Sunday, October 09, 2011

Review of A Dance With Dragons

Posted also on Goodreads.

Many will not like A Dance With Dragons. I and others are still bitter that books 4 and 5 were split based on worlds--at this point clearly a failure that jars the reader. Obviously Dragons continues along these longitudinal lines.

More importantly though, in Dragons George R.R. Martin departs from a number of themes established in past Ice & Fire books. But did you really want to read another tome detailing yet another war party raid along the trident? Past books had shown a tendency toward devolving into rape, murder, and heads on stakes, which is all well and good but we are over 3000 pages into the series. Mindless violence groweth stale.

Enter Dragons, set in a largely new land for us readers. For the first time in the series, Martin introduces quest themes. He also spends more time letting us read our heroes' thoughts, and not just watching their actions. At this point we have seen them defined by actions and we want more: More depth and more character development. Dragons delivers. Here too, are just enough new characters to bolster the favorites we longed for in A Feast for Crows. There are also underpinnings of romance, something alluded to but rarely explored in books 1-4. As for specific stories, Jon Snow's is great and Arya's is one of the best yet. You'll still get plenty of the violence, intrigue, and insane plot twists that you've come to expect. Just as you didn't like the outcome of every confrontation in Book 1, you may not like what you read here. Isn't that what drew you in though?

The book is flawed, as are most of this length. Daenerys's tale wallows, as it has now for some time. Dorne is still relegated to a bench warming position, and the book spends almost too much time in the distant past. But make no mistake this book is great. It is a rambling epic that brings us into a world increasingly different from reality in ways that delight the mind. The magic is inventive, the twists epic, and the writing is quite nice too.

Dragons injects life into a series that frankly needed it. To be a success, book six will have to put the pressure cooker on, leading to the epic climax in the final book that we've all been waiting for. Although as any fan of the series knows, at George's age and pace, it might just be a success if book six gets written. I for one will enjoy reading Dragons half a hundred times more while I wait.


Amanda said...

You write better reviews than I do.

Walker Bradley said...

Seconded, you do write good reviews. I must say, Dance puts more chance than logic into events. Like what are the odds Tyrion would run into Jorah... The previous ones seemed to, eh. Just saying.