• Janelis Medina

A Storm of Swords Review - Don't Go to Any Red Weddings

by George R. R. Martin

Published 2000

*Spoilers Warning*

A continuation of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Storm of Swords is the third book in the famous series by George. R. R. Martin. In the middle of a war among several who call themselves king, I know that it is time to lose some characters I hold dear to my heart. With Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark, and Joffrey Lannister fighting amongst themselves, Daenerys Targaryen continues on with the goal of being Queen in Westeros, even though she is still stuck on the other side of the world.

Book Summary:

As A Storm of Swords begin, Stannis Baratheon licks his wounds after the defeat at the Battle of Blackwater. Catelyn Stark releases Jaime Lannister and asks Brienne of Tarth to return him back to King’s Landing in the hopes that Sansa and Arya Stark are returned to her, which immediately enrages the Northmen and lands her as Robb Stark’s prisoner. Jaime and Brienne are caught by the Brave Companions and brought to Harrenhal, where Jaime’s hand gets cut off before he can convince them to send him to King’s Landing in return for gold because “A Lannister always pays their debt”. Later when Robb returns, he shares that he married Jeyne Westerling, breaking his truce with the Freys. After the death of Hoster Tully, Edmure Tully becomes the Lord of Riverrun and strikes a deal with Walder Frey to marry one of his granddaughter’s as a new truce. Walder Frey also invites Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark to the wedding to apologize in person for breaking their agreement. Bran, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera continue their journey up North to find the three-eyed raven.

Daenerys Targaryen makes a stop at Slaver’s Bay in order to find soldiers to take back the Iron Throne. She is horrified at the treatment of slaves and decides to make a trade of one dragon for 8,000 Unsullied soldiers. She then has the dragon kill the slaver and takes over the city of Yunkai and continues on to Meereen. She decides to rule in Meereen as practice for when she rules in Westeros and learns that Ser Jorah Mormont had betrayed her by being an informer for Robert Baratheon and being responsible for the previous assassination attempts and decides to banish him. She also learns that one of her new followers is Ser Barristan Selmy, who used to be Lord Commander of the King’s Guard. In King’s Landing, Joffrey drops his betrothal to Sansa Stark in favor of Margaery Tyrell after the new alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells. Sansa hopes that this means she can return to Winterfell, but the Lannisters instead marry her off to Tyrion Lannister in the hopes of securing the North and continuing to hold her prisoner. Now known as The Red Wedding, Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark along with their northmen are brutally slaughtered by Walder Frey’s men. Just as The Hound was about to return Arya Stark to them, he finds this slaughter and continues around the country with Arya to keep her safe.

Jon Snow stays with the wildlings and Mance Ryder as part of his plan to observe them and report what he finds when he returns to Castle Black. He falls in love with Ygritte and starts a sexual relationship with her, thus breaking his sacred vows of the Night’s Watch. He is torn because he wants to return to Castle Black, and knows Ygritte would never want to be anything else but a wildling. He abandons her and flees back to Castle Black and warns them of the white walkers as well as the expected wildling attack. During the wildling attack, he finds Ygritte killed by an arrow and just as the Night’s Watch thinks they will fall, Stannis Baratheon shows up with his army and helps them. He makes a promise to Jon Snow that if he were to bend the knee, he will restore Winterfell back to him as he is the only known Stark descendant alive besides Sansa. While Jon Snow is tempted, he is also voted to be Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

Later, Joffrey and Margaery are finally wed in festivities with over 1,000 guests in attendance to watch as Joffrey’s wine is poisoned and he dies horrifically. Tyrion is assumed to be the murderer with Sansa as an accomplice after she completely disappears. Tyrion is imprisoned and held at trial, where he decides to hold a trial by combat where Oberyn Martell is defeated by Gregor Clegane. Before Tyrion could be sentenced to death, Jaime Lannister and Lord Varys helps him escape his prison where he kills his father Tywin Lannister and his lover Shae. Petyr Baelish is returning to the Vale with Sansa Stark to marry her aunt, Lysa Tully in order to become Lord of the Vale. She must disguise herself as his bastard daughter so no one knows she is truly a Stark. Petry weds Lysa, and is caught kissing Sansa shortly after. Lysa threatens to kill Sansa Stark and confesses that Petyr convinced her to kill Jon Arryn and blame the Lannisters. Petyr then pushes her through the moon door, thus killing her. In the ending, it is revealed that Catelyn Stark is brought back from the dead (as this almost zombie like creature) and is leading The Brotherhood without Banners.

Final Rating & Thoughts: 10/10

Finishing one of George R. R. Martin’s books can often leave you spinning because there is just so much that happens! I knew he was probably going to kill off one or two of my favorite characters in this book, but he was just feeling extra generous and killing everyone he possibly could! The Red Wedding was honestly so unexpected even though they had been dropping hints for a long time that Walder Frey was someone you don’t fuck around with because he takes the smallest of slights to heart. I must be a Stark because I honestly thought they would respect the rules of hospitality and respect this wedding and not use it as a farce for their schemes. This was one of the most brutal slaughter scenes I had ever read in a book and I don’t think any other book could top that.

I also was BEYOND shocked when I learned about Joffrey’s own murder at the Purple Wedding. I thought after the bloodshed at the Twins that people would be a little more paranoid about weddings, but apparently not. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, to find the Olenna Tyrell and Petyr Baelish were behind the murder was such a “OH SHIT!” moment. They were so clever to put the poison in Sansa’s hairnet and then bust it out during the wedding. No one would have ever suspected her of anything so they knew she was the best choice. It was just such a shame that Tyrion was blamed in the process, even though he got his comeuppance in the end when he escaped and killed Tywin Lannister on his way out.

My favorite scene in this book was definitely when Daenerys Targaryen outwitted the slaver at Slaver’s Bay. First, pretending like she didn’t know High Valyrian, she was able to hear all the horrible things he was saying about her. Then, even her own council doubted her decision to trade a dragon for the unsullied. I actually didn’t know where she was going with that but when she turned around, told the Unsullied to attack and then had Drogon burn the slaver, I thought it was so bad ass. I could only imagine what everyone who was watching was thinking. I love that she is establishing a reputation as a conqueror, especially since I feel like from book to book she’s becoming a stronger leader.

Overall, I love this book and all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire Series because I feel like it always feels like reading several books within one book that’s connected. Each character is beautifully written and can be the most hated character in one book and a sympathetic character in the next, like Jaime Lannister. This is a must read for fans of fantasy or fans of drama or even fans of history. George R. R. Martin writes about the world of Game of Thrones as if these were real people and real events that happened in history versus just characters in a fiction book and I think that gives you an experience where you are just fully immersed when you’re reading. I love this book and I love rereading this book because I feel like you learn something new every single time you read this book.

For those interested in A Song of Ice and Fire, this is available for purchase on Amazon in Paperback or via Kindle.

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