Sure Martin has skills and ideas. I can also appreciate his grand vision: imagine a huge palette, but avoid faceless, ‘minor’ characters – take the time and space to paint characters from a range of levels, whether their story is success or failure. But ultimately this lacks story. It’s not several stand-alone stories entertainingly twining around each other. It’s the transparent tactic of keeping readers hooked by splitting the action – readers are not so much hooked by what they’re reading than by what they’re trying to get back to (it’s like that Seinfeld line about channel-surfing men not being so interested in what’s on TV as what *else* is on TV). And while namesake double-R could be excused for doing this with two parties, George double-R does it for dozens of parties. Several may be left in their cliff-hanging situations for entire books!