There’s a joke on the interwebs that goes like this: George R.R. Martin, Joss Whedon, and Stephen Moffat walk into a bar. Every character you ever loved dies.
After reading A Storm of Swords, I can confirm this to be true; however, some characters that you absolutely despise also die. It’s a storm of double-edged swords, one might say. Ha. Ha.
I can honestly say that I found this book to be the most exciting and interesting one so far simply because of the body count. It sounds morbid, but so many characters are dead, which really adds excitement and tragedy and satisfaction (in some cases) to the book. I seriously couldn’t put this book down…figuratively speaking.
I say figuratively because I didn’t read a physical copy of this book; rather, Roy Dotrice read it to me. I got into audiobooks about a year ago after lamenting that I never feel like sitting down to read a for-fun book because I do so much reading for school. My solution was to start downloading audiobooks and listen to them whenever I got the chance: on the bus, while walking to class, while painting my nails, on the way to get groceries, anywhere.
The result has been highly entertaining. I’ve found myself with my mouth open in shock at the grocery store, crying on the bus, laughing to myself while trying to push through a crowd on the way to class. I’m sure people think I’m crazy, but this system works for me and I’ve probably consumed 5+ books this way, so I don’t care.
That being said, thar be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read A Storm of Swords or you’re currently watching the Game of Thrones TV series, you’re going to not want to read on.
I figure the best way to do this is to follow Martin’s lead and go character by character for my commentary. So here we go:
Jaime Lannister is slowly becoming one of my favourite characters, despite what he did to Bran Stark and the creepy incest storyline. I like two major things about him in this book: his friendship with Brienne, and the loss of his hand. He puts his life at risk to save Brienne when she’s in the ring with the bear. I think he wishes that he could be more like she is: loyal to the point of stupidity. They’re very similar, and he realizes that: they’re both strong, trained with a sword, and experience prejudice from the world for different reasons (Brienne for being a woman, Jaime for being an oathbreaker).
The other thing I really liked about Jaime is the Mr. Rochester-style transformation he undergoes because of the loss of his sword hand. He loses the thing that defines him and realizes that, without it, he’s weak and doesn’t command the respect he once did. So he begins to do things to try to make up for that: giving Brienne the sword and sending her to find Sansa Stark, freeing Tyrion, finally standing up to his father. The loss of his hand makes Jaime likeable for me.
Catelyn Stark was not one of my favourite characters. In the past three books she experienced a great deal of loss, and she reacts very poorly to it all. She was in a very limited position – because she didn’t have a lot of power and wasn’t vying for the Iron Throne or anything like that – and her thought processes just weren’t all that interesting to me. It sounds harsh, but I found her storyline particularly boring up until her death.
Arya Stark I also found pretty boring, likely because of her limited position. She says herself that she was like a mouse while she was being shuttled from castle to castle, and ironically only acquires power when the Hound takes her. After she kills the two men in the pub, he begins to treat her less like a stupid little girl and closer to an equal. When she took out the coin that Jaquen H’gar gave her and that gets her passage on the boat, I was so proud of her. I hope her storyline gets more exciting, because she’s an interesting character and deserves to have some more control over her own fate.
Tyrion Lannister‘s storyline was phenomenally good. He goes from being the Hand of the King to the Master of Coin and Sansa’s husband to a prisoner on trial for treason. I was so pleased when Joffrey died, but at the same time I was absolutely terrified for Tyrion. When Shae was brought in for the trial and testified against him, I started crying in an airport. When Oberyn Martell lost the trial by battle, I was cooking dinner and almost lost my appetite for fear that one of my favourite characters would be killed. Almost. I rejoiced when Jaime freed him, then almost started crying on my way to class when Jaime admitted that Tysha wasn’t actually a prostitute, but Tywin made him lie because she would’ve just wanted Tyrion’s money anyway. When Tyrion killed Tywin, I was pleased that he was finally getting revenge against a father who treated him like garbage. When he killed Shae moments later, I almost started crying because I shipped them like FedEx. I’m so sad that Cersei convinced her to betray Tyrion because the two of them were so sweet together. This was by far the most emotional storyline for me.
Davos Seaworth the Onion Knight was another very dull storyline, in my opinion. Not much went on because he was only a window into what Stannis was planning. I feel like it would’ve been a better choice to give Stannis’s point of view, or even Melisandre’s. It was cute that Davos learned to read as Stannis’s Hand, I suppose? And I like the respect that Stannis has for him.
Sansa Stark became another of my favourites. I used to prefer Arya and think Sansa was just prissy and needed to grow up, but I really liked her in this. More crappy stuff happened to her – being forced to marry Tyrion, learning that her mother and brother were dead, being accused of helping Tyrion murder Joffrey, fleeing, being creepily hit on and kissed by Littlefinger, then witnessing her aunt’s death. I went from resenting Sansa’s belief in fairytales and happily-ever-afters to just wishing that she could marry someone cute like Loras Tyrell and get her fairytale ending.
Jon Snow was also super interesting. I was so happy but also sad for him when he left the wildlings because he had to leave Ygritte. I shipped them, too. And when she died, my heart broke for him. I found it extremely hard to believe that he could become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch at the ripe old age of 17 (considering that he was 14-ish when the books started). I like Jon, though, and hope he doesn’t mess this up.
Daenerys Targaryen has always been my all-time-favourite character. I love how she’s come into her own now that Drogo is dead. Nonetheless, I feel like a lot of her political decisions were influenced by what was going on with her emotionally – loneliness left by Drogo’s death, feelings of betrayal because of Ser Jorah. However, the fact that Martin allows his female characters to be both strong and emotional is what makes them so realistic.
Bran Stark I also found boring. The most exciting part of his storyline was when he was just a few yards away from his brother, Jon, and they didn’t even meet. That was heartbreaking.
Finally, Samwell Tarly seriously reminds me of Samwise Gamgee. I ship him and Gilly, and was so proud of him when he killed the Other with the obsidian. I was also proud when he got involved in the politics of choosing the new Lord Commander and quite cleverly got Jon Snow elected. He’s getting braver out of loyalty to his friends – very Samwise.