Book #04

A Storm of Swords Part II: Blood and Gold by George R.R. Martin

The Starks are scattered.

Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart. 

Well, fan my brow.

In my review of A Storm of Swords I: Steel and Snow, I mulled over the fact that it seemed to be a calmer, reflective instalment, with some foreshadowing undertones. My words were ”We are advancing into something terrible, I can tell.”. Gods be good, I have never understated something so much in my life. Something terrible? Some thing? Try a great many things; a great many shocking, disgusting, awful and disturbing things that would make me frightened to open the book again in case someone else had their throat opened for them. I’m surprised there’s anyone left after this injection of grief and violence.

We are coming to the stage in the series where my reviews have praised Martin’s techniques, his multiple voice narrative, his foreshadowing, his tension building – his everything; I am wary of repeating myself each time, and yet it’s difficult to download my thoughts without throwing us all into spoiler territory. I will say this volume has changed everything; no one is safe, and when I’m reading now I am on high alert like some sort of bookworm meerkat. It’s uncomfortably delicious. I can’t remember the last time I read something that made my pulse quicken dangerously – particularly when faced with that infernal Moon Door. I thought I was going to be sick.

This addition feels different not only for the multitude of bodies littering the pages, but for the conclusions. Martin has spent three books introducing characters, grudges, and intricate plot lines, barely resolving anything or giving us any sort of justice. Here, by ending lives, he ends certain subplots or potential subplots, and gives us both justice and a thirst for vengeance. It’s high stakes give and take with Martin, always.

Nonetheless, new ties are forged as we are introduced to the Dornishmen, who just may be my new favourites. With their own laws and customs, they descend upon the Seven Kingdoms with the most wonderful don’t give a fuck attitude, and although I didn’t see as much of them as I’d like, I know they are here to stir things up; I’m living for it.  

I honestly have no idea where we’re going with this, but my wish is for some different perspectives in the next volume. Give me some fresh voices, and a new pair of eyes; let me see more. I wouldn’t mind some more death and destruction either, but I suppose I don’t need to ask twice for that. Bring it on, Georgie boy.