Sep 13, 2013

A Dance with Dragons

by George R.R. Martin

Warning: there are spoilers in this post

Well, not as spoiler-y as you'll get with readers who actually finished the thing; this mostly has my general impressions and suspicions about what is to come. Yes, I've given up on the beast that is this book. I made it through just over a hundred pages and it just wasn't holding my interest any more. There is too much political scheming, talking and talking, not much action and again new characters I'm not connected to yet. I didn't quite feel frustrated, but just found it dull- which is surprising in a way, considering how richly Martin has built this world and the intricate interactions of the characters who inhabit it.

The gist of what I read is that Jon struggles to hold his command on the Wall as Stannis tries to make things go his way, Theon comes back from the (supposed) dead and has a role to play again, and Tyrion gets smuggled away to safety but then ends up a pawn. He's lost his lust for women and scheming (for the time being at least) and seems bitterly resigned, at least as far as I could tell. I did flip through all the succeeding chapters to see if any of my favorite characters made a reappearance (I miss Arya, Sansa and Brienne in particular) and also to see where the dragons come up. No qualms about reading ahead of myself, as it were. What I found of Tyrion's situation intrigued me- reduced to slave status, alongside another of his stature, which gave him a completely different worldview of things. Also I found that Denarys' chapters are mostly about her efforts to rule the city she sacked, with very little mention of dragons until in the aftermath of a firey disaster she flies away on Drogon. I did read the entire sixteen pages near the end of the book that tell of Dany living in wild isolation on an island her dragon flies to; her struggle to survive there and master control of him. It was interesting, but not quite what I had hoped.

The threat of a years-long winter cold continues to loom in the background, while most of the characters go blithely about their regular lives, concerned with all the wrong things it seems to me. I have a suspicion that this series is aiming to pitch me into reading something I usually avoid from complete disinterest: zombies. Yep. What else are the walking dead, the wights, the Others and the white walkers they run into north of the Wall? And what's the difference between all those anyways? are some different names for the same creature, or is it four distinct kinds of dread things? That was never clear to me. I don't really want to read about zombies. It was bad enough the glimpse of what Catelyn Stark had become, and the strange things these various invented religions get into. Intriguing though. Mark of a very good writer: Martin makes me want to go on reading even though I detest half the characters, get bored with the politics and don't like the hint that a zombie invasion is coming over the wall (ha ha)!

End sum: I think I will like this book better in the future. It certainly has some things I want to read about, some character developments I want to follow, but not right now. When I have to pick up and continue a series after a gap I usually like to recap by reading the immediate prior book to the one that's newly published. So I'm thinking I will wait until book six comes out, then read this one just before that.

Abandoned ........ 1016 pages, 2011

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Jackie Bailey said...

I've often considered trying this book, but your post sums up how I think I'd react. " political scheming" isn't my thing and I prefer books that have a smaller number of characters to connect with. Thanks for the honest review.

Christina said...

Having now finished ADWD, I think you had the right idea deciding to set the book aside and wait for the sixth book in the series to be published. Not because the wait will try my patience but because the road to reach the action has become surprisingly dull. I'll be curious to know your reaction when you do finish the book, though, because some of the events you mentioned finding interesting or intriguing ended up being the opposite for me.

Jeane said...

Jackie- It would certainly be easier to get into these books if there were a few less characters to focus on!

Christina- I feel like if the sixth book doesn't pick things up considerably, this will be yet another thick-volumed, long-winding fantasy series I quit on.