People who have not read the first four book need not (and probably will not) read this review. It is impossible to read this book without reading the first four books of this projected seven book series. Those who have read through all four book probably already have a good idea (and probably love) about how GRR writes and how the world of ASOIAF works.
ADWD starts off a little before the last book ends. Same as the other books, it follows several different storyline, some which converge, some which do not.
We follow the difficulties Dany, who having conquered Mereen, has in ruling it. In the North, Stannis has declared himself King and is residing hanging out at the wall with his Red Priestess. Jon Snow, is of course there, and we follow his triumphs and difficulties. There is also Tyrion who we follow in his adventures. Cat of the Canals aka Arya is present, Davos, Asha ad other familiar characters also make appearances. There are, however some new faces. Two mysterious princes, and the pitiful Reek. But that is as far as I will go plotwise. One of the best things about ASOIAF is the plot and it is best to go in completely unspoiled and really go along with the twists and turns.
I don't know if it is heightened expectations, but this installment for me, moved a little slower than the previous ones. Or maybe I am just too eager to know the final outcome of this whole thing, because, you know.. GRR, old, 7 books...haha. But it was also fun just going along with the adventure. I found that there was not a single POV that I was bored in, unlike in the other books (Iron Islands. ugh.). I find that this installment expands the universe even more and shows more fantastical elements. I like how the plot is going. I have accepted that the path towards the end is not a straight line but has many exciting detours and scenic routes. The writing is mostly the same GRR writing. People died, or did they? People had sex. People plotted and killed. People were being human in a fantasy world.
I may not be the most objective reviewer for this book though. I love love love this series. And I cannot wait for The Winds of Winter. Pretty please GRR!