Evaluate publication: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

My, that was traumatic.

So here we are at final.  The third installment in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent series of blood and steel and general unhappiness.  I was assured long before I picked up a storm of swords pdf download free that it was going to wreak havoc upon my heart, even considerably so than the previous books had done, and so I did my best to brace my own tender emotions for the impending doom.

It didn’t work.

Because Martin, it seems, has absolutely no limitations or provisions whatsoever when killing off his characters.  No matter what your importance to the story may be, no point how big of a role you may have played thus far, you are vulnerable to the creator’s mighty pen.

And it’s just awful.

A lot of people die in A Storm of Swords.  These series has never been a stranger to death, of course, but it’s different here, because the killings don’t fall primarily upon the unnamed masses or small, secondary players this time.  Oh, no.  Characters who you would probably swear to the Seven (or R’hllor) to be untouchable are sent to their graves in these pages, and at such a volume that you can’t help but wonder if Martin will have anybody left by the final book.  The consequence is a reading primarily marked by emotional highs and lows.  Expect to move from cheering at the demise of a person to the uncontrollable sobbing at the loss of another.  Frequently.

And while it’s nice to identify, amidst all of this pandemonium, Martin break away from the general storytelling format that he utilized for books one and two (slow beginning, death of important character halfway through, general mayhem ensues until the end), I can’t help but feel that the decision may have weakened the overall plotting, despite all of its thrills.  The book in its entirety plows on at a breakneck rate, and is certainly nothing less than eventful from start to finish.  But that’s the problem.  The constant high keeps things exciting at first, while eventually turns exhausting; the repeated shocks are whipped out so quickly that they almost do not have enough time to truly settle in before the reader is sent careening into the following one.  This is especially apparent near the end, when several long-standing mysteries are finally answered, with a few more unexpected deaths thrown in alongside for good measure.  It’s fascinating, yes, but it almost feels like also much, too quickly, as though the author is pouring everything that he can imagine of into this single volume.  Where’s the restraint?

I think the problem is that, despite my reservations, there really doesn’t need to be any.  I sped through this one so quickly that I feel as though I simply didn’t give myself the chance to digest each many developments as they occurred, to really appreciate all of the twists and turns as they came.  I get the impression that a slower, more casual reread would likely promote me a better appreciation for Martin’s pacing, but I could, of course, getting wrong.  Time will tell, presumably.

I suppose that my complaint also stems during an uncertainty about the future of the series.  With so many big things happening in these installment, the story has advanced much further than I thought it would have by this point.  Now that we’ve come this far, I just can’t imagine what else Martin has up his sleeve.  Who else can he kill?  Where else can easily he send his survivors?  I think that my expectations for the remaining books need to be realigned and my perspective broadened.  It seems that I became so accustomed to the nature of the story as it was earlier on in the series (in terms of scope and direction) that so much change so soon was a bit too much for me to absorb.

I have while one other small issue with A Storm of Swords.  From the beginning, I’ve been nothing but impressed by the deftness with which Martin has recently able to juggle so many characters and storylines simultaneously.  His consistency and memory is astounding, and I’m amazed anew every time he resurrects some unresolved narrative thread to continue or tie up, since plenty are ones that I had all but forgotten about.  I feel, however, that his normally tight storytelling suffers ever so slightly here, and winds up a bit sloppy as a result.  Several times I found my self puzzled for one reason or another.  Why did he decide to do that? When did she come to that realization?  How did they come by this information?  I can’t help but wonder whether some of this ambiguity was done on purpose.  Did Martin simply decide that his audience was intelligent adequate to reach some conclusions without his having to spell things out?  Or did he genuinely forget to clearly define certain developments?  I can’t say your I have any clear reason to believe one possibility over the other.  Either way, there are moments throughout this installments that seem a bit too vague, or taken too much for granted by the author.

Looking back, my qualms seem large ones, but I’d be lying if I were to tell anyone that they truly are.  Again, I suspect that these “faults” may only have presented themselves, or seemed so important, because of my rushing through the novel.  Given the way weighty it was, it probably wasn’t the best of ideas to speed through it so.  Ah, well.

Regardless, let me render this very clear: A Storm of Swords is fantastic.  So very much happens, and it takes the story and its characters in fascinating (and unexpected) new directions, leaving no one unchanged or unaffected in certain important way.  Martin’s writing, though occasionally a bit repetitive (but, honestly, it’s impossible to avoid such an issue entirely, regardless of how talented your pen may be) is as wonderful as ever, oftentimes moving and always expertly crafted.  And, perhaps most importantly, there is real feelings behind the words.  I laughed frequently.  I gasped just as often.  I felt tears prick a eyes more than once, and was routinely forced to withhold bitter denouncements and delighted cheering.  There are simply moments – some big, some small – that force people to take a moment to realize just how much you’ve come to appreciate these fictional people and their struggles, to care about their lives.

Martin may be a cruel man when it is reached to our emotional well-being, but he certainly knows how to tell a good story.

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