A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

Ah, what a book. I think A Storm of Swords might well be my second favourite of the series, behind only A Game of Thrones – and a lot of that is down to Jaime Lannister.

After watching the first couple of episodes of the TV show, I learned of a friend-of-a-friend whose favourite characters were those dastardly Lannisters. ‘Why???’, was my semi-outraged question. Surely anyone with eyes could see that they were fully-fledged, mustache-twirling, white-cat-stroking villains. How could anyone’s life have gone so wrong that they came to love a Lannister?

In retrospect, I was a very sweet summer child.

Jaime’s POV chapters are a joy, and his growing relationship with Brienne makes my heart sing. From their first day on the run, when Jaime considers smashing her in the face with an oar only to pull her back aboard their boat instead, all the way through captivity, the bath house, the bear pit, and especially to the time they cease calling each other ‘wench’ and ‘Kingslayer’ – ahhhhh. I love every word.

More than ever, this reading of A Storm of Swords has cemented for me that my favourite element of the series is the politics. I’m far from a Tyrion fan, but (as mentioned in my Clash of Kings review) I did eagerly anticipate his chapters in order to get back to the centre of events in Kings Landing. The sections up North held my attention less well – particularly Bran’s journey and Jon and Sam’s time north of the Wall. Given that this is my third read-through and I already know how those plots play out, it’s becoming too black and white to consistently hold my attention – unlike the perpetual grey melting pot of motive that is Kings Landing. (Tellingly, my favourite ‘Northern’ section was at the Wall towards the end, when Sam begins scheming to have Jon named the new Lord Commander).

The Red Wedding remained awful as ever (and somehow, this listen has convinced me that poor confused Robb does warg into Grey Wind at the point of death, only to be slain again in wolf form moments later.) Also on the subject of popular fan theories, sadly I’ve come to think that the prophecy of Sansa slaying a giant in a castle of snow really does just refer to her fight with Sweet Robin at the Eyrie.

It’s towards the end of A Storm of Swords that Stannis becomes the One True King of My Heart, particularly with the lines: “Few of the birds Maester Aemon had sent off had returned as of yet. One found Stannis, though. One found Dragonstone, and a king who still cared.” (Cue violin strings as my heart EXPLODES WITH LOVE.) One day I will write a post all about the One True King, but today is not yet that day.

And as for Dany, well, she disappears for large chunks of the story, and at times I forgot she existed all together. Oops. I do love her developing relationship with Ser Barristan though.

Roy Dotrice’s narration has finally reached the point where I barely notice all his Pee-tires and Bry-eens anymore, although Oberon was just unnecessary. The thing is, although all the accents he chooses for the characters are almost uniformly terrible, at least for the most part they remain consistent, which is no small feat with a cast this size. I have grown a begrudging affection for the audio at this point.

I’m a tiny bit hesitant about moving onto A Feast For Crows. On my last read through, I read the Boiled Leather fan edit, which combines Feast and A Dance of Dragons in roughly chronological order, and made for a much less piecemeal read. As I’m listening to Audible audio this time through, I can’t really do the same thing without either a lot of effort or a dash of piracy (and much as I would love to be Asha Greyjoy, I fear I’m sadly just not cool enough). On the plus side, though – CERSEI CHAPTERS ❤❤❤

[Read from 9 January-19 February 2017]

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