Review: “A Storm Of Swords 2 – Blood And Gold” By George R. R. Martin

2014 Artwork Storm of Swords 2 Review Sketch

Well, since I reviewed the first half of this novel a while ago , I finished the second half of it a lot more quickly than I expected to.

I should probably point out for my international readers that the UK paperback version of “A Storm Of Swords” has been split into two large volumes. It might be published as a single volume where you live or it might be split into more than two volumes, but don’t let the length put you off – it’s a brilliant story.

However, if you haven’t read any of George R. R. Martin’s other “A Song Of Ice And Fire” novels, then you shouldn’t start with this one. The entire series is one epic continuous story and none of the books in it are self-contained.

So, you should start with “Game Of Thrones” (seriously, you should – it’s an amazing book), then read “A Clash Of Kings” and then the first half of “A Storm Of Swords” before you read this book, otherwise it probably won’t make much sense to you.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers in this review, but there may be a couple of them here nonetheless. You have been warned.

As you might expect, the story in “Blood and Gold” begins where the first half of “A Storm Of Swords” ended. And, as great as the first half of this novel is, I quickly realised that it only really served as the set-up for the events of “Blood and Gold”. Yes, this is probably the most dramatic novel in this series that I’ve read so far.

Unfortunately, despite my desire to avoid plot spoilers before I read this book, it’s almost impossible to look at anything “Game Of Thrones”-related on the internet without running across the occasional spoiler.

So, most of this novel’s most dramatic scenes (except the one just before the epilogue) didn’t really have quite the same amount of shock/surprise value that they might have done if I hadn’t known about them in advance.

Even so, this novel is Dramatic. With a capital “D”. Expect a lot of surprises – some good and some bad. The world of Westeros is a very different place at the end of this novel than it was at the beginning and I’m interested to see where G. R. R. Martin plans to take the story in the fourth novel (“A Feast For Crows”).

But, yes, if you want a dramatic novel – then you can’t go wrong with “A Storm Of Swords”. Seriously, there is at least one scene which will either leave you completely stunned with horror or make you joyously break into a rousing chorus of “The Rains Of Castamere” [WARNING – There are probably spoilers in the comments].

As for the writing and characterisation in “Blood And Gold”, it’s as good as usual. Which is to say, absolutely excellent. G. R. R. Martin is able to describe everything in a literary level of detail, whilst never neglecting the thrilling story that he’s also telling.

In addition to this, the characters are pretty much what you would expect too – there are a few new minor characters introduced in “Blood And Gold” but, for the most part, the story focuses on the various perspective characters (Arya, Jamie, Jon, Danenerys, Samwell, Catelyn, Davos, Sansa etc…) that we all know and love.

It’s hard to say what the real strength of this volume is, but my favourite part of it was probably Jon’s chapters. In a way, I’m kind of annoyed that G. R. R. Martin hasn’t compiled all of these chapters (and some of Sam’s chapters) together into a single novel – because it would be an absolutely amazing novel! But, like with all the other characters, we only get to see a single chapter of Jon’s story and then have to wait several chapters before we see any more of it.

Still, I guess that this is part of the cost of having what are, in effect, several different novels crammed into a single story. But, even so, it’d still be nice to see a 200-400 page Jon Snow novel. Even so, this is a minor complaint about an absolutely excellent novel.

All in all, if you’ve read the previous books, then “Blood And Gold” will still astonish you. And, even if you’ve seen spoilers on the internet and know what happens in this book, then it’s still an absolutely gripping story which is well worth reading.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get a six.

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Review: “A Storm Of Swords 1- Steel And Snow” By George R. R. Martin (Novel)

Yes, this novel even contains a surprisingly catchy song about a bear....

Yes, this novel even contains a surprisingly catchy song about a bear….

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.