This is the longest volume of A Song of Ice and Fire so far, at almost 300 pages longer than A Clash of Kings, and there are naturally a lot of significant plot points here. Most notably, there are multiple deaths of some very major characters, although the shock value has diminished given the internet reaction to the depiction in the HBO series. Once again, the houses of Westeros as largely concerned with the war of succession and their own petty squabbles to deal with the supernatural threat beyond the wall. A large contingent of wildlings seeks to take the Wall in the north and pass through, fleeing the mysterious Others.
Two characters are given perspective chapters here, Sam Tarly of the Night’s Watch and Jaime Lannister. Jaime’s chapters provide great character development for him, and he actually comes off as somewhat sympathetic despite some of his horrible deeds. The other major characters continue where they left off at the end of Clash, the biggest new storyline being Daenerys’s journey to Slaver’s Bay in Essos.
A Storm of Swords is largely more of the same; if you enjoyed the first two this is a must read. I found it a stronger installment than the last volume, with lots of twists and good plot advancement. It’s best not to expect anything good to come here; it may not be a happy story, but A Song of Ice and Fire is certainly an entertaining, if disturbing, one.