I recently finished reading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. This is the third book in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire, and probably the best of the three. I haven’t had a chance to read the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, but it’s on my bookshelf, and I should get around to it this year. The prevailing opinion, from what most people have told me, is A Feast for Crows didn’t live up to their expectations, considering how great A Storm of Swords was and how it ended. Regardless, I plan to go into it with a fresh perspective and reserve judgment until after I’ve read it.
A Storm of Swords is filled with all the intricacies that made the first two novels so compelling: a well-crafted plot, deep and realistically flawed characters, unexpected twists, fluid writing style, and great imagery. The thing I like most about Martin is how he develops his characters — you may start off liking one character and then at some point you may turn against him and then you may come back around to liking him again — and I also love how he is willing to kill off anyone at any moment; no one is ever safe, which makes the storyline unpredictable, and it is this kind of decision making with characters that sets the series apart.
My only complaint with A Storm of Swords is the fact that I felt Martin took too long to actually ramp the story up. There is a lot of build up in this novel, as in the second book A Clash of Kings, and it is my contention that Martin could have eliminated a lot of the description and even some of the chapters, and the storyline still would have remained intact. The ending of A Storm of Swords is fantastic, and it really propels you into book 4. By the last couple of hundred pages, the storyline really starts to accelerate, and everything becomes chaotic, and after you turn the last page, you are left breathless.
Well deserving of 4 1/2 to 5 stars, and by far the best fantasy novel I’ve ever read. Supposedly, Book 5, A Dance with Dragons, will be released this year, most likely in the fall.