Saturday, August 30, 2014

"A Storm of Swords (ASoIaF #3)" by George R.R. Martin

This is the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. For those of you who haven't read A Game of Thrones, (or haven't watched the tv series), there are major spoilers for the first two books of the series in this review.

This is the book where things start to differ from the tv series in small (but notable) ways. An excellent example of this would be Tyrion, who in the book is gravely injured, and loses about half of his nose. On the tv series, Tyrion is still looking the same. I would mention more differences, but I haven't watched much of the tv series, just snippets here and there. My greatest point of contention with regards to the television series is the scene that is consensual in the book between the twincest couple becomes rape on the small screen. And why? To be edgy? I think the series is plenty gruesome without those add-ins.

The Plot:
Samwell Tarly and the men of the Night's Watch prepare to fight the Wildling army, only to be ambushed by Others. Brienne makes her way to King's Landing, trying to keep her prisoner Jaime in line. Catelyn Stark gets no repercussions for her naughty behavior, so she sets her own punishment. Tyrion wakes to find his father the King's Hand, but wants his power back despite his grievous injuries. Sansa attempts to remain innocuous while plotting her escape. Jon Snow still knows nothing. Bran sets out to find the crow of his dreams. Dany tries to mother her dragons, whose desires differ from her own and are growing at an exponential rate. Arya meets up with a family friend, but will her journey grow any easier?

In this book of the ASoIaF series, I would like to showcase the sometimes infuriating disregard for women that is culturally characteristic of both Medieval Europe and Westoros.
For example:
"It was a mother's folly. Women are made that way."
    ~Greatjon (or not so great jon), end of page 191, relating to Catelyn Stark's decision to free Jaime in exchange for her daughters.

Isn't that so endearing? You frequently encounter such things in historical fiction, but did the author really need to use the same backwards people for his fantasy series? The short answer: no. We don't need more pseudo-Medieval Europe fantasies, even if it makes interesting plot points like women overcoming their oppression. It is amazing how many things you forget about a series when you haven't read it in three years: I could remember all the gorey and touchy elements of this series, but mostly forgot all the subtle humiliations all the heroines in this series at one point or another must endure.

That said, it reinforced the idea of Tyrion as one of my favorite literary characters ever. Because he's frankly ahead of his time with treating women like humans. And I really can't go on without getting spoilery, but he's one of the few men in this series that really sets the standards high for the rest of the fictional heroes.

For one of the greatest moment of the series (so far), and to spoil the first three books of the series, turn to page 829 (mass market paperback).

A Storm of Swords is a very bloody book where Mr. Martin hones his wedding planning skills (err... I don't want ASoIaF themed wedding anymore). I can't say I didn't absolutely adore it, but of course, there were some irksome things I mentioned above that spoiled some of the sweet, sweet, moments in this book. Overall, I can't say the quality of the series lessens any (at this point) and I highly recommend it to those of you who have read the first two books.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for a book with weddings and wakes!

Content: Ages 18+ for the usual suspects in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Page Count: 1128 pages in my mass market paperback edition

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