This was a hard one for me to rate. This might end up being the highest rating I ever give to a book I had to force myself to finish reading, in a series I have no intention of finishing. And yet it's still really a 3.5 star book, at least.
The thing is, Martin is a very skilled writer, and he's created an interesting world with vivid characters that all act reasonably within the framework he's set up for them. So full marks for that. When I sat down to read it, I would find it difficult to put down.
But as I continued in the book, I found myself more and more reluctant to sit down and read it. The problem is that this world is so unrelentingly grim that I didn't want to spend any time there. (This is coming from somebody who reads French Romantics for fun
, so I can deal without happy endings.) It might have helped if I'd found one or two characters to attach myself to. I didn't. And the prospect of of spending a couple thousand more pages here... Just no.
So it's a good book, a very good book, but it just wasn't for me.