Well, as promised, here’s my review of George R. R. Martin’s “A Storm Of Swords 1- Steel And Snow”. Although “A Storm Of Swords” is the third novel in Martin’s “A Song Of Ice And Fire” series, it was such a long novel that the UK paperback edition of it had to be split into two halves.
Each of these two books is about 500-600 pages long (not counting the appendices at the end), so I dread to think how large the original hardback novel was….
This is a review of the first half of “A Storm Of Swords” and, as such, it’ll probably be a slightly shorter review than usual. It might also contain some spoilers for this book and the previous books in the series
I should probably also point out that this series of novels needs to be read in the correct order, so don’t read “Steel And Snow” unless you’ve already read ” A Game Of Thrones” and “A Clash Of Kings”.
As you might expect, the story in “Steel And Snow” picks up pretty much where “A Clash Of Kings” left off. However, as the author’s note at the beginning of the book points out, the very first few chapters take place at the same time as the ending of “A Clash Of Kings” but they mostly follow characters who weren’t in King’s Landing at the end of the previous novel (eg: Jon Snow, Jamie Lannister, Arya Stark etc…).
In other words, Jon is still beyond the wall with the rangers in search of Mance Rayder’s camp and Arya is still on the run from Harrenhal with Gendry and Hot Pie. Jamie is still making his dangerous journey back to King’s Landing, escorted by both one of his cousins and Brienne of Tarth. Catelyn is still at Riverrun and Ser Davos Seaworth is stranded on a small rock in the middle of the Blackwater.
However, the story quickly picks up and goes in it’s own direction after about the first eighty pages or so. But, if you’ve seen the second season of the excellent TV adaptation, then the beginning of this novel will probably be very familiar to you.
Still, what a story it is! There is more treachery, more intrigue and more adventuring than you can shake a stick at. If there’s one thing to be said about the “Song Of Ice And Fire” series, it’s that it never gets boring. There is always lots of stuff happening and, as usual, each chapter follows a particular character. So, each novel in this series is almost more like a collection of several novels fused together than a single story.
In fact, as soon as I finished “Steel And Snow”, I found myself picking up my copy of the next book and skipping ahead to the next Jon Snow chapter just to see what would happen to him next. I can’t remember the last time that I did anything like this with a book.
Oh, one other interesting thing about this book is just how… well… musical it is. Seriously, there are a lot of songs in this book and, at one point, I even found myself stopping to find various songs from the novel on Youtube, just to see what they sounded like (my favourite is probably this surprisingly catchy rock version of “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” [Warning – There are spoilers in the comments] ). Seriously, George R. R. Martin is a surprisingly good songwriter.
Apart from this, I really don’t know what else to say about “Steel And Snow”. It’s a “Song Of Ice And Fire” book and, if you loved the first two books, then you will probably love this one too. But, if you’re new to the series, then be sure to start with the first novel (“A Game Of Thrones”) rather than this one.
All in all, the writing is as good as you would expect, the characters are as interesting as usual and the story is as gripping as always.
If I had to give “A Storm Of Swords 1 – Steel And Snow” a rating out of five, then it would get a six.