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4.3 out of 5 stars1,166
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on 24 May 2012
In a series of such epic length and scope you have to accept a few weaker moments now and then. For my money I could have done without all the Kingsmoot stuff in Book 4.

I'm a late starter - I only started reading these books after I caught the TV adaptation on Sky. As a result I've only just caught up with this, the most recent of the ASOI&F books. And it's brilliant. It's one of the best in the series.

Unfortunately it's also infuriating, because now we've got at least a year, maybe more, to find out what happens to all these characters. And because the books are so well-crafted we care about these people. While at the same time knowing that in ASOI&F anyone can die at any time. George never shoes away from killing off a good character. Or at least cutting their hand off.

Having read this one, my anticipation for the concluding books of this series could barely be higher. Winter is coming? It can't come soon enough.
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Here we go again...

Yhis is the second half of the fifth book in the series of fantasy novels 'A Song of Ice and Fire.' Currently being dramatised on tv as 'Game of Thrones' although they're only in the middle of book two at the time of writing.

This is not a good jumping on point, and new readers should start with A Song of Ice and Fire (1) - A Game of Thrones (Reissue).

The fifth book was, just like the third book, split into two volumes for paperback publication. Thus this particular volume contains the second half of what was in the original hardcover edition. If you've already read that, then don't get this, because you're not getting anything new.

As to this book itself....

Has the same format as before. Maps of the setting at the front. Appendix at the back listing all the very long cast of characters. Chapters in the middle. Each with a different viewpoint character. Of which there are many to choose from.

And there's also an epilogue.

Book five takes place chronologically at the same time as book four. Thus for most of book five the viewpoint characters who appeared in book four don't feature. But you do get to a point in this particular volume the viewpoint characters from book four do start to creep back in.

Some storylines do make interesting progress. Although there's hardly anything in the way of action. There's a fair bit going on in the north. And some interesting developments. But things haven't quite come to a head yet.

And there's a lot going in the east where Daenerys, and several other characters are. And certain events do happen there. But they just move the story along rather than bring it to a conclusion.

Whilst this remains very readable and does have you desperate to know what will happen next, the events in the north and west do tend to be a bit more interesting than those in the east. But there's more of the latter than the former. And all the newer characters who have appeared from the beginning of book four and five onwards don't tend to grab you quite as much as the ones who have been around longer, so you can find yourself wishing the story would get back to them.

However one plotline does get very interesting, and the epilogue only heightens your interest to see where it will go. One cliffhanger from book four is resolved. But that leads to yet another cliffhanger for a character who only makes a frustratingly brief appearance in this one.

The strength of this series has always been that it's war in a fantasy kingdom done the way real wars go. They don't end with daring assaults on the dark lord's fortress, but with the fighting coming to a natural end, then treaties and negotiations. It doesn't quite feel like it's being stretched out for the sake of it though. But that may be a matter of opinion.

At the end is a chapter from the forthcoming sixth book in the series. The release date of which remains to be announced. And you might not want to hold your breath waiting for that.

This is a splendid read. Let's just hope it can all be brought to a satisfying conclusion sooner rather than later.
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on 2 October 2013
The intricate delicate nature in which this author writes is 2nd to none. Character development is plentiful and this is made all the more engaging by hearing from the various characters mind sets as we journey through the chapters. Twists in plot leave the mind never complacent and eager for the next turn. My only problem with this book is that it finished. Bring on the next one George asap!
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on 25 February 2015
Like most reviewers I feel this is all getting too drawn out now and this book left me more frustrated then the others. Maybe I have made a mistake reading all 5 books , one after the other, so am now left with at least a years wait. This book had very little real action - more pieces of the story come into place but some of the chapters really plodded with little to add to the story. And why kill off key characters in such a random way? Why build a character so carefully with such a sense of purpose then suddenly kill them just, seemingly, for effect!..and how many times does Danny have to be 'reborn'? That said, I will, of course, buy book 6 as soon as it emerges!
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on 9 June 2012
Thankfully, I've only been reading this series of books for a few years, which gives me a chance of still being alive when it's finished. If it's finished. As other reviewers are saying, the author is getting on a bit now and if he continues to write at such a slow pace he'll probably go the way of Robert Jordan and die before he finishes the final book.

The shame of this all is that the first books were awesome. The TV series is great, too, and bound to boost book sales. But I'm loathe to recommend those books to anyone as there's no sense that they'll ever get a conclusion. Even the TV series seems doomed, really: as great as it is, they can't release a series a year and actually deliver a conclusion - just five or six years of build up, then a "to be continued..." (in 10 years). It's like stopping a season of 24 half way, then making us wait for Keifer Sutherland's unborn son to grow up so he can star in the second half.

Back to this book: I got it in hardback as the complete volume and gasped at the weight of it - so much so, that I bought it on Kindle too so I could actually read the thing. It was a bit of a plodder. I still like the characters, I still like the richness of the world, but I'm finding it hard to connect with the newcomers and really just want to find out what happens to the people I've got to know through the last few years of reading. As a writer myself, I can appreciate that it takes time to write books - particularly if you're not on it everyday (and Martin has published other books, consulted on the TV series and probably had a life, too). But this doesn't feel like 6 years of real, loving effort. More like a bit of self-indulgence, or maybe a chore - like the pretty average job I make of mowing our lawn, but then I'm not pretending to be a master gardener and I haven't made buckets of cash from cutting grass.

The REAL scary bit is that I bet I buy the next one. And, as much as I don't want to wait for it, I'd hate Martin to do a rush job of it. All this effort deserves a truly storming ending.
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Once again I have been transported back to George RR Martin’s beautifully realised world. As with all the other books this is a treat to read, and takes us up to as far as we can go with the story, whilst we eagerly await the next novel. What I love about these books is that although you have dragons and a few other fantastical elements these are more akin with historical novels as the main inspiration behind this series does come from the history of our own country and Europe throughout the centuries.

As we meet up with characters that we know quite well, we also find out what has been happening with Arys Stark, the real one, as well as the fake one. With shocks and surprises coming at us in this book we are left to wonder what else will happen before this series eventually finishes. Will Daenerys ever make it to the Seven Kingdoms, or even hold onto the power that she has already gained? And has Cersei still got plans and an agenda up her sleeve?

With those plotting to gain power and fortune there are others playing for the grand prize, the Iron Throne itself. But winter is coming, it is getting markedly colder and with the Iron Bank wanting returns on the monies it has loaned out we are all reminded that all the battles and wars going on cost money, and at the end of the day there has to be a reckoning in coin as well as blood.

Martin gives us a world that we can all grasp hold of and understand, as it is so familiar with ours in so many ways, which means that we get a greater depth and understanding of not what only happens here but has happened in the past in our very real world, with machinations, treachery, power brokering and religion.
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on 5 April 2012
Lets hope there is not such a long wait after this one. I was surprised to see the low review score until I realised it was not the book people were reviewing but complaining that they had been duped into buying this book again. I'm not having a go at these people but did the title 'A Dance With Dragons' not set any alarm bells off? Also a book usually gets released in hardback form not paperback. It was not possible to release the paperback as one book as it would be as thick as it would be wide. It was well publicised that this would happen when it was released on paperback the same as 'A Storm Of Swords' was split into two when released on paperback. If you read the foreword from the author in the book titled ' A Cavil On Chronology', he clearly states the next book in the series will be titled 'The Winds Of Winter'. So please if you have a complaint about Amazon's marketing of a book, take it to the complaints department, don't just post one star on the reviewing page as Amazon won't do anything about it and it gives an unfair reflection on the review of the book.
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on 23 February 2014
I've read all of the first seven books but won't be buying any more as I'm getting fed up with the convoluted intrigues of some of the characters (which seem to me to be totally implausible) and the fact that the main characters are being 'bumped off' without rhyme nor reason. I think George R.R. Martin is running out of ideas and thinks killing off the characters you have been following through several books is the easy way out.
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on 5 April 2012
Am I alone in finding it really irritating just how many people are giving Martin's excellent series low scores either because they expect the complex multi-threaded story-lines wrapped up nice and neat at the end of each book; or because they got confused that the publisher and distributor decided to release what was over 1,000 pages in hardback as two books in paperback?

As far as the actual content is concerned, I have found A Song of Ice and Fire a riveting read - even part 4 which was perhaps the driest read - with no dragons or Others to break the political machinations and multitude of betrayals. I suppose that since Martin's main strength is without a shadow of doubt in his masterful characterisation - the one book where political narrative took centre-stage was always bound to have seemed slower than the rest.

But having thoroughly enjoyed his triumphant return to form in "A Dance with Dragons" (parts 1 and 2 and yes, I was almost caught out too :-)) I now look forward to seeing how Martin manages to draw these myriad of loose threads back to the leaderless Westeros, where I'm guessing we will be reading about the Direwolf and the Dragon (and the half-nose Lion?) fighting side-by-side for the future of humanity. If the concluding two books are going to be as good as what we've had so far, well I don't know about you, but I'm prepared to wait another few years.
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on 3 August 2012
I delayed reading this series because of the negative reviews on amazon regarding this book and its predecessor, A Feast of Crows. I didn't want another unpleasant disappointment after the Wheel of Time, having enthralled me, plunged into dismal depths around book eight. With similar accusations leveled at Martin, I was wary.

After reading the whole lot back to back, I can only surmise that this is due to the lack of attention span of some readers. It was utterly riveting. Yes, the plot grows and grows, but allegations that Martin is losing track of his story are quite simply down to some readers inability to keep up. Tiny aspects of the first book turn out to have significance much later- there is no padding whatsoever, unless you consider richly detailed description to be such.

And despite the vast story and cast (the list of characters in the back of the book takes up dozens of pages by this volume) it's tremendously fast moving thanks to the author's formula of short POV chapters.

I suppose if you left gaps between reading books, you would probably lose track of things. Now I'm left to wait for book six I might end up doing so. But I'm sure if you google it, there'll be synopses somewhere on the net.

This really is a story to immerse yourself in. Utterly tremendous- full of intrigue, treachery, sex and violence, a dash of the supernatural, unpredictability, all wrapped up in a medievil realism and harshness that both enthralls and appalls. But Martin's greatest strength is in his characterization. Everyone is an individual in this book- some are hugely original, some are more traditional fantasy characters. And like all the best fantasy, there is no tedious, unbelievable good versus evil going on. No unfeasible Tolkienism. It's about people struggling through turbulent times. Some characters who commit atrocious acts early on end up earning your sympathy, and some you might like at first might lose your affections in time. And if you want 'goodies' to root for, look elsewhere. This as realistic as fantasy gets- the depth and scope is up there with Robin Hobb and Rothfuss.

It's damn near perfect.
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