NOTE: in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Israel, A Storm of Swords – the third instalment of the American epic-fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire series – was split into two books, and Blood and Gold is the second part. Apparently us Brits cannot cope with 1100 page long books…what a load of nonsense.
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold was published in the UK by Voyager Books. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros remain locked into the War of the Five Kings but, after so much battle, the respective forces of Houses Stark, Lannister and Baratheon have each suffered heavy losses. Overseas, Daenerys Targaryen grows her army as she continues to plot to take the Iron Throne but, for the Seven Kingdoms, the threat is much closer to home as Mance Rayder leads the wildling armies to the wall and battle with the Night’s Watch.
- George R.R. Martin boasts great imagination with his writing, cleverly using characters and locations to expand Westeros and bring further detail to its cultures, geography, history, families, and the political relations found therein.
- This book has the most intense narrative of yet, with two deadly weddings, a trial and a long-running battle changing the political face and relations of Westeros forever, all of which are penned with vivid details that make them quite easy for the reader to picture in their mind’s eye…in all of their shocking glory.
- George R.R. Martin once again pulls off the daring shift in focus between multiple parallel narratives, and even depicts some events from multiple perspectives, meaning that we easily remember what has already gone before.
- The narrative is told is told in third-person with multiple different viewpoint characters, and George R.R. Martin describes things as the viewpoint character perceives them, meaning that we have a good understanding of their views whilst being spectators ourselves. Furthermore, by seeing perspectives from all sides of the political divides, we get to understand all political positions very well.
- Excellent characterisation, with very good development of the viewpoint characters (some have been changed forever by events of the previous novels, others are changed forever by the events in this one), and the events of their arcs increase anticipation for what could and would happen to them in the next instalment.
- Having so much intensity and darkness with no humour makes result in this book being a much slower read than the previous ones.
- An unnecessary and slightly contrived epilogue manages to rob the Red Wedding of some of its emotional weight.
- George R.R. Martin’s use of expletives as slang terms is unnecessary and comes across as a tad immature.