This is the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I loved this one just as much as I loved the first. More so actually since I knew most of the characters by the time I picked it up. The story itself felt that it moved a lot slower. Not much seemed to be happening but this feeling was actually inaccurate. When things do heat up it comes as a surprise until I begin to realise that the book had been building up to these events all along. I think part of it was that I was just so caught up in the individual stories in the book rather than seeing them all together.
As with "The Game of Thrones" Each chapter is told by a different point of view so that we get to see both sides of the war. In the case of this book it would be all sides. We get to hear some new voices such as the Iron men and the men of Stannis. By the end of the book we know them pretty well and once again we are left feeling that we might actually like these characters even if we don't necessarily want them to win.
By this point I have my favourites. Actually, I think by the half way point of the first book I have my favourites. I always look forward to reading about the characters Tyrion (the imp and brother to Queen Cersai and the Kingslayer) and Arya (daughter of the starks). I like Tyrion because he is actually a Lannister you can sympathise with. He has been dealt a harsh hand and treated badly by almost everyone. At the end of the day it feels that he is just trying to do right by everyone and keep the peace. Arya I like for her fierceness. She is only 8 years old (possibly 10 by now) and yet she is just as fierce as her brothers. On the sidelines (also claiming the throne but unknown to any of the other claimants) we have Dany and her three dragons. I think it will be interesting to see what she brings to the mix.
Magic is also starting to come into play in the book. Despite unnatural occurrences in the North I had still forgotten that magic was once a part of this realm. Magic died with the dragons and so it was easy to forget despite some of the tales told by the characters. The magic coming to light has nothing good in it though. It could be that so far it's just the people who use it but I am beginning to think that the magic in this world is all dark magic. Again this will be interesting should it have a bigger part to play in future books.
I can only say just one negative thing about this book and it has nothing to do with the author (so can't take marks off him for it). It's the text of the book. It's significantly smaller than all the other books. It meant that it felt as though my reading had slowed right down and it did feel like I took longer to read this book than the last despite that it has fewer pages. It was a little irritating but thankfully it didn't effect my eyesight too much. In fact the story was so good that I forgot all about the size of the text within the first paragraph of picking the book up again.
In case any of you wondered, this is not a series that can be read out of order. If you fancy trying it I would start with A Game of Thrones. Despite the mention of magic I still think that people who enjoy historical fiction and don't usually read fantasy will enjoy this.