Review: A Dance With Dragons

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A Dance With DragonsA Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m having a hard time rating this book. On one hand, it was very good in many respects and yet I don’t think it was as good as some of the earlier books in the series.

The things that I liked about the novel are all the same things that I liked about all of the previous novels. Martin is a master at telling human stories. Some of the characters you come to love and some you despise, but they are all almost impossibly realistic.

Another thing that I like is that characters don’t have good things happen to them just because they are good and vice versa. Sometimes good things happen to bad people and sometimes bad things happen to good people. Tat makes it almost impossible to predict what will happen.

Unfortunately, there were some problems with A Dance With Dragons. One thing that this novel had against it from the start was the hole that Martin dug in book 4. He only told the stories of about half of the characters so the first half of A Dance With Dragons was set during A Feast of Crows. That made the timing of events in book 5 pretty difficult to connect with book 4. It also pretty much insured that nothing important would happen in the first half, because otherwise it would have become known to the characters covered in book 4. In fact, nothing really big could have happened or it would have broken the continuity of the story.

One thing that I’m torn about is that, looking back at this novel, the longest of a series known for its immensity, I realize that somehow not that much actually happened, and yet I still loved it and was even a bit disappointed when I got to the end.

Perhaps the greatest evidence is Daenerys’ arc. I feel like Martin is a bit stuck there. Obviously, the story is driving toward Danny conquering/uniting Westeros, but she acquired power so quickly that now it seems like Martin is just padding out her story, because he still has two more books to write.

The upside is that Martin’s writing is so good that it hardly seems to matter if the plot is meandering. The characters are so compelling that it barely matters if the are waging war or tending the garden. Despite the flaws, the book is still good enough to earn 5 stars from me. I’m really looking forward to the next novel, whenever it gets published.