i like this map to get a grasp of what the series are really about. the politicking and backstabbing are a subplot, the real story is a war for the world. and all the scheming is made even more powerful because it wills the audience to turn a blind eye to the real conflict which is about to unleash hell on an unprepared world. the easy parallel is climate change imo
we haven't heard much about asshai yet, so far its just a mystical place where travelling mystics hail from but i expect much more background to be shed over the next two (three?) books
i think what martin did with books four and five was ballsy but in the end quite wise. he was probably tempted to skip all the boring wandering around wartorn westeros, as well as dany's dilemmas as she learns to be a queen, along with a few other subplots. get the dragons across the water to see some action! but the drawing out of the characters' fates builds anticipation and depth even more so than he already had. i'm perfectly willing to wait myself and it seems silly to criticize martin on those grounds. like the point that q/a thing that i think rezz or rufus posted a while back, the man's painting a masterpiece.. there's no rush.