Yes, George R.R. Martin's been called 'the American Tolkien'. Many fans disappointed with the later books in A Song of Ice and Fire feel it an unfair comparison to the grand old master. Me, I'm beginning to slowly turn around, as I have been exploring a few Ice & Fire blogs that go incredibly in-depth in their analysises and speculation, leaving me completely amazed at how much stuff people are still finding in Martin's work. Through debate and a more positive attitude, I am beginning to warm up to some aspects of Feast/Dance, realizing that Martin may just have done a few clever things after all with books four and five. There are still many concepts I am not comfortable with, but I have a feeling once I reach Feast in my seemingly endless re-read project, I may be much more positive toward it than I have been the last decade. I honestly don't know how much my readings suffered from being angry with Martin's PR skills and the Long Waits, but it feels good to have my passion for Ice and Fire in the process of being rekindled. Too long have I been stuck in the rut; I want to appreciate what I've gotten instead of being angry with what I haven't.
One such blog that has made me reconsider not only Feast/Dance but the entire series, is a blog run by a fellow who calls himself Dorian the Historian. In it, he goes deep into comparing Ice & Fire with Norse mythology (which, if true, makes the moniker "The American Tolkien" apt). He is quite convincing as he suggests none other than Ser Jaime Lannister as Azor Ahai. Have a read! I am not saying I buy the theory hook/line/sinker but when you read it and see the possibities and the connections, I can't help but think what I thought while reading the previous A Storm of Swords chapter - that one can read so many things into this material. I wish I had the mental fortitude to build such theories, but that's not me, oh no. I need time to rock, read and game. I cannot delve so deeply; but blogs like this make it easier to mentally join deeper discussions on the works.
Another in-depth blog which helps me appreciate the later books more, if only because the blog provides some food for thought, is The Meereenese Blot, birthed and kept alive by one Adam Feldman Currently he is trying to make me see that the character Penny isn't just a worthless addition to A Dance with Dragons; interesting in many ways, but I am not sure I am convinced as long as when I read about her I feel something's wrong. She's Cognitive Dissonance Incarnate.
Finally there's Race for the Iron Throne, which offers detailed analysises as well, written and maintained by Steven Attewell. I haven't looked into this one much yet, but have bookmarked it for future reading. Because I don't have enough to read /sarcasm dripping
Speaking of having my Ice & Fire passion rekindled, I committed an article the other day for Tower of the Hand, called The Music of Dragons. Have a look if you care. It's about musicians being inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire.
As for Waiting for Winter: Re-reading A Clash of Kings: Part I, it's still a bit delayed, but once it's out I honestly believe it's going to be a treat.