A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice & Fire #5), by George R. R. Martin

My Copy: 9780553582017 (image from bn.com)

I can’t believe it took me over two months to finish this book. I actually read the last two hundred pages last night because I was so eager to get through them and I couldn’t sleep, so why not?

The action increased its pace nicely with some quiet moments in those pages, and I was eager to get it done with. I got a boxed set of the TV series that I promised myself I wouldn’t watch til I finished this book.

Well, A Dance with Dragons is what Martin said it would be, a kind of companion book to go along with A Feast for Crows. Let’s face it, there are just too dang many characters to keep track of in one timeline and one book, so that’s why he ended up splitting it. Much of the action parallels what happened in AFFC, but it goes beyond as well.

So much happened in this book that I have a hard time describing it. Of all the journeys developing through the story, though, definitely Tyrion’s is the most exhausting (as in, I’d be willing to let him crash on my couch and sleep for a month to recover, because DAMN!).

The biggest actions in this book center around Danerys, who is still in Mereen and trying to find a way to bring peace and end the slavery in that corner of the world while taking care of the newly-freed and the refugees that keep flocking to the city. She’s surrounded by slavers who want their trade to continue while she fights against them, and has to wrestle with several marriage proposals as perhaps the only way to have peace in the area. Her arc is complicated because she knows much but is also stuck between a rock and a hard place, and her journey to Westeros is delayed.

This book dragged quite a bit, going back and forth with different stories as time went on. Mainly with the Danerys parts, but at the same time, when I went back to refresh my memory with certain story segments, it couldn’t really unfold any quicker without screwing up the story. Let’s just say she learns much and you wonder if she’s gonna find a way to pull off her peace plans and make way to Westeros.

So many other characters are in this with big parts: Jon at the Wall, trying to get as many as he can to defend it, even if it means letting the wildlings through to save their lives. Stannis is on the march trying to get to Winterfell where it’s heard one of the Stark clan has been taken by the Boltons and needs rescue from the inevitable hell of a marriage. There’s much about Theon, and that initially surprised me, the things he has to endure and the ways he tries to keep his sanity. Arya’s journey to survive and try to learn what she can was some interesting reading.

And so much more. It’s just hard to describe. There are so many instances of searches, battles, interrogations, journeys, piracy, sacrifices, religion out the wazoo (for good or ill, mostly seems to be ill. I like what Tyrion had to say about it in one of the few scenes I accidentally saw:

Oh, I can’t wait to watch. I promised myself (not counting prequels) that I would read every book in the series–so far–first before watching a single episode. And now I’ve got the box set waiting for me to start.

And yes, I’ve heard the violent lashing out against season 8, but I’m gonna take my time watching all of the series and maybe I’ll find something surprisingly likeable about it. Those posts were everywhere.

Anyhoo, time to put the book back on the shelf to revisit when the next installments come out. I’m sure I’ll read it again. Maybe when some of the names and descriptions start blurring together, watching the show will help me keep things a bit straighter. That was the toughest part–it took so long to read this installment that I had trouble remembering some characters and their traits… but it got easier toward the end.

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