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A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire) Hardcover – Illustrated, July 12, 2011
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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. . . .
Dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series--as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.
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“Long live George Martin . . . a literary dervish, enthralled by complicated characters and vivid language, and bursting with the wild vision of the very best tale tellers.”—The New York Times
“One of the best series in the history of fantasy.”—Los Angeles Times
About the Author
- Publisher : Bantam (July 12, 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 1040 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0553801473
- ISBN-13 : 978-0553801477
- Item Weight : 3.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 2.04 x 9.57 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #39,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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1. Surely Daenerys would finally at least BEGIN her journey to Westeros to claim the Iron Throne with her super Unsullied army. - Nope (But ANOTHER Targaryen, whom the reader has spent a whole 30 seconds with, is poised to fight for the throne).
2. Surely we'd see a good, dramatic trial for Cersei. - Not a chance.
3. Surely Tyrion would do something, ANYTHING to get the story moving. - Negative.
4. Surely the White Walkers would finally factor into the story. - No.
5. Surely Stannis would wreak havoc in the North and at least somewhat avenge the annihilation of the Starks and be a real threat for claiming the throne. - Sorry.
6. Surely Dorne would begin to play a larger role in the Game of Thrones. - Don't be silly.
7. Surely Bran will begin to play a part in all of this. - Not quite. He's a tree now. Or a crow. I'm not really certain.
How can Martin write SO many pages yet have so little happen? I mean, if you want to know what a character is eating to break their fast, or what color someone's surcoat or tokar is, or what color the bricks of a city are that day, or that words are wind, then this book will be riveting to you. And are we supposed to care more about Westeros or Essos? Becasue ADWD sure is Essos-centric. In fact, 99% of Martin's world seems to be made up of it, with the people living there viewing Westeros as some insignificant backwater. Reading AGoT, I thought that part of the world would just be a jumping-off point for Daenerys. But no, it now has become the virtual main setting of ASOIAF. Why did Martin make that decision? I want to find out what happens in Westeros. Or do I? I'm not sure what the reader is supposed to be focused on because Martin is just all over the place. Toward the end of the book, Dany hallucinates and talks to Jorah Mormont who reiterates that he told her to go to Westeros because Meereen was not where she belonged. I felt as if Martin was mocking us because it's what every frickin' reader would have told her as well. So why did you make us read hundreds of pages about her fretting away in Meereen?! And, at the end, she seemingly ends ups in the same place she was in AGoT!
There are also numerous characters whom I think Martin wants us to be invested in, but we just aren't because they're either not too interesting or they get lost in this morass of a book. I'm sure some readers do, but do most of us care at all about characters like Asha, Victarion, and Euron? Even Theon/Reek got old by the second half of the book. And honestly, are we supposed to care about what happens to the the billions of people in Meereen like the Brazen Beasts, Stormcrows, Sons of the Harpy, Hizdahr, etc.? Everyone in Meereen, save a couple, are pretty much terrible people and I couldn't care less what their ultimate fate is.
And let's talk about Quentyn Martell. He and his journey to court Dany get no little page time, but the only purpose he serves is to free the dragons. That's it. Now that's fine, but there was no reason for Martin to spend the chapters he did on him if he was a simple plot device.
Lastly, everything in this series is miserable and depressing; and this is coming from someone who LIKES dark books and movies. But, my goodness, nothing uplifting at all happens. It's just one gloomy event after another and everyone is either angry, oppressed, or psychotic. Martin goes out of his way to ensure that absolutely nothing remotely pleasant happens. I understand there are books with such tones, but after nearly 5,000 pages of it, you get a bit worn down. I know a big appeal of the series are the "gray" characterizations, and I agree, but does nearly everyone have to be a murderous sociopath with no regard for human life? This worked in the first three books because we weren't sure what characters we were going to root for or against. But now, we know who has a shred of decency or not and the incessant melancholy is tiresome.
This was the first book which I had to put down and read another book in between with before mustering up the motivation to finish. Usually, I'd just abandon a book I wasn't enjoying, but after reading 4,000 pages of the series I couldn't quit on it. Books 1-3 were fantastic. A Feast For Crows began the downslide but I figured it was merely setup. But ADWD was even worse than setup because NOTHING HAPPENS. I'm really torn over whether I'll read The Winds of Winter if and when it's released. I don't think I have it in me to read another novel like ADWD. I only started this series a few months ago, so I read all these books back-to-back (excluding the one I read three-quarters of the way through ADWD to keep my sanity), so I saw the decline of storytelling with this series happen in real time.
The previous book focused on Westeros’s center and southlands, this one on its north and the eastern continent of Essos. The free cities, those of Slaver’s Bay, and the companies of mercenaries are all in upheaval with Dani Targaryen’s freeing of slaves. We learn just how subtly the eunuch Varys has plotted for years. We see Westeros, devastated by years of civil war, as the forces in its north sort themselves out.
Tyrion Lannister, a price on his head after murdering his father, heads east, aided by Varys, to offer his services to Dani Targaryen as he dreams of revenge against sister Cersei. Before he falls into Jorah Mormont’s hands he first encounters the merchant Illyrio and then a small group transporting him east, from whom he learns much of Essos. He finally realizes who the group is: yet another Targaryen claimant to the Iron Throne, protected by a knight once close to Dani’s older brother, the late Prince Rhaegar.
Dani, ensconced in Meereen, struggles to rule the fractious city she conquered despite acts of terror meant to destabilize it. Two of her growing dragons are chained up, but a third is loose somewhere and Dani bears the guilt of it having (allegedly) killed a child.
Suitors angle for her hand. As her rule teeters, she vacillates over whether to make a loveless match benefitting her subjects, or to hold out for something better. She yearns for the Dothraki warlord Daario, off on a mission, but when he returns she realizes he’s not king material.
A suitor from the Martells in Dorne — the family of Dani’s slain sister-in-law — secretly makes his way east to find and court her. Pro-slavery armies from other cities besiege Meereen. What all these suitors want is the Iron Throne - and Dani’s three dragons, the nuclear weapons of the era.
Jon, Lord Commander of the Night Watch at the Wall, coexists uneasily with Stannis Boratheon who bailed them out against the wildlings. Stannis prickles against Jon’s refusal to take his side, as the Night Watch must remain neutral in Westeros affairs. The watch is a shadow of its former self, its stores tapped to feed Boratheon’s army and the defeated wildlings, its numbers decimated by war. Jon must rely on enemies and surrendered wildlings for manpower to guard against the living dead they know are coming from the north. And many of the Night Watch brothers resent his having allowed wildlings through the Wall, his efforts to make peace with them, and to rescue a large group now starving and threatened by the undead wights.
Theon Greyjoy finally emerges as Reek, the hideous Ramsay Bolton’s maimed and cowed prisoner. Bolton plans on marrying Arya Stark to seal his claim to Winterfell and the north, but has no idea his intended is an impostor.
Theon’s sister Asha, having failed to become Ironborn queen, holes up in a captured castle. Her uncle Euron, the new king, has married her off in absentia to a fat old lord, is likely coming after her, and Asha must plot her future. (While sporting with other lovers. She’s a pirate queen!) The TV show had her sailing east with Theon to aid Dani Targaryen, but here that’s done by Euron’s brother Victarion.
Bran, wandering in the north accompanied by Hodor, the Reed children and his direwolf Summer, is now accompanied by a mysterious ranger, a wight somehow still human and devoted to protecting him. We learn what’s up with wargs, humans who can psychically inhabit animals’ bodies, and there’s much of this in the Starks’ relationships with their direwolves. Bran is openly one; Jon has warg tendencies which he hides but which others suspect, and his enemies taunt him with it. I have been impatient with Bran’s story line in the novels as well on TV, but after reading this, it and the whole warg thing make more sense.
This book, the last released so far, ends far short of the story line on TV, and with plenty of snow as far south as King’s Landing. Winter is definitely here.
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That said, the book suffered from some of the problems book 2 had in a lack of conclusion and purpose in several storylines, particularly Dearnys who spent the entire book faffing around in Meeren as well as Tyrion who faffed around getting there for no obvious purpose. This book is clearly setting up events that will reach a conclusion in the next instalment.
Why you may ask have I continued reading these books given my negativity? Well it's because the first ones were so good, I keep hoping for the best and that the magic will return?
I think in reality though that its going to be a rare case of the TV people doing a better job than the author who seems to have ran out of puff.
I will read the Winds of Winter if it ever comes out, I just hope that the author gives us some resolution to at least some of the story lines he's created and rewards us for our patience.
I felt A Dance With Dragons was more of a summary in the aftermath of the events in Westoros for most of the book and a build up for what is to come from the east without a great deal of anything really happening anywhere.
Don't get me wrong, new events, characters and plots are unfolding so it's not stale and there looks to be some interesting developments coming after some big changes towards the end (one or two of which will shock if not anger most readers!) but it's just slow going and basically a build up for what is to come whilst tying up loose ends from the previous books.
That said, Martin still masters it. Whether you like the ending or not, the intrigue and anticipation he leaves with you at the end of the book is one of the great cliff hangers from A Song of Ice and Fire (IMO).
Thanks to his notorious style of killing off a favourite character and then leaving you with the small hint that they may yet be back...the next book couldn't come soon enough.
As mentioned, you get the more interesting characters, such as Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister to follow but even they are not in the middle of action but rather being described as characters in this book. If you were hoping for a real dance of dragons, a thundering finale, you will be disappointed. Some characters get killed off again, some wheels are set in motion or simply turn a bit further but in terms of resolution to the story you are not much closer than you were at the end of the third book.
The dragons burst onto the scene shortly and without much effect, the rest of the book offers hardly anything really placing it firmly into the fantasy sphere, and the new characters introduced get too superficial an entry to be a real enrichment.
Unfortunately, this all means a rather long wait for the next volume and a hope that at least some action will result or that the author returns to form fully, and manages to successfully operate the gargantuan cast once again. I would not advise fans of the series completely giving up at this point but it may well become more and more of an uphill battle, if the pace does not pick up with the next installment.