'A Storm of Swords' - George R.R. Martin
'A Storm of Swords' is a roller-coaster. Martin's third volume of his epic series - 'A Song of Ice and Fire' lives up to all the expectations of the first two volumes. For those uninitiated, this story is the one popularised by the hit TV show: Game of Thrones.
Now, I would love to tell you that I had read this series ages ago, when Martin first wrote it. I would love to tell you that I was one of the chosen fantasy erudites whose dedication to the genre preceded the pop culture. I would love to call myself a fantasy-hipster if you will. But alas, I would be speaking untruths.
Game of Thrones, as a TV series, took the world by storm and presented a fresh look at an ancient war epic - luring us in with blood and sex, but hooking us with characters which reflected both the dark and the light within all of us. The storytelling is something to behold, steering away from the quintessential good v evil narrative that is constantly stuffed down our throats, but rather acknowledging the fact that there is no clear line. We are all blurred. What makes the difference is what we act on.
So, after watching some of the episodes - I was hooked. Well and truly hooked. It was an absolute no-brainer, really. As a self-proclaimed book-nerd I had to read the books. So here we are. Just finished the third one. That is 2904 pages, living in George Martin's world.
Not for the feint of heart.
The book is a masterpiece, of that there is no doubt. Martin's playful crafting of an enormously complex story is one that appeals to me. Too many books are easy to read - a mere skim through a hastily written fable. Martin on the other hand, builds an intricate web of geographies, characters and motives - which you can't help but live in. The detail with which he describes every scene is monumental in it's delivery and in some places it is too much. But that's what makes it brilliant. He is so clear about what he wants you to see in your head - and he delivers on that promise. What that excruciating detail provides is an opportunity to grab hold of your sub-conscious and ransom it against your will - as you unwittingly begin to admire various characters. That's when he delivers the punch that he's been known for. The unpredicatability. Martin has no regard for the triumph of the knight or the saving of the child or the defeat of evil - as almost all stories do. Rather, he rips and tears into the fabric of a 'well-written story' and is unpredictable in every single way. Thus drawing raw emotion from readers, and now - TV viewers.
I don't write about the actual plot here, that would be ill-advised. I would rob you of an incredible journey you should venture on at some point. Whether it's the TV series you choose, or if you dive into the deep end and tackle the books - I implore you to do so. Even if fantasy isn't your thing - humanity, loyalty, greed and power should be.