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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on November 21, 2005
I was very pleased to find, that after all these years of waiting, the characters and the setting still have the same feel. I was afraid that the vision of the story had changed or that Martin had lost interest and that the series would flounder. That just doesn't seem to be the case.
The writing is top notch. This book continues with the same tight prose full of excellent dialogue and characters with real personalities and motivations. However it moves slowly and has limited plot and/or character development. There's also the knowledge that this is just the first volume of the two that will cover the same timeline. The effect is that reading it feels like a chore at times - something you have to do in order to get to the real story.
Deffinately the low point in the series - though the low point in this series is still far and away higher than the high point in most.
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on March 15, 2009
I just can't get enough of these books. I was so sad when I finished. It was like closing a chapter of my life. I want more, MOOOOREE!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon June 8, 2011
The flaw in this book is not so much in the writing, which is fine and as gripping as ever. It does represent a flaw in the series, in that we ignore characters from previous books, including several that I missed very much. Also, the plot only gets advanced in limited ways. Lots happens, but when it comes to the overall story of the series, not much has taken place. It's hard to see how this could be avoided in this format, telling a complicated story from the point of view of an extensive list of characters. Some reviewers complained in particular about Brienne but her adventures are no more pointless than the rest in here. Much depends on the next book - moving the story forward again will make this one worthwhile.
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on July 28, 2013
Excellent, even if you don't read much fantasy. The fourth book was probably the "slowest" one in the series, but a bunch of things happened which needed to wrap up some loose ends. The HBO series departs from the books quite heavily, so if you want a richer story experience, read the books!
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on June 15, 2014
I really enjoyed the first three books but felt a real jolt from this one. What seemed to be missing was the masterly story flow, replaced by what felt like a lot of filler, dealing with a limited range of the main story plots without providing any real resolution. This book was a disappointment.
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on December 6, 2011
AFFC seems to get the rotten end of the deal with this series. People complain that there is no action, the best characters (Jon, Tyrion, Dany) are not in it, and they have to put up with too much Cersei. However, while those points are partially true, I feel as though a complete review of the novel is warranted.

The fact: This book is slower-paced that it's three predecessors. There is no big final, epic battle but this book have other aspects to it that that other ones do not have.

What this book has: Essentially this book (and ADWD) act(s) as the transition to the story. The War of the Five Kings is basically over. Stannis is holding on by his fingernails and the Ironborn are causing some trouble but the main conflict, Stark/Tully vs. Lannister war, has been decided. So what does this book have? This book has a very subtle and amazingly well written transformation. We finally get to see into Cersei's world and exactly what is going through her head. The change in Jaime is especially awesome and he is turning into a very entertaining (and likeable) character. Sansa shows us the Vale while Arya lets us glimpse into Braavos. Brienne's plotline is also amusing and some (that said some) of the Ironborn chapters are entertaining. Lastly, we finally get a look at Dorne and while it begins slow, it turns into the second best part of the book (Jaime #1). Throughout these POV characters we also get some insight into some of the most powerful people in the novels (Tywin Lannister, Mace Tyrell, Stannis Baratheon, Doran Martell, Loras Tyrell, Randall Tarly, Euron Greyjoy, Bronze Yohn).

To conclude: This book is different than the others. But if you are a true fan of the series, this book meets the cut. The transformation of some of the characters is well done (really shows Martin's talent) and we see numerous places in Westeros and Esso that we had only heard about before.

To enjoy: Stop comparing with AGOT, ACOK, and ASOS as their story is done (at least the story on the top, between the lines is a different matter). Enjoy this book for what it is, relish POV characters that we have not yet met and appreciate the role this novel plays in the grand scheme of the series. If you are a true fan this book will meet your expectations. Happy reading!
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on February 3, 2007
Rage Fan below has a valid point. This volume seems to lack some of the luster and appeal of its predecessors. But that's because it's telling only HALF the story. Of course, many of the plot threads we have so dearly and faithfully followed in the past are absent here. But this book focuses on continuity, which I think is essential and effective. I think George made the right decision here. For a story of such epic proportions, it's easy to lose focus, and you risk this very thing if you try to deal with every single plot thread at once. But this book can clearly stand alone as a solid piece of work.

Let's face it, even though this Act deals with the less 'glamourous' players in the 'game', this writing is still as flowing and as rich as ever. It's just beautiful storytelling. And the fact that I know that the next Act will be even MORE engrossing, it just makes me thirst for MORE AND MORE!!!

But Rage Fan, how dare you compare him to Jordan! ;) Because there's simply no comparison. Martin is just 'In The Zone', and he does it all for a purpose, for a reason.. And a good story deserves to be told - no matter how long in the telling. If that telling is craftily done, then who cares how long it takes! All that I ask is: if it does end, let it end well and on terms we can all live with...

Kudos to George!
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on January 1, 2006
While this addition to the Ice and Fire series did not contain the twists and intrigues of the previous novels, I thought it very enjoyable. While I was waiting for it I reread all of the previous novels, and reminded myself how much I loved the character's that Martin has created for my enjoyment. I think that the title is very suitable; Westeros is a land of corpses, and weak, and I can see Martin moving all of his characters to either prey on the Seven Kingdom's weakened state, or to rebuild their life with what pieces they have. For me this book was all about the characters. I do think that Martin spent too much time on Brienne and Cersei but he still has me wondering what part they will play in the ongoing story. I can't bring myself to say that he spent too much time on Jaime though; he's one of my favourite characters in the series and I enjoyed every minute I spent with him.
It disappoints that Martin had to split this volume in half though. Honestly, I really would have rather he just had one absurdly long book. One of Martin's great aspects, to me, was that he could create an indisputably unified and strong story while juggling so many subplots, and he lost that a bit by cutting out half the characters.
I can't wait for A Dance of Dragons though. I don't know what to read in the mean time!
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on September 20, 2007
I finished it yesterday and was not disappointed. I was wary out of fear that Martin might be pulling a Jordan on us - you know, writing 1000 pages with no content, but this fear was unreasonable. Things happen in this book, oh yes. No huge battles but a lot of character developments, intrigues and murder AND you learn a lot of the history of Westeros in countless small anecdotes and stories from the characters, which I personally found very satisfying. Which brings me to my only complaint: it was too long. I understand Martin's reason to cut it in half but he should have taken one more character in to make the book bigger. It merely has 680 pages and - though it is great to read it - one is left with the feeling, that was all? I would also recommend reading Tino Georgiou's masterpiece--The Fates --if you haven't read it yet.
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on December 15, 2013
All the people you see reviewing this series that are putting down the last 2 books are just jealous that they have no talent to write such a spell binding story. Wonderful continuation of the series...
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