A Dance with Dragons (Review)

Book cover for "A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin.Title: A Dance with Dragons

Author: George R. R. Martin

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 1040

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book purchased from Kobo Books

From the cover:

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again–beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

(This is the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, after A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.)

After the semi-disaster – well, for me, anyways – that was A Feast for CrowsA Dance with Dragons was a welcome read. All my favourite characters are back in the narrative, as all the various locations have come back together again. I might not be happy with all of their storylines, but at least they have storylines again.

For example, I really love where the Tyrion storyline went for a while, with the vengeance and escape, but I’m not sure that I really love where his character has gone now that he’s on the other side of the Narrow Sea. I also don’t really love the stagnation that I feel is following Daenerys’ character. It seems like she’s had some decisions to make for a while, and just isn’t capable of actually making them. Plus, what is up with the holy army rising in King’s Landing? I just don’t feel that it was necessary to add yet another element making a bid for power, especially given some of the other surprises that come up in A Dance with Dragons.

Having said that, I really do feel like the series overall is keeping things exciting and keeping the reader guessing, which is good. I loved the way that things at the Wall are progressing even though the rest of the realm seems to be just ignoring them. In so many other fantasy series, it’s as if time stands still or people are always able (and willing) to come to the rescue, and I rather enjoy that it’s not really the case with Martin’s work. He is kind of an evil bastard who kills off characters – or makes them hated – when you least expect it, but at least he’s not predictable.


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