I am sad but relieved. I am ready to move on and meet other folks now. But I hate leaving the world of Westeros and across the water behind.
***Spoilers and more from here on***
Book five was basically book four with other characters. The characters missing from book four are here: Tyrion, Daenerys, Jon Snow. This was a little unpleasant, as I was ready to know what was going to happen after book four...but instead, it was concurrent in time period, from the 'mouths' of different characters. Don't get me wrong: it is still a wonderful book. It is, like book four, just different as the characters I want to read most about are separated by thousands of pages. I can't imagine the fan who read book three...waited...and waited...only to read book four and not have beloved characters there...then wait and wait for book five, only to have those characters back, missing the others, and 'starting all over', so to speak.
This was a harder read for me. I think the fact that it wasn't following the other book made it a bit less exciting, reading five tomes in a row is, well, is daunting, and life in general was pretty darn busy that kept me from finding time to devote to just reading. I found myself reading chapters referring to events that previously occurred and I was left wondering what the fuck was going on, as I would be foggy on these occurrences, or why they were where they were. It certainly has more to do with the shorter devotion to the book - time-wise - that left so many gaps in my head about what was going on.
The last third of the book was the juiciest: Cersei was back and a moment with Jaime. This part of the book reconnects where book four ended. But I knew that this was the saddest part: I would be left, as so many others have been before me, waiting and waiting for the next book, wondering what was going to happen next.
What left me breathless? The apparent death of Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. One of my favorite characters. He made so many big decisions, especially allowing the wildings to cross the wall. He had most of the men on his side except a few arrogant ignorami. It would be these men who would push daggers into Jon Snow three times...two that he felt...which leads me to believe he was dead before the third. And what pissed me off was these damn Stark men not bringing their direwolves with them! Robb did the same before the Red Wedding and he is dead. Jon had his direwolf all the time but insisted he not follow him and that was his first thought, as he lay dying: Ghost, the direwolf's name. My hope is, because Jon is a skinchanger, that he managed to change into something else before he died. Or that his men managed to save him. This will haunt me until book six.
Arya is also some sort of changer: she has learned the ways of the House of Black and White, a temple of sorts, where people come to die...suicide...by drinking the water and laying to rest forever. But there is more: Arya has to live as a beggar, to learn three new things everyday, as well as learn the language. She also becomes blind, to learn the senses as well as to be humble. Lastly, in this book, she learns how to change the way she looks. I don't know where her character is leading up to...what Martin has in mind for Arya Stark, but again, another fantastic character.
Tyrion is funny as ever. He makes it across the water to find Daenerys, as most of the men in this book are doing. Find the queen and make her their bride. Only one makes it to her, Quentyn Martell. Unfortunately, he arrived too late, as Daenerys marries another and Quentyn ends up dead from burns he suffered when one of Daenerys' dragons engulfed him in flames.
Tyrion is withing sights of where the queen lives but he has been captured and sold as a slave. He and another dwarf, Penny, are circus freaks, riding a dog and a sow for entertainment. He manages to escape that and joins a group of sellswords (men who fight for the highest bidder) after promising them wealth and lands.
Jaime shows up only once in this book, and what we learn is that Brienne of Tarth tells Jaime she's found Sansa but he must help her because the Hound will kill her. The Hound died in a previous book so I'm not sure what's up with that.
Cersei shows up and has to do a walk of shame, for confessing for the sins she committed. She admits to adultery and some other treacherous things but does not admit to her incestuous relationship with Jaime. She has to shave everything on her body, then walk naked through King's Landing to her castle. She will still have to hold trial but in the meantime, she can stay with her young son, the King. She seems more docile but anyone who has read this series knows, she is evil.
And it ends with her uncle, Kevan Lannister, who is the King's Hand, being murdered by Varys, the eunuch who has been in hiding for quite awhile. He kills Kevan, telling him, as he lay dying, that he can't have Kevan undoing all that the queen has done. But also mentions that Aegon, the young son of Prince Rhaegar, who was killed as an infant, along with his sister...their bodies placed for the Hand of King Robert to see. But Varys apparently swapped the babe with a peasant babe and it was that child who was killed. Aegon has been alive and well, learning to fight, to read, to speak in other languages. So the next chapter in the war for the iron throne will include Aegon, the true born king...who also happens to be her nephew.
It's confusing, if you've never read it and are reading this...but certainly not when you're in the midst of it all. Amazing, amazing books and storyline. I cannot wait to read the next one, but I know I must. So I leave Westeros and the islands behind momentarily, to meet other worlds and creatures. I love this quote from this book, by Jojen to Bran, which makes it easier to move forward:
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.