A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Now that I'm finally caught up, I feel privileged to talk about the series as a whole. After slugging through the last book, "A Feast For Crows", I was promised by many that this book made up for a lot of the ostensibly meandering story lines of the last title. But no, that's not the case at all. In fact, I'd say "A Feast For Crows" had even more direction than this boring novel, which seemed to go all over the place without any interesting payoff whatsoever.
I think the main reason people prefer this book to Crows is because some of their favorite characters return. Jon, Dany, and Tyrion, all make reappearances. Hell, even Theon Greyjoy ("My name is Reek") makes a return here. But here's the thing. Dany's chapters are little more than her deciding who she's going to marry and Tyrion's chapters are mainly about him traversing from one vessel to the next. Only Jon's chapters have anything really interesting to say, and even those tend to drag at times.
What this book and the last one prove to me now is that George R.R. Martin is a bit lost in where he's going with this story. Whereas the first three books seemed to have a direct course of action, these books are too big for their own weight. The legs feel like they're giving way beneath them. For almost a 1000 pages of this book, I'd say only about 100 of them actually progress the story forward in any meaningful way. And while I'm not the author and can't decisively say that all these different plot threads will never connect, my faith in the man has dwindled considerably after reading through two giant tomes without really getting anywhere at all through either of them. All the interesting story lines left off at the end of book 3 seem to be squandered here, and the only interesting parts in either book were when those threads were actually addressed. I would have also liked if some of the threads from book 4 (Which runs concurrently with this book for the most part) were addressed, like the story with Brienne and Jaime, which is mentioned for only about a page in Dance.
Honestly, after reading these last two books, I'm very upset that I even started this series in the first place. If I were you, I'd say wait until all of the books are finished (If the books ever get finished) before making the plunge. It will save you countless hours and grief in the long run.
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