Sunday, 9 June 2013

Weddings and Funerals

I have no will power! I couldn’t resist. I needed to know what would happen to everyone in Westeros, so I plunged myself back into the series with A Storm of Swords – Part 2: Blood and Gold (2000) moments after finishing my review of Part 1.

It has been hard to write about this book without revealing spoilers. Martin’s books are full of shocking events, including the deaths of major characters. So if you haven’t read the books and plan to, read no further…  But chances are you will know some of what happened already. As I write, season 3 of the Game of Thrones television series has just ended and the Internet is alive with commentary about the dramatic finale. So if you have seen the show or use social media, you know about the Red Wedding.

The Red Wedding would have come as a shock to television viewers but in the books there was such a build up that it was evident that something would happen at the marriage of Edmure Tully. Martin lead up to the event with a deep sense of foreboding – the quick alternating chapters of Catelyn and Arya, Robb leaving his wife behind and naming Jon as his heir, the strange behaviour of Walder Frey and his family, the people who should have been but were not at the wedding. It was clear that someone would die before the night was out, but who and how was absolutely shocking. It was a devastating read which left me reeling at the consequences.

Meanwhile in Kings Landing, preparations are underway for the marriage of King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. This wedding is not free of death either and the victim was most deserving of a painful demise. Tyrion is arrested for murder and chooses trial by battle for his defence.  Jaime Lannister arrives back in Kings Landing and into the arms of Queen Cersei. He is appointed Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Cersei is to be married off to a Tyrell in order to secure an alliance.  Evil Lord Tywin continues to show a complete lack of empathy for his children.

Littlefinger takes Sansa to the Eyrie to her strange aunt Lysa. While free of the torments of the Lannisters, Sansa soon finds that Lysa is threatened by her niece and seeks to harms her. Littlefinger reveals his true self.

Jon, Ygritte and the band of wildings climb the Wall and are heading for battle at Castle Black. Jon flees to warn his brothers of the Night’s Watch. Jon leads the defence against Mance Rayder’s army. But soon the Others are pushing South and threatening the wall. Stannis Baratheon arrives with his forces determined to forge a new kingdom in the north.

Meanwhile Daenerys has freed the slaves of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen but soon learns that she has left behind a power vacuum in which dictators have taken over. She decides to stay in Meereen and learn how to be Queen by caring for the people she has freed.

I think it was wise for Martin to split the book into two sections – even if I read them in rapid succession – as it allowed for a pause in this dense epic novel.  The second part was better than the first, as this is where all the action was. This is my favourite in the series so far and I look forward to A Feast for Crows (2005). But first… I definitely need to read something other than George RR Martin!!!

My reviews of the previous instalments - A Game of Thrones (1996), A Clash of Kings (1999) and A Storm of Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow (2000) - are also available on this blog.