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Book Review: ‘A Dance with Dragons’ by George R.R. Martin

Posted: August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth book in A Song of Ice and Fire series and it is extremely long. It felt like it took me forever to read. Not just because of the length, but because most of it was rather boring. It seems with each added book to the series comes more added point of view characters. Do we really need that many? I like reading about the main people that we started the series with. Adding another person (who may only have two-three chapters) seems like a waste.

I really enjoy Martin’s writing style because it is easy to read and he does a very good job at describing situations, characters, and scenery that I can “see” everything going on as I read. However, the plot seems to drag on too long. And every time you think a character finally gets a break, something else goes wrong. It’s good that everything is not predictable, but some things seem really farfetched.

A Dance with Dragons has 16 point of view characters. They belong to (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS):

Tyrion Lannister – After killing his father and being smuggled out of prison at King’s Landing, Tyrion finds himself on a long, eventful, trip to provide (some sort) of service to Daenerys Targaryen. He travels on many different boats with colorful people and is eventually sold into slavery with another dwarf as a circus act.

Daenerys Targaryen – Still holds the position as Queen of Mereen. Though she finds peace in her city is hard to come by. She makes the hard decision to marry a wealthy Mereen man, Hizdahr zo Loraq, who claims that once they are married peace will come to the city. After their marriage however, things go awry when Drogon, one of Daenerys’ dragons, attacks the city and makes off with her on his back.

Jon Snow – Lord Commander of the Wall is not an easy task and it does not seem to get easier with King Stannis or Queen Selyse around. Jon makes the hard decision to let the widlings through the wall in order to protect them from the white walkers. Many men of the Night Watch are not happy with this and after Jon announces he is heading to Winterfell to battle the Boltons, he is attacked.

Bran Stark – Continues to follow Coldhands past the wall to find the three-eyed crow. He reaches the “children of the forest” who set out to teach him how to be a greenseer and warg.

Quentyn Martell (The Merchant’s Man, The Windblown, The Spurned Suitor )- Son of Prince Doran Martell of Sunspear. He is on his way to Mereen to propose marriage to Daenerys. However, he arrives too late and must witness her marriage to Hizdahr. Quentyn decides to release the dragons, Rhaegal and Visceron, as they have been imprisoned. He does this in hopes to prove that he is worthy of Daenerys, but things go terribly wrong.

Davos Seaworth – Made his way to White Harbor to plead with Lord Wyman Manderly to join King Stannis’s cause. However, the Freys have already made their way there and they stand with the Lannisters. Davos is thrown in prison, but is later released by Lord Manderly under the restriction to search for Rickon Stark and bring him back.

Theon Greyjoy (Reek, The Prince of Winterfell, The Turncloak, A Ghost in Winterfell,) – We find out that Theon is not dead, but has been held captive and severely tortured by Ramsey Bolton. He is treated as a pet, even sleeping and eating with dogs. Theon learns that the girl that is meant to marry Ramsey as Arya Stark is really Jeyne Poole. He tells her to take on Arya’s identity and pretend to be her to avoid invoking Ramsey’s wrath. Later, he teams up with a bard and his washerwomen to attempt to release Jeyne.

Jon Connington (The Lost Lord, The Griffin Reborn ) – Former Hand of King Aerys Targaryen who was exiled and believed to be dead.  Not only is he not dead, but he has raised Prince Aegon Targaryen (who was also believed dead and is the son of Prince Rhaegar.) They hire the Golden Company and set off for Westeros to attack those loyal to the Lannisters and take back Aegon’s rightful place as King.

Melisandre – Reveals multiple fire visions to Jon Snow, all of which turn out to be incorrect in one way or another. This leads Jon to decide to disregard any further predictions.

Areo Hotah (The Watcher) – Bodyguard of Prince Doran Martell, he hears the plans Doran has made to send his nieces out into the world as his eyes and ears. He has also convinced Princess Myrcella to lie about what happened to her and Ser Arys.

Arya Stark (The Blind Girl, The Ugly Little Girl) – Continues her training to become a professional assassin for  the Faceless Man by mastering blindness and learning to “change” her face.

Asha Greyjoy (The Wayward Bride, The King’s prize, The Sacrifice) – is taken captive by King Stannis after an attack on Deepwood Motte. She travels with them on the way to Winterfell, where Stannis plans to attack next. A snow storm slows them down.

Jaime Lannister – Jaime has travelled to Raventree Hall to make Tytos Blackwood (the last of Robb Stark’s men) to yield. Brienne of Tarth shows up and tells him to come with her because she found Sansa, but he must come alone so The Hound does not kill her.

Cersei Lannister– The Queen Regent is being held prisoner by the Great Sept of Baelor for fornication, adultery, incest, and murder of King Robert. She confesses to the fornication and incest with her cousin Lancel, but not adultery or murder.  The Great Sept allows her to leave her prison and return to her son to await trial, but only by walking through the streets completely naked and shaved.

Barristan Selmy (The Queensquard, The Discarded Knight, The Kingbreaker, The Queen’s Hand) – After Daenerys flies off of Drogon’s back, Barristan struggles with how he must act while she is away. He believes Hizdahr tried to poison Daenerys to rule over Mereen without her. Barristan makes plans with Skahaz the Shaveplate to hold Hizdahr prisoner and try to avoid war with the Yunkai.

Victorian Greyjoy (The Iron Suitor) – Captain of the Iron Fleet, is sailing towards Mereen. His crew save a red priest named Moqorro who claims he can heal Victorian’s wounds and show him how to wield the dragon-binding horn without killing himself.

Even though this book was long and mostly boring, I cannot wait for the next one to continue to read about my favorite characters. I just hope it does not take Martin six years like it did to write this one.

A Dance With Dragons gets a C.