I was lucky enough to have started the series, A Song of Ice and Fire with all 4, then later, all 5 books published, and didn’t have to wait every 3 to 5 years for a new book. But now that I’ve finished reading the most recently published installation, I’m left thinking, “ok, now what…?”
It takes Martin an average of about 3 years to publish a new book in the series, so I think it’s a safe to say that the 6th book, The Winds of Winter, won’t be making its debut anytime before 2014.
The 5th book, A Dance with Dragons, published ‘mid 2011, unfortunately, isn’t a continuation of the 4th book, A Feast For Crows. Rather, it is a novel concurrent with A Feast For Crows, up to a certain point, told from the perspectives of characters not in the 4th book.
So yes, technically, A Dance with Dragons is a continuation of the 3rd book, A Storm of Swords, and I think daring readers can even go ahead and read A Dance with Dragons right after A Storm of Swords, and skip A Feast for Crowsfor later, if they don’t care much for Dornishmen, Crows, and other slightly uninteresting characters; but only up to a certain point in the book.
A little after the halfway point in A Dance of Dragons, the story and timeline merges with the events at the end of A Feast for Crows, and readers will learn a little bit more about the fate of Cersei and Jaime, who were featured prominently in the 4th book.
In A Dance with Dragons, readers will hear again from; Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow, Bran, Arya, and other chapter characters absent from A Feast for Crows. Surprising new chapters characters are introduced, and some long absent ones, are brought back.
Deep secrets are revealed in A Dance with Dragons, which again shifts the focus of the story, and prepares readers for the next book, and the eventual finale of the series.
The cliffhanger ending of A Dance with Dragons leaves readers wondering about the fate of certain major characters, Westeros, and the true plot of the series.
I must admit that I did not expect the series to go in the direction it is currently heading. Many times during the series, I had expected it to go one way, but it always ends up going in the complete opposite direction.
With all the characters introduced and killed along the way; events, and secrets told, from the 1st to the 5th book, I sometimes wonder if the current plot is really part of Martin’s original concept for the series, and if so, why did he wait so long to introduce it?
The series has been engrossing thus far, make no mistake, but writing 5 books just to set the stage to develop the real story, which will cover only the last 2 books in the series, seems a bit of a waste.
So, now what? Now, we wait…