And with the turn of a page some of the characters I’d grown most fond of were murdered. I’m still speechless and I honestly didn’t think he could (or would) do it again, but what was I thinking? And then, 200 pages later HE DOES IT AGAIN! What?!? I mean resetting your cast of characters is old hat, but wow. I’m not sure how many more times this can occur before I lose patience. I almost want to make a list of all the characters that were alive at the beginning of a book and then cross them off as they die to try and see an overall picture.
This is a 4,161 page series (Kindle version as of now with two, maybe three, to come) set in an at war pre-technology era of royalty, knights, magic and dragons, of course characters will die, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I will say the final chapter of the novel was somewhat more rewarding than what happened 400 or so pages before, but the epilogue was somewhat disturbing! Where is Martin taking the series!?!?
Now on to my review/summary/observation (I still don’t know what to call these posts). THERE ARE SPOILERS to this book and the previous books in this post. Although they might not be specific you may be able to deduce things if you’ve read or plan on reading the series. At over 1200 pages, this book is DEFINITELY part of the Tea & Books Reading Challenge (and brings the two books that are just shy of 700 pages into the challenge) and also part of the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
If there is one quote that sums up this series so far, it is this:
“It all goes back and back, Tyrion thought, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance on in our steads.” (969)
At the beginning of this novel there were five kings (and an exiled queen). At the end of this novel there are two kings (and the same exiled queen) and the potential for however many more kings to arise, only one king of which remained from the beginning of the novel. I was heart-broken at the murders of the Wolf King and his mother, glad (if somewhat shocked) at the death of the Golden King, and left somewhat puzzled by the death of the Sea King.
As for the rest of the novel – WHOA! I loved learning more about the Night’s Watch and the land beyond the wall’s wildlings. It added a broader perspective to the world and an older perspective. It is also probably the most intriguing part of the world so far, a 700 foot tall wall made of blocks of ice. Just imagining it is difficult and Martin does a great job describing the sheer awe and wonderment seeing it for the first time causes. I was also glad to get back to Jon’s perspective and to learn more about Sam the Slayer 😀
I’m also glad to see Sansa (maybe) growing a backbone, Jaime (maybe) growing a conscience, the Lannisters (maybe) falling apart, and Theon (maybe) receiving justice. As you can tell there are still a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of room to grow. The things I’m most intrigued about in the next novel are what in the world Arya is planning on doing (SHE LEFT Westeros?!), what the Dornish will bring to the series, and what in the hell Melisandre and the god Rho’llor are planning.
I’m finally starting to understand what Rob over at Loose Logic mentioned about Martin’s ability to restrain himself in some instances, specifically magic. I mean there are hints and legends in the first book, stirrings and brief appearances in the second book, and more than enough to make you believe in book three. But what is left unsaid is that much more powerful. What will everyone be able to do and what will happen on its own in the future.
I planned on reading a book outside of the series, but having finished the novel with such a whoa reaction I immediately had to move into A Feast for Crows. And I am slightly concerned, I would say the crows have feasted throughout the series so to call this novel A Feast for Crows really spins my mind into overload.
Recommendation: IF you can get over the fact that this is a 1200+ page book – you should definitely read it. There are definitely times, where everyone has to think ‘good grief – get on with it’, but the novel brings back the action and adventure of A Game of Thrones while keeping the courtly politics, subterfuge and intrigue of A Clash of Kings.
Opening Line: “The day was grey and bitter cold, and the dogs would not take the scent.”
Closing Line: “Merrett Frey opened his mouth to plead, but the noose choked off his words. His feet left the ground, the rope cutting deep into the soft flesh beneath his chin. Up into the air he jerked, kicking and twisting, up and up and up.” (Whited out.)