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Review of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

So I finally got around to finishing A Dance with Dragons. I had started this book sometime last year, but put it down for a while and just circled back around to it recently. If it had been written by anyone other than George and was a series which I had not already spent a good deal of time with, I probably wouldn’t have finished it at all. The first three books in the series are amazing and are still the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. If you’re interested in reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I’d highly recommend reading the first three books and stopping there. To know what happens in the next two books, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, I’d recommend just reading summaries of them somewhere on the web. Both books four and five are lengthy like the first three, but nothing significant really happens in either of them. And I really mean nothing significant. I cannot recall one event that stands out in either novel. Questions still loom from the end of Storm of Swords which have never been addressed. I was hoping for some reference back to what happens in the epilogue of Storm of Swords but you can’t find it anywhere.

Maybe I just missed the answers to some of these questions because I found myself speed reading to get through A Dance with Dragons. Most of the story goes nowhere. I even found myself bored with the series’ favorite characters: Tyrion and Jon. Tryion spends the entire novel, it seems, journeying to find Daenerys. Jon spends his entire time at the wall fortifying the wall. That’s about it. Some of the lesser characters I actually found more interesting in this novel. Bran’s storyline was intriguing to me for once, and then about halfway through, his POV stops and Martin never comes back to him. I personally wanted to read more of his narrative.

I’m not sure at this point what George intends to do with the series. The end of A Dance with Dragons certainly concludes with another cliffhanger, but at this point, can I be confident the final two books will be interesting enough to hold my attention for 2,000 additional pages? I don’t mean to sound too negative in this review. To highlight some good points, Martin’s writing style and his attention to detail and knowledge of his characters are unparalleled. I do enjoy reading his words as they are always so carefully chosen and fluid. Since I’ve invested so much time in the series, I will read the final two books, but I was disappointed with this one. By now, the story should be picking up at a faster rate, and instead, it felt like I was trudging through mud (or snow if you’re beyond the wall).

If this had been a standalone book by any other author, I would have given it two stars and probably not finished it. But because it’s George and I do think he is one of the best fantasy writers of all time, I’ll give it three.

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