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