The rest of this review will contain minor spoilers in that I will mention characters who are still alive to have a point-of-view (POV) (at least in the beginning) in book 4.
The coolest thing about this book is that we finally get chapters from Cersei's perspective! She is as evil and stupid as before, but now it's from her perspective which motivates it in interesting ways. I love it! Her chapters were among my favorites, because she just moves from one remarkably stupid folly to the next. At this point in the story, any sane reader will love to hate Cersei! In contrast, Jaime just gets better. Jaime and Brienne's relationship gets more interesting and Jaime becomes less of a dick. It's awesome. I really can't wait to see what happens with Jaime.
There are some new POVs in book four as well that show parts of the seven kingdoms that are not fleshed out much previously such as the Iron Islands and Dorne. I wasn't all that entertained by the Iron Islands stuff, but the Dorne chapters were really interesting and I can't wait to see what happens down there.
As I have mentioned before, every time I read these books I get more out of them. The relationships between characters reveal subtleties I had missed, plotlines converge, plots thicken. I noticed something for the first time this read through that made me really happy. In the chapter "The Kraken's Daughter" Martin has a sneaky reference to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series!
Archmaester Rigney once wrote that history is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging.James Oliver Rigney, Jr.'s pen name was Robert Jordan. His real name was generally unknown to fans before his 2007 death. So clever, Martin! I got so excited when I read that and noticed the reference that I had to tell my fiance about it. He totally didn't care.
This book is probably the best in the series since Game of Thrones. Maybe the strongest in the series so far. Nothing in it feels like filler, it all feels relevant, fast and exciting. I highly recommend the series, and can't wait for the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons, to come out in July!!