21. ‘A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold’ by George RR Martin

blood and goldRead my review of ‘A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow‘.

[CONTAINS SPOILERS]

This was the book my Song of Ice and Fire-obsessed friends (and I have several) told me was the best so far. “Oh, the shit that happens,” was the most common utterance I heard when I told them that I was embarking on the next instalment in the series. Having now read it, I can promise you that a lot of shit does happen and it is indeed amazing.

Daenerys: You’d think being such a badass for so long would get boring, but no. Dany remains utterly cool: gone are the days when she quaked at the sight of a man; now she leads them fearlessly and isn’t afraid to have them killed or send them crawling into sewer pipes. In fact, she makes besieging and capturing cities look easy, so much so that you begin to wonder why the armies she faces (presumably headed by military experts with decades of experience) turn into so many cardboard cutouts when faced with her faultless military strategy. She’s also relentlessly moral, putting her own plans on hold to free all the slaves in the world. But I don’t want to moan about how easy she seems to have it, because I like her and I’m terrified that George RR Martin is going to reward her cunning and righteousness with sheer misery.

Jaime: Never thought I’d say it, but he’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite characters. In this book we’re treated to more scenes with Brienne (he saves her from being mauled by a bear!), his complex thoughts about his place in the Kingsguard and history at large,  and a closer look at his relationship with Cersei: they’re genuinely in love and have had the classic troubled romantic history of being constantly separated by the whims of fate and other people. Sure, they’re still twins who managed to spawn demonic shitmonger Joffrey, but I find I care about that less.

Samwell: He’s getting braver and braver! Honestly, you kill one white walker and you think you’re all that. Of course, he is all that, because he manages to manipulate everyone at Castle Black into making Jon Snow the new Lord Commander, and becomes the go-between for Bran et al and the mysterious man with a crow army.

Bran: The entirety of the notes I’ve taken about Bran in this book read thus: “Finds Sam in a well.” Suffice it to say I don’t really care.

Jon: This book is really all about Jon. First, the wildlings who he came over the Wall with (and then ran away from) attack Castle Black, unsuccessfully, and poor old Ygritte dies in the attempt. Then the main wildling army on the other side of the Wall start their onslaught, Jon is made Commander and he manages to hold off people, giants and mammoths with some awesome tactics (barrels filled with solid ice, for example). Then, right at the end, bloody STANNIS turns up (what?!) and offers to make Jon lord of Winterfell and give him everything he’s ever wanted. Constantly misunderstood and riddled with guilt, but always striving to do the right thing – Jon is pretty great.

Davos: Saves a kid, Edric Storm, ‘cos he’s awesome and thinks children shouldn’t be murdered in order to bring dragons (aka weapons of mass destruction) back into the world. Bloody right.

Sansa: Continues to be dragged around according to what other people want of her. After Joffrey’s death (oh yes, just slipped that in, didn’t I? He DIES, choking and clawing at his own throat. Ha.) she runs off with Littlefinger and is subjected to his weird seduction techniques and a very scary peek over the edge of a mountain.

Tyrion: Still one of my absolute favourites, and a lot of the fabled ‘shit’ happens to him in this instalment. He’s accused of killing Joffrey because he shouted at him a few times – quite rightly – for being a dick. Oh, and he threatened to kill him a couple of times, but who wouldn’t? And he didn’t actually do it. Anyway, he’s flung into jail (no thanks to Shae, that bitch), but makes his escape and goes on a killing spree. Well, if you’re wrongly accused of one murder, you may as well commit two!

Arya: The youngest Stark girl seems to spend most of ASoS running around the countryside, being kidnapped by various people, most notably the Hound, and killing one of the people on her hate list. She comes achingly close to a reunion with her mother, Catelyn, and her brother, Robb, but it’s all snatched away at the last moment (more on that in a second). Her time with the Hound is interesting: they form a begrudging symbiosis – a bit like Brienne and Jaime but without the awesome – until something terrible happens to him and she manages to get away. I can’t say I love Arya, but she is pretty resourceful.

Catelyn: I thought I’d leave this one until last because HOLY FUCK. In an attempt to save Robb’s attempt at the throne (or at least to keep hold of the North), Catelyn’s brother agrees to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters. Walder Frey, you may remember, is the father of the girl Robb should have married, but he chose someone far more attractive for himself. Walder Frey is pissed, but he welcomes them all in with open arms, gives them a nice feast and everything is fine. Ha! Not likely. It’s a freaking bloodbath and a delightful new character called Grey Robb is introduced.

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“I count no day as lived unless I have loved a woman, slain a foeman, and eaten a fine meal … and the days that I have lived are as numberless as the stars …” – Daario Naharis

Read my review of the next book, A Feast for Crows.

If you enjoyed my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?

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