The war of the five kings is more or less coming to an end in Westeros. One king seats the Iron Throne, but only just. His rule is in a precarious situation–one wrong move, one wrong decision, one wrong advisor….and all could be lost.
I will try to make this review as spoiler free as possible, but it is difficult not to include references from the previous three books but I will do my best but consider yourself warned.
Readers will quickly notice many of the typical POV characters are absent from this book, though a couple of favorites make an appearance. The POV characters in this book are: Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa Stark, Samwell Tarly, Aeron Greyjoy, Victarion Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, and Asha Greyjoy.
In King’s Landing, Tommen now rules as king but since he is so young his mother, Cersei, rules in his name. But with Cersei in charge things start going from bad to worse in record time. Now she is the Lady of Casterly Rock and Queen Regent, Cersei thinks it is her time to shine and prove herself a capable leader but it becomes clear she lacks the knowledge and discipline it takes to run a kingdom. She becomes dependent on alcohol and suspicious of her allies….practically bordering on paranoia. She has alienated almost everyone she once relied on and soon she finds she has manipulated herself into a corner and a situation she will not easily get out of without help. But who will come to her rescue? After seeing her true colors, no one….including her devoted brother Jamie, will life a finger to help her.
Jamie Lannister is on a quest to restore his honor. He has been known as the Kingslayer most of his adult life….he’s an oath breaker. Now the time has come for him to start keeping his promises. He has become increasingly disenchanted with his sister, Cersei and now sees that she is toxic. He tries to council her but when he is rebuffed there is little he can do. Cersei sends Jamie to Riverrun where he is to lift the siege by any means possible. After losing his sword hand, Jamie is cripple and utterly useless in Cersei’s opinion, but on the journey Jamie attempts to not only regain his honor but his fighting abilities as well.
At the end of Book III, Jamie sent Brienne of Tarth on a quest with his newly named sword, Oathkeeper, to locate Sansa Stark and return her to Winterfell. Brienne is Jamie’s last hope but she has little to go on. The only clue she has about Sansa is that she likely headed toward Maidenpool where Sir Dantos (the knight who helped her escape) is from. At Maidenpool, Brienne does not find Sansa, but a band of outlaws known as the Brothers without Banners lead by a mysterious woman known only as Lady Stoneheart.
In reality, Sansa is no where near Maidenpool. She is hiding at the Eyrie with Littlefinger. In the Vale, Robert Arryn is the Lord of the Vale but he is still too young to rule. Petyr Baelish is the acting ruler until Lord Robert comes of age. Since the entire realm is likely looking for Sansa, Littlefinger thinks its best that she pose as his daughter. For all Sansa knows, her entire family is dead so she goes along with Lord Baelish’s plan.
Arya made it to Braavos where she seeks refuge at the House of Black and White, home to the assassin guild called the Faceless Men.
Samwell has been ordered to leave the Wall by the Lord Commander (Jon Snow). He is to escort Maester Aemon and Gilly safely to Oldtown where Sam is to begin his study at the Citadel to become a Maester himself.
Mean while…..trouble is brewing on the Iron Islands. With Balon Greyjoy dead and Theon MIA, the Seastone Chair is up for grabs. All the Greyjoy family members are fighting it out for rights to rule the Seastone Chair.
On Dorne, Adrianne Martell has ambitions of her own. With little Myrcella tucked safely away in Dorne, Adrianne sees this as an opportunity to restore glory to her house, but her plan could easily backfire and bring about a war between Dorne and the Seven Kingdoms.
Even though there is a king on the Iron Throne….unrest is on everyones lips. This war is far from over. In the absence of leadership, someone must rise up and become the leader, or else….all is chaos.
This book was bittersweet for me. I knew it would be hard to match the last book and clearly we needed to see the inevitable aftermath of the war and start gearing up toward another showdown. But I really just wasn’t into parts of the novel. I struggled with the Dorne and Iron Islands story-lines. Personally I think it’s a little late in the series to be introducing new characters, that said I did like Asha Greyjoy and would like to read more about her. I didn’t really care too much about the other two Greyjoy POVs though.
I also didn’t like reading from Cersei’s POV either. Cersei is narcissistic and lacks any redeeming qualities, except that she loves her children. But even that wasn’t enough for me to like her even a little bit. It was nice to get to know her by reading from her POV, I think it gave the reader some insight and perspective but I just never warmed up to her at all.
Jamie on the other hand is quickly becoming one of my fav POV characters. I really enjoyed reading from his POV in the third book and was glad to see him as a POV character in this book. I think Jamie is a complex character with great potential and I really look forward to reading more from his perspective in future books. I think he is going to be an exciting character to watch develop throughout the rest of the books.
I had a hard time with Sansa and Arya’s POVs as well. I didn’t like that Martin changed the POV title from Sansa to Alayne. It confused me and made me feel like Sansa’s character was lost forever. I suppose that was the point because Sansa really commits to being Littlefinger’s daughter and really what choice does she have. Overall though, I just feel like Sansa’s character was lost and lacked direction. Same with Ayra, she lacked direction for me as well.
I feel like the Stark children have been apart long enough, I would like to see some of them coming back together and meeting up or something. I feel like they are all scattered to the winds and the longer they are apart, the harder it will be for them to come back together and unit again.
I liked reading about Sam and his next adventure, but wanted to see more of the Wall. What is going on back there? What is Jon up to? What is going to happen next? Though Martin assures us that the next book will have many of our fav characters back as POV narrators, I had hoped to get a little taste of the Wall in this book.
Over all it was a solid follow up to the third book but I wanted to see more character development in some of the series most critical characters (Sansa, Ayra etc) and less of the smaller POV characters (the Greyjoys). I don’t think readers will be disappointed in this book, annoyed with the pass a little but not entirely disappointed. This book is the ‘necessary’ book. I am excited to read A Dance with Dragons next. Get ready, here comes the fire!
- Mass Market Paperback, 1058 pages
- Published September 26th 2006 by Bantam Spectra (first published October 17th 2005)
- ISBN 055358202X (ISBN13: 9780553582024)
This book counts toward: Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) Reading Challenge 2012
- Hosted by: The Lit Bitch
- Books for Challenge Completed: 4/5
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a dark, gritty, different kind of epic fantasy)
Genre: Fantasy, epic, epic fantasy, Medieval fantasy, high fantasy
Noble words but words are easy. Deeds were hard.Men have scars women mysteries.No man ever truly knows what he can do unless he dares to leap.I thought I was the Warrior and Cersi was the Maid but all the time she was the Stranger hiding her true face from my gaze.