Author: George R.R. Martin
Rating: 5 out of 5
Genre:  Fantasy
Format:  Hardcover, paperback, e-book
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: 2006

SYNOPSIS: Following the deaths of Jofferey and Tywin, the disappearance of Tyrion and Sansa, and Jaime leaving King’s Landing; Cersei is left to rule the Seven Kingdoms as Queen Regent while her 8 year old Tommen enjoys being an 8 year old king. Cersei is finally left to rule as she wills, and does so with little care for the kingdom, enacting her plots and plans with all caution gone. As Arya finds a new role and name in Braavos in the House of Black and White, Sansa too reinvents herself in the Eyrie with Lord Baelish. Samwell and his brothers make their way to Oldtown to try to plead their case to the maesters of the citadel, dealing with a rough trip and tragedy on the way. Brienne continues to search for the missing Stark girl while dealing with outlaws who wish to end her travels. Meanwhile, Balon Greyjoy’s death has left a vacancy in the Iron Islands that leads to a new King of the Iron Islands and bloodshed on the isles of Westeros. A new tale also arises in the southern kingdom of Dorne, where princess Myrcella, Cersei’s only daughter, is a ward of Prince Doran Martell, and betrothed to the heir to Dorne.

THE LOWDOWN: Surprisingly enough, he didn’t kill off everyone! That was an interesting change from the previous book that left me sad and confused, knowing that only a handful of the main characters remained. However, this book only covers half of the stories that take place following the death of Tywin Lannister.  So here I am, finished with this book, feeling incomplete.  What happened to Tyrion, Daenaerys, Jon Snow, Stannis? It’s okay, I will read about them in book 5, A Dance With Dragons.

But, back to this episode of the saga that is A Song of Ice and Fire. This was the fastest read of the series so far. It took off running and never quit.  By this point it seems Martin expects you to know your characters and therefore don’t need detailed explanations any longer. We begin to see the true colors of people we thought were simple.  They grow more and more complex, begging you to continue to read these tales. Though new characters emerge, such as the captain of Prince Doran’s guard, Areo Hotah, and Balon’s brother Aeron Greyjoy, the story doesn’t drag when we meet them.  We learn of their qualities through a more indirect method than with previous characters in previous books.  This allows the story to continue to flow and grab you as you read along. The details aren’t as abundant either in this story.  Don’t get me wrong, he still paints a glorious picture that most writers can only dream to create, just not as often as we have grown used to.

This is how books should always be written, with great pictures, plenty of action (both violent and sexual), lots of intrigue and deceit, and realistic characters that are relatable or hate-able. I can’t wait to start the next installment. Oh wait, I already have.  See you in a month.

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