The third installment in Martin’s epic saga of fantasy painted political intrigue was a very powerful piece of literature. I found it to be far more appealing than the second novel of the series, A Clash of Kings. There are many wonderful elements to this novel that made for a profound reading experience.
One of the key elements in a lengthy series such as A Song of Ice and Fire, and one that many authors tend to fall short of, is character development. When you have an arsenal of characters and personalities as the focal points of your extensive storytelling, the changes and growth that those characters go through become the highlights of the reading process. I always find it extremely fascinating to see how an individual develops throughout the course of the story based on all of his/her experiences. In A Storm of Swords, character development is executed with beautiful, refined details, and intense emotional exploits. One of the wonderful aspects of Martin’s writing is that when you share the characters’ developments you get to do so on a psychological level that is both intimate and intricate. I found the most exhilarating aspect for the majority of the book was the glimpse into the very minds of all the people we have grown to love and hate.
Another element of a long series is foreshadowing of events to come. Some authors foreshadow but never follow through with it. That is not the case in this book. The foreshadowing adds to the impending death and doom, and just when you think that you’ve figured it all out, you realize that you are nowhere close to the truth. I absolutely love that. The suspense that is conjured from such a baroque style of writing is not only difficult to execute, but intellectually invigorating.
The final element that I look for in a saga series is the emotional ties that it creates between you, the reader, and that of the characters that you are living imaginatively through. The emotions that are evoked in this book were so extremely provocative in nature that I had to put the book aside not once, but twice. As you read the series, you become invested in it, not just with mind but also with heart. Whether you find one character that is absolutely wonderful, or one that is absolutely atrocious, on some level you respond to their experiences with nothing but emotion—glee, rage, sadness, etc. A Storm of Swords holds on very tightly to the reins of your emotions that are locked to those characters and yanks them down when you least expect it. I’m not a person who cries very easily at all while reading a book, no matter how depressing it can get. But man, let me tell you this one got me good.
To sum it all up, I found A Storm of Swords to be a wonderful piece of literature. It’s everything that I love about fantasy and epic storytelling all articulately wrapped into one 1,100 page binding. I haven’t read a book that has been so fiercely thought-provoking in a long time. This is definitely going into my Favorites bin.