Having gotten into the series at a much later time than most, I guess I can consider myself lucky. I only had to wait about a month for the release of George R.R. Martin’s fifth epic. Most people who got into the books through the TV show might have been even luckier, most of them hadn’t even finished reading the first four books before this one was released. Older fans were much less lucky, five years had passed since the release of the previous entry in the series, A Feast For Crows. Expectations were high. Very high. And with A Feast For Crows not having left a good taste with the fanbase, by being an unfinished half of a book, lots of fans were putting all their hope in A Dance With Dragons making up for it. So how did this Dance last? Let’s see…
A Dance With Dragons’s main focus lies beyond the Narrow Sea, and on The Wall. not surprising, considering A Feast For Crows completely ignored what was happening outside of Westeros. At least, not counting the few chapters in Braavos. The finally get answers to our questions of what was going on with the Night’s Watch, Tyrion Lannister, Stannis’s rebellon, and Daenerys’s road to ruling.
At least, for the first half of the book.
After the first half, the timelines of both A Feast and A Dance join together and the story moves onwards again. It’s an interesting approach to story-telling. Especially when released in two several doorstopping tomes of Fantasy fiction. I can honestly say that George R.R. Martin pulled it off in style.
The story itself has some elements that I really loved, as well as entire plot points that I just found painful reading. Some of the characters have got them involved in things that might as well have been skipped entirely. And yet other chapters made up for it by actually focussing on important events. There are some complaints about Dany’s chapters, and how the plot hasn’t moved an inch on her side. I disagree, to me it felt she was finally raised to the position of a fully fledged A Song of Ice and Fire character simply because she didn’t always get her way. She made mistakes. For the first time since A Game of Thrones, I actually looked forward to her chapters.
It’s hard to deny that all this book did was set up the situations for the next one however. The reveal at the of the ride doesn’t help surpress this feeling. But is this really a bad thing? We all know this Song is still going to move forward for another two books, and it only got me more excited about what is going to happen in the next book. Plus it finally showed us the true purpose of several characters.
It was a long ride, but A Dance With Dragons made me glad to be part of it. If you’ve been reading the series up until A Feast For Crows and aren’t sure you want to continue after that, I implore you, do continue. You won’t regret it.