An open letter to George R R Martin:
Dear Mr. Martin,
While I love killer zombies and nobles stabbing peasants in the throat, I think your world doesn't make any sense. If there really were an environment that had ten years of winter and ten of summer, there's no ruddy way that a culture from that environment would engage in war in the manner they do in this book. Or they would totally die off and be replaced by a culture comprised of people who weren't a bunch of short-sighted tools.
Also, please decide how or if magic works, and then stick with that.
P.S. I really do love killer zombies though.
Later edit: I wrote this review really flippantly, mostly because I was making a point in some other review about the contested issue of "world building". Now, mostly when I hear the term "world building", I reach for my pistol, because it is code for bloated, environmental scene-setting that now that I'm not 14 and on summer break - when I swallowed down the Lord of the Rings in its entirety in a week, and then started again - I have a lot less time for the romanticized landscape and its import on modern Western constructions of masculinity. Which is pretty much what world-building of that nature comes down to, for me. Maybe it's because LotR is this post-war elegy for a lost and ruined Europe, right down to its rocks, and latter day fantasists have just mimeographed this nostalgia. Not so, GRRM.
Point being: I don't think that's what's going on here - the world-building of nostalgic landscape - it's something more like political science fiction. And yee haw for that. The magic in these books is terribly sloppy, right down to the landscape, but the endless scheming, and the ways a thousand characters are conjured and set against each other, and no one wins, and everyone has a limited vantage, etc etc - this is just a trip to read. People call GRRM the American Tolkien, which I think is pretty hilarious, because Tolkien's world is fundamentally moral, and Martin's is...not. It isn't immoral, but it's not going to hand you puppies just for thinking you're in the right. I think I'm off my own topic - I was talking about trees, right? - I just wanted to make a note about this review that I didn't think carefully about when I tossed it off however many years ago.