This book is heart-wrenching, and not just because this book contains the Red Wedding, but because this book leaves you with a sense of hopelessness. Many of these characters with good hearts and souls have such terrible things happen to them, while liars and killers prosper. Sometimes having a heavy pocketbook is more important than being a good person. *insert thought provoking parallel about how this mirrors our world and makes it even sadder*
As always, I want to state a disclaimer, like with all of the books in this series, that there are many very graphic rape and gang-rape scenes. I couldn’t even list all of the triggers for sexual abuse in this book, so please use caution when reading. As scary as the sexual violence is to me, I think it is very believable in this world and helps to show people that the real monsters aren’t just beyond the wall; they are human beings capable of very evil things.
“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil,” GRRM even says (perfectly) himself, via The Guardian.
I am loving this reread, and I’m loving being able to piece together theories that I completely missed in prior readings. Game of Thrones truly is the best show on television, and these books are truly a tier above the rest of high fantasy out there. I know they can be intimidating and a little dark, but they are so worth it. I can’t recommend this series enough. GRRM is honestly a genius, and I’m still not sure if I’m worthy enough to read his words.
The rest of this review will have spoilers from A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and also mild spoilers for this book, A Storm of Swords! If you have not read the first three books in this series, and do not want to get spoiled, please do not read this portion of my review!
My favorite story-arc in A Storm of Swords is, hands down, no question, Jaime’s. Jaime’s story of redemption is honestly one of the best I’ve ever read. His actions truly are all “for love”, he just starts learning what unconditional love is a little late in life. In this book, Brienne is on a mission, from Catelyn, to return Jaime to the Lannisters in hopes of getting her daughters back. Jaime’s change is so apparent on this trip with Brienne. I think Jaime is also, probably, the most complex character in this world. I can’t see him having a happy ending, but I hope his redemption story leads him to it, rather than death.
“I’ve lost a hand, a father, a son, a sister, and a lover, and soon enough I will lose a brother. And yet they keep telling me House Lannister won this war.”
Tyrion is the other Lannister that gives me a lot of feelings. Tyrion is such an amazing metaphor on how the society we live in today treats people that look “differently.” His father will never accept him, his sister will never love him, and no one in the kingdom will take him seriously even though the kingdom is only standing because of him in A Clash of Kings. What a terrible hand he is constantly being dealt, and all because of his physical appearance that he has no control over. I want, so badly, for Tyrion to win the game of thrones.
“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”
And thanks to Tyrion, we get to see more of a new and beloved character – Oberyn Martell. His pain and revenge mission was really inspiring and heartfelt. I wish we could have seen more of him, and Dorne (don’t get me started on show Dorne, please), because he really was an amazing character, who deserved his revenge. Also, he had one of the best duel scenes I’ve ever read in my entire life. Again, GRRM is a god among men.
“Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.”
My favorite character, Davos, and his points of view were a little painful this reread. Stannis is so out of his mind because of his need for power. He is legitimately upset because Robert was King, Renly ruled their home, and Ned got to be hand of the king. None of his actions are because he wants what is best for the realm. Seeing him being hurtful to Davos really upset me. The weird thing is, I like Melisandre and I think she is a great anti-hero, but Stannis just enrages me. I never understood the fan following he has. But that’s okay, because Davos is my little cinnamon roll and I pray no harm ever comes of him. Especially because of all he has lost and endured in this book.
Oh, poor Catelyn. I guess we can talk about her and how her story-line is, by far, the saddest in this book. Don’t get me wrong, Catelyn has upset me very much with her treatment of Jon and her naive thinking in other books, but in this book I can’t help but have an immense about of empathy for her. I am not sure I’ve ever reading anything like the Red Wedding. You can feel Catelyn’s helplessness in a way I can’t even put into words. Her desperation and her defeat are so palpable. I’ve never been a fan of Cat or her chapters, but this piece of literature breaks me every time.
“All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers.”
If only Robb would have just listened to his mother. If only he would have been able to keep it in his pants for a night, or to not feel guilt afterwards. If only Robb would have stayed in Winterfell. I mean, I can play the “if only” game with Robb all day, but that doesn’t make the results of what happened any different. Robb left Winterfell to avenge his father. Robb trusted himself over his mother. Robb is a grown man that wanted to have sex, and felt obliged to marry a girl after he took her virginity. I mean, it’s not like he did terrible, unthinkable things, he did things that a young boy would do. It doesn’t ease the pain, or make me less upset, but he actions are somewhat understandable.
“He won the war on the battlefield and lost it in a bedchamber, poor fool”
And since the Red Wedding is much different from the show, is this going to be the last mention of Jeyne Westerling? I’m not saying consenting adults can’t have sex, but she seemed a little manipulative, and so did her father and uncle (who Greywind didn’t like). I’m excited to see if anything comes from the Westerling family down the road in this series.
Sansa Stark is just getting passed around from one person to the next. I think she really embodies what it is like to be a high-born lady in this world. All she wants is her prince charming, because she has been fed promises of him her whole life, but all she receives is disappointment after disappointment, while counting her ever growing list of dead family members. Also, Littlefinger is gross.
Arya, my favorite Stark, is still doing everything in her power to hide that she is a high-born lady in this world. Sometimes, I truly forget her age, but when I remember my heart bleeds all over again. She has endured so many things that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies, but she overcomes them all. Arya is super inspiring and motivating, to me. I hope her journey with The Hound isn’t over, and the end result turns out like it did in the show.
Rickon is nonexistent and Bran is, sadly, forgettable in A Storm of Swords.
I’ll be honest with you; Dany’s story-line in this book is a little boring for me. All of my feelings just manifest to hate for Kraznys mo Nakloz, the slave trader Dany tries to bargain with. Seriously, he makes Joffrey, Cersei, and The Mountain look like saints! Any leftover feelings I had went to being creeped out about Jorah, and how he is such an old pervert. Like, I always thought the show portraying his love for Dany was so wrong. I know it’s mostly because Emilia Clarke doesn’t look thirteen, but still, Jorah is such a creep. Unfortunately, these two very dark clouds loomed over Dany’s story, and made her chapters not as enjoyable as some of the other main protagonists in this book.
“I am the blood of the dragon. I must be strong. I must have fire in my eyes when I face them, not tears.”
Sam had the other lackluster chapters, for me. Sam is one of the few characters I like on the show much more than reading about in the books. I know GRRM loves him, and I know his love for books will obviously play a bigger role in this story, but as far as A Storm of Swords goes, Sam was boring as hell. I mean, he’s literally killing white walkers and still, somehow, being boring as hell doing it. I don’t even understand. But, he did put Jon’s name in the running for Lord Commander, so I can’t dislike his character or anything.
Lord Commander Snow. Oh, how my heart breaks for Jon over and over again, too. He’s constantly trying to prove his worth to people who refuse to see it. I loved how he was able to actually experience happiness with Ingrid, even for just a short while. Also, I remembered them having sex, but I completely forgot how much sex him and Ingrid had. Holy shit, I so didn’t remember reading that. Oh, Jon Snow.
THINGS I MISSED IN MY PREVIOUS REREAD(S):
Mance Rayder is Able, inspired by Bael the Bard, in A Game of Thrones –
There is a story that Bael the Bard snuck into Winterfell and had sex with a Stark woman and impregnated her. Mance was inspired by this tale, and in A Game of Thrones a man named Able and a washer woman were very interested in Theon and Arya at the feast that Robert Baratheon attended when he finally made it to Winterfell. Well, this was because it was Mance and the spear wives/wildings in disguise, spying on what was going on in Winterfell!
Maege Mormont and Tormund Giantbane are totally in love –
I will come back to this in my review of A Dance with Dragons, but this book still hints at the fact that Tormund likes to “sleep with a she-bear”, and Maege Mormont not only fits the description, but House Mormont’s symbol is a bear. Tormund even has the title “Husband of Bears.” Tormund has wildlings sons, but they have no mother north of the wall, this could be because Tormund keeps the sons, so they will not be considered bastards. Maege could keeps all the girls, which, by the way, none of them have fathers, and Maege can still marry them off to live good lives under House Mormont. Also, this means Lyanna Mormont, who won everyone’s hearts in S6, is one of their love children!
Dreams are way more important than what they seem –
Alt Shift X just made an amazing video about some of Dany’s dreams and how important their foreshadowing will be, but he has also made an Arya video a while back that really stuck with me this reread. Arya dreams and wargs in this book constantly, and her fascination with warging into Nymeria is such a big part of this book’s story. Bran also wargs into Summer, missing how it feels to move on his own, but Arya’s dreams really stuck with me and I think will play a much bigger role in her character’s development. Also, Alt Shift X is amazing. Please, spam all his videos. If you’re a ASOIAF fan, you will not regret it.
I’m sorry if this review seems all over the place. I get so passionate about this series, and while writing I have like fifty different trains of thought going! I loved this reread, and I’m learning so much information I had previously missed. I always loved A Storm of Swords, because it seemed so action packed, while giving us this surprise ending that introduces one of the main themes that the show has chosen not to do – Lady Stoneheart.