I think what starts to get to me is the unrelenting brutality in these books from both the characters and the author yet I found myself warming to this volume a little more than the first. I have to wonder if it's the more fleshed out characters or the fact I'm also starting to watch the series which seems to burr some of the edges off of the sharper nastier characters. I also note that a lot of the women seem to come into more of their own. While they are still treated as mostly chattel and possessions, a few of them are showing their strength and abilities. Brienne has won a small place in a man's world and Daenerys is so single minded that she accomplishes each step she sets out to do. A trio of real dragons certainly doesn't hurt her stature any either! I'm glad to see some truly strong women and not just the bitch on wheels known as Cercei.While I appreciate the depth added to the people that live in this world it still felt like just a set up for more action with nothing really resolute other than death and destruction. I'll admit it has hooked me into reading the next but I really can only give this a 3.5 which I'll round down to a 3.