Genre: Fantasy

Notes: Book 12/50.  This book is enormous. It tops out at 1,016 pages. Getting through the  Song of Ice and Fire is an undertaking to say the least. Curse you, Martin!

Review: Finally, we get the other half of the story that Martin begins in A Feast for Crows.  Arya, Tyrion, and Jon add their voices to this incredibly complex web of stories.  And, since they’re my favorite characters, I highly anticipated reading this book.

Lesson #1 I have learned while reading Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.  No. One. Is. Safe. Also, Martin is a dick.

A Dance with Dragons does not disappoint in the intrigue realm.  I love the power struggles, the constantly shifting alliances, and Cersei finally getting something of what was coming for her.  But, honestly, it feels like nothing happened in this book.  Oh, sure, all of the characters are strewn across the globe and Dany gets stronger and more and more queenlike every day, but on the whole, nothing happened.  I don’t even know what thread I’m supposed to follow.  What is the key narrative of this behemoth? Methinks I should follow Dany, but I’m not even sure of that anymore.  So many loose ends!  How will Martin tie them up?  I hate infinite waiting periods.  Plus, Martin looks like this and may not last long enough to write another 1,000 plus page book.  He began the series in 1991 and his wikipedia page says the series will run at least 7 volumes.  Hang in there, George!

As a reader and aspiring writer, Martin constantly surprises and impresses me with the depth of his characters.  I even had moments where I felt bad for Cersei, and she’s probably the biggest douche in the series.  But, Roose Bolton can die a slow, painful death by flaying.  He is probably the most despicable, hated, and atrocious characters to ever grace this series.  I mean, he captures women for sport and sets them lose so he can hunt them.  If they give him good sport, he slits their throats before he flays them.  If not, he doesn’t.  And the really good ones get a dog named after her.  Awesome.  I would have killed Bolton by now if I were Theon Greyjoy.  Or killed myself.  One of the two.  And poor Jeyne Poole!

But, again, it felt like nothing happened.  I feel no closer to a resolution and I feel no advancement of the plot.  Brienne is still out searching for Sansa, Arya is still in Braavos as a temple servant, Tyrion became briefly enslaved as a part of a dwarf comedy troupe (which isn’t as interesting as it sounds), and Jon is still trying to hold the wall.  Westeros is still divided among like a bajillion kings all vying for the throne.  The novel is sprawling and incoherent at times, with only brief moments of beautiful clarity.  I am curious how Martin is going to wrap up the series (because I can honestly say I have no idea where he’s going) but I wish I hadn’t spent 1,016 pages stuck in what seems like it fits squarely into the middle of a gigantic story.  Nothing moves forward, but somehow, somewhere, these events will be important.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the series and hopelessly invested like me, you don’t really have a choice.  You have to read this book.  But you might not love it.  It lacks the punch of A Storm of Swords.