Zipped Through the Complete Song of Ice and Fire Series


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 🙁

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  • I loved this series.. got really hooked on to it..I too had started reading all the parts at one stretch and i thought dance of dragons to be the last of it.. I was so happy when i knew it was not!!.. Now waiting for the next part..not so patiently.. 🙂

    • @Sony: Thanks for visiting and commenting. I am obsessed with that series. Have been re-reading whole sections again, and each time I feel like I uncovered some new angle or secret. That man is genius!! Now, please God help him hurry up and finish the next book already 🙂

      • I started with a storm of swords again..hoping the last part would be out by the time i finish the other parts.. Yea! I hope he doesn’t take too long now..

        • @Sony: It’s supposed to be sometime in 2014. Sob, sob

  • Argh, I still haven’t read A Dance of Dragons. I think I am going to just wait until the series has all been written, and then catch myself up. At least then I will be certain of knowing how it all turns out. And there’s also the HBO show to catch up on.

    • @Jenny: Seriously, better to wait. The book’s not bad but it ends on a complete cliffhanger note. Absolutely hate that I probably need to wait for the next 2-3 years to find out the fate of the characters

  • Fantasy soap opera! 🙂 agree with u. These high fantasy series with more than 3 books do lose track and focus. Too many characters n way too many open plot lines. I don’t think readers ever get a complete closure. That’s why I am treading very slowly with Malazan series which I have just begun. Dreading when I ll start feeling the same way about that series

  • wow! you are very fast.. I finished the first book and now moved to some other book.. yet to start second book.

  • Waiting for Mr. Martin has been my problem. I started reading these back when the second in the series came out. But the time A Dance with Dragons came out I couldn’t remember what had happened or who anyone was, so I didn’t read it. I may wait until he actually finishes the series first (just in case he never does). His writing is very good, though, and his characters are fully 3-dimensional. A lot of action actually takes place off-stage in A Feast for Crows and throughout his books his scenes often feel more like a play than something for novel (I’m not complaining, I just think it’s interesting). I wonder if that harkens back to his days working in television.

    • @Mojofiction: I do think the TV influence is pretty strong in his writing. He has good judgement with cliff-hangers and parts of his book read soap-operaish sometimes.

      I do think now that the HBO TV series is in full swing, he may be under pressure to get his books out faster. Don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

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