I believe that most people know that they NEED to read the first two novels within the series,A Game of ThronesandA Clash of Kingsbefore they read this novel, even if you are just watching the TV series, I have heard that there are quite a few differences between the books and the show that this would not adequately prepare you to understand what is happening in the third book. And really who would want to read these novels out of order?
This is the book where the shit hits the fan. You don't know what is going to happen next and who is going to survive this book. Not since the first book have I been this shocked, I did not see any of what happened coming, as I do not watch the TV series I did not know what to expect, or what people meant about the red wedding. Well now that I have read this book I can understand what all of the talk about. I do not know how truthful the red wedding in the book and the one on the TV are the same but it think either way you get that Holy CRAP moment. You also get your reaffirmation that no one is truly safe in Martin's books. However, I think that is what I love the most in his novels. If you think the red wedding was insane to happen, just wait to see what happens next, in the third book there is so much more than just the red wedding.
After the second book being more of a political one, I was glad to see that Martin followup with a book that had more action within int. I believe that this book has the most action within it when compared to the first two novels. It was nice to see some death happen on the other side of the coin this time around, as it seemed to be in the first two novels a little bit one sided almost to the point where Martin was favoring the less popular characters or the antagonists within the novel. I think one of my favorite battles is the one to prove Thieran's innocence of the murder. That was one full of suspense and you didn't know which side was going to win.
I liked the point of view of Jamie in this book and the changes that he makes as a man, and realizes what has been happening around him. I think Jamie is going to be a major player in the next few books. Dani also had some interesting points, but she is still (for the most part) the most disjointed in the novel, with very few links back to the other story/characters other than the fact that she wants to rule the seven kingdom's again (there is one major player that does come into her life later in this novel, which was a shock and interesting, but I still think that there is not much connecting her back, even to the point that none of the people in power or vying for power of the seven kingdoms is even still aware that she is till alive and poses a threat to all of them). I question why Martin has had Dani within the novels thus far. He could have introduced her and her story later and possible would have made more sense then, than just having tidbits of information now.
The ending of this book was pretty crazy too and I cannot wait to get my hands on the fourth book. I understand why this series has so many followers and has became a sensation before the TV series was created. Even for those of us who do not read too many fantasy books, Martin so far has kept the fantasy to the light side of things (not sure how well that sits with avid fantasy readers, but I personally love it). So if you are looking for the book with the Red Wedding this is the one for you, but this book has so much more than the Red Wedding, and was another great read by Martin.