Taking off right before the ending of ‘A Clash of Kings,’ ‘A Storm of Swords’ by George R. R. Martin takes the reader into an intense, fast-paced world where characters dance along the edges of death as each reckless decision draws them closer to its embrace. From Tyrion to Jon, Arya, and Bran, there is a brooding tone that describes how delicately close their lives are to death.
In ‘A Storm of Swords,’ war was a multi-faceted tool for control and liberation. However, no matter how great its cause was, there were always casualties, and the terror, pain, and destruction it brought were humongous.
The entire story of ‘A Storm of Swords’ happens during a time of war. Though Stannis gets defeated, Robb and the Lannisters continue fighting. Throughout the story, the North and South remain at war as they struggle for the Iron Throne.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys lands in the city of Astaphor, where she sees how terrible the tradition of slavery is. After getting the Unsullied, a slave army in its entirety, she decides to wage war against the masters of the city, and this causes the fall of Astaphor. She sieges the cities of Yunkai and Meeren and attacks them.
Though Daenerys’s war in the cities of Essos causes death and bloodshed, it leads to the freedom of thousands of people brutalized by slavers.
Across the wall, Jon becomes one of the wildlings and begins gathering information on Mance Rayder’s army. Though he gets familiar with some wildlings like Ygritte and Styr, he eventually leaves and helps the Night’s Watch win the battle against the wildlings.
Besides wars, politics was a crucial part of ‘A Storm of Swords.’ Throughout Westeros, the game of politics decides the fate of the war. As alliances crumble and others get formed, politics seep into the governments ruling over the North and South.
In King’s Landing, Tywin’s political strategies change the relationship between the Tyrells and the Lannisters. He decides to ally with his family and Highgarden by marrying Margaery to Joffrey. Realizing he needed a way to secure the North, Tywin marries Tyrion to Sansa.
In the North, Roose Bolton sides with Tywin instead of Robb. He realizes that the war between the North and South is drawing to an end, and with Highgarden on Lannister’s side and Robb killing Karstark, there is no way the North will win; this makes him shift sides.
On the wall, the political atmosphere tenses up as Lord Mormont dies. Janos Slynt rises for the position of commander. However, Sam plays politics by persuading others to side with Jon, making him the new commander of the Night’s Watch.
Betrayal played a crucial role in Robb’s death. Though many feel Walder betrayed Robb, it was Robb who first betrayed the trust in the people he needed the most.
First, he kills Karstark, a man who gave everything to the alliance, including his children. Though Karstark killed Robb’s guards, he did so out of the sadness of losing his children to a prisoner who got freed by Catelyn. With Robb killing him and betraying Walder’s trust by marrying someone else, he lost the people he needed the most.
Robb’s betrayal leads to Walder and Roose Bolton’s betrayal. They both realize that the war will not end in their favor, and after Robb shows he is not as strong as he appeared, they decide to betray him.
After Jon arrives at the Watch, he helps the brothers fight an invasion. After the battle, he sees that Ygritte is injured and realizes he is a betrayer. He betrayed both the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings.
Hatred and Quest for Revenge
As Arya journeys toward her mother and brother, she gets hit by an overwhelming realization they were dead, killed by Walder Frey and his men. Her hatred immensely grew and fueled her quest for revenge.
At the red wedding, when Catelyn sees how her son’s men are getting killed, she decides to make an exchange for one of Walder’s grandsons. He acts indifferent, and Catelyn takes a knife to the boy’s throat.
In King’s Landing, Joffrey dies from poisoning, and his mother accuses Tyrion. At his trial, Tyrion gets shocked to see Shae, the woman he tried to protect from everyone, stand against him. She testifies and lies, humiliating him.
Tyrion hated Shae when he saw her in bed with his father. He hated his father when he realized Tywin lied about his first wife. Tyrion’s immense hatred causes him to kill Tywin and Shae.
Hatred governed the actions of many characters in ‘A Storm of Swords.’ It made people betray and kill each other.
In a time of war, love offers hope. When Jon stays with the wildlings, he falls in love with Ygritte. Soon, he gets torn between performing his duty as a brother of the Night’s Watch or staying with the woman he so loved. In the end, he leaves, and later, he gets heartbroken to see Ygritte dying.
Love also made some characters make crazy decisions. Among them was Robb. Love made him destroy the alliances he had made with people. Him marrying Jeyne, he sealed his fate.
Analysis of Key Moments in A Storm of Swords
- Chett plans to kill lord Mormont and Sam but fails.
- Jaime, Brienne, and Cleos escape from Ser Robin, who tries to take them back to Riverrun.
- Davos lands on a tiny isolated island and almost dies before getting rescued and taken back to Dragonstone.
- Sansa meets Olenna Tyrell and Margaery and tells them how cruel Joffrey is.
- Daenerys travels to Astaphor and secures the Unsullied, an army of Eunuchs. She sacks the city and frees everyone imprisoned under slavery.
- Bran gains the full ability to walk in Summer’s body.
- On her way to Riverrun, Arya gets lost and meets three men who tell her they are the King’s men. She gets taken to an inn. There she meets Harwin, who reveals she is Arya Stark of Winterfell.
- Robb marries Jeyne Westerling, and to atone for his betrayal against Walder Frey, Edmure gets tasked to marry Roslin Frey.
- Jon starts gathering information on Mance Rayder’s army. He also falls in love with Ygritte.
- Arya learns that Harwin no longer works for her brother but for Lord Beric.
- At the Fist of the First Men, Sam and his brothers get attacked by wights. Almost all of them die except 44 of them. He also discovers that dragonglass kills wights.
- Tywin tells Tyrion that he will marry Sansa.
- Jaime’s hand gets cut off by Vargo Hoat.
- After getting the Unsullied, Daenerys goes to Yunkai, where she meets Daario Naharis. She sacks the city before traveling to Meeren.
- Davos gets released and appointed the new Hand of the King.
- Jon, along with some wildlings, climbs the wall. They get to a village where he refuses to kill a man. A fight breaks out, and Jon escapes back to Castle Black.
- Arya meets Lord Beric and Sandor Clegane, who is to get judged for his crimes. She accuses him of killing Mycah. Sandor and Lord Beric fight, but Sandor wins and kills Beric. He surprisingly reappears. She then runs away but gets captured by Sandor, who decides to Ransom her to her mother.
- Jaime meets Roose Bolton, who sends him back to King’s Landing. Jaime returns to save Brienne.
- Robb and Catelyn attend Edmure’s wedding, but it turns bloody, and Robb gets killed. Catelyn dies too.
- Sam and the rest of the brothers reach Craster’s keep. A fight ensues, and Lord Mormont gets killed. Sam escapes with Craster’s daughter, Gilly, and they get helped by a man called Coldhands. They also meet Bran and his friends along the way before returning to Castle Black.
- Arya and Sandor reach Riverrun but learn that her brother went to a wedding. Sandor takes Arya to the wedding but realizes that Robb’s men were getting killed. He hits Arya after she tries to run into the castle of Walder Frey.
- In King’s Landing, Joffrey dies from poisoning, and Tyrion gets accused. Shae betrays him, and his champion, Oberyn, dies at the hands of Gregor. Before he gets killed, Jaime frees him, and he travels to his father’s castle and kills him and Shae.
- Sansa escapes from King’s Landing at Joffrey’s wedding. She realizes Petyr was responsible, and she gets taken to the Vale.
- Daenerys arrives at Meeren to conquer it. She gets attacked, but Arstan saves her, and Jorah realizes it is Barristan Selmy. He swears loyalty to her, and they take over the city. Jorah gets sent away after Daenerys realizes he spied for the small council.
- Arya and Sandor arrive at an inn where Arya meets Ticker and Polliver. A fight breaks out, and Arya gets her sword back. Sandor gets injured, and Arya leaves him and takes a ship to Braavos.
- In Castle Black, Jon gets arrested for betraying the Night’s Watch. He gets asked to kill Mance Rayder, but before he does, Stannis attacks Mance’s army as he receives a letter from the Watch through Davos. He asks Jon to worship Rhllor and become Jon stark as he plans to legitimize him. However, Jon refuses and becomes the lord commander.
- In the Vale, Petyr kisses Sansa, and she learns the truth about Lysa, who killed her husband. Lysa gets killed by Petyr, who pushes her to her death.
Style, Tone, and Figurative Language of A Storm of Swords
‘A Storm of Swords’ takes an agitated, scary, and sad tone throughout its plotline. As the story takes place during a bloody war, most of it shows loss, betrayal, death, and hate. As for the figurative language, it uses metaphors, personification, hyperbole, and simile to add more detail to actions, events, emotions, and historical lore.
The rich use of an excellent thematic structure, punchy tones, and super-structured figurative language made ‘A Storm of Swords’ exceptionally interesting to read.
Analysis of Symbols in A Storm of Swords
In ‘A Storm of Swords,’ the direwolves represent strength. They represent the connection between humans and nature. Arya walks in Nymera’s body, Bran sees through the eyes of Summer, and Jon sees through the eyes of Ghost; this shows their connection.
After Daenerys got her dragons, she became bolder and more decisive. With her dragons, she was able to conquer three cities. The dragons represent power and elegance.
House Sigils were crucial to the War of the Five Kings as they showed who was a friend or foe. The sigils became an identifier for support.
In ‘A Clash of Kings,’ Arya was given a coin by Jaqen and told to show it to any Braavosi man. When she decided to travel to Braavos, it became an identifier for her. As it belonged to the faceless men, the coin symbolizes death as its holders were messengers of death.
Wights were creatures of the dead who served the cold gods. They represent the terrors of winter and symbolize evil. When the brothers of the Night’s Watch swore to protect the realm, they did so to fight against beings like Wights.
What is the difference between a Wight and an Other?
Wights and Others are fundamentally two different creatures. A Wight is a reanimated dead human, while an Other is an Ice God or Demon created by the Children of the Forest. Wights are brought to life by Others and used as an army.
What happens to Chett in A Storm of Swords?
After failing at an attempt to kill Lord Mormont and Samwell, Chett gets killed at the Fist of the First Men and later becomes a Wight. He attacks Sam and Gilly, but a flock of ravens comes to Sam’s rescue.
How many direwolves remain after A Storm of Swords?
When Robb gets killed, his wolf, Grey Wind, gets killed. With Grey Wind and Lady gone, the only direwolves left are Summer, Nymera, Shaggydog, and Ghost.
What are the main themes of A Storm of Swords?
The primary themes in ‘A Storm of Swords’ are war, pain, betrayal, and family. The story dives deep into the lives of its characters and shows how the war in Westeros changes them. The war also leads to pain, suffering, and betrayal.
Why did Lysa kill her husband, Jon Arryn, for Petyr?
Lysa’s past and bitterness made her kill her husband. She loved Petyr and decided she could no longer be with Jon as the intense suffering from miscarriages made her miserable.