Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising.
From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war.
As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky - a comet the colour of blood and flame - five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.
Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.
Reviewed on 22nd August 2012
The second book in Martin's epic focusses heavily on the disparate members of the Stark family and their Lannister enemies. It's a very political story which might disappoint those looking for endless battle scenes in their fantasy, though I found this to be a highlight as I love stories with complex plotting.
Martin's characters continue to be the highlight of his writing. Despite their status as enemies, the main characters whose points of view the reader is aligned with are incredibly likeable and I found it made for an excellent reading experience.
The narrative moves forward at a quick enough pace, presented as long chapters, each told from a different point of view to its neighbours. This is a perfect way of presenting such a wide-ranging story without it ever feeling that the reader has left any characters behind. Recapping of what occurred in the first book was covered in a very natural manner and I barely noticed - whether this means a reader who had skipped the first book would follow I cannot say.
I can find nothing bad to say about this book - I was surprised by how disappointed I was when it was over, and am looking forward to picking up book three.