A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R.R. Martin

BEWARE: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Although I have a habit of rarely reading books in a series on after another nowadays as I like to vary my reading and not become too fixated on one set of books, I decided it would be a good idea to read the second part of A Storm of Swords rather than just moving on. this wasn’t a decision I regretted.

A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold picks up where its predecessor left off – as the two were originally one book in hardback, this was hardly a surprise. If anything, it is better if the read considers these two novels as a whole book as they are stronger together than separate. There is no denying that this novel is the most exciting, shocking and nail-biting of the series so far – I could hardly put it down!

Jon Snow has escaped from his Wildling Companions back to Castle Black. Although he has escaped with his life, he returns to his Black Brothers with the brand of ‘turncloak’ heavy on his head and Mance Ryder is still moving south with his army ever closer to The Wall. Sansa Stark remains a captive of the Lannisters and becomes trapped in a marriage with the dwarf Tyrion while her sister Arya  is still fighting her way through the countryside, desperately trying to get back to her family. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Tyrion is struggling to get any of his former power back from his family while they plan for the wedding of the Brat King Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell. Across the sea, Daenary’s is moving from city to city, accumulating followers and power alike and rallying herself to cross the sea to Westeros to claim back the Iron Throne.

Almost everything in this book is unexpected – there were times I actually caught myself gasping aloud or putting my hand over my mouth in shock – which doesn’t happen much I must add. The nice thing about this novel is the development of characters like Jaime whom we have already judged by his previous actions. This novel disrupts the reader’s thoughts of such characters, however, and I was surprised to find myself liking Jaime when he finally to show a conscience and shows us he is no longer the Lannister that was caught by the Young Wolf.

The biggest surprise – and yes this is a spoiler although I won’t mention names – is the amount of main characters that get killed off in this novel. Martin has led us into a sense of security with certain characters, leading us to believe we will follow their adventures to the end but this novel rips that security away and leaves you feeling stunned; it’s undeniably hard to believe that these characters are no longer a part of the Game of Thrones.

As with the previous novels in the series, we get the usual web of clever plot lines, a few juicy battles to get your teeth into and constant shocks and surprises which leave you reeling. As far as Im concerned, this second instalment of A Storm of Swords is the best book in the series yet. If you thought Ned Stark’s death was bad… then this book will horrify you.

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