My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A few weeks ago I made a silver lining out of a flat rear tire on my bike to read this one on my commute to and from work, either walking through Danehy Park or taking the Red Line. Since my commute is normally so quick, I don’t have a block of time to read on public transit or hypothetically listen to podcasts or audiobooks in a car. That means I mostly end up reading before bed.
Overall, I think this book was a bit of an improvement in the writing style, but I didnt like the directions in which he took some of the plots. It did make me realize I have no idea where he’s going with all of this.
Below the cut are giant spoilers of the who dies variety!
This book could have just as easily been titled “Sansa Stark Can’t Catch A Break”. Between most of her family being dead (or presumed so) and the marriage to Tyrion, plus witnessing several murders in the climax, she is not having a good fall, as it were. I knew Martin had a penchant for killing off people and putting damsels in distress, but the last third or so of this book ended some characters and storylines that I had assumed would persist until the presumably epic finale. I should have known that both Robb and Tywin would bite it since they were never narrating characters.
There was definitely some poetic justice in Tyrion getting to kill Tywin on the commode. I keep hoping he’ll align himself with the “good” guys, because I like his character, but I think he’s just too much of a bastard. Probably the best I can hope for is him helping the Night’s Watch against The Others.
I know the level of magic available is increasing as dragons return to the world, but the whole side story with Dondarrion being repeatedly (but clumsily) resurrected, and then the crazy epilogue with Catelyn back as well, just feels weird. I guess I’ll find out how these necromantic dabblings pan out in A Feast For Crows. I suppose in part I’m surprised to see this kind of magic being used by generally good-aligned characters, but that’s the influence of Tolkien in determining my expectations for what powers people in a fantasy world are willing to use.
I think this is the first time I’ve been interested in Daenerys’ plot, because of her role as a Moses. The concept of the Unsullied is also interesting from a military history standpoint, and will have ramifications as she takes them into battle. I am sad about Mormont’s betrayal; I came to like the character more after seeing the first few episodes of Season 1 and the way he’s portrayed. I do hope she gets to Westeros to join the Game at some point…
The absolute highlight of this book was Jon Snow’s plot, especially his spying among the wildlings and his relationship with Ygritte. I won’t deny looking forward to a schadenfreudian glee when people who watch the show but haven’t read the books fall in love with her next season only to have her killed at Castle Black. You know nothing, fans! I don’t think it impacted me much in text, although it did make me a little sad to see Jon sad. His becoming Lord Commander was one of the few things I accurately predicted, although Martin telegraphed it much more obviously than other plot twists. Although he hasn’t revealed it yet, it also seems very obvious who Benjen Stark has become. Maybe I’m better at deciphering the more standard fantasy battles in the North than the Machiavellian machinations in King’s Landing?