Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.
This instalment of A Song of Fire and Ice took much longer to read than initially anticipated. For the most part it had nothing to with the novel itself – I was distracted by work and other novels – and could not give this the time and concentration it deserved. However, I have finally completed it and … wow!
While the first few sections (about four of them) were a little slow going, the action picks up right afterwards. So much happens to all the characters in this instalment, it took a couple of days afterwards for me to come to terms with what I had just read. The action, needless to say, is intense, gruesome and bloody (as wars are), but the outcomes are astonishing! Characters I adored (and some that I despised) either died (should have learned my lesson from book 1!) or made decisions that took my breath away, while one character that I had long despised (I get way too emotionally involved) gave me pause, and made me reconsider his behaviour and my feelings towards them (I still don’t particularly care for them, but the feeling is not an intense loathing, either). And then there were those characters that got their just rewards – both good and bad (will not say more or will give too much away). Every character undergoes a change due to their own actions or because of the actions of others, which is one of the reasons I find this series so addictive. The setting, Westeros, and the cities beyond it are astonishing in scale and detail, while the plot (at some points meandering and tiresome), for the most part is exciting and full of suspense.
Much is revealed, but even more questions are raised about the conspiracies and political intrigues that lead to the battles, in all its forms, in Westeros.
I very much enjoyed this one and and am looking forward to season three of the HBO series, as well. Recommended. On to book four – A Feast for Crows!