I am so glad I didn’t have to wait 5 years between A STORM OF SWORDS and this book because I think it would have driven me mad (although he did promise readers at the time only one year!). Without giving any plot away, book 4 in the series completely ignores half the cast of characters from the previous three books. While this doesn’t make the book any less gripping there were some huge questions that needed answering after the last book that you get nothing said about or have to draw your own conclusions about from very small snippets that you have to carefully watch out for. From what I understand A DANCE WITH DRAGONS picks up the other half of the characters in the same timeline which would have been an exhausting 11 year wait for some readers!
I am still greatly enjoying the series and cannot even fathom to guess how the series will finish in three books time (but I do have a couple of theories which I’m sure are too predicable for them to be right). I am fascinated by how Martin has made me not only feel sorry for some of the series vile characters but now even like them. I think that is a truly great accomplishment for a writer. To establish a character as a true villain only to slowly turn you around is quite a feat.
I have also read and heard some criticism about how the series is misogynistic. The world Martin has created is certainly a misogynistic world with many parallels to the medieval world. Males are the only heirs of lands and titles and females are in the most part treated abdominally. However I do not think the actual series nor George R. R. Martin are misogynistic. There are some very strong female characters from Arya Stark to Brienne and even Cersei Lannister to some extent who are all trying to survive in an extremely brutal world which doesn’t discriminate based on gender, it is a nightmare for everyone.
Can’t wait to dive into the next book but as always will read a few other things before first!