Tamora Pierce's Reviews > A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
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Sep 13, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: adult, fantasy
Read in May, 2012

At the risk of getting thoroughly stomped by series fans, this was the first book where I really felt "it was ok" is the best I can say of it. It's wildly scattered all over the landscape of the current story, both in term of physical location and in terms of characters. There are so many new characters, new armies, new leaders, new kings, new slaves, new queens, and new vicious psychopaths that it's impossible to keep track of everyone, even if I wanted to. I know fans will say that's what the list of characters is for, but my *personal* attitude is that I don't like flipping back and forth in the book every time I forget who someone was four chapters ago.

I feel as if the hole Martin got himself into when Danaerys chose to settle in one city rather than keep moving has expanded into a massive, unmanageable trap that it's going to be well-nigh impossible to write his way out of for any of the characters caught there. I feel the introduction of other contenders for her crown and the Iron Throne has pulled the story away from its central core and that most of this book could have been cut with no detriment to the main story at all. I feel the story's momentum has slowed to a complete crawl.

Please don't yell at me for not loving the book or for questioning the series. This is my opinion, and it's the opinion of someone who's read the first four books twice. I've waded through a lot of gore, viciousness, woman-bashing, flaying, and cannibalism to get this far without a peep. (And please don't tell me there was a lot of rape in the middle ages. If that reasoning's going to be used, may I point out there weren't zombies, dragons, or White Walkers in the middle ages.) I do wonder if Mr. Martin isn't gaming the plot out, which at least would explain why it's gone so meander-y. Maybe it'll tighten up in the next book. I hope so. If it doesn't, or I lose one more character that I've been hanging on for, I am outie.

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02/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Kira ACK. I abhor it when people use that excuse for rape/lack of strong female characters/overall misogyny. "But then it wouldn't be realistic!"
If you can include dragons and wizards and other fantasy gambits into a book, a strong female character or less rape won't make your book any less realistic.


message 2: by Sally (new) - added it

Sally @Kira But there are plenty of strong female characters in this series regardless of rape.


message 3: by Jori (new)

Jori @Kira I agree completely


message 4: by Britomarte (new)

Britomarte Van Horn "And please don't tell me there was a lot of rape in the middle ages. If that reasoning's going to be used, may I point out there weren't zombies, dragons, or White Walkers in the middle ages."

Hear, hear! I'm going to start telling people that when they won't shut up about the series and why I should read them all anyways. :)


Erica Sandbothe Glad to hear I'm not the only one who was disappointed with this book. The biggest problem for me was that we seemed to have all of the characters who are known to be proactive (Dany wants her throne, Jon wants to protect his people, Tyrion wants to get the country in order) ...and they don't do anything. Dany sits on her butt and complains, Jon's political struggles don't go anywhere, and Tyrion's at loose ends bumming around Essos. I think the reason we like these characters is because they have goals they wanted to accomplish -- and in DwD they were just treading water.


Amanda I have to agree with Ms. Pierce. This series is all over the place and all the characters I like are dead or in a tight spot. I mean I was really excited for this series but then all my favorite people not just were killed but brutally so. I agree with your statement that if I lose one more character I care about I won't be reading the rest of the series.


Kira @Sally: I was referring to the general excuse for all fantasy books situated in a Middle Ages(esque) setting, not just ASOIAF.


Jesslyn I liked a bit more than you (I just re-read my review) but do agree with you on a few point. The Danaerys thing was horrible and you kindly overlooked Tyrion and Anya's arc.

In the end, though, I usually take my feeling at the end of the book as my rating and I was really pleased by then.


Paul Genesse I completely agree, Tammy. Let's hope the next book will be better.

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series


message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa "I've waded through a lot of gore, viciousness, woman-bashing, flaying, and cannibalism to get this far without a peep."

You're stronger than me, in that regard. I lost my patience regarding the treatment of sex and race in #3, and I'm not sure if I'm going to make it to this one. :/ I loved this series *because* of the unashamed violence and gore, but it has to serve a purpose. (keeping women in their place, however, is not a purpose that sits well with me.)


Tamora Pierce Jesslyn wrote: "I liked a bit more than you (I just re-read my review) but do agree with you on a few point. The Danaerys thing was horrible and you kindly overlooked Tyrion and Anya's arc.

In the end, though,..."


Tyrion was caught up in the whirlpool of going off somewhere else to do stuff that doesn't have anything to do with Westeros and to be degraded, IMO, and Arya was one of the very few to have anything interesting that might actually apply to the plot (though why do they continue to train her if they believe she won't lose her identity?). That's why I didn't mention them. I just sighed and propped my chin on my hand and hoped for the best. I didn't mention Jon Snow, either. ;-)


Antigone My neighbor and I were just talking about this with my husband and could NOT agree more. I am actually hoping HBO gets this far so I can get the Cliff Notes version. I can't keep anyone staight anymore.... at least of who is left.


David de Beer "this was the first book where I really felt "it was ok" is the best I can say of it"
that was exactly my opinion too, and this was the series that brought me back to epic fantasy after I lost interest to begin with:)
your comments are spot on, imo, the whole book left me with the suspicion that Martin himself is just completely lost in the web he wove and is not entirely sure how to get himself out. It really is much too late to introduce new characters at this stage. I'm givig it 50 pages of the next book and then I'm gone.


message 14: by Dr. Lillian (new) - added it

Dr. Lillian So glad I'm not the only reader who feels this way about the current book. I definitely plan on retreading at least the first 3 books multiple times but I'm not sure I want to invest my time retreading the 4th and 5th (but I adore the Arya chapters). I'd rather use that time to read new books!


message 15: by Chuck (new)

Chuck When author's run out of things to write, they end up writting a lot of rape ... badly written ... shock value kind of rape. Some authors do write novels where rape is a central theme and they do it with sensitivity and typically there is only one incident in the novel, not the 8 incidents in a chapter, written as crudely as possible ...


Shellee I couldn't agree more Tamora. I am so irritated right now that I do not know if I will continue any farther with this series....


Nazmul Hasan it wasn't just ok, it was terrible and I was bitterly disappointing. I was led to believe it was good because everyone else said so, even though I found myself skipping entire chapters because I could not stand reading anymore.


message 18: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Kuska I stopped reading at "A Feast for Crows". I enjoy the series for the most part, but I can't read the books without a flow chart for characters, and there's 8 million characters and some of the names sound alike. -.- I just can't do it.


message 19: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Lee Rape actually wasn't that prevalent in the Middle Ages, except during times of war. Eve then, Muslims rarely raped when they conquered a city because rape was considered a crime equal to murder in their religion.

The fact that Martin hops up and down and yells HISTORICAL ACCURACY! whenever someone challenges him on all the raping is just ridiculous. All those wights and dragons are SO historically accurate!

I get it, it's a book. The actual Middle Ages was boring. Battles were brief affairs and focused on capturing the nobility so they could be ransomed. One of the exceptions is the War of the Roses, in which an estimated 3.5% of the population (105,000 out of 3 million) died. It's no wonder that Martin used the War of the Roses as his model.

I think these books are too long and that's because they're overstuffed with picayune details. But clearly, a lot of people dig all those details, so...eh, let 'em have it.


Jingizu So glad I'm not the only who felt this 5th instalment was mediocre to say the least! I loved the first 3 books, waiting expectantly for the 4th, FFC, and then it all fell flat for me.
FFC and DWD are pointless and boring, instead of me racing through every word as with the first 3 books, I found myself skipping pages and even chapters.
Also agree with comments above that GRRM seems to have tangled himself in his own story-web.
The constant rape and brutality is also becoming over the top and gratuitous without any of it moving the plot or characters.


Diana Agreed! Most people spend this book thinking and complaining. I'm not opposed to these things, but enough is enough! Hopefully the next book will be worth all of this though! :)


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