I finished reading the fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin, and all four of the preview chapters from the fifth book floating around the web. I’m glad I only discovered the series now so I don’t have to wait as long as others did for A Dance with Dragons.
What I can tell you about these books is its the best fantasy series I have read since Lord of the Rings. I can see why many people think it’s better than Tolkien’s books, as it’s more realistic and better structured with many layered mysteries and great characters. And the story isn’t so black and white. But, other than the fact both are fantasies, I wouldn’t compare the two. They are very different. Martin has created his own world which is as dense and detailed as Tolkien’s, but his interests and focus are much different.
And until it’s finished, comparing them would be absurd, anyway.
I was pleased to discover I loved the fourth book, A Feast of Crows, because I had read so many disparaging reviews on Amazon. But I can see that most of these were from people really upset that they are left hanging for what is now five years, waiting on the next book. A lot of major characters fates were left hanging in the third book and not touched on in the fourth. The fourth book is the middle of his story, so a lot of unpleasant stuff happens to many characters you like, but that’s what happens in the middle of stories. I can see that he was setting up a lot of things for the eventual climax. The next book will carry much of that impetus forward.
With the TV show A Game of Thrones coming out in April from HBO, and reports from the publisher and Martin himself that book five is pretty much completed, we can expect them to announce the release date very soon. And I can’t wait, because these books are extremely addicting.
The characters are very strong, the plots engaging. He really makes you care about everything that’s going on, which is a real feat because he keeps so many balls in the air.
All in all, I can’t recommend these books highly enough. Even if you hate fantasy fiction. The fantastical elements are not the star here.
Here’s a bunch of scenes from the books put to art.