Part 2 of the second part in this series ramps up the action from part 1. Part 1 felt like it was setting the scene, doing the groundwork, leading us around a path. Part 2 has us worrying about our favourite characters, as well as some not so favourites. We've learned by now that Martin isn't afraid to dispense with characters who have outlasted their usefulness, and we anticipate their demise everywhere as the world they live in becomes more at the mercy of magic and treachery.
The children of Winterfell have grown up: Jon Snow feels the burden of his bastard status and his vows to the Night Watch, and Robb Stark is weighed down by his new crown. The Stark sisters find themselves alone in the world, each thinking the other dead. The siblings bear theirs fates as well as they can in the face of duplicitous plots to ensure alliances, personal political status, and royal heritage in war torn lands.
As for the Lannisters, the gods answer a prayer from an enemy of Joffrey, and all is not lost for the Lannister brothers, one finding kindness, and the other the beginnings of humanity. The depraved Cersei remains, well, depraved, and hungrier than ever to retain her grip on power.
Part 2 returns to the form of the very first instalment in the series: so far so good. Can the author keep it going through the next two books?