19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
A missed opportunity, 14 Sept. 2010
I hate the cynicism and aspersions that Martin often seems to be subject to online as it's only fair to judge the guy on the books he's written, not the hows and whys of the books he hasn't. Unfortunately, I think it is fair to judge him harshly for this novel, which is by far the weakest novel in the series. As one of the other reviewers says, the book doesn't really go anywhere (a certain item of armour comes to symbolise this). Why this should have happened I don't know: the previous novel was, in my opinion the height of the series - the way in which Martin shattered convention was shocking and exhilarating, he also, rather to my surprise, seemed to have injected interest into characters I'd found dull, AND worked around the limitations of his structure: brilliant. I had to go straight to the shops to get this even though I was in Portugal, and despite knowing the series was very unfinished. Then with this novel, instead of starting to drive the series to some kind of conclusion he decided to broaden the scope. Very slowly. A strange decision and very disappointing.
Still, the writing is enjoyable enough and there are some okay moments - but they are hard-earned. What I'd really like from the next book is for Martin to let two of his original characters bump into each other! Most fantasy may be absurd and contrived in its use of coincidence, but this series is almost becoming absurd due to the lack of it.