About on par with A Clash of Kings. Gun to my head, you just might have to pull the trigger. There are those less than impressed with AFfC, which is understandable if they were expecting something like its predecessor (tough act to follow, to be sure), but ASoS is so great precisely because of books like AFfC. Awesomeness doesn't exist in a vacuum. Proper build-up must come first. As for the book itself, after ASoS, it not only provides a welcome breather, but expands the scope of the overall conflict to boot. Just cranks up the anticipation for the coming books that much more. The new characters, as always, fit right in and are rich in personality and detail. The obvious downside is the difference in line spacing that's made the book's physical length and weight almost similar with the previous ones, the deception and incongruity of which nagged at me throughout my reading.