Book Review: A Storm of Swords

Here is the latest of the published books in the series. The next one won’t be out until April of 2003.

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

General Information

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
A Storm of Swords
(A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

Author: George R. R. Martin
Original Publication Date: May 28, 2002
ISBN: 0-5531-0663-5
Length: 992 Pages
Cover Price: $10.47


(From the Book) Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. 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….

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is 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. . .


Well, Martin does warn you with the title, but this book gets messy. I don’t mean poorly-written, I mean bloody, gory, the whole nine yards. And it’s awesome! No character is safe, as before, and you will be kept unnerved and anxious the whole way through.

Once again you aren’t sure who your rooting for. Martin keeps his characters all very gray. You are occasionally found cheering on someone, who a few hundred pages back, you would have wished burned at the stake. It’s all delightful and entertaining. For those of you who have not yet picked up at least the first book, A Game of Thrones, I would recommend doing so at your earliest possible convenience. This series just gets better and better.

On a personal note, let me just say that it should be criminal to end a book this way. I am so wired for the next one now.

High Point

Tyrion’s revenge. The whole chapter is everything you’ve been hungry for. Almost as good is the (second) wedding feast.

Low Point

Davos, whose character I really do like, doesn’t get much by way of meaty scenes. I hope this changes in the next book, since he’s more interesting than just an observer to the madness going on in Dragonstone.

The Scores

This is still one of the most original fantasy series I’ve read. It doesn’t drag as much as previous volumes, Martin’s learning from his past work and is churning out fantastic stuff. 6 out of 6.

The imagery is still fantastic, but what is with this guy’s fascination with everyone’s clothing? I don’t need that much detail! 5 out of 6.

The story is faster paced with the action coming more steadily instead of in spurts. You keep wanting to outguess Martin, but it’s really no use. 5 out of 6.

Characterization is very unsettling. Demons become angels and vice-versa. You never know who to trust and this really helps you get into the heads of the characters. 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is downright freaky. You love/hate/empathize with even the minor characters here. 4 out of 6.

The editing is good. I didn’t need the family tree reference as much as before. I must be finally getting it, or I’ve completely lost it. 4 out of 6.

Overall this book was terrific. You never know what to expect next, but even the most unsettling surprises make perfect sense. 5 out of 6.

Total: 35 out of 42

What’s Next?

Martin has continued this series with A Feast for Crows (coming April 2003). The author has announced (on his website) that there will be a fifth volume, A Dance with Dragons. Whether this is the last one is anyone’s guess. There’s rumors around that there will be six book altogether.

Other works by George R. R. Martin: