Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords... -Goodreads
My Rating: 5/5
At this point in the series, there isn’t much that can be put into a spoiler free section, but I’ll try to generalise.
George R. R. Martin liked to mess with your head. His character work is unrivalled and definitely the driving force of these books. Jamie Lannister is somehow now a new favourite of mine?? More people die, more people are introduced. The stakes are higher, once again… It’s just incredible and you have to read it.
(Possible) SPOILER SECTION
Immediately, all I want to talk about is the Red Wedding. After thinking about it for a while, I don’t think it came out of nowhere or was done for shock factor. The characters who we lost had made mistakes, big ones, and they were explained well before the wedding took place. It was all foreshadowed, if in a round about way. A Lannister always pay their debts. The creepy old dude is a vicious, hateful, power hungry maniac. The Starks are too honourable for their own good (see Eddard Stark’s detached head). We should be used to, by now, the idea that the Lannisters can’t lose. They killed Eddard Stark, they successfully defeated Stannis at their own gates, and now they’ve crushed the rebellion in the North. It all feels quite hopeless, which makes me wonder where the story will go from here? I’m excited to find out!
Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth travelling together was one of my favourite arcs to follow. We meet the Brave Companions which adds a little intrigue, but the main thing I want to focus on here is how Jamie goes back to save Brienne. It’s such a huge step forward for his character.
Arya’s arc was pretty good. She learns how to sneak around and spy on people. She also learns a hell of a lot about how people think, and I think that will become useful to her in the future. For so long she has been quite naïve, but it’s good to see her grow as a character. Her journey with the Hound was great, but now she is off to Bravos which is exciting for several reasons. 1) It’s a new place for us to explore through her, and 2) her story is rapidly moving forward.
Tyrion and Sansa’s storylines are drawn closer together in this book and it was interesting to see. Tyrion’s treatment of Sansa endeared us to him more, but he has a hell of a ride with Geoffrey’s (very satisfying) death… Sansa escapes to her mental aunt who is then killed by Littlefinger. So much happens! But it was an interesting twist now that Littlefinger has even more power.
Quickly moving back to Tyrion, he falls to his lowest point – lower than after being almost killed in ‘A Clash of Kings’ – and Oberyn Martell’s death when fighting the Mountain was devastating, but Tyrion is helped to escape later on and, before he leaves the city, he kills his father. So much has changed now, but it was so exciting to watch.
Jon Snow’s storyline was incredible in this book. This is what the past two books had been leading to, and it was worth it to see him defend the Wall successfully and become the new Commander. Stannis’ help was foreshadowed, but a satisfying twist all the same. I’m excited to see what will become of them both in future entries. Also, I am so glad Davos survived, but his story, along with Stannis, felt forced and slow through this book until the end.
Daenerys went through a lot in this book. The main focus, however, was not the taking over of the city but the betrayal she felt at the two men closest to her. Her decision to stay in Meereen made sense but I hope she’ll decide otherwise soon, for the sake of progression for her plot.
Finally, a quick mention of Bran who is now travelling north of the wall to find the three-eyed-raven. Again, his plot feels so slow and I almost feel like skipping his chapters. They must be important though, so I will keep at it.