520 of 545 people found the following review helpful
Intricate, but Underwhelming.,
This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
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. These conversations are fascinating, and you can see the characters develop (and not always for the best) as the book goes on. But action? Not that much. We have been invested with these amazing characters for 20 years now, so watching them develop is rewarding - but it seems to be at the expense of story momentum.
By the end, we're not much further along in plot than we were by the end of Book 3. But it's now starting to become apparent that GRRM's focus is on character first and foremost, and plot must fit in the small gaps whenever the character is allowed to plateau for awhile.
So the real standout storylines in this book are oddly, the ones with characters with the fewest chapters. Then, they have to be sharp, succinct, focused and dramatic. But the "Big Three" characters each get about a dozen chapters each, and as a result have bloated, fuzzy, rather impotent storylines, where they talk a lot and worry a good deal, and evolve or devolve as people, but don't get much further towards their respective goals.
A great many new characters are introduced, but oddly, are not detailed that well. An important new figure in Dany's storyline, Hizdahr, is sketched so vaguely that you never get a sense of him at all, and care even less. It seems GRRM is too fascinated by the Big Three to be much interested in the lesser roles.
GRRM's writing style can be visceral, beautiful, haunting, unforgettable. But his weakness is wandering away into asides that are full of description and backstory, and that tendancy seems to be getting much stronger with each passing book. His editor apparently reveres him too much to call a halt to the endless minutiae. Allowing for that, how he proposes to tie up all the myriad loose ends in two more books is beyond me. I can't see it happening. This feels at the moment like it may turn into a never-ending series.
I'm still a massive fan and would recommend the series as a whole - there are too many moments of beauty not to. But I may not be first in the queue next time, as I was for this one. I have re-adjusted my expectations somewhat.
Tracked by 3 customers
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jul 2011 13:13:01 BDT
"We have been invested with these amazing characters for 20 years now, so watching them develop is rewarding"
It's not 20 years, it's 15. "Game of Thrones" was published in 1996. Otherwise, good review.
Posted on 28 Jul 2011 12:30:25 BDT
Very helpful review for me, as I've come late to this series and over the past 6 weeks have read the first four books. ' A Feast of Crows' isn't very well-paced and I was wondering whether I might need a little break before delving into Book 5. Your review (and I have read a lot of the other reviews, too) is confirming my thoughts that maybe I should leave it for a few weeks - if I can bear to. Thank you.
Lying in Wait
Posted on 28 Jul 2011 21:47:31 BDT
Hungry Horace says:
excellent review, have read it myself now, have done all of the books in the past 6 weeks and I agree with everything youhave said about this book, and you have expressed yourself eloquently and lucidly. Thanks.
Posted on 4 Aug 2011 23:54:56 BDT
Fiona Harrison says:
Great review - and Thank you for taking the time to write it. I'm also new to the series, having started with Terry Goodkind then moved on to Robert Jordan. I was a little bored with Martin's continuous references to 'House's' and their 'Flags', - and announcing an aftermath of an event rather than writing through it - I thought a bit lazy.
I ended up feeling angry with the author and felt that somehow he was loosing interest in his best characters ... or perhaps was unable to unravel and bring together all the characters for a 'grand' finale - who knows? .... whatever is going on in these books I think I'll wait a while before I return to them.
Posted on 26 Aug 2011 22:25:41 BDT
A. H. John says:
Thank you for the review, which was very well written and informative. I read the first book so long ago that I can hardly remember the details in the story lines, especially in the less memorable volumes. I strongly concur with criticism of the editor and would add censorship to the publishing house for failing to encourage GRRM to complete the series in a timely fashion. This series should be his magnus opus and if he doesn't finish it he's done himself a great disservice. Would we revere Tolkien half so much if he had stopped at The Twin Towers? Worst case scenario is a Frank Herbert ending whereby the writer dies before finishing the series and two talentless hacks come along and finish-off the work (literally and figuratively). But hopefully the TV series in the US will encourage the author to get on and finish the story; and I sincerely hope that does happen because this series has the potential to outshine any others I've read.
Posted on 4 Sep 2011 19:35:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Sep 2011 19:39:48 BDT
Have not long finished reading ADWD having read ACOK through to AFFC prior to it. And this after watching HBOs TV adaptation of AGOT which I personally thinks fantastic (with great casting), I've found myself reading through reviews seeing what conclusions the majority have come to. Was going to write a review but you've pretty much summed up all I wanted to say.
I fear ASOS will be the pinnacle of this series unless theres a real shake up from GRRM & his editing team. The style of this book & AFFC is almost too predictive; meaning the majority of chapters start slow with mainly non-essential back story or descrptive with only the culmination of the chapter revealing any plot development which is then abruptly ended. Essentially, you could get away with reading the last 4-5 pages in most chapters & finish the chapter as wise as any!
Having said this, I'll still definitely read Winds of Winter as the overall storyline is just too good to put down, & I'm eager to find out if the "big 3" still remain! Hopefully that doesn't mean another 6+ years wait though??
Posted on 7 Sep 2011 15:16:18 BDT
FARTHING BOOKS says:
I have to agree with Elspeth's comments. I have ploughed through all of the books after seeing the excellent adaptation on TV, with the sad but growing certainty that i will never want to read a single one of them again. I fail to see how George Martin can be compared to Tolkein...simply changing letters around in, for example, a name here and there doesn't constitute invention, and doesn't make it mean anything. I can re-read The Lord of the Rings every couple of years (and have done for the past 30 or so) and still find joy in the writing and awe in the sheer commitment, scholarship, depth of knowledge and humanity of the author; but this author...? I feel like the child in The Emperors New Clothes...but....whisper it....the books are ever so slightly boring.
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 22:24:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Sep 2011 22:26:05 BDT
Magda M says:
I couldn't have said it any better- now after having pre-ordered the DWD, I think i can safely leave George Martin in my "not bothered to finish the series pile"
So disappointing, as this feels more about the dragging it out for merchandizing than for telling a good story---
Plot development-- that was done by book 2--characters ---we watched them grow-- all done -- again by the end of book 2, ok may be 3.
Book 4 was just a tedious Getting to know the Lay of the Land book with us all becoming Westerosi Travel guides whether we wanted to or not!
I am sad to say, I am done with this series---i hate feeling spun about like a fly in a not very exciting web!
Posted on 25 Sep 2011 15:18:38 BDT
Also a newcomer and having hugely enjoyed the first three books, slightly less so the fourth, I feel too engaged to stop now so will certainly get the fifth. However, this review is really helpful, in that I shan't expect too much resolution! and I do agree about the excess of detail - sometimes it just reads like a list by someone obsessed with coats of arms. He does have the knack of getting you interested in his characters though - I find myself really hoping the next chapter will be from Tyrion, or tell you what has happened to the Hound.