A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

In an earlier review I wrote that George R. R. Martin writes in waves. Through his characters, he creates currents that culminate into a tsunami of rage and retribution. Hundreds of pages spent describing his characters’ mundane actions contribute to the development of their story arcs, and each detail adds to the climaxes of his books. However, this did not happen in A Dance with Dragons – for at least half of the book, I felt that I was knee deep in random, unidentifiable water, reading page after page of unnecessary information.

What happened to the characters we care about? I understand that Jaime, Cersei, Arya, and Sansa took the spotlight in A Feast for Crows, but the narratives of Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys still felt odd and distant. Even though Martin adds perspectives to ensure that all geographic areas of his world receive coverage, he sprouted so many minor and tangential paradigms that I felt both overwhelmed and underwhelmed – overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters, underwhelmed by what they each brought to the story. Why waste time describing the bodily functions of the characters or the insignificant details of their clothing when you could delve deeper into their conflicts with one another? Why highlight an inconsequential conversation when you could just advance the plot, thus tightening the tension of your story and keeping readers wanting more?

In my ninth grade English class I learned to avoid rhetorical questions. Instead of strengthening your argument, they add pointless fluff. While my review includes a bunch of rhetorical questions, I find it fitting when discussing A Dance with Dragons, because Martin raises too many questions and and not nearly enough answers. My three-star rating might be generous, but I still feel a connection to the characters I care about, and I cannot deny the beauty of Martin’s writing itself. However, he needs to improve the quality of his plot progression and limit his focus to a certain set of characters. No matter how popular the series gets – both through the books and the televised version – fans will walk away unsatisfied unless he can bring back what he produced in the first three books. Quality over quantity, always.

*what do you guys think? Am I the only one who feels disappointed with this installment? You can also check out my reviews of If I Lie by Corrine Jackson and Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah here and here, respectively

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7 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

7 responses to “A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

  1. Yvo

    Mmm, your review just made me wonder if I should continue reading the series. I finished A Feast For Crows a while ago, and it already left me with mixed feelings. I know A Dance With Dragons is the second part of the story, but I’m not sure I can coope with another slow reading and above all an explosion of characters right now…

    • Perhaps pick it up if you’re having a reading slog or if you have some free time on your hands? It’s smart to choose a time when it feels right though, because even though I appreciated A Feast For Crows, this one still fell a little flat. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      • Yvo

        Thanks for your advice, that might just be the best thing to do if I actually want to read this book until the end… Because I know that if the story is slow and I have other books waiting, I would just put A Dance With Dragons on hold.

  2. Aww, I’m a little disappointed this seems to be the relative “worst” of the series so far. I thought it would be better than aFfC since it focused on Jon Snow, Tyrion, Aarya, and Dany — the undisputed most interesting characters in the series — so this is a real shame. :/ I’m watching Season 4 of the show at present, but I plan to pick up with aFfC the moment it finishes in three weeks. I’m itching to get back to the books, but just don’t want to rush it and be left with no more Song of Fire and Ice for another two or three years. (Keeping my fingers crossed Book 6 manages to be released next year!) Anyway, fantastic review, Thomas, and thanks for your thoughts. I’ll have to let you know how mine compare once I get around to resuming this series. :)

    • Yeah, A Dance with Dragons disappointed me, but I think there are people out there who appreciated it. Also, the characters in A Feast for Crows did holy my interest, especially Jaime and Cersei – their development really shined, so the more lackluster chapters in A Dance with Dragons paled in comparison. I’m excited for you to get back into reading the series though, and I applaud your efforts to think ahead and give yourself space between each installment! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on book four and five when you get to them. (:

  3. IMO, A Feast for Crows is better than A Dance with Dragons. Though both are 4 stars for me, I enjoyed AFfC more. :)

    • Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to like A Feast for Crows more than A Dance with Dragons, but it happened somehow. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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