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.
An odd book. Martin is moving his pieces around for the final rush to whatever conclusion he has in mind. Here we see some of those moves. I found the writing a bit better in this one than the first three, I think, but I found the story didn't move much. There is so much going on that only the major events register, and there weren't many major events here. Still, I'll read the next one, if only to try and figure out where he is taking this story.
Well, George did it again! He managed to create a fantasy world that is totally believeable. I have been hooked on "Song of Fire and Ice..." until this book.
Now, I'm not saying this book wasn't good or a pleasure to read, it really was, I was just missing some of my favorite characters who did not appear at all in this book or appeared exceptionally briefly. In the back of the book Martin explains that in the next book that is soon to come "A Dance with Dragons" he explains what is going on with the characters that were missing from this book.
All that aside, I still had some complaints. This volume was chock full of politics and schemes that never really made it to full bloom, so by the time the book after "Dance with Dragons" comes out and we get back to the characters that were featured in THIS book I will have forgotten what the schemes were to start with. That, and Martin introduced so many new characters that my head started to spin after awhile.
Complaints aside, it was a good book that kept me reading and eagarly awaiting the next enstalment. Definitely worth the read!