Author: George R.R. Martin
Type: Fiction, novel
Part of series: A Song of Ice and Fire (#5)
I read it: June 2013
This book felt about as long as winter itself. I took a break around the halfway point when I was getting a bit burnt out, but season three of the television show helped revive my interest. There are some consistently interesting parts, such as all of the Tyrion storyline (of course), and pretty much all of the Jon and Dany stuff as well. But that’s to be expected after they sat out the previous book. I also enjoyed the Reek chapters (was this the book he was introduced in or was it four? I can’t even remember now). It actually took me a little while to realize this was Theon, which was neat.
Although I dug the renaming of that particular character, I am really averse to the general descriptive names used for several of the characters (and their chapter titles) throughout books four and five: “The Lost Lord,” “The Prince of Winterfell,” “The Blind Girl,” “The Kingbreaker.” I understand that we are supposed to follow their shifting identities, but it makes it so hard to keep everyone straight. More than that, it highlights that some characters are barely more than chess pieces, in that the role takes precedence over the individual. Victarion? Quentyn? Griff? Who the hell is Griff? Even Barristan Selmy chapters are a bit odd, because while I love reading about Daenarys, the story really screeches to a halt when those chapters are from the POV of anyone but Daenarys. The world she is in has always been a blur of indistinguishable characters, and you get to feeling like one of the out-of-towners who noted, “Hizdahr, Humzum, Hagnah, what does it matter? I call them all Harzoo.” Because of this, I really only care about Dany, her dragons, and her intersection with Tyrion.
And alas: Arya. What happened to Arya in the previous book was one of the best cliffhangers and character obstacles in the series so far, but here the obstacle is magically removed from her path. The character is still interesting, but maybe I just do not want to see her become invincible. Anyway, it is what it is, and if only some space given to periphery characters could be chopped to make room for more involved character development (like the excellent Cersei chapters), some of these books would be less white fuzz and more crisp flame as the final volumes come into focus.