After having a break from George R. R. Martin’s epic series for a few years, I was very excited to get sucked back into his three-dimensional world and this novel did not disappoint. I’m not really sure how to review this one as I think anyone who’s made it to the fifth book in this series knows what to expect from George R. R. Martin’s writing – it’s clever, engrossing and richly detailed, as usual. I’m going to do my best to avoid strong spoilers for those reading the books or watching the TV series – but there will definitely be spoilers for the other books in the series, and there may be mild spoilers for this book.
This book runs along roughly the same timeline as book four, but focuses on different characters. There’s some of my favourites here; Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon and Bran but I did miss King’s Landing a little and the presence of the Stark girls. There’s also a little more Dorne in this book, and a smattering of new points of view which keeps things a little fresh, and widens our view of the seven kingdoms even further.
The character I was most excited to get back to was Tyrion, following his escape from King’s Landing at the end of book three. When I read that he was heading towards Daenerys I was absolutely thrilled at the prospect of my two favourite characters teaming up. Then I calmed down a bit, because I remembered that whenever anyone makes a plan – particularly one involving a long journey – in these books, things can take a long, long time to come to fruition. But it’s okay that Tyrion’s journey takes a long time, because he meets some pretty interesting people along the way.
Then there’s Daenerys herself. Tyrion isn’t the only one travelling towards her, hoping to make her an ally. It seems like everyone wants a piece of the sexy silver queen in this book, except the majority of residents in Mereen, where she’s currently situated. They mainly want to get rid of her. Her storyline is taking an interesting curve, her name is becoming more prolific across the entire seven kingdoms, but she herself is struggling to maintain power over her people and her dragons. With so many people after it’s going to be difficult for her to know who to trust, and I think how she chooses her friends could make or break her as the story develops.
When it comes to Bran, I feel a little bit short changed.There’s only two or three chapters with him in this whole book, and I’m not sure how I feel about where his storyline is going. While I love the magical element of the children in the woods, I can’t help feel that Bran is wasting his incredible powers as a warg and a greenseer, taking himself so far away from the war which I was hoping he would be play a big part in. His storyline felt a little hopeless at times but, there’s strong evidence of another powerful warg in the mix, so I’m holding out hope on these two teaming up.
There’s also quite a few chapters from Jon, Davos and Reek whose stories are all developing in different ways. I’m loving how Jon is coping with life as the Lord Commander, and the Red Priestess is very intriguing, although I still find Stannis pretty dull. Reek’s development is interesting too, as Greyjoy has made a full transition from power-hungry fighter to a poor, pathetic creature who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for.
I do have to mention the length of this novel. Book five of the A Song Of Fire And Ice series is split in the UK, so I’ve only read the first half. That was still a lengthy book which took me a while to get through, although this may be because it did take me a little while to get truly stuck back into the world. But seriously – this book is over 620 pages long, not including the lengthy appendices. That means the complete fifth book is an epic tome of over 1000 pages – I would struggle to stick with one story for that long. George R. R. Martin, I love your writing but it is a tad longwinded. I’m going to be taking another break before reading the next installment.