The much-hyped and much-awaited 4th volume in 'A Song of Ice and Fire'...
While I have been loving these books, and was excited to find out 'what happens next' to the characters, I don't think this volume is going to win any awards... one could argue that it's not really even a novel - it doesn't really have any coherent structure - or even actual plot.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it immensely...
but, it continues in the manner of the previous books, devoting each chapter to a different character. This book doesn't contain all of the characters (half were 'saved' for the next volume) but even so, there are so many characters that they seem to rarely repeat. You read an episode in one person's life.. then on to the next person, and then the next... and there's so many that what's happening doesn't progress that much...
Basically, and these aren't really spoilers, 'cause you could have guessed most of it from the last books: Cersei is being crazy and making an egomaniacal mess of trying to rule as regent for Tommen.
Brienne, in accordance with her vow, is tromping around looking for Sansa, with no luck, enduring tribulations.
Sansa is living under an assumed identity in a vaguely creepy situation (with Littlefinger).
Arya has found shelter (?) in a weird religious death cult.
Jaime is pissed off about losing his hand, but overall isn't as nasty as he used to be.
And a bunch of other characters are doing their various things, and not really (for the most part) interacting with one another.
There is hardly any mention at all of what initially seemed like it would be the main drama in this story - the supernatural threats from beyond the Wall.
The writing and characterization is great. Martin is a truly great writer.
But this book is just not as good as the first three in the series, as literature.
Also, the first three books do a good job of balancing the grittiness, misery, perversion, plotting and violence of the drama with moments of love, joy and honor - all that good stuff. This volume has few, if any, moments of brightness to contrast with the sordid reality that the characters are all living in. This is, undoubtedly, intentional, but makes the book less 'fun' than previous installments.
While this wasn't the best book out of the series, Martin's worst is still far superior to any other author's best (in my opinion of course). I read all four books immediately after each other because i was late finding out about this series of books. This particular book wasn't the page turner that the others were but it was still interesting nonetheless. I was disappointed though that some of the previous characters were left out of this book. Making us wait until the next book is torturous. There were some surprises in this book even still though. It's obvious that he's setting us up for an ending of some sort. Though with Martin you can't ever really be sure what that ending might be.
It's still a must read for Martin fans.
Well, not as good as the first three, but still had some excellent scenes.
Uhhh, could someone please tell me why a publisher would let a writer give them a book that's supposed to go to print that is clearly not finished??? I don't even care about the poor explanation he gives in the last chapter... if you want to be a writer, deal with it and don't make excuses. I think he just had no clue what to do with certain characters so he puttered about a bunch of boring side stuff so he could "direct" instead of write and "get one more season in" with this book. This series reads like a TV show more and more so I've had to learn to expect characters that had a lot of potential for development just end in a rather poor way. There's more attention to detail given to things that possibly show the author has some inner issues to deal with, or something, who knows, but this book has been the most disappointing in the series. Now I'm off the read the next one and then wait until about 2015 or later for the next one (if his pace at publicizing the last two were any indication). Hopefully by then, the TV series will be done and I can just play catch up so I don't feel compelled to reread the series like I did with Harry Potter lol.
This entire series Is fantastic. Right up there with THE TRILOGY OF THE RING in scope and plot. Better than the HBO adaptation although I love that too. Can't wait for books 6 & 7. After the whole series is out I plan to read one character's chapters throughout the books. Just hope someone makes it to the end! I've hooked lots of friends and family.