Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review - George R R Martin's A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 5) by George R. R. Martin
Published by: Bantam
Publication Date: July 12th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 1040 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy
Ok, so George, we have a problem. I know our relationship is very love hate. I love your books and hate how you make me wait. And wait. And wait and wait and wait. Yet I get it, the books are 1000 pages on average. I'm still pissed that back in 2005 when you talked at my local Borders you said this book would be out in about 6 months and it's been 6 years. Please, just don't make promises you can't keep and we'll be good. Yet last summer the tv show was awesome and the fact that the new book was coming out, it gave me hope again. I've been re-reading all your previous awesomeness and have to say, you are indeed, awesome. Yet... last night I finished A Dance with Dragons... I don't think it was awesome. I wanted to love it. I was full of joy and apprehension. I was warring with myself. This book should surely be 5 stars because I finally have it in my hands. Conversely... this book is not at all what I wanted, there's more cliffhangers, there's no resolution, this is really starting to piss me off, end already, it's going to be years till I get another one, damn you George -5 stars. So my joy and my expectations where clashing with the heavy tome in my lap. The conclusion I have reached is that the book has gotten away from Martin. In the previous installments I flew through the book, here I labored through. The writing just lack the sparkle, the wit, even Tyrion's jokes fell a little flat.

Warning, there is ranting a plenty to come, and I'm going to rant about all the things that annoyed me, so, there will be spoilers, basically for all the books. You are warned. If you don't want to know what happens, don't read on. But then again, most of the plots ended with cliffhangers, so, you won't be overly spoiled because I don't know what happens next in most cases.

Problem the first: "Words are Wind." How many times did we read this? This should have just been the title of the book because of it's prevalence. Martin belaboured this point so much I have come to the conclusion that it's his personal mantra. Every time he got an email or a note from his publisher yelling/begging/pleading for the next book, he would repeat to himself "words are wind." Because in the face of such strong harassment, you have to tune people out... but you don't need to write it on every page of your book!

Problem the second: Consistency. Yes we had cliffhangers, but we also had a beginning middle and end. I'll discount A Feast of Crows because it was really half a book. There was a satisfaction at the end of the books. War was declared, Winterfell was taken, Joffery died. With these big moments reached, the plot threads left dangling where acceptable. I can't think of one moment in all of A Dance with Dragons that gave me any feeling of completion. Any moment where I was at peace and a little bit more of the puzzle of the world of Westeros was solved. Instead I just have fifty million more questions. Which leads me to...

Problem the third: Cliffhangers. There are so many right now I'm about to scream. Despite the fact that we did get a few of the lesser cliffhangers from A Feast of Crows resolved, like Arya's blindness, which you could so tell was a test and wasn't really a cliffhanger in my mind, and Cersei being temporarily released from the Septons. Martin actually compounded some of the cliffhangers! What happened to Brienne, we don't know, but now she has Jamie as well. Great, cause I was SO looking forward to not knowing for at least another 6 years! Also, Margaery, if she is innocent, why call the banners, bring an army and how do you explain the moon tea? Also, Jon Snow, is he alive or dead, because he kind of just got Caesared. Will he be alive, will he be a warg living in Ghost, will he be like coldhands? Is coldhands Bejen Stark? Is Jojen going to be ok? Is someone ever going to call Bran out on jumping into people being bad? What exactly is greyscale, and how does it spread? Can it come back? How did Shireen get "cured?" Are the Red Priests prophesies always this accurate or is it because there are Dragons in the world again? Who is this "reanimated" Sir Robert? Is it Gregor Clegane? Did Stannis really die? Will we have to wait another two books to find out if Theon is alive like before? Davos finally got interesting and then nothing on his search for Tommen! Also, what really happened with the doom of Valeria? Was it dragons that brought it on or something else? As you can see... I need to sit in a room with Geogre R R Martin and just hash this out. I did have an hour long conversation with my friend Matt, and that did help a little.

Problem the forth: Daenerys. Why is she hanging out in Slaver's Bay dealing with all these politics I couldn't care less for? At least she started riding Drogon at the end so hopefully she'll just go and torch the place and that will be the end of that. As for the other two dragons... it pissed me off that they spent all this time locked away. Set them free! Who cares about the carnage, they like living in hollowed out pyramids with fighting pits full of sheep to snack on.

I'm sure all these problems will melt away like the snow in front of Melisandre once the next book comes out, because as I recall, I didn't much like A Feast for Crows the first time and this time I loved it... I just pray it's not another six years.


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