While a majority of people are getting all excited about the upcoming fourth season of the HBO series Game of Thrones. Those of us who actually like to read and are fans of the Song of Fire and Ice saga are well past the events that will unfold in the upcoming season. You know who you are, the only ones who were not shocked when you watched The Red Wedding—because we were shocked when we read it. So this review is for all of those who have read the latest book Dance with Dragons. Warning spoilers ahead, so if you are still looking forward to reading it, do not read this review. If you haven’t read the book but are curious as to if you should read, well if you read the first four this is a no brainer. I would place this book the third strongest of the books, in descending order: Storm of Swords, Game of Thrones, Dance with Dragons, Clash of Kings, and Feast for Crows. It is of course a must read for those following the saga. This blog (or as George R.R. Martin would call it, not a blog) if for those who have read it and would like some perspective on it. Now, in the form of the good, the bad, and the ugly, let the review begin.
Finally characters we give a shit about. I mean those of you who read Feast of Crows understood that Dance and Feast are actually two parts of the same book and each book covers different sections based on geography and the characters in their respective areas. This meant that in Feast there was no Jon Snow, Daenerys, or Tyrion—probably the three characters fans care the most about. Dance follows heavily the viewpoints of these three characters along with the viewpoints of other characters after about two-thirds of the book. He brings the two narratives together and promises for the following two planned books to never separate the characters again. Fans of Martin know how faithful he is with his promises though (please sense the sarcasm). Needless to say for fans of the saga the characters in this book and the plot is a lot more intriguing than that of the previous book, and it ends on an exciting cliffhanger. Just be prepared to wait another decade for the sixth book in the series.
If you think Stephen King overwrites, than you have not read a novel by Martin. The length is well of 1000 pages, but only about 600 of them you will give a shit about. Readers do not need to know every dish that is served for every meal that happens within the story. Too many times I found myself skipping over immense detail that pertains nothing to the plot. The book itself seemed to drag, and the plot appeared to run in circles. This also pertains to the ugly of the book.
The Meereeneese knot as Martin refers to it was just too much wasted pages. The whole story of Daenerys was for her to get an army and with her dragons, sail on to conquer the seven kingdoms. Well she has her army, she has her dragons, she has to opportunity to sail west to Westeros—and she chooses not to. Instead she chooses to defend a city, marry a man she does not love, for the sake of a slave city that is even far more corrupt than King’s Landing. Look, we all know Daenerys is going to make it to Westeros and fight for the Iron Throne, why the hell are we wasting time here? She’s not going to stay, if so, what the hell was the point of her character anyway? This is excessive overwriting and detail that fails to forward the story. At the end it shows Martin’s weakness and why it takes him so many years between books. He has to realize he is telling us a story, not a diary with a day by day account of everything that occurs. We are five books in now, two more to go. Fans are clamoring for the ending, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s get Daenerys down to King’s Landing, let’s get Bran to wherever he has to go in the North. Let’s get Stannis on the throne. Let’s get this ball rolling, and get this story over in two more books. Let’s not let the HBO series catch up to the books.
At the end of the day this book is of course a must read for fans of the Song of Fire and Ice Saga, but it could have been better. It could have been tighter, shorter, and more exciting. I hope the last two books—and that there will only be two more books—will help bring all the excitement home for a worthy conclusion.