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.