‘The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud, and winter approaches like an angry beast. Beyond the Northern borders, wildlings leave their villages to gather in the ice and stone wasteland of the Frostfangs. From there, the renegade Brother Mance Rayder will lead them South towards the Wall.
Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown in the Kingdom of the North, but his defences are ranged against attack from the South, the land of House Stark’s enemies the Lannisters. His sisters are trapped there, dead or likely yet to die, at the whim of the Lannister boy-king Joffrey or his depraved mother Cersei, regent of the Iron Throne.
And Daenerys Stormborn will return to the land of her birth to avenge the murder of her father, the last Dragon King on the Iron Throne.’
Sooo… I didn’t actually plan to do this until the week before A Game of Thrones returned to our screens but no man can be the master of their fate and I received both volumes of A Storm of Swords as a Christmas present. Of course, it would have been rude if I didn’t read them immediately. On that note, Merry Christmas! Welcome to the New Year, Ser.
To recap briefly, Steel and Snow picks up (more or less) where book two, A Clash of Kings, or season two of the HBO show left off. Or does it? The chronology of the book is interesting, as it begins in what you might call the ‘past’, that is, it fills in events not mentioned at the end of the last book. This could be considered as an unusual move as no-one really wants to cover old ground, but if it was a risk, it definitely paid off. The Ice and Fire universe is one that is heavily invested in storytelling. As an epic narrative, it relies on the confluence of people and events that are all causally related to form the plot. So, for the plot to remain coherent, Martin fills in the gaps that you may not have even noticed at the close of the last book (or season, WATEVAH).
To the plot, then. I won’t give anything away because my boyfriend will leave me if I spoil anything but it is incredibly well-developed. Character development is organic, interesting and sympathetic. A common lament of Martin’s readers is that he writes his characters in a sympathetic, likeable way and then kills them. Kills all of our favourite characters, even. This may or may not be true (I haven’t read enough to confirm or deny) but I will say that Martin seems to delight in raising certain expectations and then ‘subverting’ them in a way that, upon reflection, was always going to happen. I touched upon this in my first Ice and Fire review, when I said that problems don’t find instant resolution (here’s that video link again, I have come to appreciate this as a song in its own right, forgive me) and this is increasingly the case as Ice and Fire progresses. However, Steel and Snow is just the close prelude to the events of Blood and Gold– can it be that we have resolution is the second volume?
FIND OUT NEXT WEEK!