A Storm of Words

Every copy should have been printed with this art

Every copy should have been printed with this art

I love (lovelovelove) hearing my girlfriend talk about the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books as she reads them. I read things quickly and absorb information into some sort of brain wiki that organizes people, places, and events very well for my instant recall. She’s a slower, more methodical reader who grabs the nuances and unspoken plot development more easily than I do. I really enjoy our conversations when we read the same books. She’s been reading A Storm of Swords for the last……14 hours now. It’s very entertaining to hear her side comments as she delves deeper into George R.R. Martin’s epic. These are side comments I’d like to share with you.

WARNING! Some slight ASOS SPOILERS ahead.

Recent gems from her:

“I think Cersei is putting smallpox in Sansa’s dress.”

“Ugh. Another Catelyn chapter.”

“The only character I care about right now is Tyrion.”

“Catelyn needs to be put in a place where she can’t do any more harm.”

“Ooo, Danaerys is dirty…   ”

“Come on, Ser Jorah! That was a mistake.”

“I love Mance Rayder. That story about the red thread almost made me cry.”

“Who’s the wormy guy again, Theon? I hate him. I’m secretly hoping he’s dead, but I know he can’t be.”

“Ugh, no place is safe for Arya.”

“I want to punch Tywin in the face. I mean, I like him for being the smartest person in the room, but I want to see his downfall.”

“I love this book!” she said. “What’s happening?” I asked. “Nothing, just foreshadowing,” she answered.

And then her reading about the Unsullied and puppies, “UGH. Thanks, George Martin.”

She’s reminding me of how much I want to see the next Game of Thrones season. A Storm of Swords is clearly the best book of the series. one of my best mates calls the book, “Four Weddings and a Hot Pie.” The story crafted within its pages are sublime. Twisting story-arcs and dagger-to-the-gut drama are where Mister Martin excel, but as one of my gf’s comments above say, he’s the master of foreshadowing.

It’s this one area of story-telling that I struggle the most with: how to reveal or suggest the future actions within your story without giving the broad strokes away. If we look back to the first hundred pages of the first ASOIAF series in Game of Thrones, there’s an ominous beginning with the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers, Eddard Stark administering the King’s justice before his son, the direwolf slain by a stag’s horn, Ned and Robert’s moment in the Stark catacombs, Jon and Tyrion’s conversation on fathers and bastards, Lysa Arryn’s letter to her sister casting doubts upon the Lannisters, Bran’s fall from the tower, and Jon’s gift of a sword to Arya. THAT is a packed 100 pages. And the amazing thing? You can find all sorts of aspersions and insinuations through these initial meetings and twists that affect the whole series, all 4600+ pages. And we’re still two books short of the finale.

The sheer amount of planning and creativity that goes into an epic like this is astounding. He shows off everyone, tells whom agrees or disagrees with whom, alludes to rises and falls through symbols, and uses his characters to influence others like none other I have read.

Although there is a flow of acts and rising action in each book, I consider A Storm of Swords to be the rising action of the series as a whole. The three act story arc can be summed up as “Get your characters up a tree, throw stones at  them, then get them out of the tree.” A Storm of Swords is the first volley of stones. I won’t spoil anything further, but this book has some of the largest twists and some of the most wrenching moments, no matter to who’s side you back. The end of A Game of Thrones might have been the first shock to the system, but it was the opening act for a much bolder showcase.

I did reviews for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons awhile ago and I won’t be submitting one for Storm as of yet, but it would receive some of my highest praise. Listening in to my girlfriend, it receives some of hers, too.  🙂


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About recalcitrant041

Andrew Babcock has manifest destiny on his mind. The road west is paved with basketball, psychic dreams, passable egg-toast, Dungeons & Dragons, and haiku.

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