The third installment of Martin’s complex, fantastical series “A Song of Ice and Fire” was a big improvement from the last installment. Martin expertly navigates plays with the reader’s emotions and creates strong, complex characters. It is this ability that sets him above many other fantasy writers. He is also willing to do something most authors refuse to. Martin is not afraid to kill characters off, and in fact does so regularly. What seems the logical or desired outcome melts away into chaos over and over leaving the reader devastated and desperate to know what will happen.
In “A Storm of Swords” war has reached nearly every corner of the globe. The entire continent of Westeros is in shambles as factions vie for allies and land. The Stark family desperately tries to gain independence from the King’s Landing, where House Lannister has taken control. The late King Baratheon’s brother Stannis tries to recover from a desperate defeat to take his place on the iron throne. The Black Brothers fight the rise of otherworldly beings who seek to destroy all of mankind. Meanwhile, Daenerys wins victories in the eastern continent, slowly edging her way towards a war with all of Westeros. This leads to a world of intrigue, plotting, and murder where no one can be trusted.
I honestly have no idea how the story will turn out. With so many factions and such a volatile world, anything could happen. Martin is brilliant in this regard. He has not given the audience one person to root for, but many. As much as the reader may want the Lannisters defeated, they hate Stannis (the rightful heir). As much as they want a Stark victory, that would dash the hopes of Queen Daenerys who is desperate for revenge and the iron throne. As much as they love Tyrion, they hate his Lannister family. To complicate matters, the previously flat Jamie Lannister begins to turn into a most interesting fellow.
There are so plot twists and unbelievable events in this book that many time I had to throw it down in disbelief. “A Storm of Swords” is a thrilling read that will keep your eyes glued to the page. is no doubt in my mind that “A Song of Ice and Fire” will go down in history as one of the great achievements of fantasy literature.