The fifth book of Martin's epic Song of Fire and Ice series exists (mostly) concurrently with the fourth, with the last two or three hundred pages resuming the chronology where the fourth had left off. Having read five of these books now, I am starting to grow a tad bit weary of Martin's most used writing techniques. There are two especially that have become more obvious as I read on. The first is his habit of starting a chapter in the present, then having the protagonist think back to the past as a means of explaining what has happened in the intervening time since we last walked with him or her. It's a clever device, but becomes rather transparent after one has read five thousand pages filled with it. The other aspect that has begun to bother me is the dialogue. Generally, it's very well done, but every once in a while a character will speak words that are much more Martin's than the character's. Even in this fantasy world, where old ghosts and legends are still strong, people just don't talk like writers write. At times it becomes a bit too flowery and poetic, and it thrusts the reader out of the story.
Other than those two complaints - for which I am glad I will have to wait a while yet for the next installment, so I can wash their taste out of my mouth - this is still a fascinating tale, filled with interesting, personable characters, and generally written very well. I can only hope that Martin doesn't take too long writing the sixth book, so that I don't have to go back and read the fifth all over again so I can remember the complexities of his world.