Another extraordinary entry in this series, this one focusing on the journeys of key characters scattered across this far-flung world. The world-building here is at the very highest level, with the detailed history of this world deeply embedded in present-day happenings. This third book is more of a transitional book, dealing with the war’s winners solidifying their power, and narrowing the contenders for the throne down. But even Westeros in transition can shock us, as Martin repeatedly subverts the expected trope and leaves the fate of every character at continual risk.
This remains a bleak and oppressive world, and as good as the writing is, I try to follow these novels with eight or ten lighter titles to cleanse my palate before tackling the next in the series. The Song of Fire and Ice casts a long shadow.