As I was getting towards the end of A Feast for Crows, George R.R. Martin’s fourth book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire, it occurred to me that the next book in the series would have to run concurrent to the fourth and focus back on the key characters from the first three which were completely absent from the narrative in A Feast for Crows. At the start of Martin’s third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, he included a disclaimer that some of the early chapters of the book would chronologically concurrent to the closing chapters of the second book, A Clash of Kings. Given that, it would make sense (though be far larger an endeavor) for the entirety of the fourth and fifth books to overlap. After all, a significant number of the main surviving characters from the first three books – Jon Snow, Bran Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister – do not have any chapters told from their perspective in A Feast for Crows.
While I was somewhat pleased with my theory of how things would unfold in the next book, I was surprised that Martin laid out his plan in the post-script pretty much to a tee from what I had thought would happen. Martin writes about why he decided to separate the two volumes by characters and not chronology:
The more I thought about that, however, the more I felt that the readers would be better served by a book that told all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters. So that’s the route I chose to take.
I think this makes sense, though it was really hard to go through an entire novel with primarily new character perspectives, with no return to the ones who I’d been following for three full books already. That just means I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Unfortunately it is now over four years overdue. After plowing through the four published books in a bit over a month, I’m looking forward to the completion of the series. I’m just not sure how many years I’ll have to wait for the opportunity to read the end of Martin’s story.