This book is the natural progression from the previous ones. It's a bit different in that we don't get to read about all the characters, just a few that are connected to each other. We also get to briefly see Dorne, which I found interesting.
It dragged for me a bit, but that could be because my two favourite characters Tyrion and Dani aren't in it. I missed them.
Some of the characters that I was sort of on the fence about, like Jamie and Sansa I grew to like by the end.
Brienne I just can't care about. I almost wanted to skip over her parts, and frankly, she didn't add much to the story in this book. Maybe in the grand scheme of things she'll be important, but if she gets killed off, I'm not going to be sad. We also get to get to know the people on the Iron Islands more, but frankly, I don't like anyone there and if one of Dani's dragons torched them all, more power to them. Roasted ironmen!
Cercei is pretty much THE villain at this point, so reading about her is fun. She's also one of the more important people that you actually know are important, so reading about her is like watching the news on a crisis. Feels like something that matters.
Arya I'm on the fence about, because sometimes she's just weird. You don't really know if she's nice or not or stupid or clever. Maybe she's in flux and could go either way. Same goes for Sam Tarly. Though maybe the problem with them in this book is that while a lot happens with them, it feels like filler mostly. There are some important things, but the detail with which they are treated feels forced and unimportant.
The story and the characters are still consistent and generally interesting. They also feel real, which is one of my favourite things about the series.
Overall, the book has highs and lows to me. If your favourite character is in it, it probably helps. I'm looking forward to the next one a lot more.