George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords (Bantam, 2000)
[originally posted 2Nov2001]
It is impossible to write a review of A Storm of Swords that would not injustice the Martin neophyte by being rife with spoilers from the first two novels. Suffice to say that the third book in the series doesn’t fault the first two, and in fact is the finest of the three published to date. Martin begins to tie his loose ends together and push his main characters toward what we assume will be a final (thousand-page) cataclysmic battle in book six, introducing us to some characters who have only been heard about previously and throwing his patented monkeywrenches into the works in as many places as he can. It is only in reading the third book that the true slowness of the first two becomes clear; once Martin gets on a roll, he really gets rolling, and while the other two books are readably quick, the last two hundred fifty pages of A Storm of Swords demand to be read in one sitting, and strong is the will of the reader who can put the book down within that section.
If I highly recommended this series after finishing A Game of Thrones, I’ve now upped it to the must-read list. The series would have topped my list of reads in any other year, and this year only has the bad fortune of being #2 in that I also encountered Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy this year as well. *****