200 of 219 people found the following review helpful
Makes me worry for the series,
This review is from: A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (Hardcover)
It's taken me a couple of weeks of reflection to decide whether or not Dance With Dragons was a decent-to-good addition to A Song of Ice and Fire or had taken the series further down the spiral towards mediocrity and filler which started with the 4th book, A Feast for Crows. I'm sorry to say that, quite frankly, the book is (with the exception of a couple of character arcs) a disaster and will take quite a stunning return to form on the part of George R.R. Martin to revive the series.
The positives in this book consist are as follows:
The Theon Greyjoy chapters which (while very painful to read) are amongst the strongest stuff Martin has written and make Theon's character development from A Game of Thrones to Dance with Dragons arguably the most intriguing of all characters.
The scenes involving Lord Manderley - who has come out of nowehere to become a firm fan favourite. I will not elaborate on how this character features as to do so would require spoilers but I will say that his scenes in the Davos Seaworth chapters provided the first genuinely uplifting moment I've had in this series in 10+ years.
I'm afraid that's all i can muster on the positive front. There are another couple of chapters/characters/subplots which are certainly interesting (Bran,Arya) but are so fleeting and incomplete that they merely add to the frustration with the book.
The negatives in this book:
Of the 'Big 3' characters - Jon, Dany, Tyrion - none are on form and the latter two in particular suffer in some of the most appallingly written chapters Martin has committed to paper. While Tyrion as a character is more or less recognisable his 'journey' is so mind numbingly dull and pointless that you find his chapters to be a chore. He picks up the most preposterous and unnecessary side-kick who a previous reviewer has quite aptly described as being this series answer to Jar-Jar Binks. Dany has had a personality transplant and has become, to be honest, a seriously silly little adolescent girl. The difference between the Dany of the first 3 books and the idiotic Dany of this installment is so great - it's as if she's become possessed by Sansa's naive pre Ned execution personality (that is, if Sansa had also been a bit of a slut) - that it is actually jarring and you find yourself sighing at the sight of her name starting any chapter. Jon Snow is more or less the same and we do get some interesting developments at the wall but his arc is left on a totally needless cliffhanger which will no doubt take some 6+ years for us to resolve given Martin's current writing speed.
There are several chapters (Jamie/Cersei) which quite clearly should have been part of A Feast for Crows (and would have geniunely improved that book) and clearly stick out in this installment.
Victarion/Ironborn chapters add nothing. Stannis finally goes somewhere then gets caught in a blizzard for pretty much the entirity of the book (a fair metaphor for Martin's progress with this series over the last 11 years).
Pointless description/waffle/travelogue - as many (MANY) other reviewers have pointed out this book is very bad for filler and repititions. One might think that the book had gone straight from GRRM's computer to the printing presses without the intermediate stage of proof-reading/editing. Even if this was the case you would think that Martin himself would be capable of editing some of the truly inexcusable filler out of this book but since writing Storm of Swords he seems to have become incapable of discriminating between relevant, concisely written plot developments and waffling descriptions of foodstores/eating/diarrhoea.
In conclusion, you could combine this book with A Feast for Crows and cut some 1000-1200 pages from the resulting tome and you would have a decent addition to the series. It would still be the weakest installment thus far but it would be infinitely better than what we have in the two seperate books.
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Initial post: 9 Aug 2011 20:19:18 BDT
R. Loughins says:
"you could combine this book with A Feast for Crows and cut some 1000-1200 pages from the resulting tome and you would have a decent addition to the series" - my thoughts exactly. Your review sums it up perfectly.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Nov 2011 11:44:51 GMT
Ironic that that was the way the book was supposed to have appeared. Also GRRM has apparently realised that he has no idea how to get Dany's army across the ocean, and the abandonment of the planned five year jump in the Stark children's ages has left things in Limbo. Such a pity, as the first three books are superb storytelling.
Posted on 18 Apr 2012 15:29:14 BDT
Ben W says:
One star is harsh because it remains very readable and fundamentally better than a large slice of the "amateur" fantasy stuff out there. Two perhaps? Along with a kick up the backside to Martin to pull his finger out. Having thought 5/6 yrs ago I'd discovered a new author to devour, I'm now absolutely furious that he's trashing characters of the potential of Dany and Jon.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2012 22:29:19 BDT
I agree that 1 star is probably a bit harsh if Dance with Dragons is judged as a lone book, purely on its own merits. However, I judged it within the context of the greater series and considered how it affected and advanced the story. It is by comparison with the first 3 books (every one of which i consider worthy of 5 stars) that I felt a 1 star review was justified.
Posted on 28 Jul 2012 17:41:12 BDT
There is one word in your review which sums up what I felt as I helplessly ploughed through this book: frustration
I agree totally with what you said. This has got to be the first time I actually started skipping chapters in a book, just because they sucked so bad I had zero motivation to continue reading.
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