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Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

I owe another book post for A Clash of Kings but since I just now finished this one, I'll start with the one of recent memory.

*** Spoiler-riddled review ***

This one was a doozy. So much death and destruction. And my shock at reading, what is now known as The Red Wedding. More on that later...

But first, the intro by Martin for this novel explains that this one overlaps the chronology from A Clash of Kings. As I mentioned before, each chapter is titled for the character that we will be (aka the character's point of view). And in this one, Martin brings us Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer. I was pretty shocked to see his name as one of my new intimates but, as I mentioned in my previous post, Martin is a god himself, a superhuman being who is brilliant beyond words. And bringing me Jaime Lannister was genius.

In the first two novels, we know Jaime Lannister to be in an incestuous relationship with his sister, Queen Cersei (the ultimate douche-bag ever created. ever.). We find out in A Game of Thrones that the big secret being hidden from King Robert is that his four children with Queen Cersei are not his, but in fact, Jaime's. Because Cersei and her father, Lord Tywin, are such fucking assholes, we assume the same of Jaime. Jaime: the great knight of the Kingsguard; slayer of the King Aersys, the king to whom the kingsguard are suppose to protect with their lives; asshole who threw Bran Stark over the tower and crippled him, for seeing him and Cersei doing the dirty deed. He is captured in A Clash of Kings by the King of the North, Robb Stark. This is an amazing feat as Jaime is the gem of Lord Tywin, who is pretty much the 'king' over his grandson, Joffrey.

Yes, it's a bit confusing. It is difficult to summarize the story because, well, there are just so many things going on in this world.

But basically, Daenerys Targaryen is building up her army in the lands of the East. We pretty much know that she is chosen one as she is the one with the dragons born from stones, as the red comet comes across the sky as the symbol that she is 'born'. However, back in Westeros, the sign of the comet is confused with others thinking that Lord/King Stannis (Robert's brother and technically, rightful heir to the King's throne...for the fact that Robert's children are not his...) is the one. The dragons haven't been seen for hundreds of years and no one in Westeros, yet knows of Dany's dragons.

But she builds an army of "the unsullied": eunuch slaves who a trained from a young age to be stoic, unemotional, and savage. The path that we follow in the Eastern lands with Dany is like reading about Robin Hood: she is brutal and cunning in slaying the leaders of each city they reach, but she frees the slaves and the people from their brutal leaders. In turn, most of those who are freed end up following Dany's "khalasar" and she ends up being seen as, figuratively, their "mother". We know, from her POV, that she cares deeply for the greater good and struggles with the responsibility of caring for each and every one of the free people.

One of Dany's greatest moments was when, as her khalasar marched into the city of Meereen, the city's Great Masters were prepared for her arrival by nailing 163 slave children up on posts, pointing the way to the city. Her men tried to hide the sight from Dany but she told them that she would see them all...she would remember them. And when she took over Meereen, she kept her memory in tact and had 163 great masters nailed in similar fashion. Isn't that the coolest? She is vile but for a good reason. :)

Sidenote: I told CJ that I wanted to rename her Daeneyrs Targaryen. She didn't like that idea. I still do.

Jaime, surprisingly, is actually a good man. Unbelievable that I would say that as I wanted Catelyn Stark to kill him so badly in A Clash of Kings. Instead, she let him go, to trade him for her daughters held hostage in Kings Landing, Sansa and Arya.  But reading through his eyes and thoughts, I learned that he indeed, as sick as it may be, loved Cersei truly. He wanted to marry her and show the world how much he loved her. He loves his brother, the Imp (Tyrion) and has disdain for his father, for trying to make Jaime be the man _he_ wants, not what Jaime wants to be.

He is escorted by Brienne of Tarth, a member of Lord Renly's Rainbow Guard who flees with Lady Catelyn when Lord Renly is murdered. The adventures, and the bonding, that Jaime and Brienne encounter are amazing. In the end, Jaime loses his good swords hand to Vargo Hoat; returns to King's Landing and becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.

Where to end the summary? There's too much. But there are many deaths. The most shocking for me is at the wedding of Edmure Tully (Catelyn Stark's brother) and Roslin Frey (Walder Frey's daughter; the Freys are Tully bannermen). It was obvious that something was up. Robb Stark was promised to marry one of Walder Frey's daughters but instead, married Lady Jeyne during one of his battles. This was a humiliation for Walder Frey but instead, he claimed he would take Edmure Tully to marry his Roslin as a supposed 'truce' to Robb's broken oath. So Robb, Lady Catelyn, and Edmure Tully (amongst others) galloped to the Twins, where the Frey's reside. The wedding was cast and during the wedding feast, the most amazing blindside took place: archers took aim and started killing Robb Stark's men. Robb is hit as well and Lady Catelyn takes one of Walder Frey's grandson, a "fool" (one who is not right in the head, and thus, is dressed like a fool) and threatens to kill him if he (Walder) does not let her son go free. Walder laughs and Robb is KILLED. OH MY GOD. Then Catelyn slashes the throat of the young grandson, as promised. And then...SHE IS KILLED. It was an incredible scene. I had to read it three or four times. I think I would go back to that, to reread it again. I just couldn't believe what had happened. And as much as Catelyn was irritating the shit out of me, I never thought she would die and it shocked me through and through.

This would be dubbed as the Red Wedding throughout the rest of the novel. Catelyn would be stripped naked and thrown into the river. Her son Robb would be decapitated and they would sew on the head of his direwolf, Grey Wolf, in place of his head. The direwolf had forewarned this disaster all along...but who listens to a direwolf?

Next shocking moment? During King Joffrey's wedding to Lady Margaery. Sansa is saved from having to marry King Joffrey because, well, marriages in the Seven Kingdoms are about uniting houses to have more men supporting your war effort. And for Sansa Stark, she had no more: brothers are dead, Jon Snow is at the wall, Arya is presumed dead, and now her mother...  But she is forced to marry the Imp to have House Lannister inherit Winterfell, despite the fact that Winterfell burned.  She is still the heir and with her married to Tyrion Lannister, it falls into Lannister's hands if she were to bear him children.

So at Joffrey's wedding, Tyrion and Sansa are at the wedding feast. Joffrey is as bad as his mother Cersei. A complete imbecile who is powerful because of his bloodline. But inept at everything else. He hates his Uncle Tyrion...and for whatever reason, has it for Sansa despite having her father killed and beating her up all the time. And he teases Tyrion continuously at the wedding feast. He forces Tyrion to pour his wine into his new wedding gift goblet. He humiliates Tyrion constantly and then...he starts choking. Joffrey is choking, spitting, gasping and whistling for breath. And then, by the sound of Cersei's screams, we know that Joffrey is dead. Hallelujah. I was waiting and wanting this for hundreds of pages since A Game of Thrones and my dream has come true. It was a great sense of relief and validation of vengeance. And because I hate Cersei, I was happy to see her ruined.

Sansa disappears and we find that this was a plot for her to escape from King's Landing. In the end, it is Petyr Littlefinger who has helped her escape. Petyr is a little devil...and I can't wait to read what becomes of him, and Sansa, in the next book.

The Imp is tried and convicted of plotting and murdering his nephew Joffrey. But before his day of execution, Jaime and Varys (another eunuch) help him escape. Before he does, he leaves two deaths behind: Shae, his beautiful concubine who, surprisingly, turns on him at his trial...and the best one? His own father, Lord Tywin, while he sat on the privy (toilet). I was as shocked as Lord Tywin was to see that Tyrion would kill his own father.

This was an amazing novel to read. There were so many twists and turns that I was just boggled by all the action that took place.

And since there are only two more books to read, but four more to be made, I am a bit sad that I will not be able to finish the series, one after another, as I did with the Harry Potter series. I will have a long wait before the sixth book is written and printed, since book five only came out this past summer. Alas. I may have to re-read the tomes again. And again. And again.


  1. I like your summary, Cindy. I'm anxious to see how you feel during book four. I just started "A Dance with Dragons". I don't think there's a peep about Tyrion in book four. --Shelley

  2. I'm so glad that you are enjoying the series!!! I've been working on them off and on for a while, but this summary of book 3 makes me want to start up again. I finished book 3 almost 2 months ago, so thanks for the refresher! I did love the part about Tyrion escaping where he was all, "What? Where are we? Right under my old room? Oh, hold on a second, I have something I need to do." Tyrion cracks me up! I think I need a cheat sheet of everyone who is living and dead by now. Btw, when you're finished with this series, I have another I think you will like.

  3. He has this currently planned as a 7 book series, so only 2 more left to be made. Their tentative titles are "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring".

    Jaime Lannister gets better and better as the story goes on. His character transformation has made him one of my favorites.

  4. LOVE your summary!!! I felt swept away by these novels as well. And still do, every time i read them.

    Now that you've gotten past the Red Wedding, i want to point you back to a scene in Book 2, where Dany is in the House of the Undying. She sees a bunch of things inside the doors that she's not supposed to go inside. They are not really referenced again later, but they seem to be true visions of things to come. In one of the rooms, she sees a man with the head of a wolf and an iron crown on his head. Of course you don't know what it is at the time, but on your REREAD, you'll see that and know it was about Robb at the Red Wedding. And there are other interesting things too. Foreshadowings and such.

    I agree that Jaime's story is one of the more interesting ones. Tyrion as well. Which is so surprising since you start with the Starks and they are your main characters. Except now most of them are dead! They are still interesting to me, but the Lannisters even more so. I think you will be VERY VERY surprised at at least one of the new POV characters you will see in Book 4. (-:

  5. I can't believe anyone would like my summary only because as I wrote it, I felt like I was just rambling. But I think if I were reading someone else's ramblings of this series, I would love it too. :)

    I do remember that scene in book 2 CLEARLY. It freaked me out because I thought about Robb. But I totally forgot about it until you mentioned it, Audrey.

    I don't know if the POV character you mentioned in book 4 is Cersei. I'm just in the early parts of the book and I am continuing to be surprised by the new characters being introduced. But Cersei is definitely a surprise. I was also disappointed as I thought: he's going to try to make me like her now. But so far, NOT. She is CRAZY and now I know why Joffrey was so fucked up.