In my scribblings, there always seems to be a lot of death. And, as we all know, writing about death is never a pleasant experience. It’s notoriously difficult to write about it without stepping in to the comical, caricature death scene, or making it so dismal it’s easily forgotten. So, as inspiration for that tragic death scene, here are some of the best death scenes in fiction… Continue reading
Tag Archives: A Storm of Swords
HarperVoyager: paperback published 2011: 554 pages
Fear cuts deeper than swords
The Starks are scattered. Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his younger sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive, trapped in marriage with Joffrey’s deformed uncle, the embittered dwarf Tyrion. Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon king, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.
First off, whoever writes these blurbs needs to step away from the adjectives (“depraved”, “capricious” and “embittered” all in one sentence is a bit much). Second of all, do NOT blame me if you read a spoiler in this review because it’s basically getting impossible to write them without giving anything away…
George R.R Martin has a fantastic ability to kill people off. I mean, seriously. To be able to write a series on this scale is impressive enough, so inevitably he’s got to kill a few characters off because there simply isn’t enough room for them all – but he keeps going with these story arcs and then just cutting them short. If you haven’t read this book, there is one chapter that will make you sob like a child. I’m not exaggerating – Mummaloo was horrified when her daughter started booing her eyes out over a character in a book to the point that she couldn’t speak.
I knew there was a reason I loved these books, and I think the brutality of it is kind of part of it. It’s as close to reality as you could suppose – sometimes, heroes die. Sometimes, you quite like the bad guy because he gets all the best lines and actually he’s not that bad (*ahem* Jaime Lannister). This book begins simply enough – Daenerys is freeing lots of slaves, (woo, go Dany!). But by the end you’re emotionally exhausted. To shamelessly quote my own Twitter: “Dear George R.R Martin, please stop killing people off, I can’t take any more! Yours sincerely, Heartbroken of Hants”. So just to warn you, this book gets brutal.
There’s a lot of character growth too – lesser characters become more formidable and bigger characters are fleshed out with emotions you never thought they could have. We’re three books (four volumes) in by now, and I find myself starting to really invest in the characters – really root for them and get that heart-in-throat feeling when it starts to go wrong. You can’t stop reading, because you’ve got to make sure they’re okay… by the way, has anyone done the skipping ahead to check whose names are on future chapters to make sure they’re still alive yet? And does anyone else find the Red Priestess FREAKY!?
I’m pretty sure I’ve predicted Jon Snow’s story arc though. This doesn’t make it boring, it just makes me very proud of him. When it comes to awesomeness, he pretty much IS.
But it must be getting boring to hear me go on about how brilliant these books are, so I have one criticism – in the Epilogue, a character should NOT be there. Giving it away would give away the sobbing bit. But suffice to say, as lovely as it is to read about this character again, I’m not sure what good it will do in the long run.
But the books are still brilliant.
Next book: I am so exhausted by this one, that I am going for a change. A thin, light-hearted novellette, if you will – A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.
HarperVoyager: paperback published 2011: 569 pages
Blood runs truer than oaths
The Seven Kingdoms are divided by war and blood feud as winter approaches like an angry beast. In the northern wastes a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his young sisters in their power. Throughout Westeros the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.
Be honest, if you were going to read the blurb on the back of any of these books, would you honestly pick them up? But it’s not the cover or the jacket blurb that makes the book – it’s not reviews or TV adaptations or even people telling you that you MUST READ THIS BOOK OR DIE OF IGNORANCE. It’s the characters, the intrigue, the absolute scandalousness of the whole thing. There are no “evil” characters just as there are no “good” characters – they each are a blend of both, and this makes it a complicated read. I say this every time I finish reading one of these books: I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The good guys could really be the bad guys and there are story arcs which look like they have so much potential, and yet the character is suddenly killed off (no spoilers, I promise). I read it with a sick feeling in my stomach sometimes because of the sheer brutality of the plotline. This is what makes these books so good. What was I doing at the strike of midnight? Reading the last few pages of this book, just to make sure that Jon Snow is still alive!
Next Book: Well, technically it’s the same book as it’s part 2 of Book Three of a Song of Ice and Fire… A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold is next on the list.
Headline review: paperback published 2005, 194 pages
In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is as cold and distant as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…
Okay, so where do I begin?
It’s nothing like the film, so don’t even go there. It’s not quite a short story and not quite a novel. I love Neil Gaiman – American Gods and Neverwhere are two of the best books I’ve read – and to be fair, this is a good Neil Gaiman. But I’m really not sure what to think of it. I think because I saw the film I was hoping to read about the cross-dressing Captain Shakespeare of the sky-ship (as played by Robert De Niro), but this never happened. But then Tristran is better, and there are other characters to fall in love with. So… Hm… I’m not quite sure what I think yet.
Next book: I couldn’t help it – I’ve got to go back and find out about my Starks… so it’s A Storm of Swords: 1: Steel and Snow I go. I will eventually emerge from my Seven Kingdoms cocoon, but I’m not quite ready yet!