19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Beautifully written tedium, 7 Oct. 2011
Oh dear. Seven years for that?
This has become a very frustrating series. Having put into place a great plot, great setting, great characters you would have though the scene was set for Martin, undeniably a brilliant prose writer with a genius for twists, to really bring the bacon home. There were so many great plot arcs you could imagine coming up, Tyrion joining forces with Dany, dragons defending the Wall etc etc. None of these happen in this book and I don't think they ever will at the speed things are progressing. Not in our lifetimes anyway, and unless the Others send Martin back as a wight that means never.
OK, the good side:
The first couple of chapters are good. Building up to to the good stuff (you think). But then it keeps building up.. then drifting.. meandering.. snoring..
Its still very well written. One of the few authors who can make place description, characterization, dialogue and back story really come alive. But you still need a plot.
The Theon Greyjoy redemption. Probably the highlight of the book - which is also a reflection of its paucity frankly.
The bad stuff:
The title. You read that and thought "great, the dragons are coming to Westeros and they're going to fry Cersei's ass". Nope. Actual dragons barely figure in this book. Maybe he means Targaryens [sp?] ..
STOP KILLING YOUR BEST CHARACTERS, GEORGE! Ok, it was clever the first time back in GOT. Then a bit shocking that he did it again (Red Wedding etc). Now stop. Why waste hundreds of pages on building up a really good character than you know and root for and then just bump them off. Not even in some climactic showdown. The problem is you just stop caring about the characters after a while, because you know they're going to get it. I read that people liked Arya's story in this book (I don't by the way - kinda boring IMHO). Well don't get too excited. Cause come the next one, she's toast. Look at her surname. Remember the Stark Words: "We Are Toast".
The plot. Just like the last book, there isn't one really. Its just plate-spinning some of the characters plus a few new ones.
The biggest plot surprise is arrival of new Targaryens - I won't say how - and frankly its corny. Think Bobby Ewing in the shower.
If you go to writing school they teach you to plot out the book upfront, etc. I used to think it was cool that Martin clearly didn't do that. He was unpredictable but still turning out great stuff. Now I know why they teach that. Stuff needs to actually happen. You'd think in 1000 odd pages that something would. Call me old fashioned but at least some plot threads do actually need to be arcs not random meandering.
There are too many characters and odd bits of plot threads. That is partly why the book is so slow. Get rid of most - but NOT the good ones! Keep those and speed them up. So many characters are introduced and much time spent on them so that you think will become important to the plot. They almost never do. Brienne, Gendry, Ser Loras, The Hound, Quentyn Martell, Asha, Sam etc , its a very long list over the course of five large books. Quite a lot of them he doesn't even bother to bump off, they just disappear from the story.
Victarion Greyjoy. This typifies the book. He starts off in his boat. By the end he's still in his boat, maybe 30 miles further on. Exciting huh.
Tyrion. Where the book starts to go wrong is when Tyrion meets Jorah Mormont. The thrust of the book is just lost then.
Cue yet another pointless meandering journey, where just when you think they might get somewhere meaningful, your hopes are dashed again. We've seen it with Arya (three books and counting so far spent trying to get back to Winterfell), Brienne (two books and counting spent trying to find Arya), Bran (well at least he finally got somewhere, I though he was going to end up at the North Pole).
Jaime. Blink and you missed it.
Davos. As per Jaime, which is a shame cause it was looking quite interesting. See you in 2020, Davos!
Stannis. All I can say is I hope Ramsay Snow's letter was true.
Jon Snow. A note arrives "theres been a big battle and this is what happened". Aaargh! We plodded through all that and when we get to the big battle at the end we get a 2 line summary! Remember that epic battle at Kings Landing chapter. Not here. I think the publishers told Martin to "just get it out there".
Dany. Please, just leave Meereen.
But who cares anyway? she's probably toast. Literally if Drogon has anything to do with it.
Sadly, Martin needs to put this series out its misery. which is a shame because it was brilliant. I vote that everyone (inc. dragons, the Others, R'hllor, Rickon, Pretty Pig etc) converges on The Wall for a massive punch up, or at least a snowball fight.