“After the mess of book three -- not a mess in terms of story just the completely unexpected turning the entire story on its head happenings -- I wasn't sure what to expect in this fourth of the series. I'll skip the synopsis for you guys since it's getting harder and harder to leave out spoilers and anyone watching the show is in for a wild ride next season! Wouldn't want to ruin that for you.
I will say that Cersei is still as manipulative as always, Jaime is finally starting to realize it, and King's Landing seems to be getting a little tired of the Lannisters. Arya is again traveling on her own and Sansa... well she seems to be catching on finally.
We do get some new characters and storylines as well. War is brewing in the Iron Islands and we visit Dorne and Braavos for the very first time. (Brienne's sections have been my favorite in this installment.)
And we quickly discover that about half of the characters are missing in this outing. Why? Well I skipped ahead to the author's note (I was checking out the appendices, not cheating!) and saw that this and book five were originally all one book. Given the massive length that would have been, the decision was made to split the story in half by character rather than over all tale. It works. I'm glad we get this handful of full stories rather than a big cut off in the middle.
I love that four books in and who knows how many thousands of pages (you can add them up if you want) Martin hasn't lost any momentum. None of these feels like filler. And this behemoth has only taken me about four days to complete -- so it moves pretty darn quick, if you ask me.
About halfway through this one, and fighting a pretty bad bout of insomnia, I suddenly found myself imagining what Martin's office must look like. I can't even fathom the amount of notes he has to be compiling to keep this story straight! The richness of this tale comes from the detail and effort put into bringing the world to life. There's a history, there's a mythology, there are multiple lineages, bedtime stories for kids, not to mention the creatures and the geography. The show producers have done an amazing job adapting this series but more than half of that detail is missing from the show. It's one of my favorite things in reading each book and one of the big reasons I suggest both reading and watching the series -- they stand on pretty equal footing as far as I'm concerned and represent their mediums magnificently.
Season three isn't due to hit screen until March and I've only got one more book to go before I run out. No word on when the next two installments will be released but I'm guessing we'll be in for a long wait (the author's note also said to expect book five the following year -- that was 2005 and book five hit shelves in 2011!). It'll be worth the wait but I hope my Swiss cheese brain doesn't forget all the details in the meantime.”