Review: A Dance With Dragons

This post will include my review of the book A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin. It is the fifth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire series, released in March 2012.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.


In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction. Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head. To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall. And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.

This is the book I wanted book four to be. This was a return to the characters and writing that made the first book so good, this was everything I was hoping for and yet now that I reach the end I am left with a sour taste in my mouth.

I have been fortunate in that I have read all five books in the space of a few months (I started book 1 in June) and haven’t had the frustrating and memory taxing 16 year wait between book one and book five. Part of what I am experiencing is the fear that book six will be released in 2018. A frustrating prospect given the cliffhanger ending for some very key characters. I am consoling myself with the belief that given HBO is making the TV series that GRRM is on a clock, and will have to put his books out quicker than he’s been required to in the past. It would be farcical for the TV series to come up with its own ending because the books aren’t written yet.

But enough speculation over what might happen and let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like about this book.

I liked the fact that it focussed on the characters and storylines that have been there from the start. Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister all feature prominently and the other chapters relate to the events that those characters are a part of. I liked the way that the events on both sides of the world started to come together (just in the smallest part). It gave me a sense of completeness – like I was actually reading one huge story rather than a series of events that took place on the same world. This was something that was lacking in book three and almost completely absent in book four.

What I didn’t like (and I don’t want to spoil this for anyone so if you haven’t yet read the book skip this next paragraph) was the fact that Theon Greyjoy was back. That said, he was far less of an idiot in this book than he was in the chapters that put him in this situation. I also didn’t like the cliff hangers. Personally after making people wait six years the way this book ended was just frustrating. Also the Cersei chapters were a little hard to stomach… how does she continue to engender such loyalty from people. She’d been reduced to nothing yet people who’d already betrayed previous masters or had been betrayed by Cersei herself still seemed to be prepared to support her.

In summary this was a good book. The only reason I have complaints at all is because of the scope of the story has given me enough material to find something I didn’t like. Had the story been more focussed I might not have cause to find characters that I didn’t like. So despite my negative comments regarding a handful of characters I am looking forward to The Winds of Winter. I just hope I can remember all that’s happened when it finally hits the shelves.

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2 thoughts on “Review: A Dance With Dragons”

  1. Nice! I am in book four and planned to quite when it was over. However, I’ve been encouraged by some people to get book five. Think this review is the tipping point for me. Any idea when it will be out in paperback?

    1. Thanks Matthew. Book 5 is available in paperback already (at least in Australia that’s the case) my real fear is that book 6 is still many years away 🙂

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