The result of all this strenuous, pyrotechnic vivifying is curiously flat, as if all the color and the common sense resided in our world, while the Salem of 1692 was wan and dumb by comparison. The Puritans — who would have called themselves nothing of the sort — come off as cardboard characters, waiting for the magic wand of modernity to sweep the cobwebs from their cramped, dark lives. “A basic medical kit of the time looked little different from an ancient Greek one, consisting as it did of beetle’s blood, fox lung and dried dolphin heart,” Schiff writes, noting, with evident relish, that “snails figured in many remedies. They were at least easier to harvest than unicorn’s horn.” How rigid and trivial these people seem, how much less wise than we! How difficult it was, “plain-speaking John Procter would discover, to pry open a padlocked mind.”
The third book in the "Song of Ice and Fire" series makes its debut in trade format and heralds the arrival of new trade paperback editions of Martin's prior books, "A Game of Thrones" and "A Clash of Kings." Martin is virtually unmatched in the complexity of his world building and the richness of his characterizations.