A STORM OF SWORDS

Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t put much stock in a story if everything is fair and you have and HEA (happily ever after) ending. It just doesn’t feel remotely real, no matter how well written your characters may be. So when I found myself saying “It’s not fair!” repeatedly while I read this book, I thought, wow, it must be pretty good. This one has perhaps been my favourite so far. Little bits of justice are dealt as if Martin is grudgingly keeping promises to do this or that and in between a lot of other things, most of which were either unfair or unjust. So far, this is my favourite book of the series. A few secrets are unveiled in this one too. And in case you’re wondering, the next book is almost 500 pages longer than this one (according to the number of pages in my ereader so I figure it will vary depending on what copy of the book you have) but either way, that’s almost half again as long. So give yourself lots of time for A Feast For Crows, that’s all I’m saying.

Just a comment on Martin’s writing style. At the rate he’s killing off main characters, he’s going to have to elevate a bunch of secondaries or write in new ones to keep the story moving because there won’t be enough pieces left on the board to keep them away from each other if he doesn’t. And after A Storm of Swords there are still four books to go. One published, one that doesn’t come out until July (the wait is killing me) and two more that are planned according to Martin. Yet with the exception of Davos, who is King Stannis’ loyal retainer (and once a smuggler) I don’t see any new characters being introduced and the secondaries – spoiler alert – like Lysa Arryn seem to become a little more involved in the story only to die.

Am I cruel? When bad things happen to bad people (or people I just don’t like) in my books, I just shrug and say “It’s what they deserve. Jaime Lannister gets deprived of his sword hand in this book and I actually did more than that, I laughed. I don’t think that necessarily makes me cruel, just that I enjoy my enemies torment perhaps?

Here’s the first of the secrets that are revealed; skip this paragraph if you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want to have anything spoiled for you. Jon Snow’s mother was named Wylla. There’s some connection to Ashara Dayne (a servant or something). Ashara was believed by some to be Jon’s mother because they believed Ned Stark loved her before her had to take Catelyn Tully to wife in his brother Brandon’s place. But it was Wylla, not Ashara.

I really have trouble understanding Catelyn Stark’s hatred for Jon Snow. (Not because I would feel differently if I were confronted with proof of my husband – if I had one – cheating but because the cultural mores of the story make it so commonplace as to be generally accepted.) Ned married Catelyn out of duty because Brandon died. The two of you didn’t even meet before the wedding and he loved another already. Ok, that rant is over.

Isn’t this an interesting development. It would seem that Jaime Lannister has found some honour at last now that is son is dead, his hand is gone and he has returned to Kings Landing to take up his post as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. If you’ve read the book I’m sure you’ll agree.

Samwell Tarly, a craven by his own admittance. But when the chips are down he can be brave – and he can be brave because he’s so afraid. He’s more than passing clever when he has to be too. He’s just lazy. If he doesn’t trip and break his neck while running scared, I think he’ll become more important as time goes on.

Yet another spoiler alert! Jon is reunited with Ghost. It’s the sweetest, most touching thing that has happened in the whole book. Of Ned Stark’s six children, he’s also the only one to still have his wolf. Arguably he is also the only of Ned Stark’s children to be whole.

Now it’s time for a bunch of spoilers, so don’t read the next section if you’ve yet to read the book.

PLOT SUMMARY

It would seem that Stannis is alive after all. As the last of Robert’s brothers, I guess we should be glad of that.

Joffrey is to marry Margaery Tyrell after having put aside Sansa. That’s good news for Sansa. But there’s also a bit of an implication, which I discovered first in A Clash of Kings and found echoed in this book: Renly’s real interest in the Tyrells was in Loras. I suppose it could have been true. After all Renly was portrayed as being more concerned with fashion and things being “pretty” than with “knightly” pursuits…so he must be gay right? Please take that comment with a heavy dose of sarcasm; I have close friends who prefer the company of their own and not one of them is particularly into fashion or prettiness. Nonetheless, the unfortunate stereotype remains. As for Sansa, now that she has been freed of Joffrey, it seems she’s to marry Tyrion. Or rather he’s to marry her claim to Winterfell. Tywin Lannister is also trying to make his daughter Cersei wed again as well. We’ll see about that one.

Robb returns to Riverrun having won another battle. He brings home a bride, an act which loses him all the strength of the Frey’s since he was to marry one of them. When those numbers are compounded by the betrayal of Lord Karstark and the subsequent loss of his men as well, it seems less and less likely that Robb and the North will win the war of Kings.

Catelyn Stark has now buried (figuratively speaking) her father on top of everything else. After Lord Tully’s death, Robb also agrees to terms with the Freys to regain their support. This ought to be tricky. Lord Frey is more than a bit of an ass.

Arya has finally been brought to Lord Beric. Rumours of his death have not been exaggerated. He’s died a bunch of times now, but as the powers of the Lord of Light grow, so do those of his priests (and priestesses) so Thoros of Myr is able to bring him back to life. His latest injury is thanks to Sandor Clegane. Arya is not happy to see him.

North of the wall Jon Snow freely gives in to Ygritte (a lot). Despite a few unfortunate deaths, he and his advance team are now on the wall. Elsewhere, the Black Brothers have realized, too late, that it’s dragonglass (obsidian) they needed to defeat the Others and they are routed. Forced to return to the dubious hospitality of Craster’s, they try to pull themselves together and tend to their wounded. A fight breaks out because of food and Lord Mormont is betrayed. Both the Old Bear and Craster are killed by turncloak brothers though Samwell escapes with Gilly and her baby with the help of a couple of Craster’s wives/daughters.

Daenerys is conquering eastern cities with her (freed) Unsullied and her meagre khalasar and other freed slaves.

Balon Greyjoy is dead. But if Theon thinks to automatically inherit, he’s got another thing coming. Balon had brothers and Theon’s sister Asha also wants to rule. I’d wish him luck, but I wouldn’t mean it.

So close. Arya was taken from Lord Beric’s men by Sandor Clegane and is now outside the Twins. Inside, Robb and Catelyn are attending Edmure Tully’s wedding. But it doesn’t look as if Clegane can get her into the castle. No one knows she’s Arya Stark.

Oooh, treachery at Lord Edmure’s wedding. The dreadful musicians are actually soldiers and the only Freys still loyal to Robb are the only ones missing from the wedding. (I should have seen this coming.) As soon as the bride and groom have been taken for the bedding, the cowards attack. Robb doesn’t even have Grey Wind for protection. Add Roose Bolton and his men to the list of vile betrayers.

Robb is dead and his best men with him. And his mother. So much of Arya’s family reunion. Edmure Tully however wasn’t killed; just taken hostage.

Remember Daenerys out in the east conquering? Well this Arstan Whitebeard who is travelling with them, I think he’s Barristan the Bold. He knows a lot about Kings Landing and the politics of the last twenty or so years and his physical description fits. My suspicion was confirmed after he saved Daenerys a second time. The truth is coming out as well. The little queen has learned that Jorah was informing on her to Varys. She sends them both away only to recall them sometime later. She pardons Barristan but sends Jorah from her forever.

Joffrey wed Margaery Tyrell…and the little prick is poisoned at his wedding feast. Poor Margaery, twice a bride and still a maid…

Sansa is spirited away in the confusion by Littlefinger’s men. They’re making for the Vale and Lysa Arryn although Sansa believes she’s being taken home to Winterfell. Littlefinger is also the one responsible for Joffrey’s death and for making Tyrion (and Sansa too) look guilty of the crime.

Stannis has sailed to the North and come with all the strength that remains to him to help defeat the wildling army. And just in time too.

Now Stannis would make Jon Snow Jon Stark if he will bow to him and forswear his previous oaths and gods. It’s a tough choice but for what it’s worth, I think Jon would make an honourable Lord Stark. It’s not as if he knows any of his half siblings are still alive after all. Samwell does though. He’s seen Bran.

Tyrion has been – wrongfully – convicted of killing Joffrey and is now awaiting his execution. Instead, he gets a visit from his brother; correction, a rescue. Wow, talk about a change of heart. Jaime really is trying to make up for all the wrongs he’s committed. He confesses that Tyrion’s first wife Tysha, whom he told Tyrion was a whore was in fact just the crofter’s daughter he first thought her to be and that their father, Tywin, made Jaime lie to him. Tyrion will not forgive him for it. (Who can blame him?) But since they both still live, forgiveness may yet come. For good measure, Tyrion kills his father before claiming the freedom his brother brought him. I admit it, when Tyrion shot Tywin with the crossbow arrow, I was positively gleeful. That man deserved a much more painful death if you ask me.

So it looks as if Jon Snow will be Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch rather than the Stark of Winterfell. How many votes did Lord Mormont’s raven gain him I wonder?

Littlefinger might be the vilest of them all; trying to get into Sansa’s pants – she’s thirteen fricking years old! And when he’s confronted by his wife Lysa, who is, let’s face it, more than a little crazy, he simply kills her rather than deal with her. Ouch. Lysa was pathetic but Littlefinger is dangerous. Especially since he’s actually dirtied his own hands this time.

Catelyn Stark has been resurrected by Thoros of Myr and is taking her revenge Frey by Frey. Too bad she can’t get Lord Frey. His death would cast the whole lot of them into a vat of confusion.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Starks

Catelyn – murdered on Lord Frey’s command

Robb – murdered on Lord Frey’s command

Sansa – at the Eyrie

Arya – on a ship to Pentos

Bran – north of the wall, continuing to search for the three-eyed crow

Rickon – hasn’t been seen this whole book

The Lannisters

Jaime – at Kings Landing

Cersei – at Kings Landing

Tyrion – on the run

Tywin – victim of patricide

Joffrey – dead of poison

Tommen – king in Joffrey’s place

The Baratheons

Stannis – in the North

Everybody Else

Jon – Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch

Brienne – searching for Sansa and Arya with the sword Tywin gave Jaime

Davos – hand of the king (Stannis) and now a lord

Littlefinger – at the Eyrie, husband of Lysa Arryn

And that’s my very long 2¢ for today.

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~ by leslies2cents on May 23, 2011.

5 Responses to “A STORM OF SWORDS”

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