A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Summary from Goodreads:

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.


Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys's claim to Westeros forever.


Meanwhile, 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. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.


From all corners, bitter conflicts 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.


A Dance with Dragons is the 5th installment and undoubtedly the longest one in the ASOIAF series, spanning 1056 pages. I can't say that it is as tight and intense as the 3rd book (A Storm of Swords), but it is relatively more brisk and exciting than the 4th book (A Feast for Crows).


Here's some more of the things I took note of in A Dance with Dragons:

1. 16 Character POVS (excluding Prologue and Epilogue) - This has the most number of POVs from among the other books in the series. Some people find it to be too many and too confusing. I was okay with it. The 3rd person POV prevents things from being muddled, not unlike if it employs the 1st person type of narration. I actually quite enjoyed having minor characters narrate a chapter or two, new set of eyes add freshness to the story.

2. The weird and the strange - Strange and Weird seems to be more predominant in this book than the others. The House of Black and White from the Arya POVs gave me the creeps for the most part. The cave, deep in the haunted forest, where the last greenseer and the children of the forest lives, as seen from Bran's POV is another strange place. And then there's the misty river with the stone men, children with pale white faces, daggers in the dark, and whatnot. Mr. Martin has certainly taken to exploring the bizarre this time around.

3. Pretense is the name of the game - Everyone seems to be someone other than who they actually are. Tyrion assumes one name and another. Same goes with Arya. A prince pretends to be a frog, and another pretends to be a sellsword's son, and another pretends to be someone's dog. All around, men pretend loyalty and allegiance. The less people know your true self, the better. There is this group of sellswords called The Brazen Beasts and they are never without their animals masks, Mr. Martin points that out several times, and I think it establishes the whole story's atmosphere of mystery and the theme of pretense that I mentioned.

 My only complaint is that, for a book called A Dance with Dragons, there isn't enough dragons in it (or dancing). I thought this would be the book where dragon lore is explained and perhaps put to practice. But there is hardly any at all. Even the magic of the dragon horn was yet again, left unexplored. True, Dany's dragons has given us plenty of action this time around. But I wanted more page time for them. Perhaps they would have called it A Dance with Mummers...or A Pantomine with Mummers...or something to that effect....well, it's not as grand as a title with dancing and dragons, but I think it would have fit more the story being told.

 All in all A Dance with Dragons is still engaging. It still has that unpredictability and danger and mystery. It still introduces us to rich worlds, and new characters to root for, and brings back old beloved ones that we have missed (like a certain smarty-pants dwarf.). What I am most excited for in the 6th installment is the crossing of paths of some of the characters and for the possibility of finding some answers for the boatload of questions I still have unanswered. And now my watch begins for The Winds of Winter.

Comments

  1. As per publicist, Jane Johnson, TWoW would not be published before 2015. It's a long wait, but GRRM already released some excerpt on his site. I hope the wenches will still band together when this installment comes. ♥

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    1. Awww. It's going to be a long wait indeed. I wonder how long the wait was for A Dance with Dragons? Oh I hope for the same thing. It would be even cooler if we could go all the way to the 7th. :D

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  2. Loved this last book. Many interesting characters and of course it ends with question marks! The fight for power is everlasting and so much fun to read.

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    Replies
    1. I know right? Those question marks never end. It might take a while for us to get some answers for those, since the 6th installment won't be out anytime soon. In the mean time, perhaps the HBO TV adaptation might ease the long wait. :)

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