So that's it - I've now read every single one of the A Song of Fire and Ice books published to date. And it looks like a long wait for the sixth volume! I tried to slow down my reading of this one by reading it alongside other titles but as soon as I hit the half-way point, I had to give up on all other reading and concentrate just on this. As with all my other reviews of this series, there will be spoilers, so proceed with caution if you haven't already read it. A Dance with Dragons starts at the same time as A Feast for Crows, but follows different characters. We already know what happened to Cersei, Jamie and Arya so now we get to visit Jon Snow at the Wall, Daenerys across the sea in Meereen and Tyrion in exile. In the latter stages of the book all the narratives start to entwine again and the main characters from A Feast for Crows are reintroduced with their own chapters.
A Dance with Dragons is a long book at 1000+ pages and at times, I felt it's length more than I did with the other books in the series. There were some fascinating characters and interesting plot developments but the pace of the storytelling appeared to have slowed to the point where some chapters felt repetitive, especially for someone reading the series straight through. I've never been the biggest Daenerys fan and found the chapters dealing with her rule in Meereen a bit tedious. I understand why it's important for her to have actual experience of being a ruler before trying to take Westeros, but there was just too much information about too many new characters that the reader isn't invested in at all. I enjoyed her final chapters and the moral quandry the full grown dragons presented, I just didn't want to read about competing political factions in Meereen.
In A Dance with Dragons, rather than waiting for Daenerys to arrive in Westeros, half of Westeros seem to be seeking her out, including Tyrion, on the run for killing Tywin Lannister. Tyrion has always been one of my favourites as his chapters give the book some much needed humour. I enjoyed the meeting between him and Jorah Mormont and the trials he faced on his journey. Also seeking Daenerys is Quentyn, Prince of Martell and Vicatarion of the Iron Islands. I love both the Martells and the Greyjoys so again, these plots were welcome. I was shocked at the arrival of Aegon Targaryen and have my suspicions that all isn't as it appears to be, especially as he didn't have any chapters of his own.
Back in Westeros, Cersei's humiliation was the most memorable event. Although Cersei was unquestionably a bad leader and person, her punishment was harsh indeed and I was rooting for her to keep her head held high throughout it out. Theon Greyjoy emerges in the torture chambers of Ramsay Bolton and we get to see Jon Snow's choices as Commander of the Night's Watch. Jon's chapters were especially interesting as they were all about doing the right thing, whether or not it makes you popular. I could see his betrayal coming before it happened and don't think he is actually dead (although it's not nice of George R.R. Martin to leave us hanging). There were enough anvil sized hints about Jon's real parentage to make him too important to the plot to kill off, I think.
On the whole, I loved A Dance with Dragons despite it's long-windedness. I could feel the story building up to a pressure point and anticipate that the next volume will be more action packed, as all the main characters are now in key places for some game-changing events to occur.
And now the wait begins for book six!
Source: Personal copy (kindle)
First Published: 2011
Score: 4 out of 5
Heeey. You have also moved to booklikes? :)ReplyDelete
I wanted to comment on there but you didn't enable comments (you need to have a disqus account but it literally takes 30 seconds to set everything up).
I hope to see you there more often because I'm really excited about that place. They are now experiencing huge waves of people coming in because of goodreads-amazon thing (they were featured in a few articles talking about 'alternatives to goodreads')
I'm still new on booklikes, I just imported from goodreads but apart from that haven't really done anything with it. I'll have to explore it a bit more :)Delete
I haven't read past A Storm of Swords yet but entirely spoiled myself some time back because I just had to know. Surprisingly, I'm still amazingly excited about diving back into Westeros and reading about how all these events go down.ReplyDelete
I was proud of myself for not spoiling myself earlier in the series but it was hard! There's still lots for you to be excited about, the spoilers don't cover everything...Delete
Totally echo this. I really struggled with the characters being divided between the last two books, mostly because I'm a huge Arya fan and I desperately missed her in ADWD. I'm totally excited for the next book, but I really hope that we have everyone together on the same timeline again.ReplyDelete
I love Arya, in my opinion she is the best female character, hands down. Everyone on the same timeline would be wonderful.Delete
I didn't read your entire review because of the spoilers, but I have to say that I am really impressed that you've finished all the series! These are not short books :)ReplyDelete
No they aren't. But they take over your life :PDelete
I really do want to give this series a go but I think I shall have to buy - the library hold list is so long.ReplyDelete
The hold lists are ridiculous. If you have a kindle, the first one is quite cheap, I got in December for something like £3.99.Delete
I had very similar thoughts when I finished this book earlier this year. I have never been a big fan of Daenerys's chapters, so this was a bit tedious and I didn't see the need to spend SO much time watching her screw up a bit as a new ruler. I also appreciated light humour that accompanied Tyrion's story, but at times I felt it got a bit too much "comic relief"... especially after he joined up with Penny. But I'm interested to see where this will go in the next book. Theon's parts made me cringe teeth so many times.ReplyDelete
Before I read "A Dance With Dragons" I had heard a lot of whining from people who had read it - that it's slow, nothing happens, etc. I liked the pace, I was in general happy with the book though.
I'm glad someone else doesn't love Dany too. I like the idea of her character, and want to see her return to Westeros, but her chapters are tedious. I didn't really care who was running the Sons of the Harpy.Delete
I liked the book too. My favourite is still A Storm of Swords, that's going to be hard to beat.
My son loves this series too. I don't think it's for me, though.ReplyDelete
You passed me! I can't read this review!ReplyDelete
I have come back and I have read the review. I agree with you on almost everything (I love Daenerys and have no sympathy for Cersei at all). You are especially right about the pacing of this novel. I also found it tedious in points. Of course I can't expect everything to maintain a blistering pace from start to finish, but a little action in the first 800 pages would have been refreshing.Delete
Jon Snow is now instantly the most interesting character (aside from Varys, of course).
I wish it had never ended. I can't wait for the next volume. The perfect fantasy book. I highly recommend it.ReplyDelete
Seattle Divorce Lawyer website