Book Review: A Dance With Dragons

ADWDA Dance With Dragons
Book 5 in the series A Song of Ice and Fire
By: George R. R. Martin
Published By: Bantam
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Owned by Reviewer
Audience: Adult; Fantasy

***There are no major spoilers***

My Thoughts:
Where do I begin? Well, as you can see, this book came out several months ago and it has taken me that long to read it, gather my notes and assemble a coherent review. I may or may not have pulled it off, so here we go – Buckle up, kittens. Its going to be a LONG ride.

We do not pick up where A Feast for Crows left off – Instead, we backtrack a bit and catch up with everyone’s favorite characters – Arya, Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys. And while they were missing in the last part of the 4th book, ADWD didn’t read any faster - I just happened to enjoy it more. (For those who don’t stalk GRRM and gnaw on every juicy tidbit of information like a soup bone, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons were originally supposed to be one book. One enormous, Never-Ending Gobstopper of a book.)

I feel as if books 4 & 5 are slowing down with far too much filler. Do we have to have Tyrion getting stowed in barrels and dunked in dangerous, petrifying waters ALL the time? Can you cut the Imp a break? Jeez you’ve already taken his nose and both his wives. I also found the character of Penny and the tie-back to King’s Landing and Joffery’s wedding boring and unnecessary. She’s more annoying than Sansa, who I would have liked to hear from. I keep picturing her back in the Throne Room at the Red Keep, whilst some kindly older woman pats her hand and lays a rag doll in her hands, saying “Show us where the creepy, maniacal man with the stupid beard touched you, dearie.” But I digress.

Likewise, I understand Dany and Jon are going through growing pains, but if I had to read one more lovelorn sigh from the dragon queen or another introspection from Lord Snow of “Why won’t anyone listen to me? And yet, I don’t know what I’m doing…” My advice is - Do something. Do someone. Do each other. But enough with the power tripping teen angst, for the love of the Seven! I have no idea if this is boredom or apathy on the author’s part or why it took 5+ years to edit it. Remember how fast paced A Game of Thrones was? While you will get fleeting glimpses of old school Martin writing and prose, there are other dangling storylines and nonsensical characters & plotlines that are thrown in to be red herrings. (An assumption on my part, of course.) I’m looking at you, Reek, Jeyne Poole and the Onion Knight. As always, (at least for me) Arya Stark is the saving grace and the only one I felt was doing anything interesting and non-repetitive by learning the ins and outs of murder, intrigue and pickpocketing in the Free City of Braavos. I believe that if Martin can pull all these (seemingly?) random threads together with the next two books, he is capable of and will produce an amazing series that will last throughout the ages, a la Tolkien Lord of The Rings series - but this particular book left me cold.

Oh don’t give me that look! I know what you’re thinking. “Then why did you give it 4 birdies, huh? Just touting the party line?. Sheep!” The answer is no. Let’s be honest – Anything Martin writes, be it his fifth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire series or a lewd suggestion on a bathroom stall at McDonald’s, is far better written than 90% of anything else out there. And there are winning moments of awesome – Barriston Selmy, Wyman Manderly, Cersei’s Ultimate Walk of Shame and the return of a certain black scaly friend that are important, witty or just enjoyable.

Summary: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again--beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone--a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .