Posted by : Wendy B Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At the end of A Feast for Crows, GRRM excitedly informed readers that it and the subsequent A Dance With Dragons were actually a single book, separated due to length. He promised that missing characters would be present in Dragons and that the stories would catch up and proceed onward. For this reason, I will often be referring back to Crows.

I feel that separating the books was an unfortunate decision and Dragons suffered for it. I wanted to love this book as much as I loved the previous, but I feel like reading it so closely following Crows hurt my enjoyment of the series. From the beginning of the book, I concluded that the people who read Crows years before and had waited so long for Dragons were at the advantage. They didn’t have to read chapters that literally repeated things word for word from Crows where the books overlapped and those readers were filled with years of anticipation, allowing them to overlook many of the flaws.

Euron Crow's Eye by MathiaArkoniel. Euron does
not appear in Dragons, but since no one's drawn
me a kawaii picture of Daario yet, this will do.
What I loved in Crows failed to follow through in Dragons and as a result, I have come to refer to Dragons as “Killing Time Until I Figure Out Where The Hell This Is All Going,” by George RR Martin, featuring the following chapters:

  • “The Courtship of Queen Daenarys,”  starring Dany Targaryen and everyone intent on marrying her
  • "Daario-chan wa Totemo Kawaii ne?" starring Dany Targaryen and the man she actually wants to marry
  • “Gotta Catch ‘Em All,” starring Jon Snow and the Wildlings
  • “The Secret Life of Trees,” starring Bran Stark
  • “Where Do Whores Go?” starring Tyrion Lannister
  • “Reek, Reek, It Rhymes with STFU,” starring Reek
  • "Meanwhile, in Dorne," starring the Martell family
  • “Remember Us?” starring a few characters from Crows
  • “Introducing…!” Starring a few new characters because that’s just what we need – more characters!

Some people may have found Crows boring because there was no action, but there was actually quite a lot happening and I really enjoyed the book because of it. Crows focused on several main characters, most notably Cersei, Samwell, Jaime, Arya, Sansa and Brienne, taking us through their personal journeys. It was very powerful character building and breaking and for this alone, I gave it four stars. I had given it five stars originally, but after discussions with a friend, the little things that had bothered me became more clear: namely, plot devices, such as Maggie the Frog, unnecessarily added to push a character or event this way or that. These devices came very much out of the blue and, as I said, were unnecessary, because the characters or events were already working their way in the chosen direction, had GRRM just allowed them to progress naturally. This occurred in Dragons as well, right at the end when a certain character who had spent the entire book doing things one way and refusing to submit to all those who demand he do otherwise, decided to up and throw that all away because someone called him a mean name. This particular “twist” made me angry enough to drop what was an okay, three-star book right down to its current two.

New characters and plots were also introduced in Dragons, while familiar characters were mentioned in passing, all of which seemed very interesting because of the promise that they would appear in the next book. Dragons, unfortunately failed to deliver on this. It focused on the characters missing from the previous book, namely Dany, Jon, Tyrion and Bran, but while Crows featured some strong character development with its main characters, the “development” for Dragons’ characters was many chapters repeating the same concepts, padded out to kill time until they reached their predictable fates. Dany, Jon and Tyrion in particular were favourite characters for me, but in Dragons, I became entirely bored of them. Meanwhile, the familiar characters mentioned in Crows that I’d hoped to learn more about here appeared only briefly and then disappeared. This seemed to be a favourite plot device: mention someone, then have them run off on a special mission and not be mentioned again. I was so happy when certain Crows characters FINALLY showed up (700 pages later), only to have them ride off to mysterious purpose.

The plots in Crows had perhaps been over the top in places (looking at you, Littlefinger), but they were at least very intriguing. Unfortunately, Dragons had so little intrigue, and worse, the plots from Crows had little effect on Dragons. The one that should have been most dominant was a few forgettable chapters, if that much, and the questionable end to one aspect of it smelled a lot like “I didn’t like where this was going so I’ll just kill it with fire and replace it with something else.” The Winds Of Winter sneak peak implies that Dorne will finally play the greater role it’s been set up to play over 2000 pages now, but, after slogging through Dragons and learning that GRRM has plans for a seventh book, I am no longer anxiously concerned about what happens next. Right now, I feel like the answer to “what comes next?” will be “not much.”

And now, a poem, inspired by +Tiara W. :
One whore
Two whores

Red whores
Blue whores

Please tell me for I do not know
Where do all the whores go?

2 Responses so far.

  1. Pai says:

    Apparently, Martin originally was going to do a timeskip 5 years into the future at a certain point, but then decided to write out what happened instead. This is why he is having trouble getting some of the 'results' he planned fleshed out properly in long form.

    I can believe it, too.

  2. I can't quite visualize how that would work with so many plots, twists and characters in motion right now and those plots, twists and characters easily turned or simply killed. I think he's got too many things going now to get away with "five years later," considering how much trouble he's having with "meanwhile..."

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I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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