I was reading this book over my period of SWOTVAC and exams, and gosh it was a good escape from study. I’m just constantly impressed by this series. I basically have no complaints about it. Except of course the fact that this is half a book! Martin points this out at the end, that it was either half of the story or follow half the characters, and he chose the latter. Which I think is a very interesting decision. I’m quite used to a story being cut into chunks known as books, but I don’t recall of a book following one set of characters and then another (though I guess you could argue the first two books of Heroes of Olympus do that, actually yes you could argue that – but not quite the same scale).
But that was quite frustrating, because we have no idea what Jon and Stannis were doing at the wall, what Bran was doing over the wall (like seriously what’s going on there), what Tyrion is doing, what happened to the Onion Knight (apart from he could be dead), how Daenerys is doing trying to rule that town, and whether or not damn Theon is even alive (we heard he was dead, but I don’t believe that). And then what’s worse, is that if we follow them in the next book, then we have to wait until Martin finishes the next book to find out what happens next with all that has happened in this one, and there were some very shocking things going on. But the fact that I am annoyed just goes to show how good a series it is because, it means I am desperate (like everyone else) to find out what is happening next. Let’s just get on and talk about this book. Many a spoiler below.
Martin introduces even more characters and thread points in this book. Seriously there are a good 60 pages of characters at the back! But these new stories just add so much more intrigue. Like the fact that Doran Martell was trying to get her daughter to marry Viserys! Did not expect to see that coming. Of course that plan was quashed when Viserys was killed, but still. Martell shows himself to be more cunning (everyone is basically cunning and has ulterior motives in this series) that expected, and not just the old gouty man he seems to be. But gosh isn’t it lovely to have some more wonderful female characters, Martin really writes those quite well.
It was so exciting to finally see Arry get to Braavos, what an interesting city. And where she ends up is even more interesting, it is a place people come to die. I was quite excited to see Arry’s journey progress, and I’m not disappointed, I really want to see more from her. And then she ends up seeing Samwell. Who Jon sent off with Aemon and Gilly (and not her son, but Mance’s son, which was clever) to Oldtown, but they went all the way to Braavos cause apparently that’s the logical route. But Aemon is nearing his death, and Gilly is upset cause she left her child, and they have little money. Though eventually they reach Oldtown, not before Aemon’s death, but when we get there Sam finds (well is found) by a group of maesters/novices who seem to be the good guys. And they’re going to try and help Daenerys.
And Jaime, I just, don’t know how to feel about him any more. He really seems to have turned a leaf, and frankly is being quite a good character. He got Riverrun without violence or bloodshed, which is an incredible feat. And you have to feel somewhat sorry for him without his sword arm. But his past and his name really do make you think twice. But at least Cersei hasn’t changed, and she’s still hateable. Though, you do even feel sorry for her a little bit at the end, when her plan to try and get Margaery disgraced, ends up with her being held captive by the High Septon, who she perhaps foolishly let have his old brethren of soldiers back. So she really seems to have hit the bottom here, and I don’t really care, but you have to wonder who will run the realm now.
And Sansa’s tale is quite interesting, and Petyr tries to keep hold of the Eyrie and the Vale. He really is a exquisite maneuverer and charmer and schemer. Seriously, he becomes Lord of Coin, escapes Kingslanding with Sansa (without anyone knowing) to the Vale (where there isn’t war) marrying Lysa, then killing her (again without blame), then winning over slowly the other lords/ladies of the Vale, and now trying to get Sansa and the heir of the Eyrie to marry one another. He’d then have Winterfell and the North and East (though technically Sansa is not the heir to Winterfell since both Bran and Rickon are alive, but gods know where). Honestly Robert Arryn is so annoying, won’t feel too bad when he’s gone.
Then there is Brienne! And her quest to find Sansa and Arry. She meets up with Podrick Payne of all people, and ends up, I think, killing her first men. Then they are with a travelling septon, and journey to an island sanctuary, where Brienne finally learns that Aryy is alive! But then trying to follow the trail ends up running into Gendry and a mill, where they are attacked, before the Brotherhood without Banners arrives. And we find out that not only is Beric is dead, but, BUT, he gave his life to Catelyn Stark! WHO WE GET TO MEET again. Though it’s really interesting because she is quite angry with Brienne, despite her doing so much to get her girls back. I was so angry at Catelyn for being so rude to Brienne for all she has done. And then she wants her to kill Jaime, well no. Stop. Don’t make her do that. Get angry at damn Lord Frey, and Tywin is already dead. So there is so much anticipation for what Brienne will do, and if there’s a meeting between her and Jamie. Would be an interesting battle. And I wonder what Catelyn will do when she finds out 4/5 children are alive, will she ever find out?
And lastly there is the goings on the Iron Islands. Good try Asha in winning over the Ironborn, but your uncle, the Crow’s Eye, is just too convincing. And he wants to try and take the dragons, with some dragonhorn he has procured from Valyaria, and wants them all to journey over the seas and get her. I don’t see that plan going so well, she won’t take that lightly. Now the Ironborn are close to Highgarden and are attacking with great might. The Iron Throne doesn’t quite have much in the way of ability to fight back, and then there’s the Iron Bank of Braavos who might just cause more trouble for them. So much excitement and possibilities.
It’s a wonder Martin can keep track of everything, and this is exactly why his next book is taking him a while. But it’ll come when it comes. I have one final book to read before I catch up to everyone else, and thus will begin my wait. I truly can’t even begin to try to predict what’s going to happen next, so I’m not even going to try.