#4: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
The wide-ranging battles of the second and third books are mostly over, but the intrigues for the throne continue. After being accused of the murder of his nephew, and actually murdering his father, Tyrion Lannister has vanished. Danaerys Targaryen rules a city-state of freed slaves, and has decided to temporarily halt her march of conquest towards Westeros. And Jon Snow has been elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, one of the youngest men to ascend to that post. That's where things stood at the end of A Storm of Swords, but what is the common thread between those three characters?
The answer is that none of them appear in the fourth book. It seems that the book was getting far too long, and so GRRM decided to split the book in two, lengthwise. It was a much better idea than cutting each of the fourth book's story arcs in half, and yet I remain wracked with frustration over the absence of the fifth book. I suppose I really am part of the fandom, now.
But oh, the plotting. I think Cersei's arc was probably my favorite in this book, because of the Greek-tragedy aspects to it. The dual crimes of hubris and trying to avoid a prophesied fate lead Cersei fairly directly from her post as Queen Regent to her sudden imprisonment beneath the Great Sept; as someone who despises the character (and loves the way she's written), seeing her get her comeuppance was very satisfying.
I think my least favorite part was Brienne's arc. Quest though she may have, she seemed to just meander around and not do much of consequence for most of the book.
I know a few of you have been waiting to discuss this book with me; comments are a spoiler-permitted zone now that I'm all caught up.
Next up is a gift from shardavarius: Soon I Will Be Invincible. I'm nearly two-thirds done with it already, and it's poking all the right parts of my comic-geek lobe.