Over ten thousand reviews for a book of over one thousand pages. Clearly fantasy is alive and well. I have now read all five books. The first one, read in 1996, was great, the imagination, the scope, the action, I was hooked and read it in less than three days. The second book, arriving two years later is also great, entangling me in the continued politics, seductions, rivalries and treacherous behavior of just about everybody. Another long wait preceded book three and while the book was worth waiting for, it did not keep me locked in like the first two. Another really long wait for book four and here is where the problems begin for me. The huge scope of this series had evidently made it necessary for Martin to spilt his characters up, following the actions and destinies of one group in book four, the second in book five. Dany does not appear in book four at all. Jaime is barely present in book five and yet, some plot lines begun in four are advanced in five so to me, the two book ran parallel sometimes but not altogether. All these books are long, book five 'reads' like a long book. As I trudged through the blood, more blood, more betrayals new characters even, I kept thinking how much longer is this book. Since I was reading an e version, I could only see that I had 66% left etc.
Make no mistake, I cannot imagine anyone else creating a series of this scope. His characters (all 338 of them) are fleshed out to the extent that you remember them four years later as you read the next installment and that is no mean feat. For me, book five is the weakest of the series and I hope the book six will revert to tieing up the lose ends instead of creating more.