Many years ago, I bought a box set of the first four books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I was reading each book shorty before each coresponding season of the HBO series Game of Thrones aired. The third and fourth seasons of the series were supposed to have encompassed the third book, so I held off on the fourth book until this month, finishing it on the day that season five begins.
PLOT- This is the middle of the saga, so I really can't even begin to explain plot. Anyone who is familiar with the series will understand it is heavy with plot and characters. You can't possible jump into this book without reading the others in the series. Even if you've read all of the books, there will still be moments of confusion. Luckily, Martin has anticipated this and there is a handy appendix listing all of the characters (major and minor) plus the houses in which they belong and their relations. This is helpful, but it also spans eleven pages, which is daunting.
Martin did a good thing with this particular book, which he explains at the end of A Feast for Crows. He had so many characters and so much plot, that rather that have all of the characters in this book, he limited it to half and will dedicate the next book in the series to the other half. I wish that I had known this going in, because I kept wanting to get back to Daenerys and her dragons. She was sorely missed in A Feast for Crows. However, I think that this was a good decision, as it was easier to become invested in a few characters and their adventures, rather than trying to keep track of everyone.
LIKE- I liked Martin's depth of character development in A Feast of Crows and in his previous books. I marvel at this ability to juggle all of these characters and plots. I feel like his brain must always be on the verge of exploding from trying to keep all of the plot lines straight, yet he pulls it off.
DISLIKE- Frankly, although I love the television series and I admire Martin's talent, these books are not my cup of tea. I guess I was going by the idea that books versions always trump the adapted television/movie versions. However, there is a reason that I didn't plunge into the fourth book after finishing the third, I find them a chore to read. I like certain characters ( Daenerys, Sansa, all of the Lannisters), but I find most of the chapters to be sluggish, bogged down with extraneous characters and overwrought descriptions.
RECOMMEND - I have many friends who absolutely love the series, including A Feast for Crows. I even have a friend who will not watch the HBO adaptation until all of the books have been released. She doesn't want the show to ruin the books for her. For me, I don't feel compelled to read more of the books. I'm content with getting my story resolution from the television series. There are too many wonderful books out there to take up my time with a series that I'm not enjoying.