George R.R. Martin yet again delivers the next part of this epic tale with a spirit and style that makes it impossible to stop reading.
This story begins during the battle at the end of the second book, and then details the events that follow in each character's perspective. The stories vary greatly in terms of how far and wide the characters journey, both emotionally and physically. Arya, who has grown so much in the last book, is left to wander the lands, but her story does not move on nearly as much as Sansa's or Jamie's. Each chapter ending is a cliffhanger which you absolutely have to know about, only to be faced with another from a different character. As in the previous books, there are a lot of things going on at once, and as more characters are introduced, the plot only gets more complex.
This book comes as a pair with the next one, and this is quite obvious as many events unfold that will eventually cause much larger disruptions to the lives of other characters, particularly the arrival of the Dornish prince's bloodthirsty brother to Kings Landing. There are eyebrow-raising marriages and dubious alliances forming that will almost certainly become larger plot points in the next book. A few cliffhangers at the end of this book ensure that you are craving the next one soon after.
One issue I have already raised with this series is that the complexity of the book may leave some people with an aching head. If you tend to read other books in-between, you will certainly not remember events that happened in the last one, or minor characters, and yet in some occurrences the reader seems expected to remember what happened between certain characters from what seems like an awful long time ago. A reader with a short memory would want slightly more information when little-known characters become more like protagonists.
Apart from that point, it should be said that this is an excellent read which does not disappoint. In fact, it was difficult to stop reading it at times. The next book is shaping up to be every bit as good as its' predecessors. 9 out of 10.