(924 pgs A Song of Ice and Fire series #3)
That being said, the book was fantastic! The series gets better with each successive installment, which is saying a lot. I won't bother with a summary, since the book is just part of a much bigger story. Rather, I'll give a couple quick reasons why I'm so impressed with Martin and the books.
First, people die. I'm not talking side characters either. There are hundreds of characters in this series (enough to fill several pages of "who's who" at the end of each book) and dozens of them are central to the story. But none of them are safe. I should have learned that lesson while reading the first book, but I still find it startling and surprisingly rewarding every time it happens.
Second, stuff happens. These are not 800-page Tom Clancy books that you have to wade through the first 400 pages of before something significant to the plot happens. Martin successfully manages to keep several plates spinning at once with all of his characters and subplots and he maintains a relentless pace for each one.
I can't recommend these books enough, but I do so with the warning that they're not for the frail or easily offended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★