First and foremost, my note of advice for anyone who wishes to embark on the beautiful journey that is reading A Song of Ice and Fire. Buy every tissue box in your general area. Because you are really going to need them. George R.R. Martin (fondly referred to as GrrM online) holds no qualms with killing off major characters, as we saw at the end of A Game of Thrones. I'm going to try to be a spoiler free as possible, so i probably won't talk about the plot as much because doing so would unleash a floodgate worth of spoilers. Instead I'll try to concentrate on the fantastic characters that we are given this time around.This book switches point of views from Daenerys Targaryen, the Khaleesi Queen with her three dragons - to Jon Snow, the bastard Stark on the wall - to Arya Stark on the run from the Lannisters - to Sansa Stark who is held hostage at King's Landing - to Bran Stark, a cripple and the last Stark in Winterfell (aside from Rickon) as Robb rides off to war - to Catelyn Stark, a grieving woman who just wants to keep her children close - to Tyrion Lannister as he attempts to fix the many problems caused by his nephew on the throne, Joffrey - and the latest addition are chapters in Theon Greyjoy's point of view as he is finally free from the Starks hold and returns to the Iron Islands as well as Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight who swears fealty to Stannis Baratheon.I was told by a friend who'd read all the books so far in the series to just never get attached to any of the characters because inevitably you are going to end up regretting it. As i said, GrrM will kill literally anyone for the sake of the plot. And what a plot it is. In the second instalment in A Song of Ice and Fire chaos rules Westeros. What with Robb Stark appointed King in the North, Joffrey on the iron throne in King's Landing, Renly Baratheon naming himself king, and Stannis Baratheon coming to claim his rightful throne. One king is bad enough, but to have four is madness. Summer has ended and War has come to Westeros. The problem with attempting to not become attached to the characters is that inevitably, no matter what, you do in the end. Because GrrM writes his characters with such depth that you come to know them inside and out, amid all of their flaws and shortcomings. You see the good and the bad in every character and in the end it makes you love them even more. There are very few characters that i can actively say i dislike in this series. Even the ones that you're not supposed to like, i find myself drawn to (Like one Viserys Targaryen in the first book. But alas, what can i say, I'm drawn to unstable antagonists). What i adored about ACoK is the whole slew of new strong female characters. Anyone that says these books are written for a male audience or that these books have no strong female characters need to go to the corner. Because what we have is not a book full of strong male leads and a few Mary-Sue's. Every female character in this book is an incredibly strong willed woman. There's Arya who has to disguise herself as a boy and flee King's Landing, journeying with the ranger Yoren and his recruits for the Wall (most of whom are criminals and rapists). Sansa, who seems like a spoiled brat at the beginning of the series but has become a strong young lady and in this book fights to keep herself going as a hostage who is regularly tormented and beaten by her betrothed. Catelyn whose eldest son (at 15) is leading an army and she has to be the strong one as her family falls from her grip. Cersei Lannister who, for all her scheming, is probably the strongest woman in the entire series. Dany who lost her husband and nearly all of her khal and yet still has to press on and continue in hope that one day she will return to her homeland. In this book we get new characters like Brienna, a comely sword maiden and Asha Greyjoy, Theon's sister who is a formidable longship captain. As a girl who is against Mary-Sues of all literary form, i approve of how GrrM portrays women in his series. It's true to the time period but also totally badass. Which is another thing to note, as this is a political fantasy above a sword and sorcery it has an air of realism that would be dampened if he didn't portray women realistically. Does the book have it's share of whores and brothels? Why yes, because hey, those exist and in that relative time period that's pretty normal. Is it true that all the strong characters are nobles or high born? Well, obviously as the story follows the nobles and the highborn (with the exception of Davos, but he is a knight...) To be frank, I have totally and completely fallen in love with GrrM's world and his writing style. These books are perfectly woven and the story is magnificent. If A Storm of Swords does not come in the mail for me within a matter of days, i might have to cry. I have to know what happens next.