The third book of George R. R. Martins's A Song of Ice and Fire series is entitled A Storm of Swords. This story picks up where the second book in the series A Clash of Kings left off. We find now five different lords have anointed themselves king of Westeros, each fully invested in playing the game of thrones. Martin has a masterful way of setting the scenes and developing his myriad characters and plot points. His approach is to write each chapter from the perspective of one of the characters. He is also one of the few authors who shows no reluctance in regularly killing off any of main players in his narrative. Of course, this is an important touch of realism in a story of war and betrayal and intringue. Lords, knights, sellswords, whores, ladies, common folk, all fully ensconsed in settings and situations that we can see and smell and taste.
Yet even as the kings plot and scheme and battle to claim power, lands, and kingdom, the vast expanses beyond the boundaries of the kingdom of Westeros are ripe with drama. The last remaining heir to the old dynasty of Westeros has awakened three dragons, the last of their type in the world. Slowly and methodically she is building her army. An army whose sole purpose is to ravage the warlords of Westeros and to scourge the land of all resistance to her claim to the crown. Beyond the northern boundary of the kingdom, tens of thousands of wildlings are amassing to sweep over Westeros and plunder its riches. Perhaps even more worrisome are the gathering numbers of wights and undead that are greatly increasing in numbers in the north. Very little is known of these hordes as they slaughter all in their path, initiating their victims into their ranks. They are coming, but given the campaigns distracting everyone in the land, nobody seems to be aware of the peril. Now onto the fourth book in this wonderful series, A Feast for Crows.