First...I must agree with nearly everyone here... Roy KILLED this book for me.. I honestly was floored by the change in voices.. EVERYONE sounds like badly cast Irishmen.. Even the women! This is the most disappointing narration because we were really given a treat with books 1-3. Roy NAILED the characters...from the pronounication of names, to voices...they all sounded very elegant and fit the atmosphere of the story.. But this... is just appalling.. My favorite characters ..Arya and Sam both sound the same, like old leprechauns from cereal commercials. It was hard to listen to..I really hope Audible cues him him for the next book... .Anyway with that off my chest...onto the real part of the review.
I'll have to admit, this book started off as dull as drying paint. I normally don't need (or even want) action, and in your face dramatics all the time. After the events of Book III, it was perfectly acceptable to have Book IV be a big more laid back. That being said, I just could not follow or get into the events in the first few chapters. The thing is, Book III ends making you crave more to find out what happens, and the first three chapters of Book IV aren't even dealing with characters that we've met. Martin's very liberal use of names, and history works against him here I believe. I simply did not care for the new characters introduced. Don't get me wrong I like the Greyjoys, but Martin's writing is at fault here. He dumps a ton of characters and names on you and expects you to get attached to them or even remember them.
To this effect, the last chapter of the Book IV references a character you meet in the prologue. I had no idea about this until I read the book's chapter summaries. I may be in a worse off position than my fellow readers who have the book in front of them. It's easier for you to go back and re-read a passage if you need to. Also your book as the appendix of characters in the back.. My audio books does not have this.
My other complaint is that lack of direction. Actually let me amend that, I'm sure Martin has a direction, but it's such a slow, ponderous journey, the average reader losses interest. I love Arya, my favorite character, but in this book, i feel as though her misadventures are pretty pointless. Brienne as well. Like her as a character, but she accomplishes nothing. This book was unfortunately for me, seen more as a filler. Things happen, but i don't feel any character's have developed.( maybe the relationship of Jamie and Cersai perhaps). But even characters like Asha and the Greyjoy's are introduced...then forgotten. It takes the fun out of reading the book, when I don't know which characters I need to really focus on.
I'm also not a fan of how we're now supposed to feel empathetic for Jamie..I like dynamic characters and all...but giving him a soft side and adding that 'human element' just feels off.
Also, the book's theme of scheming behind closed doors is wearing thin for me...
What I did enjoy though was the interaction between characters. Martin's ability for dialogue is great. Most of the characters have a distinct way of talking, and it's fun to read.
I enjoyed the book to a point. I suggest you read the wiki for the chapter summaries though. Really helped me get the concept of what Martin was babbling about at times.
Roy Dotrice breaths life into the characters, making the story all the more immersive. Tho roughly enjoyed it!
The story is really good...I just get crazy though when things are not wrapped up at the end of a book. I'm getting ready to start the 5th book.....
The story line advanced a bit faster than in the previous book
Some plot lines are starting to make more sense
I really enjoy Roy Dotrice's performance and narrative....except in this reading he changed the pronunciation of several of the main characters names and also used different voices for them than he had in the previous books. Many of the characters sounded like wizened old men instead of the characters they were. Very irritating and distracting.
What the hell happened with the narrator? Did he go on a sabbatical and forget he worked on the first books?
Note to narrators: Great idea if you want to change your voice to distinguish between characters; nice touch, but unnecessary in most cases. However, the poorest performance I can think of, determines that the audience will miss chunks of the book because they are wondering why half the characters have drastically changed accents. VERY annoying.
Somehow the fourth book has become regarded as the black sheep of the Game of Thrones family. I suppose I can understand why: No dragons, no Tyrion, no wall in the north.
People missed those things and I get it. But to say what Martin did focus on was just meandering or lesser than what he's done with the rest of the books is quite frankly false. It's an excellent and engaging story that will keep you hooked the whole way through. If you like the series this is just as strong as the rest of the books that surround it.