A Storm of Swords Journal

That’s right – I’m going to keep a journal as I read the third novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series.  I am just so completely smitten with this series and have so much to say that I’d like to keep a log of my thoughts.  And what better place than my own blog?  These posts will definitely be fairly self-indulgent and generally speaking probably boring to other readers – especially if you are not a fan of or not familiar with the series.  And yes, there will be spoilers.

I want to concentrate on the book in 5 chapter intervals – not a huge interval, but with Martin’s imagination so much can happen in 5 chapters.  I’d also really like to record my expectations about how the television series will handle the book’s events.  Re-reading these posts will be so much fun when the show actually airs next year and won’t require me to re-read the massive novel.  I’m even thinking of vlogging my reviews of season 3.

The book is scheduled to arrive at my house Tuesday (I can barely stand the wait).  For now I’ll just sort of lay out my expectations.  So many fans of the novels have expressed their love for the third book.  Several people I’ve talked to cite A Storm of Swords as their absolute favorite installment.  Even though I know better, these reactions have my expectations super high.  I’m trying to ground myself, but I can’t – especially with my rather lukewarm feelings about the first half of A Clash of Kings.

I do remain spoiler free…mostly.  Some things occurred at the end of season 2 of the television series that spoiled bits and pieces of the future story.  I’m vaguely aware that something major happens in book 3 – something that will apparently knock me on my ass.  Martin has already been contracted to write this particular episode of the show entitled, Autumn Storms.  I have absolutely no clue as to what the event could be, but I am willing to guess!!  I hope it involves the forces from beyond The Wall entering the southern lands and the battle that should ensue.  If my guess is even remotely correct, I’ll be thrilled because that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.  The Others!!!!

Beyond that, I don’t have very many specific ideas about what will go down.  More battles as Robb still hopes to free the North from the Lannisters, Dany still dreams of re-taking the Iron Throne, a new Mad King sits upon the throne and will hopefully not sit there long, and then there’s Jon Snow with the Wildling forces beyond The Wall.  Oh…and where will Rickon and Bran end up?

One kind of general idea/theme/story that I would like to see more of in A Storm of Swords is love.  I mean, true love – not just marriage for political gain.  I’d like to see our heroes and heroines struggle more with their emotional attachments versus the pragmatic alliances of war and country.  We are beginning to see this with Robb in the show, but hopefully that particular story line will feature smartly in book 3.  And as much as I want Jon and Dany to eventually join forces to rule the Realm, I’d really like to see poor virginal Jon finally get some.  I’m also rooting for Arya and Gendry which is probably fairly far-fetched since she’s so young.  But a Baratheon married to a Stark needs to happen.

I’ve also heard tales that Arya and Dany’s stories both take really dark turns.  Not sure how true this is, but that excites me.  Assuming more death awaits me is probably smart and completely terrifying.  I don’t want to lose any of my favorites from the story because I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it.  When I thought Bran and Rickon were dead, I very nearly stopped reading.  I know readers felt this way about Ned Stark when he  met his abrupt end, but I never liked Ned and thought his family had a better chance of surviving without his rigid take on honor.  Please just don’t take Ned’s children away from me – well, you might could take Sansa.

Enough for now!  Tuesday – where are you!!!

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A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

The second book in the Song of Fire and Ice series took some time to get into.  At around page 200, I put the novel aside and read other things for several weeks.  After the climatic ending to A Game of Thrones, the rather slow-paced opening to ACoK was a bit off-putting.  That being said, once I picked the book back up, read another 100 pages or so, Martin delivered with some of the biggest shocks of the series thus far.  Some of them so jarring and unbelievable that I almost stopped reading AGAIN.  Martin had managed to break my heart and fear turning the next page because he will kill anyone and writes some truly heinous characters that are hard to swallow (Theon – you poor, pathetic bastard!).

What can I continue to say about this series?  The characters are wonderful, especially the women.  I loved Arya’s story so much.  She is just a little spitfire and perhaps the best part of the books for me.  Sansa’s character development over this second novel was amazing, thrilling, and often hard to read.  Meeting Brienne and Ygritte for the first time and getting to know them was satisfying and left me excited for all the other amazing women Martin promises to write in future novels.  The only female character I found lacking this time around was Dany.  She wasn’t around much and I missed her.

The men were also well-written.  Jon Snow is just a bundle of literary joy – is he not?  And my big character crush of the moment.  Tyrion outdid himself and has come so far since A Game of Thrones.  Like Dany, I missed seeing Robb and even Jaime Lannister.  Hopefully, they will factor more into the third book.

In A Clash of King the mysticism and magic was also amped up.  The shadow baby?  A huge WTF moment for me, but kind of awesome.  The army gathering beyond the wall – Can. Not. Wait.

For me, Martin’s second installment in this series feels mostly like a set-up for A Storm of Swords which I’ve heard is Epic.  I’ve started watching the second season of the HBO series and I’m enjoying it immensely.  I promised myself to put off reading the third book until next year, but I ordered the book a couple of days ago and will probably start it immediately.  I have a weakness.  I don’t know how people waited the 2-6 years between the original publication of the novels.  They must be very strong people.

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Don’t forget that I’m giving away one copy of Emily Jeanne Miller’s Brand New Human Being!  Check the post before this one for the giveaway!

Also, I just started reading The Book Thief – about 100 pages in – and I’m not entirely sure I’m enjoying it.  Is this normal?  I know so many people rave about it that I’m feeling a bit weird.  Let me know!

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I have been so ridiculously busy.  So busy, in fact, that I’ve had to cancel numerous engagements.  One of which was the bookclub’s April discussion this past Sunday.  My husband’s family has taken over my life!  We’ve also had a ton of home repairs done since our two year warranty expired in April, gone to see Les Mis, attended obligatory birthday/engagement celebrations, and many other events.  And I don’t see the madness ending any time soon.  In between the non-stop busy, I’ve found time to cram in the entire series of Lost (this means I don’t sleep).  Unfortunately, reading has taken a back seat.

I did finish A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin a couple of weeks ago.  By now, I assume everyone has read the book, seen the HBO series, or knows enough about the story to skip introductions and proper reviews.  Instead, I’d rather just keep to the high and low points.  Let’s discuss, shall we?

Martin’s first installment in his A Song of Fire and Ice saga is epically long.  I have the large hardback edition and it has almost 700 pages of story.  That kind of length can be daunting to even the best of readers.  Then to imagine the multiple follow-up books in the series that are just as long, if not longer, is terrifying.  And not all of those pages are entirely worthwhile or exciting.  The first 400 pages or so were a bit slow – drowning in the tedium of world-building and creating a sufficient back story for the myriad characters.  But once the world was fleshed out, the pacing really picked up and I could not put the sucker down.

As for the world-building, while it might make things tedious momentarily, it is totally worth it in the end.  Westeros absolutely comes alive.  You can see the castles, the terrain, and the people in such detail without even trying.  Martin has made imagining his creation effortless and stunning.  I felt the cold of the north and fear beyond the wall.  A map of the land was included on the front pages and end pages of my edition, but I found it wasn’t necessary.  That takes vision and talent.

Two things really pleased me within GoT.  First, I became obsessed with the questions of moral ambiguity.  Nowhere does Martin leave his characters or readers with a simple choice.  Nothing is black and white – the characters who refuse to adapt, evolve, or alter their thinking/actions never have happy endings.  Sometimes even the honorable decision ends up not so honorable.  The characters are just as richly complex.  Barring a couple of exceptions, the evil people all have reasons for being that way or some level of good buried deep inside and vice versa.  To be honest, one of the characters I liked least was Eddard Stark and he’s the most upstanding, noble guy in the book.  He frustrated me to no end.

The second aspect of GoT that I relished was how deeply rooted in a humanistic world this high fantasy novel is grounded.  There are mystical creatures, magical happenings, and eventually, DRAGONS, but those things (at least in Book 1) take a back seat to the human stories that Martin is telling.  At the heart of GoT is a mystery – a whodunit.  All the fantastical elements have a place and purpose – never ending up feeling indulgent or gratuitous.  That’s why the fan base is so huge and diverse.

I could rave on and on.  I loved how important the young characters come to be, how no one is safe, and Jon Snow (my favorite character!).  I’m just amazed at how much I’ve come to care for these fictional people and their lives.  After finishing GoT, I immediately bought A Clash of Kings and have made my way through 200 pages (then got sidetracked by Lost).  I also inhaled the HBO series which I thought was brilliantly done.  With all that said and done, I highly recommend GoT, especially if you think you don’t like high fantasy.  This book will change your mind!!