After thousands of pages, I’m finally up to date with “A Song of Ice and Fire” the mega-epic by George R. R. Martin. As epics go, it’s great, but even epics need to come to an end. Not so in this one.
My complaint about Martin bringing in the “Dornish” people makes more sense now. I’m glad he explained it, but four thousand pages ago would’ve sufficed. This family has connections to the dragon-blooded Targaryen family. One of them bravely makes his way across the world to meet Dany, but events turn the journey into a misadventure.
Dany returns in this installment, still beautiful, and struggles with her unsophisticated followers, trying to maintain order. This finally happens by means I certainly didn’t predict; by the time all is said and done is her “children” have grown up, are very dedicated and non-selective carnivores, and she’s “taken away” by one of them. Literally.
Fortunately, my favorite character of the epic, “The Imp” returns to center stage, facing more physical and mental hardship than he ever did on the Ice Wall. But like a competent Lannister, his brain makes up for his height, and so far survives a trip into pandemonium.
Winter sprinkles down upon what’s left of the Lannister family. Cersei finds herself in the same place she schemed to put everyone else she didn’t like. Her incestuous twin hottie Jaime searches the countryside for the remnants of the Starks, who remain scattered.
Winter is coming. The Ice Wall is colder, colder, colder, and not yet coldest. Jon Snow still defends the world against the horrors beyond the wall, but everyone’s so cold by this time, I’m not sure if the enemies can move up there. The remains of Winterfell are freezing along with the wall; with its new ungallant occupants figuring out that Winter is over-rated.
What Martin accomplished in this tome is to add an epilogue, or a word for saying “I’m sorry I’ve exhausted my readers, so here’s a little treat.” Something surprising happens in the end, that I certainly didn’t predict. Unfortunately, it left a cliffhanger.
“A Song of Ice and Fire” is still an excellent dark fantasy epic. I don’t necessarily agree with some who say he’s stretching it out on purpose; that rings more like a publisher than a writer. I do believe Martin is in love with his world. That’s OK. But caution, Mr. Martin, Winter is coming to your readers. Please don’t freeze us out. I’m giving it a generous three stars.