A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire)

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A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: BOOK FIVE
 
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east—with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night’s Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.

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About Dragon Mystic

I fell in love with dragons when I read Tea With the Black Dragon, and never looked back. Not the clunky winged Medieval dragons that ate cows, the graceful Asian dragons that could fly without wings. Later I discovered the elegant Welsh dragons, red and white, as described by R.J. Stewart in his books on the historical Merlin.
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3 Responses to A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire)

  1. Lucas Diego says:

    Honest review from a fan and a customer Edited: 3/20/2013 (I re-read the book, wanting to give it another chance after watching the very well done television series, but my feelings generally remain the same with some new insights)Warning: I do not give specific story spoilers, but some of my comments can be considered spoilers to the structure of the story.So, to lighten the blow a little first, I will make it clear that I am a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. Like many others, I think the first three books were some of the best fantasy books in recent history. They held my interest like few others, took directions many other writers would not dare to take and had me itching to read the next. I’m a fan who checked on the status of this book at least a couple dozen times through each year to see how the progress was coming and I’m a fan who also believes in a writer taking the time he or she needs to do it properly. While I honestly was a little impatient to read the next book (which is a good thing, unless you’re attacking the author over it), I could not fault someone for wanting to do other things with their lives.As far as the positives for A Dance with Dragons specifically, Martin continues to show a strong and addicting narrative style with a great attention to detail without going too overboard most of the time. His use of language remains strong with some good character insights and quotes derived from it, and there are a number of moments in the book that were intriguing. These are the reasons why I gave it three stars and if a lesser writer had authored the book, I probably would have never finished it.And before I go into my criticisms of the book, there is something I would like to note. While I often take the side of artists in artistic work, we have to be honest in realizing that the book series is also a commodity. It is not something just written for artistic purposes. When something is put on the market for sale, it is subject to the scrutiny of its consumers.That said, A Dance with Dragons (and A Feast for Crows) bored me in comparison to the first three books, and while I would like to read how the story ends, I am hesitant to invest more time and money into the book series. I may just be a customer, reader, and fan, so what would I know about editing, story-building, etc., and GRRM may be the professional writer and it went through professional editors, but they still made a cardinal writing error that I so often hear you should not make:They did not keep the story moving. By the end of the book, I felt almost nothing happened.I believe at this point in a book series’ life, the story needs to be picking up faster and faster. You need down times of course, and a little exposition in each book to get everyone up to speed again is a good thing…but not through the majority of the book. Things need to happen and you need to have control of the story.I’ll give an example. Say you saw a fight at work and you are telling someone about it. You would probably give them a lead up and let them know it was at work between two employees who were not getting along recently, you would probably give them background information like the significant other of one of the employees was cheating with the other employee. You may talk about how another employee that was friends with both revealed that information and hence, betrayed one of those friends. Then, you would describe the fight and its aftermath.What you would probably not talk about is how you stubbed your toe on the way to the car to get to work, the more scenic route that you happened to take that morning, or what you ate at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or describe in exhausting detail your work duties leading up to the point of the fight. No one cares about these details and you are slowing the story down to a crawl. And say you do all this, even talk about the events related to the actual fight, then you do not actually get to the fight and say, “I’ll tell you about the fight next time.”Now, imagine that fight being told by seventeen other people, including people who are near irrelevant to the story. This is what A Dance with Dragons felt like to me. The drawn out version of a story with a poorly handled cliffhanger.I really feel that Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons are books that maybe shouldn’t have been written or at the very least, heavily edited. I could even say that they could have been condensed into one book between 500-700 pages axed between the two of them (and still have time to put in events that could have made them better). I understand that the author originally planned a time skip by five years after Storm of Swords and honestly, I felt that would have been better. Between the two books, I just felt very little moved forward in terms of the actual story and they could have easily been left out without hurting the overall…

  2. Macaroni says:

    Twentyfour Characters in Search of a Story SPOILERS AHEADI’m Varamyr Sixskins. I’m here for the prologue to set us all up for the impending horrors of the North and all the excitement to come…I’m Tyrion Lannister, the most popular character in all of Westeros! I spend this book meandering down a really slow river, ruminating bitterly about my life, misplacing my former charm, eroding all the goodwill I built up in the other books, and wondering where the whores go. Though perhaps I should have been wondering where the plot went. I also observe turtles and women, play board games, mouth off to all and sundry, and coincidentally run into various characters like some wandering monster in a D&D campaign. Maybe I’ll make it to Daenarys in the next book, but at least I ditched that pig.I’m Asha Greyjoy. I don’t have much to do, so I’ll be the POV character keeping track of Stannis and his forces. At the beginning of Dance with Dragons, he’s working his way towards Winterfell to take it back from the Boltons. At the end of Dance with Dragons, he’s…working his way towards Winterfell to take it back from the Boltons. Hope that helps.I’m Ser Davon Seaworth, the Onion Knight. I’m still running errands for Stannis and getting captured frequently. It’s a living.I’m Bran Stark. I am a tree.I’m Daenarys Targaryen. I’m only a young girl, and I know little in the ways of war, governance, what have you. I used to think I said these things to misdirect people, but as of DoD it seems to be true. I spend my time taking baths, fretting, being wishy-washy, and mooning over this hot mercenary dude. In the end I learn that “you have to go back to go forward.” I would have thought that going backwards would be the last thing that this book needs, but I am only a young girl and know little of the ways of story advancement.I’m Aegon Targaryen. I appear for the first time in book five as the long thought dead son of Prince Rhaegar and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. I know, right? What a surprise! It’s like I was just pulled from thin air! I spend much of the book traveling to Daenarys, but then I change my mind and go and invade Westeros without her. Sort of. No one important has noticed yet. See you in the next book!I’m Griff, aka Jon Connington. I’m here to get Aegon Targaryen on the Iron Throne. I tried to tell that kid not to wait until the fifth book to show up if he wants to be king. Now nobody’s invested in us. We’re like, peripheral characters or something. Nobody cares. I (*sniff*) just want someone to care, you know?I’m Theon Greyjoy. Turns out I’m not dead, though I rather wish I were. It’s been rough. On the bright side, my chapters were some of the only highlights of this bloated beast of a book. I even got to be almost a hero at the end! Can’t wait for the next book. Redemption arc ahoy! People like me now!Tyrion: Settle down sailor. You’re not really a major character, and people still don’t like you.I’m Jaime Lannister. I snuck in to steal a chapter just like I would steal a kiss from my sweet sister. Oh look, there’s Brienne! She’s not dead after all. Whatever could have happened? Oops, we gotta go now, so I’ll guess we’ll never know. Blink and you’ll miss us!I’m Ser Robert *cough*Gregor*cough* Strong *cough*not dead*cough*. Gregor SMASH!I’m the Hound. You know, I strongly suspect that I might not be dead either.Tyrion: Quiet, you. No one even mentions you in this book.I’m Wyman Manderly. I’m a minor character, but I bring a bit of awesome anyway. I was last seen bleeding from a neck wound. I wonder if I’ll die. Your guess is as good as the author’s.I’m John Snow. I command the wall and defend Westeros from the horrors of the North. I count sides of beef and sausages, receive messages, meet with my staff, greet newcomers, and find bedrooms for all the wildings. Seriously, am I a commander or a butler? It’s the end of the book already, we need some action! I’ll march on Winterfell and retake it from the cursed Boltons! Away we go! Oh, dang it. Stabbed from all sides. There goes that plan. It sure does seem like I’ll die now…I’m Quentyn Martell. I’m kind of a side plot that has no impact at all on the main story. Then I die. But the good news is that I really am dead for sure!I’m Melisandre. I get a chapter where I play with fire and see things and act all cryptic with people. Well, I have to amuse myself somehow. It’s booorrring at the wall.I’m Victarion Grayjoy.Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main!This book will endBefore I meetDaenarys Targaryen!I’m Aero Hota. Don’t worry, I don’t really remember who I am either. Not much to see here, anyway.I’m Cersei Lannister. I get two chapters of humiliation…

  3. Kate Morris "now with 52% more minty freshness" says:

    These dragons don’t dance, they stumble. In “A Dance with Dragons,” George R.R. Martin seems to have ripped out a page from his own self-written guide to writing a good story, and replaced it with a page from Robert Jordan’s version – and in both cases, the change was very much for the worse.The page he borrowed could charitably be called “Setup,” or “Preparation,” or even given some grandiose description about the “careful movement and positioning of critical pieces on a game board.” In practical terms, though, it comes down to “Delay,” “Pointless Stalling,” and would be more accurately summed up as “an entire book about multiple characters wandering slowly across the world to approach – but never reach – a place in which something interesting has the potential to happen.” For example, everyone’s favourite dwarf has a simple goal: he wants to throw in his lot with the dragon queen, offering her whatever advice and wisdom he can. A noble goal, that, and one that would do a great deal to move the story along – his cynicism would open her eyes about some pretty important things. But does he make it to her? Not in this book! No, he’s far too busy being packed into barrels like Bilbo the hobbit, swapping tales with cheese lords, being lost, found, sold, and bought, falling in with slaves and signing paper for sellswords, and even being saddled with a plucky lady-dwarf sidekick who continually tells him that he should stop causing trouble and just focus on making the big people laugh, because that’s what dwarves are for. In Westeros during the previous four books, he was known and feared as Tyrion of House Lannister, Halfman to the wild mountain tribes, former Hand of the King, unsung hero of Blackwater Bay, the Imp, kinslayer and Kingslayer both; in Essos during this book, all he really manages to do is play a lot of Stratego, reminisce about a previously-unmentioned happy boyhood of gymnastics training in the art of dwarfish capering, and fall convincingly off a trained pig.The same song is sung throughout the book: nobody actually *gets* anywhere. In Meereen, Daenerys mopes, sighs, tosses her braids, and moons over a pretty boy. On the Wall, Jon Snow hems, haws, asks everyone within earshot for advice on what to do, then completely ignores all of the advice to do something entirely different while complaining about how nobody supports him. Stannis grits his teeth, Melisandre misinterprets prophecies, Dolorous Edd makes comments about mules. A new character is introduced who represents either the most vibrantly crimson scarlet of red herrings, or George R.R. Martin on waterskis leaping majestically over a great white shark; the jury’s still out on the kid, but it *is* safe to say that he spends half the book marching determinedly in one direction before abruptly turning around and charging off on completely the opposite course.And then, there’s the issue of the page missing from this book, the page that had elevated the first three books so high above the likes of Goodkind or Jordan. It’s the page called “Caprice,” or “Injustice,” or maybe “Nobody is Safe.” It’s the page on which he knowingly and thoroughly subverted the standard fantasy tropes of good triumphing over evil, of all death being either deserved (if the deceased was a bad guy, like for instance an orc) or deeply meaningful (a sacrifice, like Boromir dying to protect the hobbits). The previous books used that page, and used it well. No character was sacred: anyone could die at any time, for any reason – or for no reason at all – because the world was a cruel and merciless and fickle place, and justice and honor and fair treatment were exceptions rather than rules.In “A Dance with Dragons,” though – and in “A Feast for Crows,” to an extent – that page is notably absent. The Onion Knight, by this point, has gone through more lives than the average cat; while I have great fondness for the character, I almost wish Martin *would* kill him off just so the poor soul could rest. Whenever Arya gets a knife pressed against her throat, it turns out to be a well-meaning rescuer offering her a haircut. Mance dies then reappears good as new, Catelyn died and reappeared (somewhat the worse for wear, in her case), ghosts from the past pop up alive and well and living in the Westerosi equivalent of Paris. At this point, I’m more than half-expecting Khal Drogo to ride up on a skeletal horse and say “Hey Dany babe, I busted out of the nightlands, let’s cross the poison water before my afterlife parole officer finds out I’m here.” A Song of Ice and Fire has gone from “Nobody is Safe” to “Every Main Character is Totally Safe at this Point,” and the suspense is just *gone*.So, after all that, do I regret reading “A Dance with Dragons”? No. The sad truth is, even a mediocre George R.R. Martin book is better than most of the other offerings in the genre. My thoughtful boyfriend bought it for me on iBooks the very hour it was…

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