It looks like the U.K. will be releasing the fourth installment of George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, A Feast for Crows, about three weeks before the U.S. Knowing impatient me, I’ll probably order from abroad. It’s been a long time coming for this installment (in what now promises to be a seven-volume series), and opposite to the trend in most fantasy, Martin only gets better with each book.
He’s gone a long way toward restoring my faith in a genre plagued with pastiche and formula. Along with Stephen R. Donaldson and Guy Gavriel Kay, he’s a rare talent (and overtaking Kay, in my opinion). Song if Ice and Fire reads like an historical-fantasy version of England’s War of the Roses. There are no good and bad guys in this world; the character you like one moment you’ll despise the next. Magic is rare and used sparingly — never as a deus ex machina — and protagonists (if they can be called that) mercifully stay dead when killed. You can never predict what’s going to happen next; political intrigue gets increasingly convoluted; people suffer considerably.
It also looks like Martin has started a journal called “Not a Blog”, so he now has a separate place to sound off on politics, as he has done in the past (much to the pain of some his more conservative readers). It’s probably just as well he isn’t succumbing to the blog mania and making a habit of this. He’s three books away from finishing Song of Ice and Fire, and it took five terribly long years to get Feast for Crows finished. I don’t want him to have to Fed Ex any of the next installments from beyond the grave.