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Book review: A Dance With Dragons - Phil's Rambling Rants
December 25th, 2011
02:30 pm

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Book review: A Dance With Dragons
I used to post reviews of all the books I read, but at some point it became a chore; I would put it off, until I accumulated a stack of books I hadn't reviewed that I had trouble remembering the details of, which cluttered my desk and made me feel like a heel.  So I stopped doing it, and just put books I finished away on the shelf.

But I just finished George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons, and I have to say something about it.  This is the long-awaited continuation of Martin's multi-volume epic A Song of Ice and Fire.  The first volume, A Game of Thrones, was amazing, and A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords followed soon and continued to be wonderful.  A Feast for Crows still had most of the magic scene to scene, but it was starting to drag, to become grim, and after plowing through to the end of it, not a whole lot had happened.  But still it left me wanting to know what happened in all of the stories that he left off in exciting places.  Then Martin suffered an epic case of writer's block, and we didn't see more for so long that I'd mostly forgotten about it, despite occasional tantalizing reminders in the form of short pieces set in the world that came out in some anthologies.  Then, fairly recently, a hit TV series came out based on the series.  Not being a TV watcher, I haven't seen it, but it's made more people aware of it than ever read the books originally.  So I became excited again at the prospect of reading A Dance With Dragons.

It's an even thicker tome than the previous four, nearly a thousand pages.  It took me weeks to plow through it.  The chapters were well written and evocative, but it was hard to remember what was going on in the multiple plot lines with the huge number of characters.  The story is grim, with lots of unpleasant stuff happening.  Some of the stuff we've been waiting to see is starting to take shape.  But at the end of the thing, most of the action is still poised waiting to happen, except for some things that seem to have ended badly.  (Though we're not entirely certain what's happened in a couple of the most important ones.)

I'm quite disappointed.  The world is wonderfully well imagined, and the writing continues to make me care about the characters, even as they suffer, despair, and die.  I still want to know how things turn out, but it's become more like a train wreck, I just can't look away.

6 out of 10.

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