"A Dance with Dragons" by George R.R. Martin | Book Review
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book #5)
Page Count: 1019
First Published: July 12, 2011
Here I am, done with the last published A Song of Ice and Fire book, which definitely feels bittersweet. A Dance with Dragons left me with more questions than answers, and definitely set up a lot of future things in the series. In general, I really liked the book but it had its slow parts just like A Feast for Crows. Of course, it was all worth it in the end, and there were some really exciting (and terrifying) things that happened throughout the story.
First of all, a lot of what happens in A Dance with Dragons takes place at the same time as A Feast for Crows. This is important to remember, and sometimes you may have to think twice to place the events chronologically (however, it's not as confusing as it sounds). Eventually, the events of this book surpass the timeline from A Feast for Crows, and we even get to see some characters from book 4 towards the end. I loved observing the snowball-effect in A Dance with Dragons, with seemingly small decisions and details slowly becoming more significant. I also really enjoy the slow-building aura of magic and mystery—while we started with mostly politics and relationships in the first book, by book 5 we are also knee-deep in prophecies, visions, magical creatures, artifacts, and a general sense of unknown.
There is a huge overall theme of transformation that comes through particularly well in this book. This is something that's present throughout the entire series, but it definitely stood out the most to me in A Dance with Dragons. George R.R. Martin crafts his world beautifully, and there are so many details to put together and theorize about. You can see this theme of transformation everywhere: from major events effecting characters, to unconfirmed kills that turn out to be more important than they seem at first, to power shifts, to subtle changes in descriptions of lands and weather. Speaking of weather... winter is here, my friends, and it really feels like we are gearing up for another Long Night. Who is ready from some White Walker action? I know I am!
As for the characters and individual storylines—this is where A Dance with Dragons lost a star for me. I'm not going to attempt to describe every single PoV because there are 18 in total, and we would be here until tomorrow if I tried. The majority of chapters belong to Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys. Jon is probably the character I was most interested in throughout this book, and the events surrounding him kept me reading. Let's just say, if I thought I was going to be done reading for the day after the chapter I was on ended, and I saw that next chapter was Jon's—I wasn't done reading for the day. Daenerys was hit or miss for me, but her storyline actually had some interesting developments in this book, and I'm very interested where the author takes things from here. Tyrion on the other hand ended up disappointing me for the most part. He is meaner, more cynical, and generally less pleasant in A Dance with Dragons. While the change in his character makes sense because of the final events of A Storm of Swords, it doesn't mean I welcomed it. In addition, I'm not the biggest fan of "on the road" type of storylines.
The people I really wanted to hear more from are Bran and Melisandre. Bran has three chapters in this book, but the path that his character is on is so drastically different from anything else in the books that I can't help wanting more. Melisandre appeals to my love for the magical elements, and I loved reading about what's going on in her mind. Too bad she only has one (!!!) chapter in A Dance with Dragons—I really hope she appears more often in the next book. There is also a character I can't really talk about whose story I'm very interested in and need more from because it seems like a game-changing development.
Though there are a lot of interesting things that happened in this book, I was getting overwhelmed by all of the smaller characters, especially at Meereen. The fact that the chapters involving these characters were mostly focused on politics and scheming didn’t help my confusion. Lastly, I was still bored with Greyjoys who weren't Asha, and I was pretty annoyed by the chapters that had to do with Martells. I was surprised (not in a good way) by where George R.R. Martin took that storyline, and frankly, I would have rather read more about Arianne and Dorne.
Overall, I obviously still really enjoyed A Dance with Dragons, and I cannot wait until the next book. George R.R. Martin's writing is excellent, as always, and there were plenty of things in this book to keep me interested and intrigued. The epilogue left me speechless—THAT came out of nowhere for me, and now I HAVE to know what happens next.
Have you read A Dance with Dragons? What did you think?
P.S. If you want to know my overall thoughts and speculations about the A Song of Ice and Fire series—check out the video below, and don't forget to take a look at my Game of Thrones + ASoIaF playlist.