Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Storm of Swords ~ George R.R. Martin

This is a review of the third book in George R.R. Martin's series, A Song of Ice and Fire.  If you missed them, you can check out my review of first two book as well: A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings.

Gasp.  Gasp.  GASP!

That is essentially what I have been saying for the past week because George R.R. Martin is crazy and has no mercy and the only way you can survive his books is by being maimed and or broken in some other way.  And by "you" I mean his characters.  The books themselves don't paper cut you to death or anything.  Unless you're mad.  The characters that is.  Mad as in crazy.  Crazy people are allowed to die.  Excessively short, noseless people are not.  Neither are furious children, or legless children.  Low-born children are allowed to die so long as they're still in one piece.  THERE.  I've solved it.  Whatever "it" is.

So, three books in and Martin's format has resolved itself.  You know how the Harry Potter books all start with Harry fussing around on Privet Drive being lame, and then he goes to school, and then he has an adventure, and then he is a hero, and then somehow he is fussy and lame again by the beginning of the next book?  Martin essentially does the same thing except in a somewhat more sophisticated, albeit more tedious way, to start at least.  I'm sure that I'm not the first one to notice this, though I really wish that HBO had and had incorporated it into the opening credits of their adaptation, but it's CHESS.  Chess, people.  Martin spend at least 500 pages putting all of his characters into position, slowly getting them where they need to go, all nice and polite-like, and then let the slaughter begin.  Except sometimes, one team is all this is how I shall slaughter you, all sneaky-like and the other team is all oh no, I am so subtle, I will actually be slaughtering you AND YOU DIDN'T EVEN SEE IT COMING and the first team is all hey where did that mace come f- arrggggghhhh.  I am dead now (this is pretty much how all of my own chess games go).  And it is chess because sometimes (most of the time) it seems really boring until suddenly the bodies start piling up.

So this is where I wanted to put a picture of a Game of Thrones chess set
because obviously that's a thing but apparently it's not!  Which blows my
mind!  Because of course that needs to be a thing, if only for marketing 

purposes!So instead there's this dandy picture of themed chess pieces which
isn't really sufficient but oh well. Source (it's a shirt and I kind of want it).
Before I go on, I have some petty complaints to make:

1) There are such things as colons; they do different things than semicolons: introducing what follows, especially when what follows is a sentence fragment (though not always).  Learn the difference, Martin.  And while you're at it, please do a touch more editing in general.

2) Figure out the difference between Others and wights faster.  Man those things are confusing.  For the longest time I thought they were the same thing, and I think Martin might have too because even his characters seemed not to know the difference.  Unnecessary confusion ensued.

3) If all of the wine in a world you have created is red, there is no reason to continue specifying that it is red.  Characters need never specify red wine if there are no other options.

From here on out, there be spoilers.  Though as this is the third book in a series, I can't imagine you're actually reading this unless you already read the book, so I think we're good.

George R.R. Martin, you crazy!  Has any book ever had so many unexpected deaths and other various twists as this one?  I think not!  Seriously, Sansa marrying the Imp, Robb and Catelyn being killed, most of the rangers being slaughtered, Daenerys turning super-scary while still being awesome, Arya having the worst. childhood. ever., Petyr being Sansa's "rescuer" and then killing Lysa who, by the way, was the one that killed Jon Arryn, the Kingslayer losing his hand, and zombie Catelyn coming back to punish her killers - did you see these things coming?  Seriously, any one of these things would have been enough shock for a whole novel but all together, I'm pretty sure they may have caused me heart problems.

Oh, and while we're not on the topic, do you know what is boring?  Honor.  And chivalry.  And all that being a good person crap.  I mean, in life I like it, but it makes for awfully dull characters.  Has there even been anybody duller than Brienne of Tarth?  Every time she opens her mouth, you know exactly what she's going to say and it's never interesting.  "Bleating" is the perfect word to describe it.  And the same was essentially true of Ned Stark and even Robb.  And it just doesn't make good sense!  I mean, look at Robb's reward for being "honorable" and not bringing dishonor on some lady he diddled.  Or Ned's reward two books ago for wanting to make sure the true king sat on the throne.  Death!  Heads parted from bodies!  Family members in captivity, fearing for their lives!

So yeah, all of this battling for the title of king is bullshit.  All these people sacrificed to the whims and vengeance of a few, just because they are "high-born," is ridiculous.  Civil war should not be fought unless the people want it and are in revolution.  These are just squabbles.  Kings should protect, not sacrifice.  Wow, I'm reminding myself of Brienne (though I'm a bit more eloquent, if I do say so myself).  So yeah, I actually find myself rooting for Stannis, because he's the only "king" who lifted a finger to protect the realm, rather than tear it apart, despite the fact that he's obnoxious and jaded and led around by the little finger by a cult.  But at least he respects individuals not just titles (e.g. the Onion Knight).  As much as Daenerys is my obvious choice, because she's awesome and badass and frees slaves and is also a lady, in the end she's just another self-named sovereign looking for vengeance and what is only hers by right of blood, which is just a ridiculous form of government.  But Stannis - he's kingly.  Not the man I'd want but the man that seems best-suited for the role.  Which tends to be the case.

Interestingly, I kind of feel like the series could end here.  Jon is Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, so you could say that his storyline is resolved.  Sansa is free of Cersei, though in a different sort of prison under Petyr, but she's at least with someone who seems to care about her and pretty much embodies the fate of any medieval woman.  Arya is headed for Braavos and presumably a fresh start.  Daenerys is setting down to rule a city she conquered.  Tyrion is free of his family and still has a head AND even got to have some vengeance of his own.  Even little Bran got where he was going - we may not find out exactly what happened, but he reached his goal and that could be enough.  As for the ruler, I may prefer Stannis, but I'm not invested in either choice enough to choose.  The story could really end here, at least as far as my investment in the characters goes.  Of course, Martin doesn't give a fig about my investment in his characters.

So yes, I think that the next book, A Feast for Crows, is pretty going to revolve around the whole invasion of the wights and the Others.  Which is cool and I'll read it eventually, but what with all that resolution of story lines I mentioned above, for now at least I can put down the series for a while and move on with my life.  Strangely, there's still a world outside of A Song of Ice and Fire.  Or maybe I'll just re-watch the first season of the HBO show until my next break from school so that I can resume the  book series.  Oh well.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, seriously. I need to get to this third installment and stop procrastinating!!