Wow. That was all I could think after finishing this book. It feels like the entire chess board was shaken, with every piece landing on story gold. Many beats finally paid off after being set up and teased in the previous volume. Fans of the show and the books know the one event Storm was known for, but there was so much more. SPOILERS! – Clarification: Season 3 of the show didn’t finish the last third of this book. If you’re only watching the show and don’t want to be spoiled, stop.
The POV narrators changed slightly once again, removing Theon and leaving an air of mystery as to his fate after burning down Winterfell. Replacing him were two exciting additions, Samwell Tarly and Jaime Lannister. The former was more of a window, letting the readers see what was happening in the north beyond the wall and within the Night’s Watch as Jon had defected to join the wildlings. Jamie on the other hand had by far the most character development out of everyone one here, or possibly even the series. Until this point, his inner thoughts and motives were kept a mystery. We’d only seen him as a child killing monster with little regard for those around him. Within a few chapters that changed, along with the man himself.
While the Red Wedding was by far the high point, Dany, Sansa, Tyrion, and Jon each had amazing moments that equaled in impressiveness. Dany stole her army while beginning to smash the slavers in the east. Tyrion lost all the power he had as the Hand, and was even more hideous with part of his nose missing. Jon survived his time with the wildlings, learned their plan, and successfully defended Castle Black from their attack before being promoted to head of the Night’s Watch. Sansa was whisked away from King’s Landing by Littlefinger where she watched him murder Lysa Arryn, Cat’s sister.
The Red Wedding was an explosion that no one saw coming. Honestly, I have very little to say about it because it was so perfectly delivered. I’ve always heard reviewers talk about the difficulty in critiquing works that are done well. With this, I completely understand it. This duplicitous action broke the story troupes that came before. Rob was winning, he was the good guy, he’d done no wrong, of course he was going to win. Sure, he’d have his hiccups along the way, but he’d emerge victorious. That is what years of stereotypical story deliveries have lead us to believe. Martin played with our expectations, and our emotions.
Out of the three fan favorites (Jon, Tyrion, Dany), I liked Tyrion’s progression the best. He continually became a victim of circumstance, being drug down further and further. By the end, he was broken. His sharp wit and intellect are the only tools he had, even those had left him. Dany was due for a big win (every protagonist can’t lose at once) and Jon was setup to be the commander for a while. Tyrion though, suffered the same fate as Rob in a way, losing everything. The only difference was he was left alive to see it.
Again, the weakest aspect of the book was Davos. The man continued to be little more than a window, showing us what Stannis and the Red Woman were doing. His narrative was better this time around, though it’s hard to say given what he witnessed and the other happenings throughout the book. It’s possible the surrounding narrations improved his by proxy. I understand his purpose though I still roll my eyes when I saw his chapter was next.
Despite what comes after, this is one of my favorite books, and I don’t just mean of the series. The payoffs here and the promise of what’s to come inspires me to be a better writer, though with a better follow up. Anyone who asks if they should read the books (fans of the TV show or newbies), I tell them emphatically yes. Though I strongly urge to stop after that.
What was your favorite moment aside from the Red Wedding? Who was better this time, Jon, Dany, or Tyrion? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts at The Two-Headed Nerd!
Seriously, stop reading after this.