer Beware
    You may die of old age before GM finishes this series. If it ever gets finished...more info
  • He's Done It Again
    This book continues George R.R. Martin's riveting saga with the same class and quality fans like myself have come to expect. I have read the whole series up to where he is now with A Feast for Crows and am in fits until he comes out with more volumes. I cannot recommend enough every book in the series, they have all been pure pleasure for the mind....more info
  • The best fantasy series I've read in a long time
    George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series only gets better with each subsequent volume. Martin has a flair for character development that surpasses all expectations. After 3 volumes it is a delight to see real change in characters, especially when you assumed they were typical fantasy archetypes. Not spoil the read, but readers of the series can expect profound changes in both characters and plot. This is a book that will hook you and keep you reading "just one more chapter" no matter what time of night it is. Martin is the Tolkien of the modern age (and actually more readable than Tolkien). Anyone who loves fantasy should give this series a try....more info
  • Okay, I'm going to do something crazy...
    ...Are you ready for this? A Song of Ice and Fire Books are not only as good, they're...BET-TER THAN the Lord of the Rings. Is that the bomb that will bring us together? Probably not....more info
  • A+ Fantastic!
    A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

    Story- A+, Prose- A, Dialogue- A+, Romance- A, Action- A, Plot- A+.

    This Series, "Song of Fire ad Ice," is by far the best modern fantasy written today, period! In a rich and vibrant fantasy world, George R. R. Martin, creates a complex and intricate story of war, intrigue, and betrayal that is similar to the historical War of the Roses, but only much grander, and vastly more compelling.

    The story has something for everyone, mystery, romance, and action, but even more it creates a reality that is believable, with characters that seem real to live, some you like, some you loath, but all wonderfully interesting!

    This is the third book of the series, and I liked it somewhat more than book 2, yet this book is wonderful just as a whole, it completely holds the reader and demands you to spend hours lost in this vibrant world of intrigue and conflict.

    There is some violence, yet is no more than many comparable works, less than "The Return of the King," by JRRT, and it certainly fits into a medieval fantasy war story.

    The sexual content touches on adult themes, but it is not anywhere as graphic as most aimed at an adult audience, anyone over the age of 16 should be able to handle this book. In fact the most disturbing sexual content in books 1 thru 4 is a retelling of an event that happens years before the events of the story.

    p.s. Soon to be an HBO series, they bought the rights, hopefully we will be able to watch these characters before too long!

    ...more info
  • Save Yourself... Before it's too late
    If you haven't started reading this series, it's fair to say that you shouldn't start. While the first two books are admittedly long winded, they are well done. That's what makes this third book such a tragedy. At some point in the third book one realizes that you've invested in a tragedy where perhaps only a few will survive. The only problem is that Shakespeare did it better in only a fraction of the pages. But there it is. By the time you get to the third book you feel obligated to continue, if only for a glimmer of hope to come through.

    This is definitely the weakest book of the series so far and in some places even gets a bit repetitive (both sword duels reflect professional wrestling as the victors drop their guard momentarily after winning and are suddenly put down). Martin may argue that the large number of irked reviews for this book is somehow a positive, but he should remember it's not positive if people are telling each other to stay away. That I may not even be half way through this series after 3 books is what is truly tragic. Many are right to comment that it appears that the emperor has no clothes.

    For a truly satifying experience, read Martin's short stories of Dunk, which take place at an earlier time within this world. Then move on to something else...before it's too late....more info
  • Captivating
    I've read many series throughout the years and this one is by far one of the best. Some of the subject matter bothered me, but the overall story is well done and draws you in. Read it in a matter of days it was that good.

    The intricate plot continues to ebb and flow with the various main characters, all of which are expertly done. My favorite was
    Jon Snow on his mission north of the Great Wall. The plans of the renegade Mance Rayder that he is sent to discover is but the tip of the iceberg. Giants and all manner of fell cretures have been gathered in anticipation of invading the Kingdoms.

    A must read for any fantasy addict such as myself.
    ...more info
  • Every book, every page, every word better than the last.
    I couldn't possibly recommend this series more. For fans of epic sword and sorcery this is a must read. I put off reading the series for most of a decade and positively ran through it, and have since gone back and reread it twice....more info
  • Storm of Swords
    The third book of a series and follow the story line. I have not finished it yet but am enjoying it....more info
  • The Best of the Best
    I tore through this series, and while I would obviously recommend all the books, as they are essential to progressing the tale, A Storm of Swords seemed to stand above the others just slightly. I will not get into spoilers, as I would have hated to been spoiled on some of the plot twists that occur (there are quite a few!). I will say that at one point in the book I couldn't get to sleep because my heart was pounding so hard from the dismay and utter disbelief of what turn the plot took. A Storm of Swords is one of those books that you will pick-up to read before bed, look at the clock, and suddenly it is 3am in the morning... which seems like a great time for just one more chapter. If you have made it this far in the series, you owe it to yourself to pick-up this book, and continue on the epic journey through Westeros, the far east, and beyond the Wall....more info
  • swords and kings etc
    Great book, great author great, series. This is one of the best high fantasy author's I have read in quite some time. I can only compare to Tolkien the work is exceptionally complete, all the sub stories wrap together with pure beauty. The kind of books you can't put down till there none left I have already ordered the pre-release on the next book. ...more info
  • Hooked.
    Wow, axes fall all over the place in this one. It's no secret that in a Martin novel no character is given a free pass to survival, but I was amazed by how many went down in this one. Jaw dropping, really, and brave of the author.

    That's the first thing that comes to mind, but there's a lot of other great stuff about this book. I still have my favorite characters - I think everybody does - and that's a lot of what kept me turning the pages. Jon Snow's stuff is particularly good. He's beyond the wall and in love and torn about it. And then the seige on the wall is just amazing, finally giving us those promised giants and mammoths for real. In early novels, I'd thought that Martin skimped a bit on the battle scenes. Not so in the one. He makes the wall itself awesome and brings the battle to life with vigor.

    Tyrion is a lot of fun, as always. But Daenarys is my other big favorite. I love the way she's developing, and I love that's she's got brains enough to pull off some major victories - unlike Arya and Sansa. And Jaime is quite interesting as well. He's strangely sympathetic, although with all the stuff that happens to him he deserves some sympathy.

    Anyway, hell of a book, hell of a series. I'm a little worried about A Feast For Crows, considering what I've heard about it. But I'll probably give it a try before long. There's still so much promised to come. I'm fairly hooked....more info
  • They just keep getting better
    I've already made the extremely bold statement about Game of Thrones that this series is second only to Tolkien. Several aspects make this series outstanding: The characters, the unpredictability, and the harsh realism.

    The characters are what make this series so good. Martin writes each book from several characters' points of view. The suspense is so well done that you find yourself jumping ahead to that character's next chapter just to see what happens. The characters are extremely well developed, and by writing from their point of view, Martin helps you understand the way they think and act. Every character is fascinating, but there is a handful that I just can't get enough of (Arya, Tyrion). Every character is complex--there are very, very few characters that you can categorize as "good" or "evil." Instead, characters are a realistic mix of selfish flaws and good intentions.

    The realism of ASOIAF doesn't end with the characters. In most fantasy books, the author will never kill off a main character. This results in no suspense, as you never fear for a character. This leads to such predictability that it can really detract from a reading experience. This norm is never farther from the truth than in ASOIAF. In Martin's books, no one is safe. Just read Game of Thrones and be prepared to be shocked. Once Martin shows you he's not afraid to kill anyone, it adds so much suspense to the rest of the series.

    Everything about these books have an air of harsh reality. Folks, these books ain't no Harry Potter, and their not for kids. They describe a dark but enthralling world where violence, incest and rape are commonplace. But anyone who knows anything about the Middle Ages knows these times were not Disneyland. This adds to the realism and suspense.

    In the back of my mind I have a fear this series could turn into another Robert Jordan debacle, spanning to 10+ books in the series. But then I think, I don't care if this series takes 20 books to finish--every book is so absolutely enjoyable that I hope it doesn't end.

    A Storm of Swords is set after the major battle of Clash of Kings. Although there might not be as much combat action as Book II, there are even more major plot developments. One you start the last 1/3 of this book, you just can't stop until it's finished. It will leave you happy, sad and mad, and of course, very impatient for Book IV.
    ...more info
  • perfect as always
    perfect but all of his books are perfect. Translation of this books must be really difficult because when I read it in turkish, I hated him and when I read the same book -It was my only english choice in Sarajevo airport- in english I adored. ...more info
  • Martin....Always leaves us wanting more!
    I am not that far along in this book yet, but I LOVE IT!! Mr. Dotrice does a fantastic job of reading it and helps bring Martin's characters to life (I have the audio edition). As always, Martin leaves you hanging with one character as he then wets your whistle by catching you up on a character he left you behind with earlier. I cannot wait to get in my car every day just so I can follow along on the next journey.
    I am actually not a fantasy reader by nature and started the series not only because my co-workers recommended it, but I got tired of being out of the loop as they discussed it constantly. I started the series believing I would dislike it because it was a fantasy book. However, Martin really grabbed me from the start and I have needed no further proding to catch myself up to speed.

    *Side notes: This is the third book in a series that begins with A Game of Thrones. The second is A Clash of Kings. Martin can get graphic, gore and sex, in portions of the novel and this series may not be for younger readers or those who may find those scenes offensive....more info
  • How can anyone rate this book or the first two above one star
    I guess my taste in fantasy is not similar to those who review the books on Amazons site.

    I was stunned to read all the reviews of how great this book series was and then to read them. There were many plots. Unfortunately most of the plots ended up going no where. When you get to the end of the book you kind of go huh? Some plots had detail that made you wonder if you were in an R-Rated type book. I guess the idea was to not leave anything to your imagination but just describe really gross and disgusting scenes.

    There were a few sections which gave you hope that the story was going to take off as the reviews indicated, but it never happened. In the end you were left wondering if there was another book coming since most of the plots didn't come to a conclusion, they were just kind of left hanging. As I got closer to the end with few pages left I was wondering how is he going to wrap everything up. Well the laugh was on me, he simply didn't wrap them up and the one he did, didn't make sense if you've read any good fantasy.

    I couldn't recommend this series of books to anyone!...more info
  • Guilty Pleasures!
    I picked up this series after reading all the enthusiastic reviews on Amazon. I have not been disappointed! Took me a bit of time to get into the first book - but once the plot started to roll, it was really good. These books are well written - yet 'pulpy' enough to be a guilty little pleasure. Have to say though - hauling around any one of these will increase your upper body strength - they are weighty! With Storm of Swords - Bk3 - The story continues - in epic form - thank goodness there's a guide in the back to keep track of the characters and how they're interrelated!...more info
  • Great Addition to the Series!!
    "The horrible monster with red glowing eyes made its way towards the heroes, howling in a manner that was quite evil and horrifying!"

    That, friends, is an example of what you will NOT find in a George R. R. Martin book (although you probably have a 50% of finding a similar sentence in most any other contemporary fantasy novel). That's because Martin is a genuine writer, a true storyteller who just so happens to love fantasy. If he were to change genres, I have no doubt that he could be heralded as the next John Irving.

    Now, if you're reading this review, chances are you're a fan of the genre. If you're like me, though, you've had your fill of dime store heroes and villains, quasi-desperate quests to regain a lost sword/ring/crystal/deep fryer, etc, and you want something more--like, say, an author who actually operates under the assumption that his readers are reasonably smart! Well, at long last, an author with imagination AND the ability to craft a coherent sentence has arrived to revitalize this ailing genre.

    In an age where near-illiterate plagiarizers like R.A. Salvatore laugh all the way to the bank, I am heartened by the number of sterling reviews written for THIS book--a true book, in every sense. You've probably read at least a few of these reviews before coming to mine, so I won't waste your time with an additional rehash of plot points (such as Martin's great use of POV). Suffice to say, Martin has a poet's ear for alliteration and rhythm, which gives his prose a smooth, vibrant feel. He also steadfastly avoids the usual deux ex machina tactics so often employed by today's hackneyed fantasy writers, in which a cackling wizard SUDDENLY descends from the clouds on his carpet/chariot/flying frog and SUDDENLY blast the heroes with lightning/fire/tapioca pudding then, while cackling maniacally, SUDDENLY steals the princess and soars off to await the sequel. Nope, none of that.

    Instead, Martin gives you complex characters riddled with hopes and insecurities, pride and shame, grief and exaltation. This comes at a price, though. As other reviewers have stated, this is NOT "beach reading", nor is it for the faint of heart. The villains here actually ACT like villains, meaning they do more than just cackle as they stroke their dark crystal balls (no, don't reread that). If you want a quick read in which you can pretend to be the lone, flawless hero fighting an inexplicably evil force, you best look elsewhere. This is a brutal book, the kind of book that--if you let it--will coax you into investing more than just your time, then shake you to the core.

    These books are written with what could be called a "tender mercilessness", a kind of raw wisdom that is both entertaining and enlightening. Take, for example, this quote from the character, Tyrion Lannister, who is a dwarf (no, not the subterranean kind) and often the object of ridicule: "Never forget who you are, for surely the world won't. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you."

    Not saying George R. R. Martin is the first author to have one of his characters speak such a sentiment, but you'd be VERY hard-pressed to find a character in any other novel--fantasy or otherwise--who says it more eloquently than that. Eloquence aside, though, we also see a lot of wisdom in Martin's writing. There's wry wit here, too, like this statement from Varys, another complex character: "There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man."

    There are many more grand quotes in this book (and the others) but I don't want to spoil anything. I'll wrap this up by adding that, honestly, I'm a very tough audience. I read a lot of contemporary fantasy and poetry and I probably toss aside or loathe 75% of what I read because it's riddled with cliches and/or just plain badly written. Martin's books, on the other hand, kept me reading until dawn more than once.

    "A Storm of Swords" is also, in my opinion, one of the most emotionally draining (in a good way) and satisfying novels of the series thus far. Again, I won't spoil anything for you; let's just say that the last few chapters of this book contain some of the most jaw-dropping moments yet in the series.

    Sidenote: I've also listened to some of these books on tape during car rides/business trips. Makes the time fly! ...more info
  • Gritty, engaging, realistic - fantasy at it's best
    A Storm of Swords is the third book in the ongoing series titles A Song of Ice and Fire. The first book is A Game of Thrones and the second book is titled A Clash of Kings. This series is in no way connected to the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance. A Song of Ice and Fire can be easily described as adult fantasy, there are elements in this series that you will be pressed to find in other fantasy series on the market today. If you are a fan of fantasy, you really need to give this series a chance.

    Martin has structured this book, in a way that is slightly different from most authors. Each chapter is a different point of view. Each chapter focuses on a different characters. The benefits of this are that you get to see multiple things going on, you are able to see a very large plot that slowly takes place, and you are able understand each of the characters in ways a traditional book would not allow you to do so. There are several character points of view in this book, and each chapter has a point and a purpose.

    This is truly a character driven book. A great plot is nothing without good characters. The characters in this book you will either love or you will hate - sometimes those feelings will change between chapters too. If you are looking for truly good characters, or truly evil characters, this may not be the series for you. However, much like the world we live in, the characters in this book look out for themselves and their families and their choices and actions are based on that. They make choices they regret, they make choices that get them in trouble, and they make choices that have ripple effects throughout many characters. Another thing about this book, is Martin does not become attached to his characters. If the death of a character would benefit the story then a character will die, regardless of how `important' that character is within the story. I wish more modern authors would understand that some characters need to die at times. You never truly know who is safe in these books, which makes it that much more real.

    The plot in this book is book is really several plots at once due to the multiple points of view throughout the book. I would like to list them all, but some would be spoilers and I wouldn't want to do that to you. There are some plots from the first two books that are continued on, such as the continued fight to who will be king. Some plots are resolved from the first two books as well, yet, just as quickly, new plots pop up. With all the talk of multiple plots and such, one might think they would get lost or confused. This is not the case. I don't think I was confused at any time as to what was going on, who was where, etc. It's a well written plot, but the reader needs to pay attention at the same time.

    This book, and series for that matter, is not your typical fantasy. The reader does need to pay attention and can't simply coast through reading. You need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this story, but if you are and you give this series a shot you will not be disappointed. It's a fantastic read and one I would certainly recommend to most fantasy fans.

    I feel the need to say that I found the first half of this book a grind to get through. Not in the sense that it was bad writing, just that it took a long time for things to shape up. It was a plodding plot and characters for awhile. However, once the actions starts, about the last third of the book, it really picks up and flies past. There are a great deal of fantasy elements in this book, but as of right now most are rather subdued. While they are present they have yet to become in your face type elements that are common in Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance etc. This is not a bad thing, it just depends on what you are looking for in a book.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book a little less than the first book in the series. Mainly due to the slowness of the first half of the book. Yet, I did enjoy it quite a bit. As with the first book I can see most fantasy fans really enjoying this book. This is adult fantasy and as such has sex and violence in it. It does not throw it in the reader's face though, it just happens and fits in with the book. I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for some epic fantasy.
    ...more info
  • If you haven't read this yet, you must.
    Martin is a storyteller par excellance.

    He takes a genre which is riddled with formulaic plot and characters and turns it completly upside down.

    If you read fantasy novels so often that you know the beginning and end before you open the book and you are just looking for some entertainment in the middle, don't read this book!

    Every chapter will astound you, confuse you and frustrate your every effort to predict the future.

    In all, this book is a ride on a rollercoaster with the lights out and the seatbelt a little too loose. A blast!!...more info
  • Not my normal genre
    I have to state up front that fantasy is one of my most hated literary genres, right up there with SciFi. That being said, I do not know what possessed me to pick up this book (oh wait, yes I do, it was the incredibly overwhelming positive feedback). Well, those readers did not lie. If you are a fan of the "quest for honor" type story (think here Lord of the Rings), this is about to become your most favorite series ever. Beautifully written, incredibly imaginative, I fell in love with the series within a few pages. You'll thank yourself for giving these a go....more info
  • Strong Readers Are Rewarded
    This is book three of this intricately-plotted, cast-of-thousands series and it easily represents a couple of reams of paper. The reader needs weightlifting to pick it up and the endurance of a soldier on a death march. Once you start, you are chained to it, in thrall to the drama and epic sweep of the story. Multiple characters hold a reader's interest; some are likable; some not so much. Every storyline has one sympathetic character in great peril. The characters develop and change; the reader's view of them shifts constantly.

    Jaime Lannister is one of the undoubted bad guys with incest and murder in his background. He killed the king he was sworn to protect and crippled a child of seven. One spends the first two books hating him, but in this one, we see some of his inner motivations. We watch him growing a conscience and start to admire him for his good qualities. In his wit and bravery, he resembles his brother Tyrion. His story is one of many that undergo dramatic changes of circumstance and unpredictable shifts.

    Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, is another character whose circumstances upend themselves. Daenerys is another character who transforms herself. It is interesting that these two characters seem to be moving in a parallel direction.

    As splendid as this series is, I can see fault lines developing as the story lines splinter and more characters and more plot lines are brought before the reader. The author has a habit of leaving a character in peril at the end of a chapter and with so many stories going at once, it is frequently a long time before he can get back to that thread. Seven hundred pages of this will leave the reader feeling jerked around. I would have deducted a star, but the author presented so many dramatic twists near the end of the book that I was stunned. Suddenly one sees why he splits off and follows Sam Tarly; one gets the point of something five hundred pages earlier. The complexity and permutations of fortune will make re-reading this series as great a pleasure as the first reading was. This is splendid value for the money, a series and a book to treasure for years to come. ...more info
  • Excellent series!
    This series was recommended to me by a friend and I fell in love with them. They're not always the happiest of books, but that keeps me guessing as Martin seems willing to part with some general fantasy norms. Definitely a good read....more info
  • A great read, despite sluggish pacing
    All of the comments I made about book 2 apply here as well ... although in this case, even though the book seems more complex and fragmentary than ever, the pacing seems slightly faster, and the amount of gratuitous sex and gory violence is a bit less. Unlike book 2, books 1 & 3 doesn't go quite so far enough overboard on those elements to merit a "Mature Reader" warning.

    I think the pacing seems faster because GRRM got busy resolving a lot of dangling plot lines in rather ... ahem ... forceful fashion. Yes, that's a backhanded reference to my comments in book 2 regarding his tendency towards excessively high mortality among his main characters. This book reads like a Greek Tragedy at times.

    Anyway, despite the incredibly fragmented storytelling, I still found it to be a gripping and highly entertaining read ... due in large part to the growing sense of depth in some of the main villains**. It's not often I finish 3,000+ pages of books in such a short period of time.

    I like how the author gave added depth to the characters of Jaime & Tyrion Lannister, by introducing nostalgia, regret, remorse, and a latent need for redemption and having a legacy. Tyrion got repeatedly screwed by his own family, no matter how hard he tried, and would up exacting some long overdue revenge. Ditto to a lesser degree for Jaime, who took a refreshingly introspective turn after his maiming.

    Highly recommended ... albeit for patient readers with a longer than average attention span.

    [EDIT] Ok, here's something else that bother's me about GRRM's writing style that I forgot to mention in my review of Book 2 - he seems to take undue pleasure in describing people going to the bathroom. Yes, it's a perfectly normal reality of daily life, and we all go to the bathroom .. but he describes it with such regularity that it's almost like he's doing it to make a statement - like he's flaunting his commitment to hyper realism.

    I actually remember the very first time that the sound of a toilet flushing was allowed on American TV ... it was the infamous flush by Archie Bunker on "All In The Family". People at the time yelled and screamed and talked like the world was ending. Well, it didn't ... but it definitely paved the way for an ever deepening spiral into unnecessarily graphic (and base) entertainment - which brings us back to GRRM, who, in one scene, has someone get shot in the groin with a crossbow, while they're on the privy ... and he goes out of his way to describe how the person's bowels loosen and empty down the chute into the moat below.

    I realize we'll never go back to 1950'ish sensibilities of Tolkien (in which the author created a vast body of perfect 10 fantasy work that didn't incluide even a single needlessly graphic reference to voiding one's bowels or raping corpses), nor should we ... but there comes a point when enough is enough. I think GRRM repeatedly crosses that line at times. Eddie Murphy demonstrated some time ago that although the word "f*@k" is funny, there comes a point when it's possible to overdo it, and it's just not funny anymore. GRRM does the same thing at times in his writing, with excessive references to bodily functions.

    I'm still forced to give the book 5 stars however, despite my plethora of pet peeves. ...more info
  • Will go down in history as one of the greats
    What can I say that hasn't already been said? This book is already legendary. This book is simply one of the greatest fantasy novels that has been written. You want lovable characters? Check. Story line that bleeds greatness? Check. And a world that is so detailed, and filled with such history that you wish our mundane world possessed such attributes? Check. If you enjoy fantasy and haven't read this book you need to be tried for heresy because this is what every fantasy hopes to be. ...more info
    Phew. I finished it. Who needs a 1200+ page novel? This cult favorite breaks every rule of the literary fiction/creative writing major/MFA crowd. It's got more characters than an ant hill has ants. A hundred story lines moving forward in a dizzying, incomprehensible maze. Names. Dates. Serial numbers. It's huge. Martin makes no attempt at creating a beginning, middle and end to this multi-volume epic--not to the whole thing or any volume. He just ends the thing--probably when he couldn't lift the manuscript any more--leaving threads untied, tales unfinished. Readers drooling.

    My editors and writing coaches would ring their hands at this monster. But they haven't sold like Martin does, and they haven't created a very large jewel like this, either.

    I loved it and started the next volume immediately. I'm not even done with that, and I'm asking my daughter, "Wasn't there a sequel on the way?" "Did you say there's a chapter to be downloaded?"

    It's addictive and I'm addicted. No one can describe pageantry or create an imaginary world like Martin.

    I gave the book 4 stars rather than 5 because of the publisher's cruelty to the reader. Packing this mother around was painful. It could be marketed as a form of exercise or maybe even a weight loss program. It's just too big. Why couldn't they have packaged it into two 600+ page books rather than this gigantic phone book? And why the submicroscopic print in the mass paperback versions? Please, you've got addicts, treat them nicely.

    I'm midway through book 4 of the series and expect to wait, panting, for the next volume. Numenon (Bloodsong) (Bloodsong)...more info
  • Exceeds the first two books in emotional involvement and character depth
    Could George R.R. Martin be related to J.R.R. Tolkien? Let's look at the facts:

    They both have two "R"s in their names.
    They both wrote exceptionally well-written and detailed fantasy.
    They both wrote a fantasy series that got better and better with each book.

    That last statement is certainly true in the case of "A Storm of Swords," which is the third book in Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series and follows A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) and A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2). This is not a standalone book. If you have not read the first two books, you have no business starting here because you will only be confused. So, assuming now that you are experienced with this series, I will skip over expounding on Martin's literary merits and simply say that this book is better than it's successors.

    As usual, the main draw to this novel is its unpredictability. I should have known better after all the characters Martin killed in the first two novels. This book is no exception, as he continues to off MAJOR characters and take the plot in directions that the reader would never have considered. A Storm of Swords focuses heavily on Jon, Tyrion, Jaime, Arya, and Daenarys, and there is no lack of action or deceit. I am a very slow reader but this book was so fast-paced that it only took me about 3 days to finish what would normally last me a month. The interesting thing is that by focusing many chapters on Tyrion and Jaime, Martin gives us their viewpoints of the past events and I found myself actually empathizing with the Kingslayer. At the conclusion of the book, I've found that I have no idea who the "hero" and "villain" is in this novel. The correct answer is that there is none, which is just the way Martin would like it. Even Sandor Clegane, possibly the most evil character from the first novel, begins to earn a bit of respect from the reader.

    "A Storm of Swords" does not have any of the climatic battles from the previous book, but will rather appeal to those who are more interested in the political intrigue and backstabbing that goes on among the characters. My only frustration with it is that Martin will end a chapter with a climatic event, and the reader is forced to wait several more chapters to pick up with that character again. But maybe this is what makes it such a fast read. Anyone who enjoyed the first two books will like this one even better, but be warned, many of the main characters in this novel do not even appear in the fourth book A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire), and will not be picked up again until book five, A Dance with Dragons....more info
  • Best Yet! 5 Stars With a Clear Conscience
    A Storm of Swords is incredibly entertaining and the best book of the series to date. The "issues" I had with the earlier two books (mainly the excessive, constant and gratutious sexual humiliation of women and other needless and bizarre hyper-sexual content directed at a 13 year old) which prevented me from giving them 5 stars are either gone or under control in this book. There is sex in this book but it isn't gratuitous - and therein lies the difference.

    This book is nonstop action. The character development is interesting and on-point. This is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read in any genre. In short, I loved it and would recommend it highly. I suspect that fans of Martin will agree that this is the best of the series published to date....more info
  • As the Dragon Turns
    Some of the self indulgence that turns Feast for Crows into a mediocrity shows up in this book, especially with Arya's POV. She goes here and doesn't do much, goes there and doesn't do much, and goes to a 3rd place and does didly squat. Martin wants to get her to Braavos so that her POV can begin to do what it was meant to do but he doesn't quite know how to get her there.
    But Martin still has a dramatic tale to tell and he tells it.
    One of the themes in Martin's story is how all these characters make plans and they all go astray. The more carefully planned and longer term the more spectacular the eventual undoing. There's a great revelation concerning Littlefinger's machinations at the end of this book, at a critical juncture where things start to go wrong for him. He finds a way out of the current impasse but Feast for Crows starts to give hints as to how things may come undone altogether. But, he has an important new ally, Sansa Stark. Rather than a pawn that is caught in his web as some have intreprted her, she develops into a valuable co-conspirator.
    Joffrey Baratheon who is really Lannister wins the Iron Throne by coming into posession of widow Margery Tyrell's privy purse. Renly Baratheon was gay and the lover of brother Loras Tyrell, so her claims to virginity are plausible. But, something goes wrong for Joffrey, and the going wrong is a great read. It's not just the Starks whose efforts come undone, the Lannister's luck starts to run out in this book as well.
    For those that were suprised by the turn of events of House Stark in this book - there were two dead givaways in the previous book that things were going to go very wrong for the Starks. One was the vision that Dany had in the House of the Undying. Another was the dream that Theon Greyjoy had at Winterfell. RR Martin hits people over the head with a sledgehammer to telegraph the direction of the story and few people get it.
    The only main characters who seam to come out on top of the circumstances thrown at them are the two main ones - Dany (Fire) and Jon (Ice), both of whom are Targaryens, though Jon is a bastard. These two characters have the great destiny of typical fantasy literature, though both their lives are so screwed up that you wouldn't want to be them.
    There's something in the Targaryen bloodline that allows them to control dragons. Dragons had died out but have returned just in time to battle the evil undead ice elves from the north - the true threat to humanity that all those that play the Game of Thrones are ignoring, with the exception of unloved Stannis Baratheon who comes to Jon's rescue with the few men who remain loyal to him.
    The catch is that dragons are dangerous and though they will obey the Targaryens, they make no other discrimination about what or whom they may choose for a meal between battles.
    The Targaryens themselves, being the last nobility of the lost city/empire of Valyria have inbred for the past 300 years, and nearly every one of the last couple of generations has been insane. Rhaegar, Jon's father, and Jon are exceptions. Maester Aemon of the Night's Watch is another exception. Dany isn't an exception. She means well, but so far she has managed to accomplish nothing more than sowing chaos in her wake. ...more info
  • This is killing me!
    I'm so in need of a Martin fix, that for the past two days I've been reading the customer reviews of this series, for the pure enjoyment of reminiscing.

    I only picked these books up this Spring, which I suppose is rather lucky, since I was able to plow through the first four books non-stop, but now I'm in the same boat as the rest of you, eagerly awaiting the 5th installment....more info


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