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Cannonball Read IV: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

By Pinky McLadybits | Book Reviews | July 18, 2012 | Comments ()


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Since A Dance with Dragons is one of many books in a series, there will likely be spoilers from this point on. You've been warned, Sweetlings!

This book is just as infuriating and amazing and mind-blowing as all of the other books in the series. My only real gripe is being slow on the uptake as to which character's point of view I'm seeing at the beginning of some chapters. There are so many people playing this Game of Thrones! I really should take notes and use the handy dandy index of the Houses in the back of the books when I read, but I'm so excited to get to the good stuff that I can't be bothered to take the time.

We unfortunately get to know some players that have previously only been spoken of or appeared only briefly in earlier installments. I could have gone quite a bit longer without meeting Roose Bolton, I tell you that much. That asshole really needs some comeuppance and he needs it now. He's a son of a bitch and I hate him. Characters that I previously loathed wanted punished suddenly got my sympathies. Again. Martin is good that way.

We had slavers opposing the Mother of Dragons, an Imp traveling across the sea, a King seeking allegiances, a red priestess reading her fires, and brief check-ins with Ser Davos, Bran, and Jaime. There was quite a bit of ground covered in this installment, though I could have done without most of the poop references. And this is coming from a woman whose Timeline banner is the word "fart" and profile photo shows a grimace and my nose being held against a smell while gazing upon the banner. So.

I'm sure that if you've read any of the previous books of A Song Of Ice And Fire then you will need no convincing to continue on to the latest book. If you haven't read the previous novels, then you probably weren't too spoiled by this review but you probably understood even less of it. I suggest you get yourself a copy of A Game Of Thrones and join the cult of ice and fire. You're welcome.

For more of Pinky McLadybits's reviews, check out her blog, Hot Ink Reviews.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.

(Note: Any purchases made through the amazon.com links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Alpimp

    I enjoyed Ice and Fire for the first few books, but now all Martin is doing is wantonly killing off important characters and replacing them with new ones, with absolutely no end to the series in sight. It should be renamed the Neverending Story.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Right. I get that not everyone lives, and anyone can die at any time, but some people must survive or who is there to tell the tale? Clearly people survived the last civil war but it looks like no one is surviving this one. At this point I am pretty immune to the killing off of characters, though the possible death of ***spoiler***

  • Lbeees

    So, the sad thing is I read all the books & yet am still confused by Forbiddendonut's recap of events. Too many characters! Who can keep them all straight?

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I haven't written reviews of any of the 5 extant books - I have no idea what to say. There's just too much there. And now I feel like I have to go back and re-read because I've forgotten so much. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • John W

    It should be pointed out that most of the events in A Dance With Dragons takes place concurrently with the event of A Feast For Crows and the two books should be treated as one book.

    Some enterprising fans have actually compiled a combined chapter reading order from both books.

    http://boiledleather.com/post/...

  • Maguita NYC

    I thought only the first half of A Dance with Dragons is happening at the same time as A Feast of Crows. The other half is simply a continuation.

    No?

  • Guest

    I remember it that way, too. Martin says in the intro to DwD that yeah, towards the end of the book (last third?), events begin to coincide again.

  • Maguita NYC

    ***SPOILER ALERT***

    IT's what I thought too... However, l have embarrassingly admitted to it upthread, after Jon Snow's Julius Caesar moment, I've put down my book, not so smoothly.

    I will have to finish it now, for @Pinky McLadybits' review has re-wet my appetite for the series. Sometimes, I feel like beating George repeatedly on the head with one of his thick bibles.

    Maybe someone with deeper knowledge of the books might enlighten us on where exactly 3rd and 4th volumes coincide, and for how long?

  • Guest

    I was about 2 chapters away from the Jon scene, and read this comment, so I spoiled the shit out of my own self. I'll go stand in the corner. (Just have the epilogue to read...food first.)

  • Maguita NYC

    Dude I am SO sorry for spoiling this for you! I've added the proper warning before someone else falls victim as well.

    ... Are you reading the book 'till the end? Were you not frustrated?
    Again, I apologize for my lack of alert spoiler!

  • Guest

    Dude, it's totally my fault, I had no business posting in, much less reading, this thread. I knew I was taking a gamble but I was too excited about this review. :)

    Finished the book yesterday. DTs. Thinking of reading some of Martin's filler Westeros novels. Anyone got any recs? Not sure how worthwhile they are...

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Of course they did...

  • Fredo

    I guess I could toot my own horn at my review of this book....Nah!

    What I will say, in Martin's defense, is that he loves to drop hints throughout the series at future events. The appearance of Aegon (and Connington) was hinted through the first 3 books -- most notably during the "House of the Undying" scene in Book 2.

    And yes, this and Book 4 are the "moving the chess pieces" books. By the end, winter has arrived and everyone is fucked!

  • Forbiddendonut

    ***SPOILER ALERT*** ***DO NOT READ THIS POST UNLESS YOU'VE FINISHED THIS BOOK ***

    Here are some rambling thoughts on this book...

    -I can't say I was devastated, irritated, annoyed or didn't like the book, because I enjoyed it. I loved reading it. I love being back in that world and back with those characters. There is no denying it. I loved a lot of the chapters and perspectives. That said, there were things I wasn't thrilled with and a few things I feel were missteps. The largest genral problem I had with the book is that it felt like very strings were getting pulled further and further apart as opposed to being tied back together. It felt like pieces were just sort of moving around randomly. I would have liked some more resolution.

    - One of the biggest missteps for me was the introduction of the Aegon character. I remember reading somewhere that there was speculation that he could be still alive, but dismissed it. Like Quentyn Martell, I feel like he's just "come too late" in the story. He seems like a relatively important character to introduce in book five of a (supposively) seven book series. He also has the potential to marginalize Dany, who we've been with since the begining.

    I don't have high hopes for the guy. I like Jon Connington, I didn't mind his chapters, since I liked the Gold Company stuff and liked them going back to Westeros. I also enjoy all of his recollections of the past, Rhaeger, Battle of the Bells, etc. Aegon, however, seems like he's a bit irritating. There was some comment by someone about how he was much easier to handle when he was just a peasant boy and before they openly revealed him to be a potential king. He showed an ability to be manipulated by Tyrion and his desire to lead the raid on Storm's End could prove fatal. There is really only two ways I can see it shaking down for Aegon. Either he's triumphant, where does that leave Dany? Or he gets killed and, thus, what was the point of all of this?

    Maybe one reason for Aegon's presence is that it could finally bring Dorne into the war. If that's the case, then I could be fine with that. I kind of like Dorne, so the more of Dorne the better.

    - While the Tyrion character still remains great, much of what did or was forced to do in this book was either dull or annoying. The whole ride down the river with Griff through that crazy, misty place with the giant turtles and the greyskin monsters didn't do much for me. I like seeing various parts of the Land Across The Narrow Sea and understand that that world is more mystical and magical than Westeros, but that particular stretch didn't do much for me. Penny was and remains deeply irritating.

    I also didn't like Tyrion cartwheeling around all over the place. I always felt like that first scene between Tyrion and Jon, when Tyrion jumped down and tumbled in the air was just something Martin added early on and forgot to take out, since Tyrion never did anything like that again. Bringing that back up was just... eh.

    I did like Jorah Mormont's presence in those chapters. I found him to be a bright spot.

    - There were a few too many chapters that ended with the perspective character seemingly dying. It was like the "sexposition" on the TV show. You can't have that sort of thing become a trend or it becomes too obvious.

    - I found the Bran stuff very dull, but there wasn't a lot of it.

    - At first I wasn't too thrilled with the Theon chapters, but about half way through, once they got settled at Winterfell, I really enjoyed them. Ramsay Bolton has to take the mantle as the most evil character in the books at the moment. He trumps the like of Viserys and Gregor. I didn't realzie who Abel and his women were until about halfway through the rescue attempt. It didn't dawn on me until one of them said "Kneelers" and then I was like... Oh.. Ooooh...

    - Boats. Far too much time spent on boats.

    - That said, I kind of liked the Victarion chapters. He really isn't all that different from Quentyn Martell in a way. He's much more brutal and vicious, but still has this "fairy tale" vision of what he's doing and why.

    - I didn't find too many of the new characters, perspective or otherwise, to be too terribly compelling. There hasn't been a Hound, Mountain, Syrio Florell, Jaqen H'gar, or even Vargo Hoat, that has really captured me. I did end up coming around to Ser Archibald - the Dornish guy with the giant hammer who was with Quentyn. I also kind of liked the Shavepate after a while. I am trying to think of a new character that I thought was very cool and can't quite think of one.

    - I really enjoyed the one Areo Hotah chapter. More plotting, planning and schemeing by Doran Martel.

    - Not enough Davos. I really like Davos. His scene with Lord Manderly in private was a favorite. At first I was stunned by the show the Manderlys put on. I couldn't believe they were being so lame and ridiculous with the Freys and Boltons. I was thrilled when they revealed it was all an act and that they were good, loyal Stark bannermen. The North remembers. I also liked the fact that they apparently killed those Freys who were with them and had them baked into those "pork" pies at the wedding feast that Lord Manderly kept downing and downing and downing. It will be interesting to see if Davos can find Rickon, Osha and Shaggy Dog. An interesting group.

    - I loved the Barristan Selmy perspective chapters. He was a great character to finally get inside of and I liked a lot of the action and plotting in it. Some great stuff about the past, which I always enjoy, and interesting stuff going on in the present. Those were some of my favorite chapters. His fight with the pit fighter was excellent. I love seeing Selmy being a bad ass.

    - Poor Quentyn Martell. You can't help but feel bad for the guy. He just came too late. And then tried a little too hard. I do like how he's making dragons very dangerous and hard to control, as they should be.

    - I went back and forth on the Dany stuff. Some of it I really enjoyed, some of it I didn't. I thought the scene in the fighting pits was excellent. Daario Naharas was probably the second biggest douche bag in the series for me. The first being the "Darkstar". I know we mainly saw him through Dany's eyes, that of a young girl (it was nicely tempered through Barristan's perspective), but still. Then again, at the end it sounded like he was shot out of a trebuchet, so we might not have to deal with him and his "ladies" anymore.

    I am not sure what to think of her last chapter. The khalasar she came upon wast part of Khal Drogo's old khalasar. She's on a large dragon. It kind of feels like she has taken one big step back, ditching all of the Meereen stuff and "learning how to be a Queen/rule" idea and becoming a khaleese of sorts. With the khalasar, however, she can lead them back to Meereen, smash the Yunkai'i and the rest of those armies besieging Meereen and then finally turn her attention back to Westeros. She could use the Volantese fleet among other ships to make the journey. If that's the plan, I am pretty ok with it. Granted, she has to get those dragons under control, will need to deal with Victarion and his dragon taming horn and there is always Marwin who hasn't shown up yet.

    I must say that I love the Yunkai'i. They make me smile with all of their ridiculousness. I enjoy their weird, decadant corrupt culture with all of their freak armies - guys chained to one another, guys on stilts - and all of the oddness.

    - I enjoyed the Aarya chapters. Of all the characters, in her two or so chapters, it felt like she made some of the biggest progress.

    - Jon. Well, I really loved his chapters. I always have liked the stuff at the Wall. I felt like there was a lot of cool stuff going on there with the Watch, the wildlings and the like. Then the last page of his perspective happened... For The Watch.

    I can't see anything beyond pure and absolute chaos breaking out right after that. You had Wun Wun ripping aparent one of Queen Sylse's knights. You had part of the Watch killing Jon Snow. It would likely be an all out war between the Watch and Sylse's men and Toramund and all of the wildlings. There seemed to be more wildlings. That battle would likely has repercussions all along the Wall.

    There are really four options for Jon Snow. One, he's dead. If that's the case, well, then... I have no idea what to think. Two, he's not dead, just wounded and heals up. Three, he dies and Melisandre raises him from the dead like Thoros did Dondarrion and Catelyn after that. I am not sure how I feel about option three, though Dondarrion seemed perfectly fine for a whole there. Even if he does some how make it, I am not sure what he would have left to rule after this madness. Four, he, like the shapeshifter in the prologue, ends up in Ghost.

    Not sure what to make of Ramsay's letter either. Clearly, he knows about Maynce and his spearwives. So, there was some truth to it. I find it hard to believe that the he has already crushed Stannis' host. It's possible they would do that off screen, but it would be odd. Since Theon, Asha and "Arya" were with Stannis, you figure if Ramsay crushed their host, he would have them as well, unless they managed to sneak away. Also, why would Ramsay be writing it and not Roose?

    - I liked the Cersei chapters well enough. The ending with Varys showing up and killing Kevan was a bit surprising. Granted,, Varys has been working for a Targaryen return for a long time now, so I can see him becoming a bit more proactive now that Aegon has been revealed and landed on Westeros. If Varys really feels that Aegon on the throne is the best option, then getting rid of Kevan and putting the trainwreck that is Cersei back in power, is a strong means to that end.

    So, where does this leave everyone...

    Jon Snow possibly dead, undead, or in a wolf.

    The Wall and the Night's Watch in complete chaos.

    Dany possibly at the head of a new Khalasar.

    Barristan Selmy and his new council at war with Yunkai'i and their allies.

    Cersei back in a position of power?

    Arya getting closer to becoming a faceless man.

    Davos off to find Rickon

    Jaimie disappearing with Brienne who, presumably, was sent to kill him or lead him to his death.

    Bran under ground with the Children of the Forest, warging with all differnt types of animals and mind melding with weirwoods or something.

    Theon, Asha and "Arya" with Stannis or wandering in the frozen north.

    Stannis dead and his army supposively smashed. I still don't buy this. I think it was a bluff. No way Martin simply wipes Stannis off the map off-screen.

    Jon Connigton and Prince Aegon poised to take Storm's End.

    Samwell Tarly in Old Town learning to become a maester.

    Little Finger poised to make Sansa some sort of Queen of the North or something and trying to have the, as of yet unsullied, power of the Vale at his command.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    I too am most curious as to what will happen at the wall. To me the series has always been about the white walkers and dragons, with the human machinations being the fun bit that leads to the final showdown. I don't know if Snow is dead (I have my doubts but won't really be surprised either way) but the effect this will have on the wall itself, those who dwell along the wall, and the rest of the world has me intrigued.

  • Guest

    I'm intrigued, too. If (IF) Jon is in Ghost now, and Bran travels via any kind of animal (or plant, really, at this point), the two brothers can do some pretty amazing interesting things when the Others hit the Wall and the battle comes. They can be forces for Westeros from a Beyond-the-Wall position.

  • Maguita NYC

    ***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT***
    Some are talking about the possibility of Melissandre raising him from the dead. Or either he becomes one of the Others, or really wakes up in Ghost's skin.

    I vote for resurrection.

    Come on, born from an unwed mother, a natural leader of men, holds on tight to his code of honor, no matter the danger to himself. And then dies for the cause, and is resurrected on the third day.

    Yes, Jon Snow is JC.

  • Guest

    Totes. Plus, on the show they cast a guy with droopy Jesus-face and lank curls. QED.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Re Ramsay's letter: at first, it felt to me that it's just posturing. The further chapters of the book offer glimpses that support his claim, though, so I have a sinking feeling that he didn't lie.

    Roose is probably is dead, anyway (probably by his son's hand), else he would have written that letter.

  • space_oddity

    Honestly, I think Stannis is just too important a character for his death to happen offscreen and by noted in passing in a letter. But GRRM does like to deliberately fuck with people's narrative expectations. I nonetheless think it's a ruse by Ramsay. I guess we'll find out in 3 or 4 years...

  • Quorren

    I believe GRRM has already stated that the series will be longer than seven now, possibly nine or ten. But I'm too lazy to try to find that source.

    I also refuse to accept Jon Snow and Stannis are dead. But I could just be in the stages of grief.

    I'm not a fan of the Iron Islands. I think those people have been out in the sun too long and swallowed too much sea water. However, I am looking forward to more Asha scheming, since Theon's return could declare the Kingsmoot null and void.

    My favorite conspiracy theory that I picked up from the internet so far is that Florell and H'Gar are the same person - that several of the people on Arya's journey have been the same person with different faces. It's an interesting idea.

  • Judge Holdenmynuts

    10 books? are you fucking kidding me? I have my doubts he'll even finish 7 of them. It took him 5 years to finish book 5, didn't it? and he's old and .... well.... not the healthiest looking chap, eh?

  • Quorren

    it looks like he is progressing on Winds of Winter, though. at least, he's done a few appearances where he's read chapters from the book.

  • mswas

    Don't tempt fate @f9e39d0917ea1fddea53b3fcf360176b:disqus !!

  • Maguita NYC

    I absolutely agree with most of your assessment.

    However, I did not finish the book, after Jon Snow's "Et tu Brute" scene. I shut my book down. Forcefully. Will have to finish it.

    Still, will we ever know, Where do Whores go?

  • Maguita NYC

    After reading the "Highest Paid TV actresses", apparently to E!

  • Borgata

    Where is your spoiler alert asshole?

  • The Mega Sage

    In other news, Darth Vader is Luke's father.

  • gp

    what is your problem? the word 'spoiler' is in the first line of the review.

    or were you wanting everyone who reads your comment to assume YOU were the asshole?
    that seems pretty likely. otherwise you wouldn't have posted such a dickish comment.

    it's not like this book came out two weeks ago and everyone is just waiting for you to catch up.
    fucking idiot.

  • Quorren

    Rosebud is THE SLED!

  • mswas

    There's a spoiler alert at the beginning of the review and in the comment to which @quorren:disqus replied. If you'd rather not be spoiled about a book that was published last year, then don't read the review.

  • Borgata

    And really, there are no real spoilers in the "review".

  • Quorren

    Would you be interested in a scientific study where it shows that people still enjoy things, even after they've been "spoiled"? Or would that severely limit your ability to enjoy the internet, if you don't have anything to bitch about?

  • Borgata

    Yes.

  • Borgata

    Quorren has no spoiler alert alert. Drink my balls.

  • Quorren

    You, sir, are a wordsmith!

  • Borgata

    good comeback

  • KV

    I haven't read ADwD yet...waiting for the paperback edition to come out in August. But if Jon Snow really is what he is rumored to be, then I doubt Martin will finish him off in book 5.

  • Guest

    What's Jon rumoured to be? Are you referring to one of those "he's not really Ed's son, but someone more kingly" rumours, I really need to start reading up on those.

  • mswas

    That's quite a comment @69929eae862c96ece2637bf09644ba3d:disqus !!

  • Bothari

    "The cult of ice and fire," ha! So true!

  • frank_247

    I'm gonna have to go back and read them all more carefully, all my memories are mushed up together like a sack of butts. Or something.

  • Guest

    I'm about 30 pages from the end of this book, and anticipating nasty withdrawal. I'm lining up Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy to mitigate my SoIaF DTs (and refresh my exhausted brain with something a little more...not Martin).

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