Clocking in at a total of around 1300 pages, the third novel in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series was split into two separate books: A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow as Part 1; A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold as Part 2.
Overlapping the end of the previous novel somewhat, Westeros is now in a state of civil war. Renly Baratheon is now out of contention, but the remaining ‘four kings’ Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy are fighting it out. The realm is crumbling, with the country unsafe and the rapidly approaching winter bringing the threat of food shortages and more suffering.
One element I particularly enjoyed in the book that I’m a little surprised didn’t appear in Season 3 of the show, was the relationship between Robb Stark and Jeyne. In the show, she is the independent foreign girl that Robb falls in love with when he sees her aiding men on the battlefield. Here though, it seems more likely that she’s simply the pawn of her family and has been deliberately put under Robb’s nose to make him break faith with the Freys and his previously arranged betrothal.
Not wanting to get into spoiler territory for those who are watching the show but have not read the books, I see enough in A Storm of Swords to make up the entirety of the next season. I wonder a little at the pacing though – I think the show will have to move a lot faster than Season 3 to cram everything remaining into ten episodes.
Similarly to the previous novels, the story is told from a number of different perspectives. Here we have Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, Catelyn Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Samwell Tarly, Davos Seaworth and Daenerys Targaryen. I read this as two separate books and the perspectives were not spread evenly between them, which at times had me flipping ahead to see when the next Tyrion or Arya chapters were. That quibble aside, I raced through these two books, especially once I got beyond where Season 3 Game of Thrones ended, so I could see what was going to happen next. There are many excitements in store…