I just finished the third book. Holy carnage, Batman! So, Catelyn may still be alive as a zombie-esque person, but I expected Robb to live a bit longer. At first, only the good folks (the people we are supposed to be rooting for) died, but then we got a nice spate of death towards the end: Joffrey, Tywin, and Lysa. Tyrion dodges a death sentence after the Prince snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in his fight with the Mountain. Speaking of which, I guess if we do not actually see someone die "on screen", then they are not dead, right? Which means Mountain and Hound could still be alive even if both are grievously wounded.
Perhaps the most fun of these books is coming to my wife after a pivotal scene and trying to get her to react--as she has read all five books and does not want to spoil them for me.
Anyhow, we have long known that George RR Martin is meaner than JK Rowling, right? Nobody important in her series dies (well, except for the pre-story of James and Lily) before Sirius in the fifth book (we were not that attached to Cedric). In book 1, Martin cripples Bran, kills Ned. In book 2, we are teased about Bran and Rickon being killed, but Winterfell is destroyed. Renly is killed, and Ayra is traded about a half dozen times (just a few more times than Jaime). In the third book, we lose a bunch of folks, including at least one Stark and a handful of Lannisters.
I guess the big questions for the fourth book, which I will read after I catch up on the new Lee Child-Jack Reacher book are:
- Who becomes the next hand? Cersei? How does she rule without the moderating (loosely defined) role played by her father?
- Where does Tyrion go?
- What becomes of Catelyn?
- Is Sansa now doomed to be Petry's bride and lady of the Vale (I noted a spot on the map of Kashmir today noted as Vale of Kashmir!)?
- Where does Arya end up?
- Where does the war go next? The Lannisters are seriously weakened, but the Stark threat is gone, Stannis is obsessed with the north, and Dany is taking a break for a while?
All I can say is that Martin is a master of manipulation: we end up rooting for Jaime?
I don't read much fantasy, so all I can say is: wow!