Dear God, though, George R.R. Martin is a maddening author. The first three books are really surprisingly good in their way. Not always brilliantly written by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re compelling: sharply plotted, really good potboilers that are also simultaneously very richly envisioned. The endings of each of the first three books are really remarkable; the end of the second book is beautiful. The last two books, on the other hand… it’s not that they’re awful, but they’re just interminable. At the end of each obscenely long book, you just think: wait, what actually happened over the past 1500 pages, and the answer is: not much. And since one of the main attractions of the books is the intricate plotting, it really blunts one of the main attractions of the books.
I’ve read that in the interest of getting the books out as quickly as possible, the publisher has basically stopped editing his books. That sounds about right to me.
The man can write a set piece, though, and that ability does not abandon him in the last two books. But the brilliant set pieces only make up something like five to ten of the most recent book’s 71 (!) chapters.
And this from someone who really does like long, rich books…