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A Storm of Swords. Part 2 - Blood and Gold. George RR Martin.
Why read this one?
It is the second instalment of the captivating third book in the series that has been so successfully adapted to television - Game of thrones. Having first seen the action and then after reading the vivid detail of the first book I could not wait to continue and discover more. It's a decent price on Amazon presently for both paperback and Kindle version at £4.99 and £3.49 respectively.
A Lannister always pays his debts - this is worth remembering and in my experience, so far, a reality. Kings are playing a game and the prize is a throne and the Kingdom of Westeros. Are those Kings the players or the pieces? Will it matter who wins the throne when the Others come? Death comes to all in the end one way or another and winter is coming - which enemy would you face when death comes knocking?
A player or a piece?....
It is said that Eddard Stark be a piece in this game. A game of thrones. To be a player you need leave honour and morals, ethics and righteousness at home. In a tale were death is common be it via murder or battle I realise how much like history this prose is - in some respects.
This prose hits the ground running and is the one I have most enjoyed so far. For different reasons than the others as this one feels like the action never stopped - and this one held not one, not two but many shocks and revelations along the way. You know when you have been reading a mystery and think that you have worked out an obvious conclusion - this is not like that. This prose had me hooked and felt like a rollercoaster as my emotions were tugged, snagged and trawled along behind the pages. At one stage I had to put the book down while I took in the devastation that had just unfolded. Martin is brutal in his culling and none of his characters are safe - I was saddened by what took place in this book and find it a testament to his character development that I felt that way. But the game must continue and I can't help but want to shout at the Kings and Queens who seek the power of the throne 'Winter is coming, they are coming - forget the stupid throne and open your bloody eyes'. What use a throne when the Others come to take you in the night?
What I like about this tale, which gets more intricate and deeper as you go along, is that there are real 'historic' themes running alongside those of a more fantastical nature. Don't presume the fantasy is whimsical though as Martin hasn't over used any creatures as yet - they are there and they interest me but they sit in the background waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
I got to spend time with Daenarys Stormborn - Queen of the dragons and I like what I see. Young yet courageous. Sometimes a little temperamental, but only within; and managing to remain calculating and fearsome with her presence. Her victories have, to date, been a mixture of highs and lows - time will change that. I was rewarded by some very juicy revelations during time spent in the company of the young Queen. She grows strong as do her dragons - her mind too. I like her very much.
Things change in the dynamics of the Lannisters - for the better? Time will tell. Once again this was a surprise and some of it very welcome. My favourite, Tyrion, holds my attention and my breath. Martin may as well have put the dwarf on the rack with the amount of stretching he has him endure - I was on a knives edge with him and hoped that he would not be cruelly wiped out by the author. Tyrion has so much to offer this tale - I dearly hope he sticks around. My change in attitude towards his brother, Jaime, is consistent. I like the change in him and think it works well, as I discover more about his father's manipulation of the siblings I feel sorry for him. The prose doesn't feel lacking in a villain as the beautiful Cersei fills that role amply. I don't like this woman, the Queen Regent, one bit so she works very well in this prose. Nastiness and cruelty is appropriate and necessary in this game.
What of the Starks. For me this clan have become the main point of interest and a kind of base that you come back to every so often. They kind of hold the tale together and as such they are very dear to me. Even Sansa has my affection, even though initially I couldn't stand her immature and materialistic outlook on life - having said that the girl is only thirteen! She is not my favourite Stark girl - that award goes to the feisty Arya who is a gutsy little thing. Neither girl has their dire wolf with them for one reason or another and I miss that but it's for the best in the company that they are keeping presently. Catelyn continues to meddle in the way only a doting mother can and Robb still remains a mystery to me as to whom he actually is.
John Snow. Ned Starks bastard son. Shunned and hated by Catelyn (could that be another reason why I have difficulty with her). John captivates me. If any son of Ned's were fit to be a King in the true sense of the role (a leader with his own mind) it is John. His traits are appealing. He is courageous and he has honour. He is his father's son in every way that Robb isn't. I don't feel sorry for John, he doesn't need or want sympathy - he is capable. Him and his dire wolf, Ghost, command respect. During his challenges in this action filled novel I feared for him and his wolf. At one point I thought they were done and then another challenge presented itself - a dilemma. The outcome is fascinating.
All the action kept my mind on the ball but I never saw a very clever plot come into fruition until it stared me in the face - I stared back in disbelief and smiled. Very clever writing.
This book satisfied me in ways the others haven't (even though all are good) because storylines that have been being developed have bloomed. I have seen who has been pulling strings and moving the pieces in the game of thrones - or have I? Are they someone else's piece? I don't know who is to be trusted and that is the reason the books work so well. All the same, the Others are coming and that will be bad! Mellisandre claims to be on the right side with her god of light, King Stannis believes her - are they the only hope that warm blooded beings have for the future?
www.bookbutler.co.uk will perform an online search for the best used and new prices
www.amazon.co.uk is competitive with paperback and Kindle versions
Absolutely yes. Have you read the first two in the series and part one of this one? If so - go for it. Vivid description engages the senses and guides you through the action packed pages. You will be rewarded time and again with revelations and some answers. Be warned though - Martin is pretty brutal with his character cull and even though it shows his talent at character development it can be a bitter pill to swallow. Not enough to put me off - Martin pulls plenty of punches and entertains throughout. Much like what you would imagine historic times to be like with a whiff of the fantastical - done perfectly. It's a quick read (quicker than the others so far) as the pages seemed to turn even faster! Winter is coming - you know what that means. Man the wall! Enjoy!
Published on Ciao
Gorge R.R Martin at his best.
Ok, this was the only time in my life I have ever shunned a book, but for about three days all I could do was pick up the book, shake my head and put it back down, such was my astonishment at some of the events in A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold. I said in another review A Song of Ice and Fire is not for the faint of heart, this one will test you no matter what.
Martin has with me at least been able to cultivate an air "oh god, what's going to happen next". I read a fair bit of fantasy and I like think I'm a good judge of what's coming, but not with this guy, I have no idea how it's going to end and I love it.
Again, it's well crafted, well written and exceptionally well detailed. At the top of his game with this one.
This is the second half of the third volume in George.R.R.Martins Song Of Ice And Fire fantasy series, so big that in paperback it had to be released in two volumes!
It carries directly on from events in the previous book, depicting the aftermath of the Blackwater seige and the inevitable consequences. In the North, Jon Snow infiltrates The Wildlings and finds his loyalties severely tested as he attempts to gather enough intelligence to allow his return to his Black Brothers in the Night Watch whilst Robb Stark finds himself demonstrating his own loyalty when he tries to make peace with the Freys following his recent affront to them and their family.
Back in the South, Tyrion, or The Imp as some would call him, begins really coming in to his own here and this book sees him slowly taking his place at centre stage as he battles to hold his own against all the members of his own troubled family. Battling against his sister Cersei, his nephew Joffrey (the one and rightful King Westeros is lead to believe) and his father too, he finds his attempts to try and rescue the Kingdom from falling apart in civil unrest constantly thwarted!
And, across the ocean, Daenerys fights her own battles trying to establish herself as the Khalessi who will straddle the world with her trio of Dragons, born amidst fire.
To say this book is heavy-going is an understatement! At times, the political skirmishes and nefarious and underhand dealings by all involved as they fight for their own piece of the Kingdom almost bog down the story and yet, to George.R.R.Martins credit, it never quite becomes too much. This is in part due to the way that Martin tells the story from the perspectives of so many different characters; all of them brilliantly concieved and well executed to the point where they are all highly believable!
If you have not read preceeding volumes, do not even think of presuming to pick this up as you will be totally lost; this is not something you can just dip your toe in and just pick-up what has been going on! Even those of us following this carefully, at times have to backtrack to keep up with what is going on!
But this is High fantasy at its very best and the series that the word Epic was definitely invented for!
And if you have read this far, believe me when you say that you are going to want to keep reading because things are only just starting to hot up!