Joanie's Reviews > A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
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Aug 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, re-read-potential, fantasy
Read from August 23 to September 01, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Oh, this was definitely my least favourite book.

I knew about the complaints of the new POVs for AFFC and how that has got mixed reactions, but even with the more popular POVs included in this one, I enjoyed it much less. The Martells and Dorne fascinated me and I didn't even miss the business at the Wall or across the Narrow Sea. Sure, Tyrion murdering Tywin and Shae was a shocker but I wasn't particularly in a hurry to know where he scurried off to.

Anyhow, the book begins with a lot of open threads. There are quite a few characters off to find Daenerys and her dragons, with Quentyn, Tyrion, and Victarion getting their stories across. Most of their journeys didn't interest me in the slightest, and that was a huge chunk of the book. Add in Daenerys' struggles to rule Meereen and her refusal to return to Westeros despite some offers: 1) the ships and 2) Quentyn and the alliance with Dorne, which frustrated me the most because she could've had a decent amount of support there, but mostly dismissed Quentyn because she wasn't enamoured with him. The situation in Meereen unfortunately took up the entire book even thought it seemed like a lost cause, and I figured GRRM would want to tie up a few of those loose ends. Maybe have Tyrion reach Daenerys? His whole storyline seemed pointless as well, aside from the reveal of Aegon, which now intrigues me more than the either of them. I wouldn't miss Daenerys or Tyrion at all if they disappeared next book, which sad to say, will likely never happen since they seem to be GRRM's favourite characters. "Where do whores go?" officially annoys me more than "You know nothing, Jon Snow" now.

Jon, on the other hand, seems to be on quite the slippery slope as well. I applaud the tough decisions he's had to made and I don't think I would've done any different. There's a cliffhanger at the end but do we really believe that he would be killed off? Especially with Melisandre in proximity? Not worried in the slightest. I thought his storyline moved along quite well, and out of all the 'returning' POVs, I enjoyed his the most. His new position as the Lord Commander is quite the balancing act.

The highlights of this book were the least expected. Aside from Arya's two chapters (in which I'm impressed but frightened for her future), I thought the best chapters were: Griff/Jon Connington, Barristan the Bold, and Reek/Theon's, all new or POVs we rarely get to hear from. GRRM has a knack for flipping our preconceived notions of a character and adding depth for more sympathy, and it worked for Theon, like it did for Jaime. No, I don't think he did the right thing for sacking Winterfell and murdering those two children in place of Bran and Rickon, but there's a clear sense of him never feeling the sense of belonging, and a desire to prove himself, no matter how rash the decision may be. The horror and paranoia of his first chapter (one of my favourites of this series) was a brilliant contrast to the smarmy Theon we knew in ACoK, and the gradual shift back to his rediscovered identity was a fulfilling journey on its own, moreso than the story arcs of Tyrion or Daenerys. GRRM's writing shone there.

Both Barristan and Jon [Connington] provided some valuable insight and a much-desired look into the past, back when Aerys reigned and when Rhaegar was still alive. I cannot get enough of the time period before Robert's Rebellion. Barristan's POV was what I expected - as noble for a knight of his calibre but also with some level-headed thinking. Jon Connington's fate just breaks my heart. The character seems like he's set up for disappointment and a tragic ending. The attack for his castle seemed too flawless and I don't think he'll live to see Aegon regain the throne, despite the patience in his plans and the love he's got for Rhaegar. I do think the boy's the real deal, by the way.

I enjoyed bits and pieces of this book, but my main criticism is how this tome doesn't lead us very far. About half of it was to add in storylines that ran concurrently with AFFC, and we're still left with a lot of open-ends. Winter has come, yes, but I'm worried that GRRM is juggling too many balls into the air. I'm comparing this book to ASoS or even ACoK and the slow pace is a stark contrast. The next book is still heavily anticipated, of course. If we've got just two books to go, I should hope 'Winds of Winter' moves a great deal quicker than this one.
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Reading Progress

08/27/2011 page 168
17.0% ""Reek, Reek, my name is Reek." OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD."
08/31/2011 page 673
66.0% "At the point where I want to read it all in one go, but I don't want it to end. No more books."
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