Seven. Bloody. Hells. Thus far, I have been completely spoiler free when writing my reviews for these spoiler ridden books. It's been really really difficult, but I've found that concentrating on the character ARCs has made it a bit more reasonable....... there are... like... 20 characters followed in this book. I swear, if you've heard this person name mentioned once in the series, then they have a chapter in this book. Or so it seems that way. Not that I'm complaining... It did seem a tad bit overwhelming at points, though. By this point in the series, though, it's assumed that you're able to keep up with all of the characters. Because, let's face it, if you couldn't, then you wouldn't have made it past the second book. I don't even know where to begin with this book. There was so much. It was so big and so much happened and I just don't even know where to begin. I can say that I started reading these during the summer, so I didn't have to wait during the time it took between A Feast for Crows and this book. I hear it was a long long time though, and I'm quite glad I didn't have to suffer through that (though who knows how long it will be until the sixth book.) With that said, hopes were high for this book and when expectations are raised, most people are disappointed.Frankly, I think those most people were totally crazy. Yes, this book was long. Yes, there were points where I wanted certain chapters to just end already. Yes, there are a few things that I take issue with. Overall, though, this book was just... stunning. I feel like any complaints about it would come from the fact that there is a lot to follow in this book. Another thing about it that was a tad bit confusing, is that for the first half of the book, it takes place at the same time as A Feast for Crows. About halfway through, you start noticing names reappearing from characters featured in AFfC so, you know that the timeline has moved past. It's still a little confusing at the beginning, though. Of the story itself, at the beginning we're given characters that we didn't see in AFfC. So, Jon Snow, Daenarys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Asha Greyjoy, and then a host of other characters (also... really difficult to not be including spoilers what with the timeline and whatnot). Every character ARC in this book was spectacular, except, I do have some minor complaints. Tyrion Lannister, a character that I thought was pretty great up until a certain point with a certain whore named Shae... Basically, I still do like Tyrion in... his own way. However, I was sick to death of his chapters by the end of this book. His character ARC didn't go anywhere at all in this book. It was all very irritating and I was tired of his drunken misogynistic adventures. (Because, although I do not think ASoIaF is misogynistic, I do think Tyrion Lannister is quite a bit and it was especially bothering me in this book). Also, every Tyrion chapter seemed to be purposefully placed right before the chapters of another character I really wanted to read about, so it made them even worse for me. Then again, in the same light, Tyrion's ARCs are definitely showing his degeneration as a character which is an intriguing matter altogether. The other character ARC that just left me feeling flat was Dany's. I mean, this had nothing to do with her character at all. It was just that there was way too much focus on Dany's age and bad political choices. I feel like, although these things are important, there was too much and it was outweighing everything else that was going on in the book. That said, I still love Dany as a character, I just thought her ARC was dry as the setting she's been placed in. The characters that really shown through in this book were Theon Greyjoy's, Jon Snow's, and Asha Greyjoy.I can't even talk about Theon's ARC. I can't do it. Partly because of spoilers and partly because I have so many emotions about it. Basically, if you weren't emotionally invested in Theon by this point (which... baffles me because I've loved him since the beginning.. but... oh well) then you will become emotionally invested in him during this book. I feel like support groups need to be started just for Theon's ARC. Love him or hate him, he will break your heart. Well, if you hate him, or heart my not be shattered like mine was, but you still have to appreciate his growth as a character during the course of the series. Because he's grown a lot and his chapters were easily my favourites in the book, though they were difficult for my heart to handle... Jon Snow's progression as a character has been one of my favourites to read. Although he's a serious character in himself and remains so throughout the series, I love how strong he's grown from the beginning of the series to this point. His struggles at the Wall were the ones that troubled me the most, because with everyone else, there always seems to be some way out, but with Jon, every decision he is forced to make seems to lead to disaster... Asha's ARC shined... but maybe that's because she's one of my favourite characters. She didn't have many chapters in comparison to her brother or the "main" characters like Jon and Dany, but the ones that she did just proved the fact that the women of this series are the strong ones. No, honestly. Are there men in these books at all?Then we had returning characters who were infuriatingly enough only given one chapter. We were only given one Jaime Lannister chapter (this is a travesty and a crime against humanity. and fangirls.) and his chapter ended on an incredibly frustrating note. We were only given one chapter with Arianne Martell and the Sand Snakes (also a travesty in my opinion. The Martell women are fantastic and deserve their own book). There were only a few Cersei chapters (honestly, the next book will be the Cersei show. I can't wait). There was only one Melisandre chapter (I mean, i've been waiting for her chapters since she was introduced, and we were only given ONE?) Arya got only a handful of chapters. Sansa got NONE. So, that was a bit frustrating.This also seemed to be the book of hideous cliffhangers. I'm pretty sure only one ARC was closed enough to be considered a reasonable ending. Every character's ARC ended with some big gaping infuriatingly frustrating question. I mean, it's brilliant because there are going to be theories going until the next book comes out. But it's also awful because now we have to wait until the next book comes out. Honeslty, I feel like this book rivals A Storm of Swords in its emotional depth. It has its dry patches. I mean, it's, like, a thousand pages, obviously it's going to have dry spots. But man, it is good. This story is just good. It's brilliant, actually, and I'm so happy that it's blown up in its popularity. GrrM deserves it because he's brilliant. However, one day he will have to atone for crushing my heart and soul so many times. I mean, it gets a full rating from me. I just adored it, even with the irritations I had with a few of the characters, it was still amazing.