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.

Review: A Feast for Crows

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A Feast for CrowsA Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I get into the story, let me first address the narration of this book by Roy Dotrice. If you only listen to this book, then I expect that you’ll feel that Mr. Dotrice does a wonderful job. Unfortunately, if you listen to the books subsequently, you may not agree.

The main problem is that Dotrice changed the voices of several characters. He also changed the pronunciation of several characters’ names. At first, it was jarring, but after a few hours, I had forgotten all about it.

Now onto the writing. As usual, George R.R. Martin proves that he is excellent at writing morally grey characters and intricately twisted plots. He’s very good at bringing characters to life and making you care about them, whether you love them or hate them.

However, the main reason that I can’t give this book 5 stars is because, despite its length, Martin ignored several characters that are critical to the series’ overarching plot, including Daenerys, Stannis, Jon Snow, Bran, and Tyrion.

That, to me, is a big deal, because as a result the plot didn’t really move forward all that much. Yes, some minor events occurred and a number of sub plots were introduced, but the main plot was not addressed at all.

Still, this was a very good novel in its own right. There wasn’t a lot of action to speak of, but there was still a lot of excellent drama and character development. Plus, the characters that it did focus on are some of my favorites.

If you liked the first three books, you’ll definitely still like this one, but I’m hoping for a little more in the fifth. I think we all know roughly how the series has to end; I just hope Martin doesn’t drag it out too much.

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

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A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book ThreeA Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the first two novels in the series, A Storm of Swords is a brilliant work of human suffering. Martin understands the minds and emotions of people as well as any author that I’ve encountered. Combine that with war, adventure, and a touch of magic, and you’ve got the perfect recipe to rope me in.

Really, there’s not a whole lot else to say. If you liked the first two novels, then you’ll also like A Storm of Swords. It picks up right where A Clash of Kings leaves off and continues the stories of all of your favorite characters…well, the ones that Martin hasn’t killed off, that is.

One of the things that I liked about A Storm of Swords is that we got some new perspectives. In particular, I enjoyed Jaime Lannister’s point of view, which we hadn’t had previously. I didn’t expect that, but Jaime is a more complex and interesting character than I had originally thought. As usual, I also really liked John and Tyrion’s stories and, likewise, I still didn’t really love Sansa as a character, but was willing to forgive that as a lot of interesting things tend happen around here.

My only real complaint would be with Arya’s story. It was very repetitive. Get captured, then escape, get captured again, escape again. Eventually, it got a little ridiculous.

That said, I really enjoyed the novel, 5 stars without question, and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series. Highly recommended!

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Review: A Clash of Kings

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A Clash of Kings A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read A Game of Thrones way back in 2007 when I was just getting into fantasy. At the time, I found it to be a bit dark for my taste. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t love them, not really. When HBO began producing the novels as a television series, I was intrigued, and, then, when the show began receiving rave reviews across the board, I snagged it from Netflix and witnessed the splendor for myself.

I wasn’t too surprised that A Game of Thrones would make a good television series, but I was a little surprised just how much I would enjoy it after my response to the novel. But five years have passed and I’ve read a good deal of gritty fantasy (most likely inspired by Martin’s works) and I think I was more prepared for it this time.

So after loving the first season of the HBO series, I decided that I had to read A Clash of Kings before watching the second season. I’m so glad that I did. Upon reading the second novel in the series, I had absolutely no room for complaint. A Clash of Kings was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I actually listened to the novel, grabbing it from At 2 credits, it was still a good deal, considering that the novel took 37+ hours for Roy Dotrice to narrate. Dotrice was an excellent narrator. I was very impressed with his voice work. There are so many characters in the novel, but Dotrice had a unique voice for each and managed to use the voices consistently, even for the most minor of characters. It was really an excellent listening experience.

In this novel, I particularly enjoyed the stories following Arya, Bran, Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Davos. Sansa and Daenerys’ stories were probably my least favorite, but were still interesting.

Martin does such an amazing job with the characters in this novel. They are so down-to-earth and realistic, if a little pessimistic on the whole. I found it very easy to relate to them and was rarely ready to switch to the next point of view when the time came.

If you enjoyed A Game of Thrones, you’ll definitely love A Clash of Kings as well. If you’ve read A Game of Thrones, but are unsure if you want to continue the series like I was, I say give it a shot. With the second novel, I had an easier time connecting to the characters and enjoyed it more on the whole.

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