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140 of 153 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

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522 of 547 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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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frustrated, 15 Aug 2011
By 
Jonathan (Swansea, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed reading this but it did seem rather slow at times. I'd get really worked up about one particular character and what was happening to him or her and just as it was getting exciting the story would change to one of the other characters which hadn't been mentioned in the book for ages.
All the characters in George Martins books are well rounded and the descriptions are excellent but I do wish there were separate books about each character joining together in the end book.
On the whole I enjoy his books, he has the most amazing imagination and I can't wait to see what's going to happen next which is why I'm frustrated.
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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The calm before the storm, 26 July 2011
By 
Owain (Dyserth, Wales) - See all my reviews
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As Gandalf once famously quoted - 'The board is set, the pieces are moving... We come to it at last. The Great battle of our time.' For me, this quote seems the most relevant in describing ADWD. The board was set in a Storm of Swords with its shocking resolutions, opening the door for whatever George RR Martin has planned to come. A Dance with Dragons follows A Feast for Crows' setup in that the pieces are moving into place, readying themselves for the great battle of their time.

It can't be denied - because the pieces are moving into place, the pacing for AFFC and ADWD has been set slightly slower than George RR Martin's previous installments. It's almost to be expected in a fantasy series (Robert Jordan did the same, though his pieces were moving for the duration of five books at least, and only now we come to the finale. Even Tolkien wrote similarly in essence with the Two Towers, where much time was used to introduce new key characters to the war of the ring, meaning resolutions were kept at bay until the next volume was released). This doesn't mean that what we receive is bad by any means. While moving the characters into place for the next installment, George RR Martin uses the opportunity for much character development. With any saga, this chapter of character development is essential, though understandably not everyone will appreciate it as much as others.

Overall, George RR Martin has succeeded in keeping things interesting during this stage of character evolution. Key plot developments take place every now and then, something quite absent in AFFC. A few moments are actually very surprising (An unexpected character and a shocking epilogue), which all support in setting the stage for what will be the (fingers crossed) grand finale. Rather unfortunately, much of the action has been reserved for the next volume. Though I can understand the motive (The Winds of winter will be filled with a ton of amazing moments), it does leave the book feeling unfinished and incomplete. The great battles brewing throughout the book are only a hair's length away from us once the final page is turned and it does leave the reader feeling a little empty. But like I said earlier, it was probably George RR Martin's intention to leave everything for the next book, so we can receive the true, penultimate chapter of the saga without any slowed pacing.

So what can you look forward to in ADWD? Well, for one thing, some secondary character POVs are fantastic. Theon, Davos, Bran, Asha, Quentyn, Ser Barristan, Cersei, Jaime - they all add much to the already infinitely diverse galaxy of characters. It's incredible how George RR Martin can make us root for someone we used to hate, changing our observations entirely (As can be seen by the pathos-filled chapters of Theon as he's being tortured in Ramsay Bolton's malicious grasp). Bran's chapters reveal much, delving into Ser Barristan's mind gives more depth to an already wonderful character and the introduction of Quentyn and his band of Dornish friends are all a nice welcome.

The true focus is on Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion however, and it's in these POVs things occasionally falter. Though Daenerys's behavior is completely human and fitting for her, the development in Mereen was a trifle bit disappointing. Though you can understand the need to remain with her 'children' after losing one of her own, her stubbornness does grate a little on the reader every now and then. When she's been developed so much over the previous books, you'd think she'd learn that harsh decisions are necessary every once and a while. Daenerys aside though, everything else seems to be going in the right direction. Jon's storyline felt fitting and Tyrion's quirky one liners are as fabulous as ever (though his final chapter doesn't really indicate which direction he'll be going).

Ultimately, the big fault with ADWD (And AFFC) is its editing decision. It seems wise to split the volume in half so that the entire story can be told, but as a whole it hasn't really worked out that way. The trouble is, when you're splitting a book into two, yes, you might be able to tell the whole story as you wanted, but it also means you need to add a lot of filler content to beef things up a little. It explains the drab secondary POVs in Feast and it explains the prolonged storyline for the main POVs in ADWD. Let's face it, the stories in the main POVs could have been told in half the amount of chapters, and would have worked much better if they were in the same volume as Feast. There are enough moments throughout the two books that make things worth their while, but there's so much space inbetween that sections sometimes feel bland and uninteresting. Descriptions are stretched much longer than necessary and because of more attention to character behavior, if there happens to be any backstabbing or betrayals, they aren't all that unexpected (For instance, it's easy to predict the big shock at the end of the book because you see certain individuals making hints again and again that they might cause a revolt, which could've been avoided if there were less chapters putting such things to detail).

But despite the editing decision, ADWD is a great book and promises much to come. I'm not one of those people who think George RR Martin has lost his abilities, but I think he went through a tough editing decision and chose wrongly. The truth is, if AFFC and ADWD were combined and shortened, the book would have been as decent as any of the other installments in the saga. There are enough interesting moments, only they've been split apart from eachother with a little too much of filler. As it stands, it's still above a great deal of fantasy in the market today. His writing is still eloquent, his humor and characters are still wonderful and evocative and certain moments are still bold and surprising.

If this is the volume in which the pieces are moving, and if Gandalf's statement is correct within this context - The great battle of our time is about to begin.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, ignore negative reviews, 25 Jan 2012
After reading the first four books, I was keen to downloads the latest in the series but after seeing the reveiws I paused... did I want to spend the money on a book so many people didn't rate? After receiving a voucher for Christmas I decided I'd invested in the series of books enough that I was going to make my mind up for myself and boy am I glad I did. This is one of my favourites, back to the old characters, with the new ones mixed in.... really left me waiting for number 6!!!! Can't believe I nearly didn't bother!!! A great book, with the winning formula of the previous ones.... if you are addicted, don't hesitate, just buy.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, 15 Jan 2012
It is big and heavy, but beautiful. It was delivered in a box, covered with paper so it wouldn't get damaged during the delivery process.
Abut the product itself, well, I love the book collection and this has been my favourite so far.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the fans--with staying power, 8 Sep 2011
By 
Ross Kitson (Halifax, Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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this is the fifth book in George RR Martin's epic 'Song of Ice and Fire' series (sixth if you regard the third book as two volumes)and can only really be read and enjoyed if you've tackled the others. The series as a whole is remarkable. The level of detail is exquisite and the first book was recently filmed by HBO as Game of Thrones. If you saw that then you have a fair idea of what to expect--violent, adult, gritty and explicit fantasy.
Dance with Dragons has split the fanbase for Martin. One problem was that it has taken seven years to arrive. Given that book four only dealt with half of the many characters in the series this has meant a very long wait to find out what is occurring with some of the major players. This book focuses on the events around the Wall (with Jon, Stannis and a few others) and across the Narrow Sea with Tyrion, Daenrys and Aria. It dedicates large amounts of the 1000 pages to the main three to the detriment of the other characters, meaning that the pace of the book limps along. Aria gets two (agreeably excellent) chapters and some of the minor 'Ironborn' characters feature far more. Oddly, although they seemed like fillers, they work very well. There are new characters, written in Martin's rather restrictive POV chapter style and there are some that seemed to have drifted from the edit of book four.
Magic plays a larger part in this book than any of the others, both as the form used by the Red Priests (which has crept in before with the murder of Renley) and in the form of 'wargs' or 'skinchangers.' Also, as you'd expect, there are more fantasy creatures--giants and (obviously) dragons. Martin writes these parts very well, weaving them into the realism of his world expertly. His detail of the Free Cities plays a major part and i really enjoyed this aspect--it made the book fresher in comparison to book 4 in my mind. The detail can get a bit tedious (such as when you get a break down of 'breaking the fast').
The end result is a rather infuriating, drawn out, but superbly written book that could have tolerated a proper edit. Despite this it remains compulsive for those who love the series but i hope Martin pulls his finger out and focuses on finishing the books in the next few years (rather than playing at scripting the HBO series) or his fans may abandon him in droves.
As a last note...buy the hardback version. The kindle version has amazingly irritating typography errors, where the next dialogue line tags onto the preceeding one. It makes a slow book slower and speaks of laziness on the part of the publishers. The maps are also difficult to see, but that's not peculiar to this book.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Improvement, 17 Nov 2011
The fourth book in the series was by far my favourite - and then came the fifth. I was extremely disappointed with the content and pace of the fifth book. The revelations were few and far between and to say the reader was drip-fed information would be an understatement. This book - the sixth, A Dance With Dragons - however, is brilliant. Much better pace to it. It has more of the original characters that the reader has gotten to know throughout the series. The revelations come thick and fast from the first few chapters. I was much more pleased with this book and this is why, for me, it was well worth the price tag.

George R.R. Martin is currently writing another book to follow A Dance With Dragons - and I am hoping that it follows in the footsteps of this and the fourth book as opposed to the fifth.

Sam Cochran

Follow me on Twitter - @SamMCoch
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Price, 10 Nov 2011
Why does the Kindle version cost more than the hardback version? Marketing, environmental, retail and common sense FAIL! I'll wait until it's priced more competitively.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George R R Martin at his best, 9 Oct 2011
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Loved this one. As expected it was gripping with larger than life characters, and I didn't want to put it down. I'm dreading gettting to the end of the series.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch, as usual., 27 Sep 2011
Excellent instalment to the already superb 'A song of fire and ice' saga, can't wait for the winds of winter!
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have done with more resolution, 20 July 2011
This is a well written novel but suffers both from the build up of expectations due to the long wait for it and also from a lack of any clear resolution at the end. What there is in here is done well, though a couple of the POV characters (I'm looking at you Dany and Jon) would have benefited from more ruthless editing. It doesn't move at the pace of the earlier novels, but this does allow for more detail and stronger prose than in the earlier entries in the series. The biggest concern for me was that the book is almost all build up but the pay off to this is deferred until the start of the next novel. This is fine as part of a lengthy series but initially rendered it a slightly unsatisfying read for all it's quality. Still a damn fine book then, though below his best standards, but I'll take a below his best Martin over almost anybody else writing in the field.
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A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five
A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R. R. Martin (Mass Market Paperback - 29 Oct 2013)
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