I had dedicated the first half of 2013 for reading the complete (as of now) A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R.Martin.
I read the first book in January and I just got completely immersed in this world that I couldn’t hold back on the later books of the series. I finished the first 3 books in January (see my reviews here and here).
After completing A Storm of Swords, I knew the next book A Feast for Crows would be a letdown and so it was in a way.
That’s not to say this is a bad book. It’s just that after all the excitement and epic events that occurred in the earlier books, a time had come for all the characters to assimilate what all has happened, make new plans, and basically change course as needed. Thus, A Feast for Crows is interesting from the standpoint of character development, but in terms of plot development, we really don’t get anything until the end, and that end is more of a setup for events that will take place in the next book.
This is also a book where new characters and new POVs are introduced, and so it takes a little time to settle down and get interested in these characters.
Cersei, the bad queen finally gets her own voice, and it’s a pretty interesting POV. We finally come to know why she hates and fears her brother Tyrion so much. Her story arc overall is the strongest point of this book. After all her fighting for power, we now see her struggling with trying to maintain it without any help from her family. Her rapid descent into paranoia is brilliantly captured, well written, and totally engrossing.
Another new POV character is Brienne of Tarth. She is the good girl, the exact opposite of Cersei. Unfortunately, her chapters are really long and boring, with very little happening until the end. She seems merely to be a mouthpiece to comment on the state of Westeros at this stage of the series, and to emphasize that the small folk are the ones paying a huge price in this game of thrones.
That said, the ending is pretty good, not epic, but good enough to make up for the plodding nature of the rest of the book.
And now we come to the last book in the series so far (boohoo), A Dance with Dragons. My, what do I say about this book? It’s just awesome. A couple of real twists within the story that I really enjoy, and an ending that really keeps me hanging.
In this book, Danaerys and Jon Snow finally take center stage and finally win my hearts. In the beginning of the series, I found both their story arcs very blah and too far away from the actual center stage (Kings Landing) to even matter. But in this book, they really come into their own. The scope of the series is also much larger here. Suddenly, we are no longer talking about just Westeros; the events in Essos and the events in the lands beyond the wall start to matter too.
To me this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great to see the scope of the series widened, but after reading so far, I still don’t see an ending in sight. There are too many variables making it difficult to understand where the story is leading. It’s becoming more and more like a Fantasy soap opera. It’s going to take a really hefty and well-planned next two books to be able to end this series with most of the story arcs resolved in a satisfactory way.
Both these books have had mixed reviews, and although I don’t agree with the negative opinions, I can understand why they exist. I am a new reader. So I have had the luxury of being able to read the first five books back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. No waiting and very convenient. Had I waited for five years after finishing A Storm of Swords for A Feast for Crows and then waited another five years for A Dance with Dragons I would not be very happy right now. The story really has not progressed much in 10 years. I mean, yes it has, but not at the pace that the first three books did.
So, anyway I have come now to the end of the saga and I am now like the rest of GRRM fans eagerly waiting for the next book in the series – The Winds of Winter. It’s currently being written, but knowing GRRM’s pace, there’s no guarantees when it will be out. Till then I wait, not very patiently 🙁