Friday, 31 August 2012

A Feast for Crows, book 4, by George RR Martin

And the answer to the question on my last blog about the this series is, yes he can.  Keep the pace, and story and action going, that is.  This is the first part of the next section in the ice and fire series, and as Martin explains in the last page of this book, it focuses on the story in the south of the lands, in and around Kings Landing: the two remaining Lannisters at court, and their friends and foes, who turn out to be not all they appear.  It's the genuine surprises in these books which keep the pages turning.

As we begin this part, Tyrion is on the run from Cersei, and Arya is still trying to find her way home.  Sansa remains 'missing' and Brienne mounts an increasingly desperate search for her in an effort to keep her promise to deliver Sansa to her mother, with some help from a surprising ally.

Becoming one of the most intriguing characters, alongside Tyrion, is his brother Jaime.  Jaime has lost his fighting hand by a blow from a sword and becomes a far better man, regretting some of his past actions and beginning to mistrust his sister, Cersei.  And about time, we think. Cersei in her turn, becomes deliciously more vindictive and conniving in ner role as Queen regent, scheming to take the realm for herself and her young son, whom she is grooming for kingship.  We haven't had so much fun since JR Ewing.

Closing in on the Lannister den of iniquity are their enemies, both openly and in the shadows.  In the next part of the story, we are promised news of Tyrion, dragons, sorceresses, and Jon Snow.  I can't wait - just as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold, part 2 of 2, by George RR Martin

Part 2 of the second part in this series ramps up the action from part 1.  Part 1 felt like it was setting the scene, doing the groundwork, leading us around a path. Part 2 has us worrying about our favourite characters, as well as some not so favourites.  We've learned by now that Martin isn't afraid to dispense with characters who have outlasted their usefulness, and we anticipate their demise everywhere as the world they live in becomes more at the mercy of magic and treachery.  

The children of Winterfell have grown up: Jon Snow feels the burden of his bastard status and his vows to the Night Watch, and Robb Stark is weighed down by his new crown.  The Stark sisters find themselves alone in the world, each thinking the other dead.  The siblings bear theirs fates as well as they can in the face of duplicitous plots to ensure alliances, personal political status, and royal heritage in war torn lands.

As for the Lannisters, the gods answer a prayer from an enemy of Joffrey, and all is not lost for the Lannister brothers, one finding kindness, and the other the beginnings of humanity.  The depraved Cersei remains, well, depraved, and hungrier than ever to retain her grip on power.

Part 2 returns to the form of the very first instalment in the series: so far so good.  Can the author keep it going through the next two books?