I’m not sure what George R. R. Martin was thinking during this, the fourth book in the series. Well, check that, he explains himself at the end. Basically, this thing is getting so huge and unruly that he had to break the beast up into separate books. Which means we haven’t heard a thing from some pivotal characters in 1000 pages.
Let me make sure I understand this: The whole other half of the story was happening in parallel, at the same time, and we’ll get that half in the next book. Do I have that right?
I found myself bored and confused for the whole time. Yet, yet, I’m still fired up about the next book and I’ll start it soon. This may not make sense, but I have too much invested to stop now. As mentioned during the book three post, there is some magic to a trilogy and we’re beyond that point, so we’re treading on thin ice. I don’t want this to be a repeat of the Dune series, which I eventually shut off in the middle of book five if I recall correctly.
Besides holding off on one half of the story, Martin also deviated from the first three books by loosening his method of naming each chapter after a defined set of main characters, resulting in new perspectives from characters we haven’t heard from before. This threw me a bit of a curve ball. At a certain point I just tuned out a lot of the detail. I’m kind of concerned that my confusion may be starting to ruin the story for me.
If I recall, I shut off Dune because it deviated too much in both style and content from the first book of the original trilogy, which I loved. Martin hasn’t deviated to that extent, not even close in my mind. But I’m much more patient now so maybe some day I’ll re-read the rest of the Dune series. I’m no stranger to falling in love today with books I didn’t like decades ago.
Martin has been especially artful in easing into the magical/supernatural side of things. I like my fantasy/sci-fi to be light on the magic and Martin has a near-perfect mix. In the end, the story is too awesome and the characters too interesting to deaden my interest and anticipation. I’m on to the next one soon.