*A NOTE ABOUT SPOILERS: While this review doesn’t have any spoilers for A Storm of Swords, it does include spoilers for the previous book, A Clash of Kings. If you haven’t read that one yet, proceed with caution.
PREVIOUSLY, ON A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A ton of dudes came up out of the woodwork to fight over a stupid crown, lots of people died, lots of people killed lots of people, there was consensual sex and a lot more rape, some hookers and mercenaries, and life continued to be utterly terrible for anyone with the last name Stark. Also there are fucking dragons and ice-zombie-monsters, don’t forget about those! It only gets more fun from here, boys and girls.
So with that in mind, lets check in with our narrators this time around and see what they’ve been up to. They are:
Arya Stark: God, I love this little girl. She goes full badass here, teaming up with The Hound and traveling the country with him like some crazy mashup of Pulp Fiction and Paper Moon. More than anyone else, I want Arya to make it to the end of this story, because she is so, so cool. Severely damaged and with zero chance of living a normal life after all the shit she’s been through, obviously, but in Westeros you take what you can get.
Catelyn Stark: Yes, this bitch is still getting to narrate chapters, and no, she will never be held accountable for the fact that 75% of all the shit that’s happening in this book is all her fault. Early in the book, she decides to release Jaime Lannister and get Brienne to take him across the country and exchange him for Arya and Sansa (how many ways can this go wrong? I counted five, see if you can guess more!). Again – she helped her own son’s most valuable prisoner escape, and set him loose with one woman to guard him. If anyone else had pulled that shit, their head would be rotting on a stake within five seconds, but because it’s Catelyn Stark, all the men do is send her to her room to think about what she’s done. And then they keep inviting her to council meetings, because that’s certainly never backfired before!
Jaime Lannister: Finally, one of the Big Bads gets his own chapter! Unfortunately, it’s not as fun as it could have been. Sure, every now and then he’ll be like, “Man I sure miss having sex with my sister” or “I absolutely do not regret pushing that kid out the window in Book One, that was awesome”, but for the most part Jaime actually experiences some personal growth and maybe becomes a better person. But apparently Cersei gets her own chapters in the next book, so I’ve already started making popcorn for that crazy cunt sideshow.
Bran Stark: You’re a warg, we get it. I don’t care.
Sansa Stark: Oh honey. You know the expression “out of the frying pan and into the fire”? Sansa does more than that in this book. She falls from the frying pan into the fire, and then falls again into an even worse fire that’s much more likely to rape her. At this point, I almost want Sansa to die, just so she’d be put out of her misery – judging by what’s happened to her so far, I don’t see any way this series can end well for her. Also it’d be nice if she could stop inadvertently causing death and destruction.
Tyrion Lannister: Oh Tyrion, how I love you. You are clever and sarcastic and funny, seem to have a shred of human decency, and are pretty much the only good person in the series. Just a piece of advice though: stop falling in love with prostitutes. Seriously, man. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing.
Davos Seaworth: Yeah, he’s still around. His only purpose is to give us an idea of what Stannis is up to, but it basically boils down to this: “Stannis is a deluded motherfucker, and Melisandre is a crazy bitch who’s going to kill everyone.” Got it, moving on.
Samwell Tarly: When I got to his first chapter and realized that he was going to be a narrator in this book, I literally groaned aloud.
Jon Snow: He’s getting better, guys. After spending two books whining about how unworthy he is, he finally gets to be cool and go undercover with the wildings, and is sort of a badass by the end of the book. His undercover work, I should mention, involves sleeping with a wilding girl named Ygritte, and if there’s one character who can be counted on to turn hot wilding sex into an excuse for another woe-is-me fest, it’s Jon Snow. I mean, for Christ’s sake, dude, you’re a fifteen year old boy who’s getting laid on a regular basis! Forget about your vows, you should be singing from the rooftops! Get over yourself and lighten the hell up, especially because (unfounded fan theories ahoy!) you’re probably the illegitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, so you’re going to have to deal with that sooner or later – knowing Martin, it’ll probably be much, much later.
Daenerys: So, all that stuff I mentioned up there? It’s all important and takes up the majority of the book, but here’s the thing: none of it matters, because Daenerys fucking Stormborn has dragons and an army, and she is coming to destroy everything. And I cannot wait.
A final word: If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from this book, it’s that you should never go to a wedding in Westeros. Seriously, don’t do it. There are three weddings in this book, and all of them end horribly. Stay home and send a nice card instead.
Verdict: four out of five stars