Number of pages: 608
Part Two of A Storm of Swords is my favourite instalment in the Song of Ice and Fire series so far. This is the book that has managed to get me hooked and having gotten to understand the series and characters, I found this one the easiest in terms of being able to follow the action.
I noticed that the second part of the third book mostly consisted of scenes that got dramatized in the show's third and fourth seasons, with a few moments from the fifth. I also noticed how much the show's writers changed the order of events, with episodes from the end of the fourth season coming shortly after incidents that were shown as part of the third season.
I also noticed that Bran Stark hardly appeared in this book, and there was no Theon Greyjoy. I'm guessing that their storylines from the third and fourth seasons are largely from the later books in the series, and were included earlier so that the actors continued to get work on the show! I also noticed how the fourth season took Danaerys Targaraen's storyline a lot further into the books, and this one ends with her having conquered another kingdom, set herself up as Queen and freed all the slaves. So, I've not yet storyline involving her dragons that featured in the show's fourth season; the dragons themselves hardly feature. I think again, it's maybe not surprising, possibly because she is a popular character, so it's good for the show to give her a lot of screen time.
This book has a lot of enjoyable plot threads, with my favourites revolving around Tyrion Lannister and his trial after becoming a murder suspect, and also Jon Snow, who is stationed in the night's watch, separate from Ygritte (it is fairly obvious the two of them still love each other). It doesn't exactly end happily, but it was written very well.
The one scene I was looking forward to was the notorious "Red Wedding", with its huge levels of violence broadcast on the TV show. It comes a quarter of the way into the book, and reading it, I realised that the television had embellished nothing - it followed the book exactly.
The next bit contains major spoilers for the book, possibly even for the TV series for anyone who's not been reading the books.
[Massive spoilers for Episode 3x09: The Rains of Castermere and maybe later in the series]
The red wedding takes place as an attempt by Robb Stark to appease the house of Frey after he reneges on a deal to marry Walder Frey's daughter and marries another woman. Of course, it turns out it is too late and Walder Frey is in allegiance with Jaime Lannister. The wedding erupts into a massacre, where Robb and his pregnant wife are both killed. In both the book and the TV show, the scene ends with Catelyn Stark having her throat slit.
So, surely that means Catelyn is now dead, right? Turns out, I was wrong!
The book's epilogue is a scene that to my knowledge has not yet aired on the show. As I write this, only two episodes of the fifth season have officially aired in the UK (although I'm told that all ten are available online somewhere).
I had to go back and re-read the last few pages again, I was so surprised when Catelyn showed up alive, albeit horribly scarred and mute. It's a scene I'd like to see on the TV show; it probably depends on whether Michelle Fairley (who played Catelyn) would be willing/available.
Overall, a great book, and the ending really did have me wanting more.
Next book: Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray)