Attentive readers may remember my review of A Game of Thrones from last year and wonder why I bothered to read the sequel after I clearly didn’t enjoy it very much. The problem is, once I start a novel series, particularly one where I have to invest so much time to just finish the first book, I feel I have to see it through to the end. I am mildly interested to see where it all goes (especially as so many people seem to love the adaptation) and so that’s why I kept going into the second installment.
And you know what? I’m glad I did keep going. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that it was amazing and I certainly don’t count it as a favourite – but I could tolerate and even enjoy it throughout most of the time I spent reading it. I felt that the first book started to become more interesting towards the end and that trend of being more interesting continued.
I liked that the characters were all quite complex and had different motivations. It was interesting to see the different ways that they interacted with one another. Tyrion in particular was very interesting and I was always glad when there was a chapter focusing on him, because he was always pulling the strings and trying to manipulate events for the greater good. I also found myself a lot more invested in the storylines of Arya and Sansa, but I have to admit that they were pretty distressing too. A new group of people called the Faceless were also introduced and though their role as small – I was fascinated. In my opinion, they’re the best part of the series so far.
But as much as there was a general improvement with the overall quality of the novel, some of the issues from its prequel are just as bothersome here. I’m sure there’s not a single female character whose breasts aren’t described – often repeatedly – every time they’re in a scene. The female characters also all seem to have a bath every single chapter too. Martin just seems to write female characters in embarrassingly creepy way.
Then there’s also the fact that so much time is wasted describing the clothes of different characters and on little pieces of scenery. The book is about 800 pages long (excessive) and it probably only really needs to be about 500, but so much time is wasted describing the colour of the doublets of side characters, the interiors of buildings and the size of thirteen year old girls’ breasts.
The ending seemed a bit sudden, as it did in the first book, as if each novel in the series is just one giant chapter in one overall story, rather than a book of its own. Still, I am interested to know what comes next, so despite the flaws, a small part of me does look forward to the next book…