I listened to this story as an audiobook and it took a very long time, like 3 weeks.
I made the mistake of reading reviews of this book on Amazon before listening to it, for the most part they were very negative, and they tainted my expectations. What I expected was an even slower telling with even less forward momentum.
But what I got was a bit different, it is true that this book and the following book do move slower. Mr. Martin decided to make the individual chapters longer and cover fewer characters in the 4th and 5th books. So it does slow the story down considerably, and I have to say that I do not like it, but the plot does move forward and the events that take place held my interest.
I plan on listening to the 5th book in a month or so, hopefully I will still remember what happened in this book.
The War of the Five Kings is coming to an end. Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, and Balon Greyjoy are all dead, and King Stannis Baratheon has gone to the aid of the Wall, where Jon Snow has become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. King Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey’s eight-year-old brother, now rules in King’s Landing under the watchful eye of his mother, the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. Cersei’s father Tywin is dead, murdered by his son Tyrion, who has fled the city. With these two men gone, as well as no longer having to deal with Joffrey, there are no more checks on Cersei and she is essentially Ruling Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in all but name. Now that Cersei finally stands at the height of power and her enemies are scattered to the winds, in a grim irony it quickly becomes clear that she is incapable of wielding the power she has killed and manipulated so many to acquire, and she spirals into self-destruction.
Meanwhile, Sansa Stark is still in hiding in the Vale, protected by Petyr Baelish, who has secretly murdered his wife Lysa Arryn and named himself Protector of the Vale and guardian of eight-year-old Lord Robert Arryn.
I rate this book a 6 out of 10 as long as you have read the first 3 books, don’t read it without reading the others first.