THE BOOK BEHIND THE THIRD SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, AN ORIGINAL SERIES NOW ON HBO.
Rarely has there been a tale as gripping, or one as likely to seize the minds and hearts of a generation, as George R. R. Martin's epic high fantasy series. In A Game of Thrones, an ancient kingdom was torn by the ambitions of ruthless men and women; in A Clash of Kings, war, sorcery, and madness swept over the kingdom like a voracious beast of prey. Now, as the brutal struggle for power nears its tumultuous climax, the battered and divided kingdom faces its most terrifying invasion—one that is being spearheaded from beyond the grave. . . .
A STORM OF SWORDS
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. Filled with the stench of death and decay from the destructive dynastic war, Daenerys is gathering allies and strength for an assault on King's Landing, hoping to win back the crown she believes is rightfully hers. But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings bent on overwhelming the Seven Kingdoms 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. And as the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest in the quest for victory until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . . . Brilliantly conceived and grand in scope, A Storm of Swords is the incredible tale of a world of harsh beauty and powerful magic, torn by treachery, ravaged by brutality, and consumed by greed and ambition. It portrays a war-torn landscape in which nobles and commoners, heroes and villains, the freeborn and the enslaved, all struggle to survive and to find their destinies...along with the dazzling bounty and wondrous enchantment that was once their birthright in the Seven Kingdoms.
Is George R.R. Martin for real? Can a fantasy epic actually get better
with each new installment? Fans of the genre have glumly come to expect go-nowhere sequels from other authors, so we're entitled to pinch ourselves over Martin's tightly crafted Song of Ice and Fire series. The reports are all true: this series is the real deal, and Martin deserves his crown as the rightful king of the epic. A Game of Thrones
got things off to a rock-solid start, A Clash of Kings
only exceeded expectations, but it's the Storm of Swords
hat trick that cements Martin's rep as the most praiseworthy fantasy author to come along since that other R.R.
Like the first two books, A Storm of Swords could coast on the fundamentals: deftly detailed characters, convincing voices and dialogue, a robust back-story, and a satisfyingly unpredictable plot. But it's Martin's consistently bold choices that set the series apart. Every character is fair game for the headman's axe (sometimes literally), and not only do the good guys regularly lose out to the bad guys, you're never exactly sure who you should be cheering for in the first place.
Storm is full of admirable intricacies. Events that you thought Martin was setting up solidly for the first two books are exposed as complex feints; the field quickly narrows after the Battle of the Blackwater and once again, anything goes. Robb tries desperately to hold the North together, Jon returns from the wildling lands with a torn heart, Bran continues his quest for the three-eyed crow beyond the Wall, Catelyn struggles to save her fragile family, Arya becomes ever more wolflike in her wanderings, Daenerys comes into her own, and Joffrey's cruel rule from King's Landing continues, making even his fellow Lannisters uneasy. Martin tests all the major characters in A Storm of Swords: some fail the trial, while others--like Martin himself--seem to only get stronger. --Paul Hughes