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 (a.k.a. “The Walking Dead”)

****SPOILER ALERT***** Do not read further unless you want to spoil pretty much the entire book.

Oh. My. GAWD, y’all!

Mind = blown.

Up is down, black is white, heroes are villains, villains are heroes, dogs are sleeping with cats, winter is coming, and shit’s about to get crazy up in Westeros. And I am fully invested in going along for this ride til the bitter end. This book is crazy long, but it is crazy good. Some favorite characters don’t make it out of the book alive, but there’s plenty of death to go around for every side of the war.

Martin has a way of blurring the line between good and evil. Just when you think you have a character pegged, they do something that completely flies in the face of everything you believed about them. I’m looking at you, Jaime Lannister, and you, Ser Jorah. And even you, Littlefinger. I don’t know what to think about you at all. Varys, too.

After the big, bad-ass boat battle that left Stannis up shit creek without a paddle, it seems like King Joffery D-Bag Baratheon I has a pretty firm hold on the kingdom. Grandpappy Tywin hits the scene and puts Cersei and Tyrion in their respective places. Oh heck, let’s go all GRRM on this review/recap:

And again – don’t say I didn’t warn you. I basically spoil the entire book. Sorry. On the bright side, it will save you about 1200 pages of reading and several hours of your life.

TYRION

The Imp finds himself married to a lovely little redhead named Sansa Stark, much to both of their dismay. While the marriage remains unconsummated, because, well, he’s a drawf and she’s fricking ELEVEN years old, YUCK!!! (Sidebar: their non-romantic bedroom scenes are going to be REALLY squicky to watch on the HBO series.) He’s still having clandestine rendevous(es?) with Shae, the classiest hooker this side of Moat Cailin. He’s still scheming and trying to one-up Cersei, and enduring the taunts and insults of Joffrey.

That doesn’t go so well for either of them.

In one of the book’s most satisfying scenes, Joffrey is poisoned and dies at his wedding. Sucks to be him! Unfortunately, all signs point to our man TyTy as the poisoner. And his wifey, Sansa, picks that moment to hightail it out of King’s Landing with the jester dude, who ends up having worked for that little slimeball, Littlefinger. When is this dude going to get what’s coming to him? He may just be the series’ biggest villain.

*sideways glance* OR IS HE?

JAIME

A new voice for the third book! It’s Jaime Lannister, everyone, give the man a hand! Ouch. We’ve previously not been treated to the perspective of Jaime Lannister. Probably would have been pretty boring through A Storm of Swords, as he was locked away as a prisoner of Robb Stark, King in the North. However, he’s been set free out of the goodness of Catelyn Stark’s heart, in the hopes that she’ll get her daughters back. Good thought, Cat, but have you learned NOTHING in your dealings with the Lannisters? He’s being accompanied back to King’s Landing by the loveable oaf Brienne and some other guy, I can’t remember who, and it doesn’t matter because he’s dead.

So, naturally, their voyage back to King’s Landing doesn’t go smoothly. They’re waylaid by some ransom seekers who are so kind as  to relieve Jaime of his sword hand. That’s gonna leave a mark! But along with his hand, some of his pompousness must have leaked out. This former heartless ass ACTUALLY is a bit of a softie! Through the course of the book, Jaime and Brienne, the Maid of Tarth, banter back and forth with hatred for each other, and then it turns into a mutual respect and admiration. Jaime has several chances to do away with Brienne or let her die, and instead, he is noble and rescues her and brings her to King’s Landing, where she runs into Ser Loras, who is still a little bitter that his boy toy Renly is dead. We know it was the creepy shadow baby/smoke monster (not to be confused with the LOST Smoke Monster, although they could be cousins), but Loras isn’t privy to that knowledge. And he should be glad he didn’t have to see that smoke baby be born through Mellisandre’s cha-cha like we did.

Long story slightly shorter, Jaime lets Brienne go. She’s on a revenge mission. Let’s hope she succeeds.

ARYA

A.k.a. Arry, Weasel, etc.

Still trying to get home, and still not having much luck. She and pals Hot Pie and Gendry escape Harrenhall, but meet up with Lord Beric and his peeps. BTW – Lord Beric has died like a whole bunch of times and has been brought back to life, worse for the wear. His head’s bashed in, he’s got a nasty scar from being hanged, etc. Thanks to his mage friend who has the recipe for resurrection. They say they will take Arya home, but of course this is a bunch of malarkey and once again, Arya breaks free from this group and ends up captured by her archnemesis, The Hound. This is going to get interesting …

DAENERYS

Still kicking ass and taking names across the Narrow Sea. Ser Jorah, her loyal counselor, puts the moves on her and she rebuffs him but she also kind of liked it. I’m thinking she’s in need of some man lovin’ now that it’s been a while since Khal Drogo kicked it. The dragons are getting bigger and stronger, especially black dragon, Drogon. She deals with these shady dudes who try and rob her blind and builds up a pretty bitchin’ slave army.

In what I thought was the most heartbreaking revelation in the book, she discovered that Ser Jorah was two-timing her and sending word back to King Robert about her doings. So she kicks his ass out of her posse. She was sad about that, and so was I.

JON

Our favorite Man in Black is still north of the wall with the Night’s Watch crew, trying to flush out Mance Rayder, the king of the wildling army, and also figure out what’s out there – there’s wights, Others, mammoths, giants, who knows what else, all headed toward the Seven Kingdoms, and there’s only like 200 Nights Watch guys to try and stop all that. Piece of cake! Shit goes wrong (shocking) and he ends up having to kill one of his own, defect and join the wildlings, although he still intends to keep his Night’s Watch vows.

Being one of the wildlings has its perks. He gets to get naked with Ygritte, which is nice for Jon and will be nice for me when I get to see the actor who plays Jon on the HBO series without his ten layers of furs on.

Things don’t look so good for the bastard of Winterfell for a while, bu I have a feeling things are going to be ok for him.

SAMWELL

A.K.A. Sam the Slayer

This guy should be toast. He’s fat, out of shape, and trudged miles and miles on foot through the cold and snow. Samwell is one of the heroes of this book for many reasons: slaying the Other with the dragonglass dagger, earning him the moniker of Slayer (rock on dude!), rescuing Gilly and her newborn from the massacre at Craster’s Incest Palace, and telling some little white lies to appoint a new Commander of the Watch. Wink wink! Nicely played, Sam.

CATELYN

D’oh! Your son Robb was thinking with the wrong head when he up and married some lower born floozy instead of one of the Freys like he was supposed to. They try to make nicey nicey with the Freys and offer up Cat’s brother, Edmure, who seems like a real dud, to marry the Frey girl instead. Some of the Frey girls are real dogs, but they give him the hot one, and he’s grateful about that.

The Starks, however, who attend the wedding, are not as fortunate. Let’s just suffice to say they don’t call it the Red Wedding for nothin’. Nice knowing ya, Robb and Cat. So much for the King in the North.

So the Stark family isn’t faring too well in these books – let’s look a who’s still around:

Eddard

Catelyn

(Catelyn?)

Robb

Sansa

Arya (missing, presumed dead)

Bran (presumed dead)

Rickon (presumed dead)

Jon (still a bastard)

Not to mention their direwolves. Poor Robb’s direwolf. RIP. If you can. Might be kind of hard since your head is sewn onto Robb’s headless corpse. GROSS! REALLY, Frey family? You had to go there?

SANSA

There’s hope after all. She didn’t have to marry Joffrey! Hooray! The Tyrells seem nice and want her to marry their son! Hooray!

Tywin hurries and marries her off to Tyrion! Oh, snap. He’s respectful to her and doesn’t make her have awkward marital relations with him! Hooray!

Joffrey chokes on raven pie! Hooray!

She escapes the castle! Hooray! She’s being escorted by Littlefinger. Crap buckets.

He takes her to aunt Lysa at the Eyrie! Um, yay? And then he marries Lysa and the entire castle is treated to hearing their post-wedding activities! Gross.

It starts snowing and Sansa builds a replica of Winterfell in the snow in a very touching scene. *tears* Littlefinger comes and tries to help but then turns completely creepy and kisses Sansa. Ew! Lysa sees the whole thing and goes psycho on Sansa! Not good. Someone is going to die. Don’t let the Moon Door hit you in the ass on the way out.

EPILOGUE

She’s alive! She’s allliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive

Um, sort of.

WRAP UP

Wow. So much yet to come in this series, but I feel like a lot of my beloved characters’ stories are wrapping up. How much more can happen to the Starks before they are all wiped out? Jon is going to have his hands full for a while. The Lannisters are still in power, but their king is a child, so that’s probably not going to work out for them. Dany is still across the sea and seems like she’s staying for a while. Tyrion is on the lam. God only knows what pervy plans Littlefinger has for Sansa, and who the hell knows where Arya is going to turn up. Bran and Rickon are still trudging around somewhere out there, too.

Now that some of the real baddies are dead, who will emerge as the biggest villain? I still say Littlefinger, and of course Cersei is still a bitch.

After such action in this book, I am kind of wary of reading A Feast for Crows. I’m afraid it will be a letdown.  I thought I was going to take a break between books 2-3, but then the HBO series was moving way too fast and I wanted to stay ahead of the show. I’m not sure I’ll be able to refrain from reading book 4 now that I am so entrenched in this world. It’s funny – this isn’t the best writing in the world, but the world that Martin has created is so intense, so huge, and the characters who inhabit it are so memorable, that I feel like I’m there, that I know them, and I genuinely feel emotions – sadness, joy, anger – when they triumph or are defeated.

I have a feeling that I will be reading this beloved series more than once, when it’s all said and done. It’s just that damn good.

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