A Storm of Swords [Book Review]

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I finally finished the third instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire series – A Storm of Swords. It is a huge book; it has a total of 1,216 pages (US Paperback). It is so long that in UK it was split in half and in France it was cut into four separate editions.

The opening of this book slightly overlaps with the ending of the previous book. The seven kingdoms are still in the grip of war. The players for the Iron Throne have reduced. The war is mainly between House Lannister, Stannis Baratheon and Robb Stark. Daenerys Targaryen is still in the free cities, gathering strength to take over the Iron throne. Meanwhile at the wall and beyond, things are not going so well. Black Castle is not as strong as it once was, Lord Commander along with most of the able brothers have gone to investigate the disappearance of Benjen Stark and the increasing threat from wildings. Jon Snow is now a double agent. We also get to witness the cold undead “Others”.

In this book Jaime Lannister becomes a POV character, which would mean he is no longer a bad character. His parts are interesting, we get to know Jaime Lannister and understand why he does the things that he does. I think Devos was the most uninteresting bit even though he gave a view into Stannis Baratheon . Catelyn’s moping was also a bit excessive; it could have been trimmed down. There is hardly any progress in Bran’s case, I was expecting something major happening to him. Tyrion still continues to be the most interesting character. The Wall and Jon Snow is the second most interesting bit.

I am trying to keep this review spoiler free, George R.R. Martin is undoubtedly a fantastic storyteller. Most of the characters, both heroes and villains, straddle the line between good and evil, and come out as grey. I hope we still are hoping for a House Stark win, but chances seem slim. Martin surely likes to kill of characters, first there was Eddard Stark, there is some unexpected, surprising killings in this book. The Red Wedding especially is haunting. Even though this book is lengthy, the pace is good most of the time and things remain interesting. There are some major events in this book and some surprises towards the ending.

I am not going to pick up the next book – A Feast for Crows any time soon because I there are lots of other book in my reading list.

On related news, one of the major reasons for starting A Song of Ice and Fire series was the HBO show The Game of Thrones. The second season of Game of Thrones is going to air on April 1 and it is based on the second book – A Clash of Kings.  Checkout the awesome trailer below -

The Final Problem – The Reichenbach Fall

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The Final Problem is a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring Sherlock Holmes. The story is set in 1891 and we are introduced to Sherlock Holmes’s greatest opponent, the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty. Moriarty realizes that his devious plots won’t be successful unless Sherlock Holmes is stopped. Permanently. I won’t go into the plot (much) because that would ruin the book for you. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle later ranked “The Final Problem” fourth on his personal list of the twelve best Holmes stories. He wrote The Final Problem intending it to be exactly what its name says. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle meant to stop writing about his famous detective after this short story; he felt the Sherlock Holmes stories were distracting him from more serious literary efforts and that “killing” Holmes off was the only way of getting his career back on track. Conan Doyle sought to sweeten the pill by letting Holmes go in a blaze of glory, having rid the world of a criminal so powerful and dangerous that any further task would be trivial in comparison.

 

But because of enormous fan pressure he had to bring back Holmes in ‘The Adventure of the Empty House”.

 

I watched the third episode of Sherlock – The Reichenbach Fall, fourth time in the last few days. The episode is that good. The second season of Sherlock was even better than season one. The third episode particularly was exceptionally well done. The title, The Reichenbach Falls, is in reference the waterfall into which Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty supposedly plunged to their deaths during a fierce tussle in ‘The Final Problem’. This episode was the modernization of ‘The Final Problem’. In The Final Problem, Professor Moriarty’s mission was to kill Sherlock Holmes. In The Reichenbach Fall, Moriarty was not happy enough with just killing Sherlock Holmes, he defames him too. This makes the plot very interesting and it makes sense as only a criminal mastermind like Moriarty come up with something like this.

The reimagined Moriarty is not a professor, he is a psychopath. In Sherlock, Moriarty wants to kill homes not because he was obstructing his criminal web but just for the sake of beat his foe. Andrew Scott’s acting is commendable by the way.

The Final Problem also was crafted nicely. The insanity of Moriarty was pronounced when he shot himself. Instead of the waterfall, Sherlock jumps from the roof to save his friends.

It has been announced that Season 3 of Sherlock will be aired in 2013. It is going to be a long wait.