well you kinda knew it had to happen sooner or later. it took robert jordan 6 books before it all started to fall apart so i guess george is about on track. i'm coming to the conclusion that you can only write so many pages on one project before it starts to eat itself.
the author sums it up in the first line of his aknowledgements...to start with the good bits: the characters are still reasonably complex and engaging, the plotting is as devious as ever, the dialogue snappy. there is no doubt the george rr martin can write.
the problem is that nothing much happens. jaime plods around the riverlands, arya plods around braavos, sam plods south and brienne plods all over the shop. lots of plodding not alot of action. the only people moving the plot along with any pace are cersei and the iron born and we catch only glimpses of the latter.
what some might call quiet and subtle plot advancement, i call static and flabby. all the plot lines in this book could be tied up in under a hundred pages leaving plenty left for events of more impact. and there are numerous events that need to happen if this series is to finish this side of 10 books. if we continue at this pace we may never reach the end.....hmmmmmm.
it's a shame as the series has been generally fantastic. the fact this installment took nearly five years to write suggests that the author is having trouble working out where the story is going, and that's exactly how it feels when you read it.
call me old fashioned but i believe stories should have a beginning a middle and an end; this one's middle is swiftly approaching obesity.