Finally, after what seems like ages, I’ve caught up with George RR Martin and finished A Dance with Dragons. (Just in time for GOT to start again on HBO!). I’ve enjoyed these books and the world that Martin has created, but they are a bear to review. THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH GOING ON. AND LOTS OF IT IS SUPER BORING.
This book is sort of a companion to A Feast for Crows. It takes place during more or less the same time period, but Martin’s universe has so many characters, they couldn’t all be contained in one massive tome. Some of these characters have fascinating, dynamic chapters full of exciting developments.
But most of them don’t. For a book that’s so very, very, very long, very little happens.
In fact, I could have done without a lot of the crap that happens here. Spoilers ahead, etc.
Tyrion is still on the lam, but now he’s performing in a fun carnival side-show! Cersei is still a horrible human being, but now she’s bald.
And lots of new characters appear, all of whom have tenuous claims to the iron throne. We get a Martell from Dorne, who attempts to marry Daenerys in order to bring their two powerful families together. We discover a secret Targaryen who is being groomed to become the King of the people. Victarion Greyjoy is in the mix, too, hunting for Dani, hoping to take her as his bride and rule Westeros.
Out of these new, minute characters, the one I’m most interested in is Jon Connington. Not because of his thirst for revenge against the Baratheon family, or his ability to bring the Targaryens back in to power, but simply because I want to know what’s going to happen with his greyscale.
Meanwhile, we have lots of snow in the north. SO MUCH SNOW. Pages and pages about how fast it is snowing and how hard it is to see and how impossible it is to walk around. Will Stannis and his army ever get to Winterfell in this snow? Will team Bolton ever find out who has been secretly killing men all over Winterfell and leaving the bodies in the snow? How about Theon and Jeyne — they are out in the snow on their own. What’s going to happen if they can’t see because there’s so much snow? The snow is so hard to shovel! WINTER IS COMING.
There is also snow at the wall. But I’m more interested in the fire at the wall. Melisandre’s visions, Mance Rayder’s secret identity, and the betrayal of Jon Snow are about the only interesting things going on up there. While I believe George Martin loves nothing more than to kill off major characters for fun, I can’t imagine that this is the last we’ll be seeing of Jon Snow. I feel confident that the fire and “the red” will come to his rescue.
What else? One weird, out of place chapter about Jaime and Brienne. (SERIOUSLY, as an editor, this almost drove me to drink. Why was this chapter here? Why not just toss it in at the end of the last book? WHY?). Too much Ramsay Bolton is crazy stuff. A lot of weird, dysfunctional family stuff going on in Dorne. And Cersei is still horrible. But at least now, she’s bald. And Varys! Glad to have him back, even for just a few, short, horrible pages.
The worst of all of this? The Tyrion chapters, once he is off the boat and stuck with Jorah. I was thrilled that Jorah was back in the story, but come on. This was awful — the jousting with Penny, the sellswords. I just didn’t care about any of it.
Which pretty much leaves us with Dani. Still stuck halfway across the world, where everyone’s name is simply a bunch of z’s and q’s strung together, Dani’s story didn’t perk up until she disappeared from it on the back of her dragon. All of the political crap was deathly boring, until she vanished. And then her story was told by Barristan Selmy, positive she will return, bravely preparing for her to step back into the roll of Queen again. His stuff was great. But the rest was almost as bad as the Iron Islands bits from the last book. I wasn’t invested in her love story (triangle?). Of course she isn’t going to take Quentyn’s proposal seriously. And of course she can’t marry Daario (but it sure is nice picturing him as Michel Huisman, thank you very much). So she must stick with Hizdahr, who may or may not be the worst person in all of Mereen. I don’t know. And I don’t care. I just want Dani to get on with it and head on over to Westeros.
I’m not feeling too confident about these next books ever being published. I wish George would stop blogging about the NFL and showing up on talk shows to talk about why the books aren’t finished. Just write them, George. Time is short, and winter is coming.
You can read the rest of my reviews on my blog.