Publishers Weekly said the third volume was "one of the more rewarding examples of gigantism in contemporary fantasy. [...] The complexity of characters such as Daenerys, Arya and the Kingslayer will keep readers turning even the vast number of pages contained in this volume, for the author, like Tolkien or Jordan, makes us care about their fates. Those two fantasy greats are also evoked by Martin's ability to convey such sensual experiences as the heat of wildfire, the chill of ice, the smell of the sea and the sheer gargantuan indigestibility of the medieval banquet at its most excessive. Perhaps this saga doesn't go as far beyond the previous bounds of high fantasy as some claim, but for most readers it certainly goes far enough to command their attention." Salon.com's Andrew Leonard considered A Storm of Swords "the last truly satisfying installment in the series" in 2011.
Martin was nominated for the 2001 Hugo Award for Best Novel, but lost to J. K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Afterwards he made this comment about his fans: "Eat your heart out, Rowling. Maybe you have billions of dollars and my Hugo, but you don't have readers like these."