Top critical review
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on December 1, 2013
Martin does not disappoint in this third installment of his series. The characters live their believable and complex lives, the action moves forward, and new characters have been introduced for the most part seamlessly. The Red Wedding merits its attention as both a gorefest and a major turning point. Did not, for example, see Roose Bolton's treachery tied to this, though the author deftly plants the evidence along the way.
However, there is a major danger sign. Point of view is becoming a weakness rather than a strength. The strength of multiple points of view is that the author can explore the same plot line through the perspective of multiple characters, adding or omitting information as needed to create tension. The weakness is that each new point of view character may launch his or her own subplot. It is in this second direction that I see the series progressing. The number of point-of-view characters seems to be expanding as the series goes along (I'm purposely restraining myself from looking ahead so that I won't see if I am correct or wrong in my guesses), and with some of these new characters, we are seeing new subplots and the creation of a whole new list of character names to memorize--a choice that invariably leads to uneven story development. Some of the storylines, such as Sansa's and Arya's, tend to go nowhere as a result. Some storylines, such as the fate of Theon Greyjoy and Rickon Stark, are completely ignored. Strange gaps in others, such as the omission of Samwell and Gilly's meeting with Coldhands, or Daenerys's capture of Meereen, develop as the narrative tries to bring itself back up to speed. These expansions and inconsistencies in the storytelling, if not curbed now, may lead to problems in the future books.
It's also disappointing that the characters seem to have have missed an obvious clue to one of the mysteries threaded through the story: the ongoing subplot of the attempted murder of Bran Stark in book 1. Why is it that no one has thought to tie Littlefinger to the attempt when it was his knife that the assassin used? No one believes any longer in Littlefinger's initial defense that the knife had passed to Tyrion Lannister, yet instead of suspecting the owner of the knife, Jaime, for example, actually entertains the idea that Joffrey, his nephew, may have been behind the attempt.
I am looking forward to book 4 to see how the storylines continue.