Let's get the important stuff out of the way. Writing? As good as the rest. Narrator? Read the other reviews. Should you get it? It's not like you won't. What's the problem then?
The problem is that nothing happens in this book, even (unbelievably) less than in the last one. I understand that Martin wanted to skip ahead in time and deal with everything in flashbacks, but he wrote this book instead, a book of not-flashback folderol. At best, it is an engaging slog. The first three books were full of movement, literally. People went places and killed people, often as part of giant armies. Then all of a sudden, everyone decides to sit around for a while, twiddling their thumbs, remembering times past and talking talking talking. There are a few armies in this book, and one of them does manage to move for a while before stopping to have a nice chat. Only Tyrion and Victarion actually bother to pick their feet up and go, and they're the best bits. Jaime and Davos get about two chapters of movement, just enough to remind us that they're awesome before vanishing off to get ready to do of something interesting in the next book, presumably. Some new characters appear out of nowhere and take the time to tell us their names. Daenerys sits around worrying over logistics, marriages, food, and the meaning of leadership. Jon sits around worrying over logistics, marriages, food, and the meaning of leadership. Asha and Ser Barristan do much the same, although mildly less insufferably. Only Theon's story truly kicks ass in this book, and boy does it. I actually started to get annoyed at each new Jon chapter. Each one was an hour of blather and petty bickering. By the end I was hoping he would die like his boring old dad. Arya turns up again, still with the mysterious dudes who don't bother to say anything that might hint of a plot. Cersei turns up again, to feel sorry for herself some more. All of this might be bearable if we could expect the next book any time soon. I don't.
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