A Storm of Swords

There is a point while reading novels, especially great ones, when your eyes are no longer seeing words on a page, but forming an image of that moment in time. You are transported to a faraway world, to the struggles of a little boy, to the pride of a championed cause. It’s brilliant. And once you’ve found your niche, that place you know you’re meant to be, you don’t want it to end.

George Martin’s ability to create such a place is surreal. The pain and sorrow of the characters are palpable. Every desire, resounding. Each small victory, triumphant. These stories he’s created accomplish what every book should make an audience feel. We’re no longer an audience. We’re citizens of Westeros, the King’s Road, the snow falling beyond the Wall that bears witness to the magnificent secrets of Sansa, Arya and Jon, Tyrion and Ygritte, Brienne and Jaime.

A-Storm-of-Swords-e1346603808470All the while, Martin so adeptly weaves life’s wisdom into his story. I decided to share some of my favorite…

‘In the world, as I have seen it, no man grows rich by kindness.’ – Ser Jorah Mormont

‘A man can own a woman or a man can own a knife,’ Ygritte told him, ‘but no man can own both. Every little girl learns that from her mother.’

…Pylos meant it kindly, but his assurances rang hollow….’A kingdom’s not a ship…and a good thing, or this kingdom would be sinking. I know wood and rope and water, yes, but how will that serve me now? Where do I find the wind to blow King Stannis to his throne?’
The master laughed at that. ‘And there you have it, my lord. Words are wind, you know, and you’ve blown mine away with your good sense. His Grace knows what he has in you, I think.’
– Davos Seaworth and Maester Pylos

‘An ant who hears the words of a king may not comprehend what he is saying,’ Melisandre said, ‘and all men are ants before the fiery face of god.’

‘No man goes hunting with only one arrow in his quiver,’ he said. – Mance Rayder

‘The gods made the earth for all men t’share. Only when the kings come with their crowns and steel swords, they claimed it was all theirs. My trees, they said, you can’t eat them apples. My stream, you can’t fish here. My wood, you’re not t’hunt. My earth, my water, my castle, my daughter, keep your hands away or I’ll chop ‘em off, but maybe if you kneel t’me I’ll let you have a sniff. You call us thieves, but at least a thief has t’be brave and clever and quick. A kneeler only has t’kneel.’ – Ygritte

If he survived this night, he would take Devan and sail home to Cape Wrath and his gentle Marya. We will grieve together for our dead sons, raise the living ones to be good men, and speak no more of kings. – Davos Seaworth

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New narrators, once again. Samwell Tarly. Jaime Lannister. As well as old acquaintances. Catelyn Stark and Jon Snow – among others. And in the preview of A Feast for Crows we find that readers will get a closer look into Cersei Lannister’s true feelings. However in A Storm of Swords, the third installment of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. A Game of Thrones) reveals that Robb Stark, ‘King in the North’, has yet to be beaten on the battlefield and Tywin Lannister has made his way to King’s Landing. Lord Tywin’s arrival temporarily leaves youngest son Tyrion void of responsibilities to the realm. As King Stannis so fortuitously slays his brother Renly Baratheon – the desparate scheming for the Iron Throne continues….

To Sansa Stark’s good luck, the Lannister’s find a more prosperous match between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell from Highgarden. But the Lannister’s, or rather Lord Tywin, is not prepared to throw a chance at Winterfell to the wind. In the far North, Jon Snow is exploring life as a wildling following ‘The King Beyond the Wall’, Mance Rayder. Jon finds himself mixing pleasure in this ‘reconnaissance mission’ that he does not easily forget once the freefolk make their way back to the Wall.

Brandon ‘Bran’ Stark and younger brother Rickon are thought to be executed and are making their way north with two crannogmen. I find it easy to let them slip to the back of my mind, despite the mysterious powers of Bran’s dreaming. But I’m not about to disregard the Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen, ‘Mother of the Dragons’. The Queen is building her army, purchasing thousands of ‘Unsullied’ – fearsome eunuchs dulled to pain – proving the loyalty of her dragons. Although such loyalty cannot be said of everyone in her caravan. Her fate will be one I am eager to discover when I finally decide to open the cover of A Feast for Crows.

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A Clash of Kings

A friend of mine has also recently read through the second and third book of The Song of Ice and Fire series. He, among others, have been discussing the characters – which is their favorite, which they hate the most. As this friend was talking about his favorite character, he mentioned that if he was still living his old way of life and if he and Tyrion Lannister knew each other, they might go drinking together. Immediately I thought of Arya. By far and away, easily the character I relate to the most. A tough girl who wants anything but to sing and sew and give curtsies. In A Clash of Kings we get to see her take care of herself, be independent and even get others out of trouble.
martin_clash_kings_mmkt-360x560 That’s just it, Martin gives the audience someone to relate to – even in a fictitious world so long ago. We’re enthralled because we see ourselves. We have someone to root for. Martin reaches through the pages to grab you. He creates a vessel for the readers in his story. How would you be in a world full of crowns and dragons?

In the last book, I couldn’t stand Sansa Stark. At the very beginning of the sequel, I still found her annoying, but I began to sympathize with her. As my friend continued his thoughts on Tyrion, he added, “I want someone to stay good until the end.” It’s a hopeful sentiment, especially for a mythological tale. Then I realized: none of the characters will manage to stay ‘good’ for the whole series – it’s what makes Martin’s characters real. Arya has not been innocent by any means, but she is still my favorite fighting for what I perceive is the ‘good’ side of things. Is there ever a time when you’re always the good guy?
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But to sum up the sequel in this series, Martin introduces some new characters to take us through the narration. Theon Greyjoy and Davos the Smuggler. The readers follow Robb through his first battles and Bran and the ‘frogeaters’ surviving in Winterfell. I even developed a weak spot for Sandor Cleagane, “The Hound”. Even though he won’t admit it yet, Tyrion falls in love with Shae and Stannis Baratheon may become as much of a danger as Lord Tywinn Lannister. All I can say is that I’m more excited for A Storm of Swords than I was for this book. If Margaery Tyrell’s spunky grandmother has a profound presence I may have a contender for a new favorite character.
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The Hunger Games

So very often,  movies are adopted to popular books and then never do them justice. When I first heard of The Hunger Games (the film), I had not even heard of the trilogy. It was then my brother who informed me that they were some of his favorite books. Turns out I actually bought him the third book for Christmas last year. Ha… Since I’m quite familiar with the disappointment of watching films that do hardly any justice to the books that inspire them, I decided to wait and read the first book, The Hunger Games, until after I had seen it in theaters. 

Maybe it’s because I watched it in theaters, but I absolutely loved the movie. I finished the book and quickly moved on to Catching Fire. While watching the movie, I easily predicted a crucial detail of the second. My foreshadowing didn’t make it any less exciting however. In the second book , I was also introduced to one of my favorite characters – Finnick Odair. Although he didn’t become one of my favorites – possibly even my favorite – until the third book, Mockingjay, which I finished just hours ago.

For those of you who haven’t finished the series, or may not even know the books (unlikely), let me catch you up to speed. You probably know the synopsis of the first book: Twelve different districts are controlled by the Capitol. Girl from District 12 volunteers in place of her sister for the annual hunger games, in which one victor emerges after killing the 23 other tributes. I won’t ruin the ending if you haven’t read/seen it yet.

Now for semi-spoilers. Here comes Catching Fire and Mockingjay without giving away too much detail.

In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta (victors from the previous hunger games) take their victory tour. Shortly after, they are selected to participate in the third Quarter Quell, or the 75th Hunger Games. At the end of the book, Katniss and some of her allies escape the arena and the rebellion against the Capitol is on. In Mockingjay, Katniss is thrown into a war she inspired whether she wants it or not.

It is in this third book, I believe Suzanne Collins ties together the entirety of her message. I have yet to meet a person who has read it that doesn’t hate it – myself being the exception. One can’t dispute the fact that the end of this trilogy is heartbreaking, but I think it’s what Collins needed to drive home the point she is trying to convey.

Easily a trilogy I recommend. Don’t stop at the first book or the second. Read to the end of Mockingjay, and tell me you aren’t affected (or at least feel a little something). Isn’t that what we read for anyway?

What did you think of the books? More opinions? Do your worst.