Author: George R. R. Martin
Publication Date: 2011
Genre: FantasySource: Borrowed from Hubby
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.
Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. (Goodreads Synopsis)
So, after about three weeks, I am finally up to date with all the Song of Ice and Fire books. After being stuck in and around King's Landing in book four, it was great to catch up with some of the other characters (such as Dany) in this volume.
As with the previous books, there were plenty of surprises, twists and turns to keep me on my toes and naturally many of the story strands ended with cliff-hangers, leaving us eagerly awaiting book six (when Martin finally finishes it).
To conclude my current reading of the series, here are a few general thoughts:
This is a really great series that takes fantasy to an epic level. In actually fact, this is the sort of fantasy series that (like Tolkien) I would recommend to literary fiction readers too. This is not some simple story with no depth; it is piece with so many characters and interwoven plots that you have to really concentrate to keep straight who is on which side etc.
I saw a recent review where the reader complained of the level of violence in the piece. I had no such qualms. After all, the piece is set in a world reminiscent of middle ages Europe, a world in the middle of civil war. I don't think the piece would have the same authenticity if it was sterilised and free of blood and lust.
This is not a series to start lightly as you really need to be committed to see if through to the end. There is no way you could read this series out of order, for example.
Now, I dip into fantasy a little, but don't consider myself an avid fan (even though I adore Lord of the Rings). Even so, I fell in love with this series, with the story and the characters and I cannot wait to see how Martin will finally end it all. We know there will definitely be two more books and in a recent interview, Martin hinted that there might be a third (book 8) if he cannot wrap up the story within the next two. I say, bring it on. More dragons, death and destruction for me, please.