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146 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars winter is coming at a glacial pace
It's been quite the wait for the latest installment of G.R.R.Martin's (GRRM) A Song of Ice and fire series and during the wait there have been some very impressive new additions to the fantasy field (Abercrombie, Bakker, Lynch and Abraham). So I was interested to see whether the quality still holds up with the new competition. The first thing I have to say is that, yes it...
Published on 14 Aug 2011 by Neil J. Pearson

versus
532 of 557 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intricate, but Underwhelming.
ADWD was a loooong time in the waiting, and since the previous book was a character-driven travelogue, it was generally believed that this would make up for it with plenty of action and plot resolution. Not so. This, like A Feast For Crows, is 1000 pages of scenic character study.

The characters travel about, and have immense conversations with other people...
Published on 17 July 2011 by Elspeth Flashman


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time! Wait for the TV series!, 9 Dec 2013
This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
This really is not the same calibre of writing as books 1 - 3. You keep wading further and further into the story expecting something to happen, and next thing you know its finished, and you are left wondering "what was that all about?". I had to assume it would make sense in book 5, which annoyingly is only fractionally better than book 4.

Perhaps fame got to GRRMs head by book 4, or perhaps subconsciously he himself has gotten board with writing such massive volume (with such little substance). There is nothing clever about book 4 and 5. There thrill is gone. There is nothing intricate about the plot. In fact the plot gets wafer thin. You have to read this huge expanse of chapters and characters, to gain very little in terms of a story.

Watching the TV series, I felt book 1 was followed about 90% accurately. Series 2 was a bit less true to the book, maybe 80% but still a very good story. Then after watching the 3rd series, I could not understand why it deviated so much from the book (maybe 60% true to the book), especially missing out the thrilling final chapters. Now it all makes sense! Books 4 and 5 are such a waste of time! The end of chapter 3 + books 4 and 5 will be probably be edited out into 1 series. That is how the books should have been treated- not just an editing of material, but a complete overhaul - being trimmed down into 1 smaller book!

It really is disappointing. I used to rave about books 1 to 3 telling a lot of people to read them. Books 4 and 5 I tell people not to even bother and wait for the series. There is nothing clever about GRRMs writing anymore. His idea of a clever turn to the story is by killing another character. Not with suspense, not with a ploy, not in thrilling fashion or a good tale, but rather they just die out in a whimper! "Oh him, he got killed in a battle", a few pages later, "oops, he stepped outside and got stabbed". It is completely uninteresting and uncreative story telling.

Do yourself a favor, and wait for the TV series for books 4 and 5. Reading this book is a waste of time.

By the time book 6 comes out (where hopefully even some of all this pointless meandering will actually amount to anything) you probably will have forgotten most of what you have read in books 4 and 5. Between the 500 plus characters and still having to wait until (rumored) 2015 for book 6, this is a waste of time one would rather avoid!

As another poor review mentioned, which I feel is a massive point, which actually ruins the entire series... we are periodically told in the story about the threat to the entire world by the "others" and "whites" but it is now after book 5, and they have gotten 3 or 4 chapters where they really have featured, in between what 350 chapters! Difficult to take a threat seriously when it is actually so benign!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written tedium, 7 Oct 2011
This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
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.
Err..
Thats it.

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.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An aimless wander with Dragons, 26 July 2011
By 
Matt (Wrexham, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
I'm a huge fan of the series and had high expectations for this book, heightened by the extremely long wait since the last one. Sadly, the book didn't live up to billing I'd given it. It's desperately in need of some editing. The three main story arcs of the book (Jon, Tyrion and Dany) are very slow moving, and while Mr. Martin is very adept at creating atmosphere and building wonderfully deep and lifelike characters it would have been nice if there had been a little more plot development in their stories. Dany's chapters I found particularly painful, as at least Jon and Tyrion's chapters had some humour to get me by.

I read a couple of early reviews which promised resolution of previous cliffhangers, and the beginnings of the whole storyline coming together. Unfortunately this couldn't be further from the truth. Far more questions were raised than answered and a large number of new characters were introduced, few of whom grabbed me enough to care much about. I'll eat my Kindle if Mr. Martin can wrap this up in two more books.

One of the biggest problems for me is that the story has become so large and spread throughout the world that GRRM has created that none of the main characters ever interact with one another. It seems a waste to have all these wonderful characters and then keep them apart for the entire 800 pages. Not once do Dany, Tyrion, Jon, Arya, Bran, Theon, Sansa (who doesn't even appear once), Cersei, Jaime or Davos appear in the same room together (or the same city/continent for that matter) and it's left to minor characters to interact with them.

It's not all bad news. Bran and Arya have a couple of excellent chapters each (I could read a whole book just about Arya), and the Theon chapters were a very pleasant suprise. GRRM has excelled himself turning a character that many readers had little love for in the previous books into someone to actually care about.

There are a couple of truly suprising moments in the book that will have you on the edge of your seat and thankfully it's just enough to keep the reader interested. Overall it's my least favourite of the series and I can't say I'm not disappointed. I'll definitely read the next one, albeit with a sense of trepidation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just as well written as his other books but far too slow and far too long, 10 Jun 2014
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Mr. Duncan Macfarlane (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
The quality of writing is just as excellent as any of the other books in the series, but it follows the trend of each book after the third becoming longer and slower than the last. There is excessive detail on trivial scenes like the appearance of a barge and river Tyrion is on lasting pages on end. It would be forgivable to make the book over 1,000 pages long if a lot happened in it, but the important plot events could have been fitted into a book half or a quarter of the length without losing anything. Perhaps Martin is losing any self-discipline on chapter and book length due to his success as a writer. Personally I feel publishers should be giving him some word limits and deadlines.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the next one!, 1 Feb 2012
By 
R. A. Davison (UK) - See all my reviews
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It took me 2 days to read this book, all 1,034 pages of it. In actual reading time spent, I would say less than 13 hours. It is simply fantastic. Compelling. Gripping. The prologue, usually an irritating affair before we re-engage with our beloved heroes, brings forth a revelation about one of them, which gives you a squeal of fan-joy from the very outset. Then the first POV chapter brings us Tyrion, fan favourite Tyrion, and it becomes clear that what made A Feast For Crows weak was the absence of the witty, wily, dwarf. It is a pleasure to have him back.

We pick up Tyrion on the run from his discovery that his father did not in fact poo gold, now caught up in the machinations of Varys the Spider and Illyrio Mopatis, the man who harboured Viserys and Daenerys in A Game Of Thrones. He is sent on his way with a group of people on a barge, who are not he quickly gathers, who they are pretending to be. Who they are proves to be something of a thrill for the fans, at least for me, as with the revelation of the identity of young sellsword Frog. I heard some reviews say they were unhappy with the Tyrion chapters but I found them highly satisfactory. The TV series Game Of Thrones has however had the impact that I hear Peter Dinklage's dry delivery of Tyrion's dialogue everytime he speaks. But, since Emmy nominated Dinklage was perhaps the best cast actor of the bunch, this is by no means a bad thing.

Tyrion shares the main bulk of the POV chapters alongside Jon Snow and Daenerys. At Castle Black, Jon struggles with the demands that being Lord Commander place upon him, tensions grow between the wildlings and the Night's Watch. Though Jon knows he should not trust the Red Queen Melisandre, nor get involved with the events in the realm, he is manipulated into it and haunted by past actions and the thought of home. I found the Castle Black sections a bit difficult, mainly because they are over populated and a "bunch of names" without much character are hard to care about. This was also a problem but to less of a degree in Meereen where Daenerys Targaryen holds court, though as many characters wonder aloud in the book, I too wondered why she continued to remain there, fighting what is essentially a losing battle. My eventual conclusion was that, almost like in one of Tyrion's cyvasse games, Daenerys essentially remains in Meereen to move other pieces in the game of thrones into position. This, is really a weakness in Book 5, her presence there does not ring true and feels like the exposition device it most likely is, though, at the close of the novel, her POV section ends with a haunting image.

The best bit for me about A Dance With Dragons, was its little unexpected turns. Though the book belongs to Tyrion, Jon and Daenerys, a flick of the page may bring you suddenly to a POV chapter of a character you weren't expecting to see in this book, believing them consigned solely to A Feast For Crows, both books taking place at the same time. When a chapter suddenly appeared unexpectedly featuring a beloved character, I was thrilled, and this happens more than once.

One of the more successful POV's is that of Reek, a character we have met before living a new and utterly tormented life. The characters psychological destruction, sickening exploitation and total submission to his vile master are some of the best written parts of the book.

One of the most disappointing things for me however was that at the end of A Feast For Crows we were left with a true, true, cliffhanger. For the resolution of this cliffhanger to be done with two sentences only and for the continuation of that plot to disappear again entirely til "Next Time", was a massive disappointment and a major anticlimax. But we can't have everything I guess.

Though some may have been disappointed by the scarcity of Bran chapters, I am not their biggest fan and so was grateful for having fewer. The interaction with Reek was a nice touch though. I like the foreshadowing of what will be in the next book: it will clearly contain the mission assigned to Davos. And the epilogue was tremendous. However, what Martin has done as he did equally with a Feast For Crows is he has left us with a cliffhanger, someone is left in mortal peril: will they make it or will they die? I really hope the man doesn't make us wait 6 years to find out.

Martin is a God not just among fantasy writers but writers in general. All hail King George of Westeros 10/10
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, 20 July 2011
By 
Jingizu (South Africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
After the excellence of the first three books, I felt let down by A Feast for Crows. Now I feel even more let down by Dance with Dragons. After six years and a 1000 pages there is just one sentence that sums it up i.e. 'nothing relevant happened'. The plot hardly moved forward at all. The pace of the story dragged. Introduction to a host of new, one-dimensional, boring characters and irrelevant sub-plots. The main characters' development was awful, for example, I absolutely hated the direction GRRM has taken with Daenerys and her dragons. Jon's POVs end on a ridiculous and unbelievable cliffhanger, Tyrion's storyline I could only shake my head and sigh over, Arya didn't move at all, Bran didn't move at all, Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Davos - they all remained rather stagnant.

No, GRRM, this is the last time I buy the hardcover for sure. In fact, I'll rather borrow Winds of Winter from a friend or the library before I decide to buy it. And I will definitely not be holding my breath for the next instalment as I did with this one.

Yup, yet another great fantasy author has caught the seemingly incurable "RJWoT" [Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time] virus.

As for some reviewers here who consider even this installment of GRRM's as "head and shoulders above the rest" in the genre, I beg to differ. I thought so too after the first three books, but no more. Read Branden Sanderson's "Mistborn" trilogy or Greg Keyes' "Kingdoms of Throne and Bone" quadrilogy or Peter F Hamilton's "Void" trilogy, for fantastic stories, excellent writing, great world building and character development and most of all, a tightly woven ending. GRRM is most definitely NOT the "American Tolkien".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrible story telling. Are you being paid by the word George?, 12 May 2013
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Before I write my review I just want to tell you exactly what I had for breakfast, let you know the colour of my underpants and why I chose them, and give you, in detail, the history of my all family and friends. Not interested? Exactly.

After struggling through book 4 I had to leave it a good long time before starting book 5. For the first couple of hundred pages I remembered why I read these books in the first place, as the characters and the world they live in are so deep and rich, it's almost hard to believe it's a work of fiction. Then, after 1,000 pages of almost nothing at all happening, I remembered why I left the gap. A reader simply can't be expected to enjoy endless over description of food, clothes and towns, pages of back story on characters who have no role in the story, all the while almost nothing important to the plot happens. I'm also finding that I don't like the main characters who haven't been killed off - the iron born are dull, the Dornish don't seem to do anything other than squabble, and even Dany's character seems to have got lost. There's dragons, army's, skin changers, assassins, wizards and much more out there - it's past time they all started doing something
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars because the writing is still good... but DAMMIT, GEORGE - NO!, 2 April 2014
By 
M. Wilkinson (Portsmouth, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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OK, I discovered the series a little late, somewhere around the time when season 3 was starting to be aired, I enjoyed the series, although I had what are apparently the traditional misgivings (major characters get killed off, male genitalia and procrastination), now having read all the way to the fifth book, I start to realise that the niggling doubts are becoming severe and G.R.R.M. is in danger of ruining his epic series. I wonder how worried the network would be if they knew that this far ahead in the song of ice and fire (what might end up as season 7 or 8 of the TV version), Danaerys is still a long way from Westeros and not even heading there. To put it bluntly, the series has begun to feel like it is tripping over itself in an effort to slow down and drag the story out. A terrible shame as the first few books were so damned good.

I don't know if should give spoilers - if you've read the last four books I can't imagine that you'd really stop here but major characters continue to drop and I wouldn't mind if it made sense but at the climax of this book - it simply doesn't. A character dies when there are still so many unanswered questions and unfulfilled potential and you'll think 'no... that's just stupid' - its even implausible. It just wouldn't have happened like that! You might have to read the book to know what I mean but chances are, when you do - you'll agree.

So, the procrastination is worse than ever and a major character dies almost making you wish they hadn't been included in the first place. If the series carries on like this, I get a feeling many people will start a song of ice and fire but lose interest before the song is done.

Since this review is attached to a particular addition, let me say the hardback presentation in a slipcase is good, but not great. LOTR had an anniversary addition (From the American Amazon site) that was leather bound with gold-leaf edged pages. Now that was a work of art.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waffle, 27 Jan 2014
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An excellent story, but far to much useless padding which detracts from an otherwise great tale. A reader can lose interest very quickly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dance with Dragons, 24 Nov 2012
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I have really enjoyed this series, although there are now so many characters involved it takes time to follow all the stories.
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A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) by George R. R. Martin (Hardcover - 12 July 2011)
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