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Here we go again...

Yhis is the second half of the fifth book in the series of fantasy novels 'A Song of Ice and Fire.' Currently being dramatised on tv as 'Game of Thrones' although they're only in the middle of book two at the time of writing.

This is not a good jumping on point, and new readers should start with A Song of Ice and Fire (1) - A Game of Thrones (Reissue).

The fifth book was, just like the third book, split into two volumes for paperback publication. Thus this particular volume contains the second half of what was in the original hardcover edition. If you've already read that, then don't get this, because you're not getting anything new.

As to this book itself....

Has the same format as before. Maps of the setting at the front. Appendix at the back listing all the very long cast of characters. Chapters in the middle. Each with a different viewpoint character. Of which there are many to choose from.

And there's also an epilogue.

Book five takes place chronologically at the same time as book four. Thus for most of book five the viewpoint characters who appeared in book four don't feature. But you do get to a point in this particular volume the viewpoint characters from book four do start to creep back in.

Some storylines do make interesting progress. Although there's hardly anything in the way of action. There's a fair bit going on in the north. And some interesting developments. But things haven't quite come to a head yet.

And there's a lot going in the east where Daenerys, and several other characters are. And certain events do happen there. But they just move the story along rather than bring it to a conclusion.

Whilst this remains very readable and does have you desperate to know what will happen next, the events in the north and west do tend to be a bit more interesting than those in the east. But there's more of the latter than the former. And all the newer characters who have appeared from the beginning of book four and five onwards don't tend to grab you quite as much as the ones who have been around longer, so you can find yourself wishing the story would get back to them.

However one plotline does get very interesting, and the epilogue only heightens your interest to see where it will go. One cliffhanger from book four is resolved. But that leads to yet another cliffhanger for a character who only makes a frustratingly brief appearance in this one.

The strength of this series has always been that it's war in a fantasy kingdom done the way real wars go. They don't end with daring assaults on the dark lord's fortress, but with the fighting coming to a natural end, then treaties and negotiations. It doesn't quite feel like it's being stretched out for the sake of it though. But that may be a matter of opinion.

At the end is a chapter from the forthcoming sixth book in the series. The release date of which remains to be announced. And you might not want to hold your breath waiting for that.

This is a splendid read. Let's just hope it can all be brought to a satisfying conclusion sooner rather than later.
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on 25 February 2015
Like most reviewers I feel this is all getting too drawn out now and this book left me more frustrated then the others. Maybe I have made a mistake reading all 5 books , one after the other, so am now left with at least a years wait. This book had very little real action - more pieces of the story come into place but some of the chapters really plodded with little to add to the story. And why kill off key characters in such a random way? Why build a character so carefully with such a sense of purpose then suddenly kill them just, seemingly, for effect!..and how many times does Danny have to be 'reborn'? That said, I will, of course, buy book 6 as soon as it emerges!
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on 9 June 2012
Thankfully, I've only been reading this series of books for a few years, which gives me a chance of still being alive when it's finished. If it's finished. As other reviewers are saying, the author is getting on a bit now and if he continues to write at such a slow pace he'll probably go the way of Robert Jordan and die before he finishes the final book.

The shame of this all is that the first books were awesome. The TV series is great, too, and bound to boost book sales. But I'm loathe to recommend those books to anyone as there's no sense that they'll ever get a conclusion. Even the TV series seems doomed, really: as great as it is, they can't release a series a year and actually deliver a conclusion - just five or six years of build up, then a "to be continued..." (in 10 years). It's like stopping a season of 24 half way, then making us wait for Keifer Sutherland's unborn son to grow up so he can star in the second half.

Back to this book: I got it in hardback as the complete volume and gasped at the weight of it - so much so, that I bought it on Kindle too so I could actually read the thing. It was a bit of a plodder. I still like the characters, I still like the richness of the world, but I'm finding it hard to connect with the newcomers and really just want to find out what happens to the people I've got to know through the last few years of reading. As a writer myself, I can appreciate that it takes time to write books - particularly if you're not on it everyday (and Martin has published other books, consulted on the TV series and probably had a life, too). But this doesn't feel like 6 years of real, loving effort. More like a bit of self-indulgence, or maybe a chore - like the pretty average job I make of mowing our lawn, but then I'm not pretending to be a master gardener and I haven't made buckets of cash from cutting grass.

The REAL scary bit is that I bet I buy the next one. And, as much as I don't want to wait for it, I'd hate Martin to do a rush job of it. All this effort deserves a truly storming ending.
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on 5 April 2012
Am I alone in finding it really irritating just how many people are giving Martin's excellent series low scores either because they expect the complex multi-threaded story-lines wrapped up nice and neat at the end of each book; or because they got confused that the publisher and distributor decided to release what was over 1,000 pages in hardback as two books in paperback?

As far as the actual content is concerned, I have found A Song of Ice and Fire a riveting read - even part 4 which was perhaps the driest read - with no dragons or Others to break the political machinations and multitude of betrayals. I suppose that since Martin's main strength is without a shadow of doubt in his masterful characterisation - the one book where political narrative took centre-stage was always bound to have seemed slower than the rest.

But having thoroughly enjoyed his triumphant return to form in "A Dance with Dragons" (parts 1 and 2 and yes, I was almost caught out too :-)) I now look forward to seeing how Martin manages to draw these myriad of loose threads back to the leaderless Westeros, where I'm guessing we will be reading about the Direwolf and the Dragon (and the half-nose Lion?) fighting side-by-side for the future of humanity. If the concluding two books are going to be as good as what we've had so far, well I don't know about you, but I'm prepared to wait another few years.
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on 16 March 2012
This is a great read, one of the highlights of the past decade in fantasy fiction for me personally, gripping throughout all the way to the climactic cliff-hangers at the close of the book. I would definitely say that this was worth the wait.

The character arcs of Theon Greyjoy and Stannis especially were real highlights for me as well as the new 'wild card' POV following the exploits of the Young Dragon. George Martin has a way of lulling you in and making you think that you have your opinion set on a character before gradually chipping away at your preconceptions...I won't say any more. All in all this was a very good read and my only bugbear is that there will be another long wait before we can return to Westeros.

On a final note, it is highly disappointing to see the backlash of 1* reviews based on human error and lack of research on the part of purchasers thinking that this is a 'new' book. It clearly states that this is part two of the fifth volume in the product info and has the name 'A Dance with Dragons' blazoned on the cover. Please make a complaint to Amazon regarding the external advertising of this book if you have to, do not besmirch George Martin's content with bad reviews based on your perceptions of Amazon's advertising team.
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on 3 August 2012
I delayed reading this series because of the negative reviews on amazon regarding this book and its predecessor, A Feast of Crows. I didn't want another unpleasant disappointment after the Wheel of Time, having enthralled me, plunged into dismal depths around book eight. With similar accusations leveled at Martin, I was wary.

After reading the whole lot back to back, I can only surmise that this is due to the lack of attention span of some readers. It was utterly riveting. Yes, the plot grows and grows, but allegations that Martin is losing track of his story are quite simply down to some readers inability to keep up. Tiny aspects of the first book turn out to have significance much later- there is no padding whatsoever, unless you consider richly detailed description to be such.

And despite the vast story and cast (the list of characters in the back of the book takes up dozens of pages by this volume) it's tremendously fast moving thanks to the author's formula of short POV chapters.

I suppose if you left gaps between reading books, you would probably lose track of things. Now I'm left to wait for book six I might end up doing so. But I'm sure if you google it, there'll be synopses somewhere on the net.

This really is a story to immerse yourself in. Utterly tremendous- full of intrigue, treachery, sex and violence, a dash of the supernatural, unpredictability, all wrapped up in a medievil realism and harshness that both enthralls and appalls. But Martin's greatest strength is in his characterization. Everyone is an individual in this book- some are hugely original, some are more traditional fantasy characters. And like all the best fantasy, there is no tedious, unbelievable good versus evil going on. No unfeasible Tolkienism. It's about people struggling through turbulent times. Some characters who commit atrocious acts early on end up earning your sympathy, and some you might like at first might lose your affections in time. And if you want 'goodies' to root for, look elsewhere. This as realistic as fantasy gets- the depth and scope is up there with Robin Hobb and Rothfuss.

It's damn near perfect.
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on 2 October 2013
The intricate delicate nature in which this author writes is 2nd to none. Character development is plentiful and this is made all the more engaging by hearing from the various characters mind sets as we journey through the chapters. Twists in plot leave the mind never complacent and eager for the next turn. My only problem with this book is that it finished. Bring on the next one George asap!
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on 26 April 2012
Well, if you are hooked to the series you will read this book, and the next and the next. This is, however, far from the quality of Clash of Kings or Storm of Swords.

(Spoiler). Martin used to offer unexpected deaths of key characters, very much as real history does. Now, though, it is increasingly obvious he has protected characters who will not die, no matter what. Every single character who seemed to be dead in Feast of Crows turns out to be alive. The Arya cliff-hanger of Feast is resolved in the very next chapter in which she appears. This devaluation of the currency of death (with magic, necromancy, shape-changing and face-changing added to the repertoire of misinformation and dramatic recovery to allow the return of supposedly dead characters) means there is no point mourning any of the characters, either as a reader or as a character in the stories. Thus when (spoiler) two major characters are seemingly killed at the end of A Dance with Dragons, one reported and the other seemingly dying in a point of view chapter, we can all be pretty assured they will be making swift re-appearances as soon as Martin finishes the next book.
Feast and the two parts of the Dance with Dragons have no means enough material to justify their extravagant length. Expect huge cuts in Iron Islander, Dornish and Braavosi plots by the time this reaches HBO.

Obviously many reviewers, like me, are hooked on the series, but the five star reviews show a real lack of critical judgement.
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on 15 March 2012
This is a brilliant book-like other reviewers I got a bit over excited and thought this was the next installment and bought it by mistake having already read the full version.bit annoying but if you've bought it for your kindle you can just go to your kindle page and return/refund the book straight away, so no harm done!
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on 16 March 2012
I am really disappointed to see so many people putting up negative reviews for this title! It's not George who split that book it was the publishers. Also it was Amazon who sent emails to people stating this was a new book not a re-release of one already published. I understand people's frustrations however it is not fair to rate the book so badly when it actually has nothing to do with the Author, but it is he who is getting bad reviews.
I think people should angle there frustration towards Amazon! Please give these books the ratings they deserve which is 5 stars!
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