Top positive review
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Thoughtful , smart and deep, this is the beginning of the end .
on 14 September 2014
Firstly, a word of warning. This novel is paced very differently particularly to the second half of "swords". This is an altogether more thoughtful and in my opinion deeper novel filled with clues and insights into the motivations of some of the characters onscreen and off and the many plots afoot.
It is the genius of Martin that by using the unreliable narrator approach it is often what isn't said that is more important than the things that are, which lead this book to be the central premise of so many theories and suggestions which may (or may not) form the way this epic story will conclude in books 6 and 7. This depth also means that AFFC lends itself to rereads more readily than other books in the series.
True many of the characters from the previous 3 novels are not in it , particularly Tyrion , Danaerys and Jon as a POV as most of the action is set in southern Westeros but some of what you do get are a view of the aftermath of the war of the five kings from the point of view of the common folk as seen by Brienne aand what it means to be a common pawn as lords play their game of thrones. The iron born and their motivations and rivalries , Arya and Braavos , jaime's continued attempt at redemption in the riverlands ( the conversation between Jaime and Brynden Tully is priceless) Sams journey to old town , Dorne with arienne and the sand snakes , best of all Cersei Lannisters descent into madness and paranoia and the rise of the warriors sons . The prologue is also one that will be reread many times for the subtle reappearance of an intriguing character.
If you are hoping for easy or cheap resolutions to some of the outstanding plot lines you may be disappointed , but if you are invested in the world of westeros this is the book that expands and enriches on what has gone before and helps set the scene on what is yet to come.
Be patient , don't hope the story will go where you want it to and dive in.