God! I was expecting anything but this. Storm of Swords has more blood and gore than the other two books. And you might just end up feeling sorry for a character that you had loved to hate.
Jaimie Lannister has a POV (Point of view) chapters in this book. And the author takes us into minds of one of the most complex characters in this series. If you felt like killing him in the first two books, then you would feel sorry for him in this one. The chapters where he loses his hand and yet manages to save the maid of Tarth, will make him your hero. Yet he loves his sister and dreams of marrying her in a la Targereyan fashion. He also makes us to pause and question about a knight’s duty and honour and understand why he had to become the kingslayer.
Catelyn Stark is one worried woman in this book. Her son is furious when he learns that she has freed the Kingslayer, Jaimie Lannister. And he has another bombshell for her. He gets married to Jeyne Westerling effectively putting their alliance with the House of Frey at jeopardy. Robb pardons her but she is aghast at the turn of events and is frightened of the outcome.
Arya is on her way to Riverrun along with Gendry and Hot Pie. I read her progress in this book with my heart in the mouth.
Tyrion wakes up in the King’s Landing to find himself bereft of the Hand’s position. His father Tywin Lannister is back along with the Tyrells. Tyrion finds himself shunted out of the council as his father takes control. And Joffery has a new bride, much to Sansa Stark’s relief.
Sansa may not be as resourceful as Arya but she is still wary enough of people around her. But sadly her romantic sensibilities still leads her to believe her Florian (Ser Dontas) who promises to take her home. Margery Tyrell (widow of Renly Baratheon) is to marry Joffery now. And her grandmother the Queen of Thorns tries to find out all about their prospective groom from Sansa. Even while they plot to get Sansa married to Margery’s brother (who is a cripple) Tywin arranges a match for her; Tyrion Lannister. There can’t be a worse nightmare for Sansa than this one and Tyrion is torn between doing his duty and yet being gentle with his new wife.
The Red Wedding
A mind blowing chapter when you least expect it. And it reads very scary especially since it is shown from the perspective of a heartbroken mother. Catelyn Stark, Edmure Tully (Cat’s brother), Robb Stark and all their bannersmen arrive at the Frey House to wed one of his daughters. Since Robb is already married, Edmure Tully becomes the replacement groom to bind their houses. Yet Catelyn is scared and nervous. And the carnage begins once Edmure Tully and Roslin are sent for the bedding ceremony. Robb Stark dies at Roose Bolton’s hands and Catelyn claws her own face in desperation, helpless even as her first born is killed in front of her. Thankfully she too is put out of misery.
Dubbed as the ‘Red Wedding’, the gory horrific event was apparently inspired by Black Dinner from Scottish history. Personally it was traumatic to read this chapter yet you are addicted to the story that you can’t help turning the pages. What is worse than this chapter was the next one where Arya is on her way to rejoin her mother and brother? Even as she nears the place, you feel so sorry for the poor child. (More than family honour, palace and sword, these Starks really need a family song. If this was a hindi movie directed by Manmohan Desai, Arya would have found her brother and mother with the help of one 🙂 and Robb and Catelyn might have escaped the Red Wedding. Just kidding!)
Close on the heels of Red Wedding, Joffery’s wedding is also celebrated. Apart from the betrothed couple, it is Sansa who is looking forward to this event. That would be the day when she makes her escape from the King’s Landing. Tyrion is at his best during this event. He has become the new master of the coin, since Little Finger is out of town and finds it difficult to churn out the money needed for the gala affair that Cersai plans for her son. Joffery’s death at the banquet was a small redeeming factor that gave some poetic justice to the Starks.
Sadly it is Tyrion who is blamed for Joffery’s murder and Sansa escapes unscathed with her fool of a knight. Spirited away to a ship, she finds that the escape was orchestrated by Little Finger who kills Ser Dontas. Will this girl ever learn that there are no true knights in this realm? Well the eternal optimist in me hopes that the author brings her back to her husband after she learns to distinguish between appearance and character.
In the meanwhile, Danearys is on her way to buy herself an army; the unsullied. In this book, one will find her becoming more and more comfortable with her queenship and the role of command. With clever manipulations she gets herself an army of eunuchs. She forges ahead to capture yet another city, supposedly impregnable and discovers that Ser Barriston had been lying to her about his identity. To her dismay she also finds out that Ser Jorah used to spy on her. Furious she sends them both on a suicide mission to capture the city for her.
On the wall, Jon Snow is with the Wildings now. He breaks his vows with Yigrrette a Wilding girl with whom he falls in love. With the wights and Mance Rayder threatening the wall, the Brother’s watch is desperately sending messages to the King(s) which is ignored by all. Thankfully Onion Knight has sense enough to convince Stannis Baratheon to come to the wall.
Bran is on his way to meet the three eyed crow, who has been coming in this dreams. He is able to merge his consciousness with his wolf Summer and explore freely. Sadly he misses meeting his brother Jon when they both take refuge at the same castle. (They really need that family song).
The book wraps up when Jaimie allows Tyrion to escape the prison but not without drama. Jaimie’s confession about Tyrion’s first wife breaks Tyrion’s heart. Furious, he escapes and emerges in his father’s chamber and kills him ingloriously while he sits in the privy.
All through the book, the author makes us ponder about the oaths that men take to uphold and circumstances that lead them to break it; case in point being Jaimie Lannister and Jon Snow. Juxtaposing it with the Red Wedding, where the House of Frey breaks the age-old adage of offering safety and succor to their guests one has a lot of food for thought.
The last chapter is mind blowing. I won’t reveal it now. But trust me, it is explosive enough for you to buy the next book.