A Dance With Dragons – George R. R. Martin

DanceFrom Goodreads.com: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys 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. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east—with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night’s Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.

Published: 2011

Why I Chose It: This is the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Reviews of other books in the series:

A Game of Thrones

A Clash of Kings

A Storm of Swords

A Feast for Crows

The Review:

I was really looking forward to this book, because events in it happen simultaneously to those in A Feast for Crows, and I was really eager to see how situations and facts lined up between the two. Interestingly enough, there’s very little mention of what’s going on in the capital of King’s Landing, so I found there wasn’t much tie in between the two. In general I liked the pace and content of the fourth book. That unfortunately does not carry on to the fifth book, and I found myself not enjoying A Dance with Dragons as much as I had anticipated.

By far my biggest complaint is Tyrion’s storyline. During this book Tyrion is placed in the free cities where he comes into contact with many new people. I understand his storyline from an authors perspective – he’s very useful in the sense that he meets (and thus the reader meets) a bunch of new people and their stories can be developed from there. But as a reader I really struggled with this. Instead of seeing purpose to his storyline, I found it meandering and pointless, to the point where I was disappointed to see his name on a new chapter. In general there were very few character plotlines I really enjoyed in this book. Most I found were long and detailed to the point of boredom. Others didn’t show up until halfway through the book, and even then brought little to the narrative.

Dance2

I think I really struggled with this novel because of series fatigue. While I love the series in general, these are long books, and there’s a lot of details in them. That’s what makes these books good. But at the same time, it also means that they’re quite dense to read. I did not read these back to back, but even so by about halfway through a book I’m tired of it. It’s like eating a giant piece of cheesecake – it tastes so good that you want to keep eating, but at some point it becomes kind of gross…

I really found this book to be drawn out and slow. In the first three books, events are often eluded to or discussed, but not witnessed by the reader, allowing the narrative to really speed up. In this book, though, I think we were taken to every single event to watch in detail. This made the whole narrative slow down to a snail’s pace. There just seemed to be no sense of urgency to the novel. I honestly wondered at times if A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons really could have been edited into one novel instead of the two simultaneous narratives. That thought kind of made me sad, because while I don’t want to think badly of authors, I can’t help but wonder if this was a monetary decision rather than a storytelling one.

Overall, the book worked as an installment in the series, and pushed forward the narrative to a place where character paths may now start to cross. However the reading was heavy and drawn out, and sometimes seemed really purposeless. While I still really like the series, this book wasn’t a win for me.

Rating: 3 / 5

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