A Reader Opines: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Published: July 12th 2011 by Bantam
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

This series has brought me a great deal of joy, but A Dance With Dragons can be a bit cumbersome at times. It took a while for me to get through it, but I appreciate the information it imparted regarding my favorite characters and it left me anxious for the next book.

Blurb taken from Goodreads:
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — 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 thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, 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. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts 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.

The scope of the A Song of Ice and Fire series is mind-boggling. I can understand why it took two books to lay groundwork. However, I’m a bit perplexed at some of the plot twists. Maybe that’s good, it could mean I’ll be surprised in future installments. I was glad to revisit some of my favorite characters and extra pleased that everything came full circle by the end of this book.

Arya has certainly grown into a multi-dimensional character. As she eschewed the girly aspects of her life at Winterfell her ease at adapting to her circumstances seems natural. I can’t imagine Sansa surviving in quite the same way. Jon has taken to leadership quite well and a bitterness is beginning to overtake him. I was very displeased with the way Martin left things with him.

Tyrion has taken a turn that I didn’t expect. I’ve always seen the good in him, but as the world continues to kick the crap out of him that light of goodness grows more dim. Cersei has gotten some of what she deserves, but I’m not sure she realizes that she’s been bested. It will be interesting to see how things play out with her. And Jaime, the man I love to hate – or hate to love – is learning to sift through the emotional illusions and grab onto certainties. Will it be too late?

I’m bewildered by the actions of Daenerys. I don’t know why she’s stayed so far from Westeros. I can only imagine Martin is holding her back to set up some twist in the future. The introduction of a few new characters in A Feast for Crows looked to be promising, but fell flat in this book. Their presence seemed pointless.

A Dance With Dragons is the first book of this series to which I gave a rating of less than four stars. It comes down to the perplexing plot twists and its length. I’ve in no way lost interest and as soon as I read some lighter fare, will probably begin reading the series from the beginning. It will be tough to wait on the next book’s release.

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  • mooderino

    I don’t trust him to finish the series so I’ll just watch the tv show. I do like his stories but he surely isn’t a concise storyteller.


    • They’ve strayed quite far from his narrative in this season’s episodes. It frustrates me. I think Martin has told Benioff and Weiss his plans for the upcoming books and they are taking that into account when putting together the shows.