Monday, October 1, 2012

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

I was originally terrified to start this behemoth of a novel, knowing full well it would be a long endeavor. And, I was NOT wrong... This book took me a month and a half to finish, and I have to say it was a disappointing summer in that regard. Martin's fans waited 8 YEARS for this book to come out, and I for one would have been frustrated, if not downright angry, at what emerged from that time. A Dance with Dragons did see the return of my favorite characters, but the novel in its entirety still only gets 3 out of 5 stars and that's being lenient.

First off, I think Martin should start putting his appendices in the front of the novel. This and A Feast for Crows, the 4th book in the series, begin at the same time, the conclusion of the third book. While Feast focuses on the characters residing in and around King's Landing (Sansa, Cersei, and the like), Dance reintroduces the characters 'worlds away' such as Jon, Danaerys, Tyrion, and pretty much all my favorite characters. Of course, in typical Martin-esque fashion, there's no way of telling who lives and who dies till you get to the end of the novel (and of course, I won't be spoiling any deaths here), but I will say that I was rather shocked and dismayed at some of the final chapters in the book.

While I can't say I was happy by the time I got to the final page, I assure you that the fate of some characters is not the reason Martin's latest is my least favorite in the series. I'm used to losing favorites when I read, it's like picking racehorses that always fall and break their legs in the final stretch. It sucks, but hey, that's life!

What really disappointed me was the lack of cohesion, the dragging nature of this book, and the random extreme detail that made a 700 page book into a 1000+ book instead.

Normally, Martin oscillates between around 7 characters in the Game of Thrones books. Sometimes, a random perspective will be thrown in (i.e. the prologue in A Clash with Kings), but for the most part it's fairly easy to keep track of all the characters because they pop up every 5 or 6 chapters. In A Dance with Dragons, however, each chapter is told by a different character. Even if sometimes the characters turn out to be the same one, it's frustrating to see one chapter titled "Reek", and another "The Spurned Suitor" and so on (no, these aren't the same character, I'm just making an example of the titles not being real names like the chapters in the first book- Sansa, Tyrion, etc.). Gets very difficult to keep track of the characters when they all have multiple nicknames.

While there were parts of this book that were immensely enjoyable and captivating (SPOILER ALERT Dany rides her dragon :P ), there were several parts where it just dragged on and on and on. There's only so much conversation and character building that I can take before I get bored and pick up other novels on the side (You know, like Divergent and Insurgent), and I was rather surprised that Martin put so much detail and description and dialogue/character building into this story when the first four, while still detailed and descriptive, were hundreds of pages shorter. Not too much really even happened in this book, compared to the others in the series. Almost every part of this book is important in terms of plot, but I felt as though Martin could have saved us a couple hundred pages of fluff and filler.

In any case, it's not like I wasn't going to read this book since I had already read four of them, and I'm sure I'll be picking up the sixth (and any others Martin decides to write), because I love the series. And I also can't leave a series unfinished. But that's another story. Looking forward to the sixth novel, and hopefully it's shorter, and more interesting, than this goliath novel.

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