I haven’t been waiting for the latest in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for as long as some people, but I was glad to see A Dance with Dragons come out this year. Reading it was my reward for finishing up my fantasy and science fiction for younger readers course. I was in the mood for some Knights Who Say Fuck. And in that I wasn’t disappointed.
As far as the book itself went though? It was okay. I was glad to catch up with what was happening to all the characters I hadn’t heard any news from in so long (most of the story in this book is about characters whose shorelines were left out of the previous book, A Feast For Crows). And in the last third of the book we got a few glimpses into other areas of Westeros and beyond as well.
It was all fine, but it felt more like a letter from a friend you haven’t seen in a while than an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. It really is just a bunch of stuff that happens. Yes the stakes escalate through the book, and terrible things happen to characters we like (which is one of those things you have to deal with getting into this series), but it didn’t feel like a story, just the latest instalment to leave you waiting for the next one.
It’s good though. Theon Greyjoy has a great arc in this book. Ramsay Snow/Bolton is a terrifying villain. Tyrion is in this book and it’s really hard not to enjoy his chapters (though I bet when they get to doing the TV version of this book his trip to Meereen will be a bit less needlessly complicated). There are dragons doing dragony things and princes from fairy tales trying to do princely things. Things turn out better for one of those groups than the other.
I hope the next book takes a bit less time, and that there aren’t too many more to wait for. But if you’re in the market for epic fantasy and don’t mind an author who isn’t afraid to be brutal to his protagonists, this series is very good. I just can’t say it keeps getting better and better.