I think that this book made me very glad I persevered with this series. Unlike most I really didn't like the first. I found the second better only in that it expanded and gave some realism to some characters, but in this third volume I have some answers and that has made me happy. I've also found myself bonding with some of the people I never thought I would even like. The brutality continues in a most horrifying and surprising manner. Had this been two books ago I wouldn't have cared but Martin's writing has grown a bit tighter and he seems to write his best when his characters are at their most despicable or vulnerable. So what does this mean? It means that I have grown to like and cheer on some of the heroes and even some of the villains. If you can call them that. It's nice to see the lines blurring when we learn more about the residents of this world.I do note that Martin seems to have written himself into a corner with one of his main contenders and having her remain in one area to learn how to lead is akin to a cop out to me. I shan’t name names for those that haven't read this but those that have should understand what I mean. I also wonder if some of his other characters tangled skeins can even be unravelled. One of Jordan's problems with The Wheel of Time is the story went on far too long and became such a convoluted mess that some characters were either left hanging or became contradictory. I hope Mr. Martin avoids this pitfall and doesn't just milk the series.In the meantime I'll enjoy the heartbreaking moments as much as the briefs triumphs because I'm ready for more of this game.