I've read some of the other reviews, and they're a little harsh. Some people have had a few issues with the book, but there are explanations for most. First, some people are complaining about the absence of some of their favorite characters, don't worry they will be present in the next book. I'll grant you however, that some of the characters Mr. Martin chose to include in this book aren’t as interesting as the missing ones, but he makes up for that by hinting that some future plans and plots that are put in motion by these characters.
You have to look at the book as a transitional piece. The war is ending and things are resetting for the next big event. Read the book carefully, because a lot of future plot twists are hinted at, and characters who might not seem important are just being set up for a more important future.
I'll agree that the map is incomplete, and missing a lot of key locations. Not sure why they would do that, but hopefully it will be rectified in the next book. If it's really a problem for you, just crack open your copy of A Storm of Swords for more comprehensive maps. But Mr. Martin does give pretty good descriptions of where events take place that you can figure it out on your own with a bit of effort and careful reading.
As for the cover art, I'll agree, its not very impressive. But I saw Mr. Martin at a book signing and he told the audience that the publisher was trying to market the book to people who wouldn't normally read fantasy, and changing the cover was necessary. If it works and he can make more money, then good for him, he deserves it for creating these amazing books. If you want to wait, maybe they will come out with a special edition to match the earlier books. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
Even with all these problems the book was still an enjoyable read. The world and characters he's created are interesting and dynamic. A lot of them have grown and changed, and it was interesting to see what happens to them by the end. I can't wait for A Dance with Dragons, and if we're lucky it won’t be too long before it comes out.