A Dance With Dragons

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Book Reviews

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A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin, book 5 of A Song of Fire and Ice. 1051 pages

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

So much to say about This series of books It’s hard to know where to start. So I guess I can start with a Brief synopsis of this volume and then talk about the series as a whole since I was not blogging about books when I started this series. In no particular order this is what is happening in this volume

Tyrion after killing his father has fled across the narrow seas and winds up in Pentos and finds himself being held hostage by one of Varys little birds, Illyrio the cheese merchant. He eventually finds himself  being taken to Volantis after being passed on to a sell sword name Griff. He finds him self meeting Prince Aegon Targaryen another Targaryen prince and heir to the throne and tries to encourage him to sail to Westeros and take advantage of the chaos rather than trying to marry Daenerys. Eventually Sir Mormont takes him prisoner and he thinks he is being taken to back to Westeros only to find out he is in fact being taken to Daenerys.  However all does not go well and while on route Tyrion and company are attacked by slavers and he gets sold into slavery

Daenerys continues to struggle to maintain control of her dragons and the cities she has conquered. She has made her capital in Meereen and finds herself losing control in a growing war between the slaver cities and the free cities. Xar Xhoan Daxos tries to get rid of her by giving her 13 ships and veiled threats if she does not leave and go back to Westeros. Her dragons have grown and she can no longer control them as she once did as they have become wild creatures, feasting on livestock and children and her people alike. She has resorted to keeping them chained up in a pit but the largest of the 3 is roaming free and  uncontrolled. Hizdahr however proposes marriage to Daenerys in exchange for peace. In the mean time Astapor has broken out with a plague and has brought it to Mereen. The sons of the harpy have been killing off her unsullied soldiers and free men.

John Snow who has since become the commander of the nights watch is now stuck dealing with Stannis Baratheon as he struggles to maintain control of the wall. He has sent off Gilly and baby with Sam to old town to get them away from the wall for what he deems to be their own good. He has brought the wildlings through the wall and has recruited them to help man all the castles along the wall and guard the realms of men from the white walkers. And as always Melisandre is pulling the strings behind Stannis Baratheon.

Bran has continue his journey with Hodor, Mera and Jojen beyond the wall in search of the 3 eyed crow with an undead night watch rangers as their guide.

Lord Ramsay and his toy Theon Greyjoy who is still captive and prisoner has announced his intentions to marry Arya Stark. A girl who is posing as Arya stark shows up and Theon recognizes that she is not Arya however he is to well-trained to reveal the truth and the marriage deception proceeds with Theon vouching that she is in fact Arya Stark.

In the meantime Stannis and his troops are trapped in a winter blizzard at the mercy of the elements and Roose bolton.

Cersei has been held captive on charges of treason and all kinds of other charges relating to her actions as queen regent, she is made to walk the path of shame.

Arya is hiding in the free city of Bravos and has taken on the identity as cat in the canals.

These books are by no means simple in the story. The plot and twist that are happening with nearly every page keeps you reading. I am really enjoying them quite a bit. In this volume,  A dance with Dragons,  the 5th book in the series and with Game of Thrones on HBO it has certainly picked up a rather large following. Set primarily on the continent of westeros made up of 7 kingdoms plus one beyond the wall of ice. On the map below that is the area in white.

new_official_westeros_map_by_gunnar_santos-d5p22qd

The look of westeros looks a lot like the UK and the rest of Europe and Asia in terms on general geographical appearance to me, at least that is what I thought when I first saw the map.

This is a large world on a grand scale and George R R Martin has created a world I can really get into. I love how this is not your typical fantasy or cliché fantasy series. The story does not rely on magic and wizards and witches and evil sorcerers and sorceresses. While there are certainly those elements of the story they play a small role in the overall story and the story is not dependent on them to meets its objectives. The warring families throughout the series always having a new plot twist to the tale. You just never know what will happen next. Each family is looking out for themselves while others you never quite know where they stand. There is no clear good guy or bad guy, that is what makes this story so interesting and exciting. It really branches off from the norm and cliché fantasy and gets into mid evil politics and war with some fantasy elements mixed in just to make it interesting.

So much of fantasy focuses on the magic and mythical creatures and I have really come to like how this story does not. But there are some things that I am not liking about this series of books as well. Two many people dying to often. At first this made for a nice plot twist. It’s not just that people are dying, you have to expect that in any good sci-fi or fantasy book or series of books. The problem here however is that it is happening so often with key characters that it ceases to be a surprise and becomes an expectation. George R R Martin seems to have focused on killing off one family at a time. Their does not seem to be any randomness or rationale to who dies when and reads through the series as take out one family, now that they are dead move on to the next. It is not hard to figure out what family will be eliminated next just read and watch what family gets the first death after one family is eliminated mostly.

The books are long. Some books are quite good and that is not a problem, however with A song of Fire and ice this has become a problem in that you could probably take out a few hundred pages and it would make no difference on your overall impact of the story. While every part of the story is interesting and keeps you going there is much that seems to have no relation to the story at all and is just their for a break from the main story. What little there was with Cersei, Arya, and Jamie did not seem to have any relevance to the story line in this book. Their stories could have been saved for other volumes with no impact at all to this book or how it played out.

On the positive however I really like how the story of Daenerys and Tyrion have played out. Their was a decent amount of focus on them in this book as well as Jon on the wall with Stannis and Melisande which was the primary focus of this book in the series, though I can’t help but wonder if Daenerys story is being played out just to keep the series going. I just can’t help but say “get to westeros already come geez”

Overall however I would say that this is an excellent series of books and a world that I have come to love reading and Watching play out. I am anxiously awaiting reading the next 2 volumes which I understand will be the final 2. I am still wondering how this story will end and who will eventually sit upon the Iron throne if anyone.

I give this series and this book over all a 6.9/10

http://gospelperspective.wordpress.com/

 

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