What can I say about this epic - that hasn't already been said? It's brutal - it's magnificently epic in its scope - and its back on track. The last couple of books, I admit I was wondering which way it would go - strung out plotlines and the usual epic dithering, or falling back to a tighter framework.
Neither apparently, although, according to George, the next book does see many of our far-flung heroes become a little less far-flung. (At least those that are still alive) For death and dishonour in the game of thrones, is merely part of the game. And nobody is safe or exempt.
The characters are compelling, although everyone has their favourites. For instance I hated Daenerys, in Game of Thrones, still do - fortunately now she has the redeeming feature of dragons. And boy, that is one huge redeeming feature, so of course she is a favourite for many. The Imp - Tyrion, is also many people's favourite - one moment he is insufferable, and the next awesome. What a fantastic character. Oozing with charm and - is insufferability a word? - well you get the idea anyway. I'm not even going to mention my two favourites - because I'm pretty sure one of them is dead. And if you haven't read the book you can't understand how angry that makes me. I'm furious. Spitting tacks, but to continue, because I don't want to give the game away none of the characters are the ciphers that you expect in less well written fantasy, from sellswords, to nobility they run the spectrum from evil to benign - but never weak. Although the child king is, and surely, surely he can't hold the throne for long... Even "ordinary" men and women who live in a this dangerous and unforgiving world are breathed upon with life, as the plot gallops along, running over, past and through anything and anyone that gets in its way.
If you love epic fantasy and you haven't yet read Game of Thrones, the only acceptable excuse is that you are too young. (And even if you're ninety, that could be a good excuse - because some of the content is not extremely AO. A couple of instances in "A Dance with Dragons" were real scrub-your-brain-out-afterwards stuff. -- You'll have some idea if you've been watching the HBO series, Game of Thrones. But if you think the tv series is good with its catchphrase "Winter is Coming" - this is why its good - the writing - and its so much more than you could ever just watch.)
but no. I'm not reading the next book. Never. No. not ever. I'm too upset. At least... not until it comes out...unless, perhaps I can get hold of a reading copy slightly earlier?
Because winter is finally here. And it's hit with a vengeance.
For readers 18 or older