See review #15 for an overall opinion of the series.
Book #3 is very good, although I found it lagged a bit in comparison to the first two. Specifically, the middle section of this book was kind of boring. The beginning and especially the end, though, were killer. So good. Like, jaw-dropping good. So I’d recommend just skimming through the middle parts–you won’t miss much (unless you really really like battle scenes. It’s mostly battle scenes, and although I dig a good battle as much as the next reader, it got really excessive).
Also, I really appreciated the amount of character development we get in this book. Martin is constantly exploring his characters in new ways, deepening them and fleshing them out. One thing I love about this series is that it avoids the black and white view of evil that is so present in the fantasy genre. No one is purely good or bad here; everyone is complex and has motivations for their actions. Characters that I assumed would be one-note bad guys in the first book have developed into some of the most interesting and compelling characters in the series, because Martin makes them human and real. This is where his talent lies as a writer, and it makes all the difference in making this series so readable (for me, at least).
Be warned: this book also has way more fantasy elements than the first two. They felt organic, though, and I like that Martin eased us into that aspect of this world, because it’s much more believable and less jarring than it would have been if we’d seen it right off the bat. The appearance of the magical and the fantastic simply feels like a logical progression in the novel.
Anyway, I’ll say it again: If you liked the first two, read this. Even though overall it’s the weakest of the three, the ending and the excellent character development make up for it (plus, at this point, you just need to read so you can find out how it all ends!)