WARNING- THERE BE SPOILERS HERE
A Dance With Dragons is the fifth installment of George R.R. Martin’s installment of his epic series: A Song of Ice and Fire. In this book we are reunited with many characters introduced in the earlier books and are given a few new characters as well towards the end of the book.
The main action takes place with Jon Snow, still leading as the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, which in this book proves to be a rather daunting task. On the other side of the world, we are also following the Dragon Queen, Daenerys (Dany) Targaryen, as she occupies the city of Meereen.
Overall this book gives us the characters we were missing from the fourth book, Feast of Crows and take us a bit beyond. Everyone will be glad to know another chunk of the action follows Tyrion as he lives out his life as an escaped Kinslayer, and that The Onion Knight, Cersei, Jamie and a few others as well.
Also Bran does stuff, but nobody really likes Bran, right?
Just kidding, Bran’s story arc takes a major turn in this book which brings me to the review:
As usual, Martin proves what an excellent writer he is. His descriptions bring you right into the dirty and bloody streets of Meereen, or have you bathed in the cold that is the giant Ice Wall which serves to buffer from the realms of men to the Giants, Killer bats, wights, and all other sorts of things from beyond the Wall.
The writing style, the language, the beauty and cruelty is all present, and for that I love A Dance with Dragons. I love getting to see Tyrion in his escaped role, being humbled because he finds himself as a slave (See, I said spoilers) and how his life impacted another dwarf, whose name is Penny, and their budding friendship. In this portrayal of Tyrion we see a broken man, trying to cope with the stunning news he has received from the last book. (I won’t spoil that) He’s also depressed and trying to find himself. Sure he has his wit and his smarts, but that means nothing here where wine seems like a constant device for soothing his soul. Yes, Tyrion becomes a deeper character, as if he couldn’t already be, and we see how good a Lannister can be on his own.
So, A+ there.
Also, Martin does get the blood flowing as usual with Davos, who has some great chapters. I am happy to see a lot of the Onion knight in this book, and I will even go on to say that George, true to his usual form, does go on to write some of the most beautiful and sad parts in this book. He has us follow Bran finally coming to know the Three Eyed Crow, only to find out he will probably have to live his life even more immobile than he already is. Bran accepts this without crying, though you get an idea that he knows that he too, like his greenseer tutor, will forever be living as he will and warging as he must.
We get to know Reek, who seems like a new character but turns out to be Theon Greyjoy (known as Turncloak) who finally comes to the saddening realization that the Starks were the only family he ever had, and he betrayed them all. On top of that, his poor mental capacity is pushed beyond the pale due to the torture inflicted on him by Ramsay Bolton.
Sure he comes through in the end, but seeing his fear and conditioning take over all the time is just heartbreaking. It’s tragic, and it’s beautiful.
What gets me is the Dany chapters. What infuriates me about them, is how they drag on. Gone is the Dany who was a conqueror, a Mother to her people, and a strong female character. I was excited to see her hopefully claim the Iron throne from the idiots that are currently holding it out in Westeros, but no. What we have here is a young girl, who has no clue on how to govern. And despite the advice of Barristan Semly, she decides she will simply continue to rule here as opposed to going home, and I bet the neighboring slave states would eagerly pay to get her and her slave freeing self out of their cities.
She also reverts to some poor character lusting after some fantastical exotic Captain. Sure, perhaps Martin is writing in the vein of a young girl who is lucky enough to have dragons to cement her right to rule, but he just made those chapters a crawl through nails. No wait, rusted nails covered in bees that slowly sting you to death. If he wanted to show young love as opposed to vapid doting we could have watched Sansa fart around in the Eyrie. Oh, I hated the Dany chapters– hated and loathed. Every time I thought she might do something smart and leave, or rule harshly, she wouldn’t. She would bend over backwards to placate people who neither want her, nor love her.
Obviously, I am probably crueler than Dany and thus not fit for rule.
Martin is a troll (This rant could encompass a whole article on it’s own) At the end we’re left with him Killing off another major male character as usual out of nowhere in an assassination that reminds me of Julius Ceaser’s.
Sorry, but WTF? What’s the point of building up a character so full of mystery and hinting at all sorts of odd things with him, if you’re just going to kill him off like it was nothing. Of course, this is George R. R. Martin, and I surmise once he learns people love a character, he kills them to show what a cruel and trollish literary god that he is. The character’s death serves as nothing but an anticlimactic middle finger to the reader.
There’s too much left unsaid about the character, and for right now it could simply be Martin chortling as he strokes his beard and rolls his fat fingers in trollish glee, only to ask: “Are u mad bro?”
Am I? Yeah. Sort of. Mainly because I want some semblance of closure for a character I like, but as the author reminds us, and I am reminded now, You know nothing Jon Snow.
Overall rating: B+