The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
I wasn't quite as impressed with this volume of Martin's epic fantasy. It's still a truly remarkable piece of story-telling, full of plot twists and bristling with invention; but the pace is slower, there's too much heraldry, and too many callous and twisted minor characters. I found it difficult to remember who they all were and what they'd done to each other. Moreover, the tone of the book is almost unremittingly dark and I found that slightly hard-going in places.
Despite these reservations I read it at full pelt, compelled by the narratives of my favourite characters - the kidnapped princess who is passed from one bunch of cut throats to another, the dwarf, despised by his powerful family but cleverer than all of them and the bastard son of a king forced to betray everything he stands for.
The stakes in this story are always incredibly high. Martin never shrinks from killing off any of his characters if the plot calls for it. And the possibilities are endless. When it comes to world-building Martin cannot be beaten. He just falls prey to the weakness of all epic fantasy writers - too many lists: lists of clothes, lists of armour, lists of dishes at a banquet and, above all, lists of lords. A great read but I would have liked to edit it.