Third in Martin’s massive fantasy series following A Game of Thrones (1996) and A Clash of Kings (1999). There’s further turmoil in the Seven Kingdoms. Among the proximate causes: the ruling House Lannister; Robb Stark and his own tyro kingdom; threats from beyond the mysterious Wall; and Daenerys Stormborn with her dragons. The upside is impressive: a backdrop of real depth; elaborate yet immaculate plotting; believable characters; and controlled, resourceful magic. The downside, though, is daunting: the impossibility of remembering who’s who or what’s what, plus the lack of a synopsis—the cast list, though swollen to 46 pages, doesn’t help. Consider, too, the following sequence: (1) 672 pp., $19.95; (2) 30 months, 896 pp., $25.95; (3) 21 months, 992 pp., $26.95. Yep, Doorstopper Syndrome for sure.