Though A Storm of Swords, where finally some of the unanswered queries of A Game of Thrones are answered, is the longest book of George R. R. Martin’s that I’ve yet read, I feel like this book more than it predecessors in A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, was missing important scenes. Martin would show me what had happened somewhere then have someone explain it after the fact. I’m not sure if I appreciate this tactic. While it’s nice to be surprised, the questions like “What did you say to get him to agree to this?” go unanswered.
But none characters were caught in limbo, biding their time. We have crossed the bridge (A Clash of Kings) to the new board—and the game has gotten deadlier.
The teams in this game are almost constantly evolving. My list of the major teams and players consists of at least six different remaining claims to a throne in Westeros, with a vigilante group that will only cause carnage, a wild card who might greatly improve the chances of another team, and a would-be-king that is in training and cannot rejoin the game till he has leveled up. Some of these characters I enjoy and I respect the majority of them for being fully formed, but I think that it’s the intrigue and world-building that holds me enthralled. There is a definite element of whodunit, though perhaps because I am beginning to understand Martin’s style, I was able to guess more of the major events and “turns” of this book than I have been of others.
I finally believe that Martin will kill everyone I love—and I hope that will prevent me from establishing any more attachments, but it’s not looking good on that score. I have a new ship and though they’re separated for now, I’m holding on. Maybe they can be reunited when this is over—except for all those pesky vows of celibacy (why is it that the best ships in this series involve the supposed-to-be-celibate?).
My growing belief that the one monotheistic religion in the book worships a deity whose powers seem very sinister makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I cannot decide if Martin is intending to imply anything about the Abrahamic God with R’hllor. The preaching of R’hllor’s followers seems somewhat Christian at times—till Melisandre births a demon shadow. Parallels between those who worship R’hllor and Christians certainly exist; they both follow religions from the East, monotheistic with a good/light versus evil/dark theology, and both burn the occasional “pagan” church or nonbeliever (ignoring the darker deeds of our past won’t erase them). I am currently taking this series as one written from the Druidic perspective. Westeros becomes a place where all English history and legends can exist at once: The War of the Roses coexists with Robin Hood and the coming of Christians to the shores of England, and these “Christians” are inflamed with this deadly fervor of the Crusaders. Westeros’ legends include parallels to Greek and Roman myths.
I am willing to continue, taking this as a work of fantasy and assigning the misdeeds of R’hllor and his followers to the characters themselves while accepting that Martin may be asking me to examine the history of Christianity.
Martin, George R. R. Song of Fire and Ice, Book Three: A Storm of Swords. New York: Bantam-Random, 2000.
This review is not endorsed by George R. R. Martin, Bantam Books, or Random House, Inc. It is an independent, honest review by a reader.