A Dance with Dragons (2011)

A Dance with Dragons (2011)

Author: George RR Martin
Publisher: Bantam Books

Danaerys Targaryen faces insurgency in Meereen and a growing coalition seeking to depose her. Jon Snow must negotiate an unsteady peace between the Night's Watch and the wildlings. The Lannister-Tyrell alliance frays in the aftermath of Lord Tywin's assassination while the two queens remain imprisoned by the Faith. All the while, Tyrion goes eastward to lend his services to Danaerys.

I'll admit that I was getting concerned for the Song of Ice and Fire series after A Feast for Crows. I liked the book well enough, but I thought the narrative was starting to fall apart. Also, it seemed like Danaerys was being groomed to be the final victor and about the only person I want to see win less than her is old Mad King Joff, thankfully departed from this world. It was over a year before I finally decided to go ahead and give the book a try, partially goaded on by the then upcoming premiere of Season 5 of the TV series. As I mentioned in my review for Season 5, the TV series is by now its own beast entirely. There are enough plotlines left on the cutting room floor to make for a whole extra season, but perhaps that highlights one of the problems of the book. There are 18 POV characters, twice as many as the first book. The story is splintering in too many directions and it's difficult to keep things cohesive. It also doesn't help that a lot of these plotlines either go nowhere or aren't interesting enough to care about. I can't speak for anyone else, but I hate both Essos and the Ironborn. I'll admit that Essos becomes a little more interesting once a certain girl and her floppy ears are removed from the scene and Victarion's rising star shows some promise, but no doubt the payoff will be disappointing, as is the case for much of the series. You can argue that there's some realism to all these grand plotlines coming to nothing, but it doesn't make for an interesting experience and the more this goes on, the less you care about how things end. Honestly, I'm getting to the point where I hope Martin makes his joke a reality about ending the series with the Red Comet crashing into the planet and destroying everything. Now, all of this doesn't sound like much of a ringing endorsement, but I did think this was overall a good read. It ran on longer than it needed to, it lacked sufficient focus to deliver a streamlined narrative, but this is increasingly what we've come to expect from the series. I'll give The Winds of Winter a read when (if?) it comes out, but if you're starting to feel some apathy and fatigue, I can't blame you.

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