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107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 2 Aug 2011
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This review is from: A Song of Ice and Fire (5) - A Dance With Dragons: Book 5 (Kindle Edition)
This is a difficult review to write, as I don't want to post any spoilers, so won't be making many plot or character-specific comments.

For most of ADWD I was wondering when something was going to happen. It took a long time (the best part of 70% of the way through, I think). And, when something big and exciting did happen (and it only really happens once), it was almost like stepping back to A Storm of Swords, back when the characters were mesmerising and the shocks were shocking. But then it was over, a cliffhanger was left, and that character was not seen again until the end of the book. The excitement lasted for, at most, five pages.

To be clear, I didn't hate it. There are many aspects that are handled with Martin's usual flair: one new viewpoint character who fights for Dany's cause, especially, and another returning one who had been put through some real trials to the point where he struggles to remember his own name. Arya's training continues to intrigue as well.

But most of this novel seemed to move things on very little. It reintroduces favourite characters who had been withdrawn from A Feast For Crows for the sake of length. This splitting of characters and locations was a huge mistake that has pretty much scuppered both books, in my opinion. There is a lot of treading water here, a lot of needless obstacles thrown in the way just to stop characters getting where they need to be. It's not boring. It's just not really anything, and that's the problem. You know that, by the end, you're not going to find any resolution at all, and it is frustrating.

I think GRRM needs to take a look at Steven Erikson. Erikson wrote a ten book series, and each book in that series - barring the ninth one - had it's own story with a beginning, middle and end, whilst still advancing the main plotlines. Erikson didn't really do cliffhangers, yet the readers still flocked back. Love him or hate him, you've got to give him credit for that, at least. George should take note.

As it stands, I think the next book needs to be very special to really win me back. He's got two books to wrap it up, and he needs to get a move on. I won't be at all surprised if he extends the series even further. This book has left me disappointed but, to be honest, quite unsurprised. Perhaps that's the most telling aspect of it all, for me.

Re the Kindle edition: the formatting is poor. There is a nasty recurring problem in that one character will finish talking and then another will start, but there's no line break so you carry on reading like it was the first character talking. It meant I had to keep pausing and working it out. Very annoying, and it happens all the way through the book.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Aug 2011 10:32:19 BDT
Perhaps Steven Erikson's novels are better structured, but the big problem is that you have no idea what he's talking about. His scenes unfold from the inside out, starting with some tiny detail and panning back. That might work on film, but on paper it takes forever to get oriented.

I could overlook that, but in a good percentage of the three Malazan books I read (the first three) there were large chunks of story that were beyond my comprehension. Erikson has a good ear for language, but his concepts are often very obscure. And when he tries to be funny, he's disastrous.

Some writers try to explain too much, constantly nudging you by reminding you who this person is and what happened in the previous chapter. Erikson goes to the opposite extreme and deluges the reader with a torrent of characters and half-developed ideas that leave you scratching your head.

GRRM has gotten out of control with his never-ending welter of characters, but at least you have some idea what is, or is not, happening.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2011 10:17:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2011 11:07:17 BDT
Steve D says:
To be honest, I didn't want to turn this into a Martin vs Erikson debate, as I think they are each attempting vastly different takes on the genre - I was merely pointing out that it is possible to write a long series and still have a definite beginning, middle and end for each book. With Martin we seem perpetually stuck in the middle, without any sort of resolution for any of the characters. It spoke volumes to me that, by the time a certain 'twist' (which had been telegraphed for hundreds of pages beforehand) happened towards the end of A Dance With Dragons, I'd actually stopped caring.

I wholeheartedly disagree with you about Erikson's humour, which works brilliantly for me. I am aware that his books divide opinions, so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, as I loved them from the very first page. The sense of history and place and, yes, mystery thoroughly gripped me. He demands that you pay attention and rewards you for doing so. If you're prepared to wait years (and years) for GRRM to provide some sort of resolution for characters that have barely been mentioned in the last couple of books, surely you can allow Erikson more than three books to answer to your questions? Plus, going back to re-read with the knowledge of the subsequent novels in the series, the earlier books transform from merely 'great' to 'revelatory'.

Posted on 24 Aug 2011 17:56:28 BDT
shinami says:
Appreciate (and admire) how you summarised without going into too much detail that it became spoilers.

And it's not just the Kindle edition that has the problem with line breaks. I bought my ebook edition from another online retailer in another digital format with, alas, the same problem...

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Aug 2011 10:53:16 BDT
Steve D says:
Thanks shinami.

It's quite scary how an ebook version with as high a profile as this one has made it out with such problems.
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