Ali's Reviews > A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
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's review
Oct 19, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: sci-fi-and-fantasy, 2011

I'm going to preface my review by saying I love huge, sprawling, epic fantasy novels/series. But this book has too many characters, too many back-stories, and just way too much in general.

I usually think that it's a good thing to put a lot of thought into world-building, thinking out the relationships between characters, etc. But in "A Dance with Dragons," each bit character -- a random soldier on the Wall, a sailor who only features in one chapter -- has an entire back-story. We find out his name. We hear about the town or land that he comes from. We might even hear about the exploits of his great-grandfather. And will any of this ever be relevant again? No.

Despite spending quite a bit of time reading through some character lists, plot summaries and going through maps before I picked up the book (it had been several years since I read the previous one), it still took me 500 pages to fully feel comfortable with the plot and characters again. That's just nuts.

Here's a quote that struck me as quite apt while I was reading: "Tyrion took a mordant pleasure in inventing the details of the colorful life of Hugor Hill, also known as Yollo, a bastard out of Lannisport."

Martin took a similar pleasure in inventing his own characters. He needs a good editor who isn't afraid to make him cut out a lot in the next book.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Doug (new)

Doug Ali,

What did you think of the previous books? If I've seen and loved GoT on HBO, should I jump down this rabbit hole?


message 2: by Ali (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ali Hmmm. The first few are amazing, but then they start to go downhill as Martin loses his ability to write succinctly. I kind of learned to half-skim the later books to filter out all the extraneous bits, and that way I can still enjoy the plot. His writing (at least for the first few) is very good, though, and he does a better job of world-building than pretty much any author I know.

I guess it all depends on your ability to either a) tolerate (extreme) wordiness, or b) your ability to leave a series half finished. I fall into the former category, although I'll still grumble about how the quality of the books has gone downhill.

message 3: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert I had the same experience, Ali. I loved the first two and then it seemed that Martin wanted to follow every possible thread instead of weaving in the important ends of lesser characters' story arcs. This is especially the case given that some of those characters live and die without much advancing the plot (unless Martin has some aces up his sleeve).

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