A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R. R. Martin

I’d like to start my review by mentioning all the positive things about this series, which keeps me reading. GRRM has created compelling characters in Sansa, Arya, Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, and I’m dying to know what happens to them, and how they come out of this novel. So every time I’m reading something about them I’m happy.

I’m not so happy with this novel as a piece of writing. The problem is that the structure of the story has become slack, and we have a situation with multiple characters and multiple plot-lines, which necessitates long waits between each point of view character to find out what happens next. For example, poor Sansa Stark finally left the Eyrie with her uncle-by-marriage Petyr Baelish at the end of A FEAST FOR CROWS, but no-where is she to be seen in A DANCE WITH DanceWithDragonsDRAGONS. So I’m still wondering what happened to her. Instead, the plot has become bogged down in too many minor characters and their dealings, and so the momentum of the story has crawled to a halt.

What made J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series so successful, was that each book was structured around a year at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, like A FEAST FOR CROWS has lost its structure, so one reads and reads with no real sense of where this story is going to end up. And so the arc of tension is either sagging, or absent.

I hope that GRRM will do a couple of things with the last two books in the series:

  • Ditch the prologues. I have no idea why ADWD started with Varamyr as it seemed to have little bearing on what followed. The opening would have been much stronger if we had been plunged into the scene where Tyrion is on a boat escaping Westeros, just after killing his father at the end of Book Three.
  • Edit out the minor characters, and make the book lean and mean by just focusing on the lives of the main characters that we have grown to know and love.

I would love a scene in which Tyrion meets Daenerys, especially as their encounter in ADWD was such a cop-out. I want to see Tyrion confront his sister and brother. I want to see who ends up on the Iron Throne. And I want to find out what happens to Bran, Arya and Sansa. Do they ever see each other again? As far as I’m concerned, I would be happy NOT having to wade through stuff about another unscrupulous sellsword, or about Theon Greyjoy and his family, or about the Dornes. Frankly, I’m no longer interested. Three stars.

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