very long. Thousands of pages and spanning wildly different terrains and even continents. rvery character is involved in his or her intrigue, his or her mission, and whatever unpredictability comes with it. none are really in control of their own destiny, though we always see events from their personal point of view, their psychological point of view, which can convince us of their rightness.
it makes reading the series a challenge because so many goals go unfulfilled, and so many characters we thought had providence on their side end up dead or worse. Also the sheer scope is pretty dizzying.
george rr Martin has a lot of tricks up his sleeve though, and one of them is the brilliant way he can reinterpret one event from multiple points of view. he's some master of medieval strategy.
here's an example that got my attention: in dance with dragons, the dragon queen reopenes the fighting pits in Meereen after marrying Hizdahr. At the opening ceremony, there are poisoned locusts served in her box, and her guard eats them to become ill. that chapter starts on page 687 in the hardcover.
after she disappears, warriors approach her guard Selmy to say they caught the poisoner, and that he was acting for Hizdahr, to poison the queen and keep the city and the peace for himself. the evidence points to the king, and Selmy sees it, if not trusting entirely.
but on page 786, at court, Selmy thinks again: the Dornish prince is versed in poison, and may have tried to get the king out of the way to arrange his own marriage to the dragon queen. Evidence is marshaled for that point of view as well.
but then the third interpretation: on page 791 Selmy approaches the prince and tells him that he will be held guilty as the poisoner, that it was a setup to have the prince killed. This seems to come spontaneously out of Selmy's mouth and his motive is unclear, or at least multi-parted: to test the princes innocence, or to get him to safety, or just to convince him to leave Meereen and be out of the picture.
one event, three possibilities. it keeps me reading..