The story was slowing down much and finally seems not to move at all. Martin has not lost his abilities. The main characters still develope in an interesting and credible way. Yet somehow without time moving around them.
The more I think about it the more I come to the sad conclusion that the story cannot go on. Winter will not come because it can't.
The flaw starts in the very beginning of the first book. What a nice idea to create a world were summers and winters are not bound to their proper places within one year. A place with summer children who never see winter during their childhood. It was the implication of cruel winter of equal length which made the Others what they are: a looming menance, something you cannot avoid or hide from during a couple of chilly month in order to survive. You want to survive such a winter - you have to face and overcome the Others.
But if you try to go into details of that winters you soon realize that it needs no Others to ruin Westron. This world is so closely related to our middle ages that it never had any chance surviving winters like this. The agriculture , the society, the towns, farms, inns, transportation everything seems somehow familiar. But such a world has no ability to survive years of snow covered frost. The seven kingdoms would go extinct on a regular basis. No peace of any king could prevent that.
Martin in not Tolkien. He invested all his creativity in interesting, fascinating characters. I love him for that. But he did not put equal consequence in creating a society that has the ability to survive years without a harvest and without means of transportation in the blasting winter storms. Such a world simply could not be organised and look like our middle ages.
And now he feels it. Winter simply cannot start, the story cannot progress. Winter will not come.
Or did I overlook something?