I can’t remember the last time I was so stunned by words on a page. I tell my high school students that literature is a conversation between the author and the reader, that each brings certain experiences and expectations to the conversation. George R.R. Martin insists on every once in a while standing up during the conversation and suddenly bitch-slapping the reader.
And as the sting fades, we forgive him and keep the conversation going.
This is the kind of book that will turn a casual reader into an addict. It is the high point of The Song of Ice and Fire so far, filled with so many plot twists and surprises that the reader will finish and wonder how all that happened in just over 1,100 pages.
There are so many reviews already that it would be silly for me to add anything about the plot. I agree with others that Martin’s penchant for describing every stitch of clothing and every dessert sauce and vintage of wine is a little tedious, but easily overlooked. I have to admit I feared there would be a detailed description of each of the 77 courses served at Joffrey’s wedding. Thankfully that was interrupted.
I disagree with the many reviewers who keep complaining that Arya’s story seems pointless. I thoroughly enjoy Arya and look forward to the chapters that continue her adventure. I’m hoping that she is well rewarded in the end for all she’s suffered … and that’s probably enough to doom her.