I finished it!
Good lord, this one took me a while. The middle of a George R.R. Martin book is not the place to hit a reading slump. It’s funny, I went through a period where I read long fantasy novels almost to the exclusion of everything else, but these days anything over 400 pages gives me pause. I guess I just don’t have the attention span anymore.
There was too much material in the last book, A Feast for Crows, so half of the characters’ stories were moved into this book. They both begin at the same time, but this book carries on a bit beyond where the fourth ended.
While I hope that’s the last of the time traveling, it wasn’t as jarring as I thought it might be. I still officially dislike the idea, but he actually pulls it off quite well. The saving grace, I think, is that he’s created such an enormous world that it fairly easily provides two books worth of plot that can stay relatively separate from each other, which is quite the feat when you think about it.
I won’t get into a synopsis of the plot. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. There were a couple of characters I was always happy to see come up in the chapter rotation (Jon, Arya, and Reek were a few of my favourites), but I found there were a few viewpoint characters that I was a bit bored with – everything to do with Victarion Greyjoy, for example. The interesting thing with Martin’s writing, though, is that it’s very possible that Victarion will become a favourite character in the next book. He has a way of flipping things on you like that.
I’m glad to be done with the book series for now, but I’m really in the mood to start watching the television series again when it returns at the end of the month.