There has not been a superior work of fiction written in the last half century. In my opinion, Martin's most brilliantly woven volume as read by a truly talented orator and storyteller.
If you started reading the books after watching the HBO series, as I did, you should know that this single book contains 99 percent of the plot elements from the 3rd and 4th seasons of the show. So whatever you do, don't start reading book 4 after finishing season 3, and have some of the biggest surprises ruined during the opening chapter's recap - like I did LOL.
The TV series makes different choices on character development than the book in many instances, and frankly, I feel they are largely changes for the better. The relationship with Arya and the hound is certainly better in the TV series... Though looking back, the infamous red wedding on TV was set up so that you cared about those involved WAY more, the set up all so they could twist the knife deeper - and in the book, they kinda had it coming, and you can see the reasoning behind it as a "business decision" from a political and house respect point of view. The show makes it look more personal.
That said, this book is exceptionally lengthy, and with what happens at the VERY end, I can see why it wasn't split up into two. Now that I've caught up with the 4 seasons in the series with the first three books, I'm very glad i invested the time in the books before just jumping in and continuing the series.
As for the narrator, Roy Dotrice it's weird for me to envision his version of the voices with characters I already know from the show. That said, he's a pro - his pacing is terrific during the action scenes, he slows down for emphasis, and his characters are diverse and identifiable - if I zone out for a second, I know who's talking just by the way he is performing the voice. It's really kind of amazing considering how many characters there are. He does an excellent job - I just would prefer someone else, maybe a younger, less harsh sounding voice - the guy who did Dune would be perfect for this.
Overall, this book to me was a bridge to get caught up - and I can't wit to see what the experience will be like from here forward, when I genuinely don't know what will happen.
This seems like a long audio book but time flys when you lose yourself in such a great tale. With the Leo of the performer I was taken on a great adventure through Westros and the Free Kingdoms all while at work. If you have watched the show then pick up this audio book it will change the way you think about this story, if you haven't get this audio book just because it rocks.
I watched the first season and decided to read the books. I couldn't believe that the series could continue to get better and better. Also, the narrator of the audio book is great with all of his voices. I'm not sure how he keeps them all in his head.