A Storm of Swords (Song of Ice & Fire #3): Part 2: Blood and Gold
George R. R. Martin
Harper Voyager 2011 (2000)
The Starks are scattered. Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive, trapped in marriage with Joffrey's deformed uncle, the embittered dwarf Tyrion. Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon king, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.
If Part 1: Steel and Snow was lacking somewhat, this more than made up for it. It's difficult to know where to start with a book so full of twists and turns, but so far in the series this has been my favourite. I felt like some things finally started to come together and make sense - things that have been hinted at previously, or obscured, came out into the open. After Steel and Snow, I was almost reluctant to pick up the next volume so soon, knowing how dense they are, but I'm extremely glad I did.
It's also difficult to talk about without giving much away, but there are deaths aplenty, as is to be expected if you've made it this far. I actually like this about the books, because it's nice to read an author who has the guts to kill of his characters, although having said that I do have two solid favourites that I'd be devastated to see disappear at this point!
The story loosely follows the various "kings" as they all battle for supremacy, but where S&S was all battle and optimism (of sorts), Blood & Gold is almost the aftermath, the realisation that things aren't going particularly well for any camp. As well as this, there's also the ongoing saga of Jon, beyond the wall, and the dwindling Night's Watch, as well as Dany and her army across the sea. There's a lot going on, but I found it easier to follow than I have done in the past, and it was nice to see some movement "beyond" for some of the characters, whether physically or emotionally. I am now desperate to get my hands on #4, A Feast for Crows, particularly given the devilishly intriguing epilogue...
Overall rating: 9/10
Book source: Borrowed from my brother.