You really need to read the first 4 books.
I have never anticipated a book the way I anticipated A Dance with Dragons, not even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This will be a spoiler-free review. I plan to listen to the audio book next month and that review will be spoiler-filled.
I was thoroughly entertained and satisfied by the book, and loved what happened in the new POV characters, especially Reek. I am impressed by Martin’s manipulative abilities–he is in such control of the reading experience and I love him for it. I loved the Cersei chapters, wanted one more Jaime chapter and was sad that another A Feast for Crows POV was missing from this one. I was totally wrong about the identity of the Ghost in Winterfell. I felt like I was tracking everyone’s location throughout Westeros, the North, Slaver’s Bay, and the Free Cities, which is a testament to Martin’s abilities. I’m also grateful for the hard work of the folks at Tower of the Hand for all their essays that helped me keep all of the houses and politics straight going into the book.
Very happy and very sad right now…