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A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and…

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (original 2011; edition 2011)

by George R.R. Martin

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Title:A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
Authors:George R.R. Martin
Info:Bantam Books (2011), Hardcover, 704 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Read in 2012

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A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Author) (2011)

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As crows feast over the carrion of southern Westeros, in the steadily wintery North and the sun-soaked far east of Slaver’s Bay there is A Dance with Dragons both literally and figuratively. After waiting five years in between the fourth and fifth installments of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin brought back the stories of Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen after a ten year wait after finishing A Storm of Swords. As with A Feast for Crows, this book shows how new leaders handle responsibility and the results of their actions.

While the previous book had a feeling of intimate focus, A Dance with Dragons returned to the grand scale that had given Martin’s series one of its biggest appeals. The majority of the book takes place in North or Meereen, whether in the city or traveling towards it. At the Wall, Jon has to juggle the needs of the Stannis Baratheon, the Night’s Watch itself, the Wildlings, and more importantly the Others who look to take advantage of men divided against one another. Just a little south, the Boltons and Freys look to secure the North as Theon Greyjoy reeks out an existence within the confines of Winterfell all the while as his sister Asha marches with Stannis as the coming of winter hits hard without knowing that Davos Seaworth has discovered that ‘the north remembers’. Tyrion’s escape from King’s Landing and his eventual journey to the far east of Slaver’s Bay is full of soul searching, the need to survive, and finally the thrill of political intrigue especially as he sends another Dragon west towards Westeros. Wherein Meereen, Dany is finding ruling a conquered city challenging especially after confining her dragons and must compromise to bring peace from her foes within the city walls all the while enemies approach without as well as several friends.

The much lamented “Meereenese Knot” that Martin talked during the writing of A Dance with Dragons, is the area of the book in which many are dissatisfied, including myself to an extent. In all honesty, the majority of Dany’s chapters were my least favorite of the entire book which made me not look forward to anything related to Meereen until after she had ridden out of the city in style. Once Dany had left, in her place came Barristan Selmy who seemed to get things moving with a little help from Quentyn Martell. Although the later character’s story was a fiery catastrophe, Barristan made me look forward to seeing Meereen again as things were actually happening. Given the issues and personal dilemmas that Dany was facing, it felt that it was parallel with Jon however Martin seemed to write Jon’s chapters better than Dany’s which made Meereen a slog until she left and when she did her chapters improved dramatically.

The first 60% of A Dance with Dragons takes place at the same time as A Feast for Crows and it isn’t until the final two-fifths of the book that the entire epic feels whole again as previous POV characters Cersei, Jaime, and Victarion make important appearances. However there is one important new character making a first appearance in this book that could considerably change the political landscape of Westeros for better or ill as The Winds of Winter hit the continent.

After a wait of five and ten years respectively for this installment and for a lot of these characters, A Dance with Dragons is a very good book. Although one major point of view character’s chapters are not up to par with those from previous books, the great writing of other major and secondary characters more than makes up for it resulting in a harrowing and thrilling latter part of the second act of A Song of Ice and Fire. ( )
  mattries37315 | Aug 30, 2016 |
Book 5 in A Song of Fire and Ice is a bit of a mixed bag. I was largely disappointed with the previous novel because of how overwritten, long-winded, and lacking of true shocking moments that makes this series. Although A Dance with Dragons suffers from some of these issues as well, it’s not quite as severe as it was in the previous book. However, this novel definitely could use some serious editing.

There are parts that drag on endlessly with no seeming rhyme or reason. There are also some story lines that don’t seem terribly relevant. Among them is anything featuring the Greyjoys and the Iron Isles. I just didn’t care about this story line and feel that it doesn’t add anything to the story. The same is true with the emergence of Aegon Targaryen and Jon Connington. It just feels added on and not essential. There are already plenty of people vying for the throne. To add this one cheapens it.

It’s hard not to make a comparison between the novels and the HBO show. Early on in the series, I found the books to be superior, and now I think the show has surpassed it. An example of this is that I like the direction of the Tyrion Lannister character –my favorite—in the show as opposed to what he is doing in this novel. The same is true with the Arya and Sansa storylines. One of the great episodes in the past season of the show was the battle against the White Walkers at Hardhome, something that never occurs here. I also liked how the show portrayed Daenerys escaping from the fighting pit.

That’s not to say that there aren’t very good things about the novel. George R.R. Martin is a master of prose and is a skilled writer. There were some big moments in the novel such as Jon Snow’s fate and Cersei’s walk of shame. It’s just that I feel with some serious editing the novel could have been much better.

Carl Alves - author of Two For Eternity ( )
  Carl_Alves | Aug 7, 2016 |
Well, that only took forever. Mr. Martin is super wordy. Onto book 6! ( )
  Prashna | Jul 29, 2016 |
About half way through this one I found myself skimming quickly through most of the chapter/characters. I was losing interest in most of them (even though I will always love Dany and Jon Snow, and Tyrion, of course). By the end, I had a sense of relief and release--no more Song of Ice and Fire for awhile... Heretical to the ever-faithful Martin fans, I know, but there you have it. ( )
  ShawIslandLibrary | Jul 26, 2016 |

Would-be king Stannis Baratheon and his forces occupy the Wall as Jon Snow, the newly elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, sends Samwell Tarly to the Citadel in Oldtown to be trained as a Maester. Sam is accompanied by the ancient Maester Aemon, the wildling girl Gilly, and the wildling leader Mance Rayder's newborn son, whom Jon has switched with Gilly's baby to save the wildling "prince" from sacrifice by Stannis' Red priestess Melisandre. Janos Slynt refuses to acknowledge Jon's authority, and after three public warnings, Jon personally beheads Slynt for disobedience. Though intended to solidify Jon's new position as Lord Commander, it only sows more discord with Slynt's faction. Stannis executes Mance for refusing to submit to him. Jon brokers a truce with Tormund Giantsbane, the leader of the surviving wildlings, allowing them through the Wall and into Westeros in exchange for wildling assistance in defending the Wall against the Others. This creates further unrest among the brothers of the Night's Watch, who have considered the wildlings their enemies for centuries.

Tycho Nestoris, a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, arrives at the Wall seeking Stannis, who has already marched south with his army. The Iron Bank now supports Stannis' claim to the Iron Throne since the regent Cersei Lannister has refused to repay the crown's debts. Jon negotiates a loan with which the Night's Watch can buy food to survive the winter. After recurring visions, Melisandre warns Jon that he is in danger from enemies within the Watch, and that a Northern girl is in trouble. Mance is revealed to be alive thanks to Melisandre's magical trickery, and is sent to Winterfell to rescue the girl, who Jon believes is his half-sister, Arya Stark. Jon receives a taunting letter from Ramsay Bolton, who claims to have crushed Stannis' army at Winterfell. Ramsay demands that Jon hand over to him Stannis' wife and daughter or be killed, and Ramsay also insists that he will deliver Theon Greyjoy and Arya, neither of whom Jon has seen in years. Jon decides that he will seek out and kill Ramsay himself, asking for volunteers from the Watch to accompany him. Melisandre's prediction comes true as Jon is stabbed by Bowen Marsh and several of his own men.

Meanwhile, Bran Stark's search for the "Three-eyed Crow" beyond the Wall leads him to the last surviving Children of the Forest, the non-human natives of Westeros. In the Children's cave, Bran and his companions meet the Three-eyed Crow—the last "greenseer"—an ancient man intertwined with the roots of a weirwood tree. Using greensight, Bran witnesses his father Ned Stark at Winterfell's godswood in the past, and communicates with Theon Greyjoy at the same location in the present.

Having killed his father Tywin, Tyrion Lannister is smuggled to Pentos by Varys, where he is sheltered by Illyrio Mopatis. Tyrion is sent south with a party to aid Daenerys Targaryen in claiming the Iron Throne; on the journey, it is revealed that Varys and Illyrio have hidden the presumed dead Aegon Targaryen, son of the late Prince Rhaegar, to eventually install him as king of Westeros. In the intervening years, they have made a contract with the Golden Company, the largest and most skilled mercenary army in the Free Cities. Tyrion advises young Aegon that Daenerys will not respect him unless he has made his conquests first, and persuades Aegon to launch an early invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, without the aid of Daenerys and her dragons. After traveling with Aegon across Essos, Tyrion is kidnapped by Jorah Mormont, who intends to deliver him to Daenerys as a means to get back into her favor. Jorah, Tyrion, and a female dwarf named Penny are shipwrecked and sold by slavers to a Yunkish merchant. At Meereen, Tyrion escapes in the mass confusion of the plague ravaging the Yunkish army, joins the Second Sons mercenary group, and secures their support for Daenerys.

In Braavos, Arya is an acolyte of the guild of assassins known as the Faceless Men. Temporarily afflicted with blindness at their hands, she develops her sense of hearing, and realizes that she can "see" through cats the same way she could with her pet direwolf, Nymeria. After successfully fending off an attack by the master of the temple with a stick sword, Arya's sight is restored. She is magically given the face of one of the temple petitioners, who come there seeking a quiet death, and is tasked to assassinate a corrupt merchant. After doing so, Arya is declared an apprentice of the Faceless Men, to be sent to another assassin to continue her training.

In the far east, Daenerys has conquered the city of Meereen, but struggles to maintain peace within the city while also trying to prevent military defeat from external forces. A plague known as the bloody flux or "pale mare" ravages the city. Daenerys' dragons have become increasingly dangerous in their maturity, and she reluctantly confines them in a dungeon for the safety of her people. Drogon, the largest, evades capture and flies off. Despite her sexual relationship with the mercenary Daario Naharis, Daenerys marries the noble Hizdahr zo Loraq to secure an alliance that will hopefully appease the violent Meereenese resistance group called the Sons of the Harpy. At Hizdahr's insistence, she reopens the fighting pits as a gesture of good will to the citizens, but the noise and carnage attract Drogon. Two hundred people are trampled in the resulting panic or killed by the dragon, at which point Daenerys climbs on Drogon to calm him. He flies off with a helpless Daenerys in tow. Hizdahr is soon implicated in an attempt to poison Daenerys at the pits, and her advisor Barristan Selmy removes Hizdahr from power and prepares for battle with the armies outside Meereen. Hoping to prove his prowess to Daenerys by riding one of her remaining dragons, the Dornish prince Quentyn Martell is killed in the attempt, and both dragons are unleashed upon the city. Drogon flies Daenerys to the Dothraki Sea and leaves her stranded. She encounters the khalasar of Khal Jhaqo, a former subordinate to her late husband Khal Drogo, who betrayed her after Drogo's death. Meanwhile, Theon's uncle Victarion Greyjoy sails for Meereen, intending to fight off the slavers' alliance besieging the city and then marry Daenerys. He plans to use her dragons to overthrow his brother, King Euron.

In the North, Stannis Baratheon has installed himself at the Wall and attempts to win the support of the northmen; the Lannisters have installed Roose Bolton as Warden of the North; and much of the west coast is under occupation by the Ironborn. Plotting against Stannis, the Karstarks advise him to march on House Bolton's stronghold, the Dreadfort, where the Boltons and Karstarks have laid a trap for him. On the advice of Jon Snow, Stannis instead acquires the support of the Northern hill clans and captures Deepwood Motte from Asha Greyjoy, whereupon House Glover and House Mormont join Stannis' army.

Lord Wyman Manderly pretends to execute Davos Seaworth to ensure the release of his heir Wylis from Lannister captivity. When Wylis is freed, in retribution for the murder of Wyman's other son, Wendel, at the Red Wedding, the Manderlys discreetly murder the three Freys who returned his bones. The Manderlys and other Northern vassals intend to feign submission to the Boltons, Freys and Lannisters while plotting revenge. Revealing to Davos that young Rickon Stark is in hiding on the remote island of Skagos, Manderly pledges the allegiance of his forces to Stannis if the famed smuggler Davos can retrieve Rickon and unite the Starks' supporters around him.

Theon is revealed to be a prisoner in the dungeon of the Dreadfort, mutilated and driven nearly insane by torture at Ramsay's hands. Renamed "Reek" by Ramsay and kept like a dog, Theon is terrified of the sadistic Ramsay. Ramsay's father Roose arrives with "Arya Stark", whom Reek recognizes as Sansa Stark's friend Jeyne Poole. Ramsay and the false Arya are wed at Winterfell, with Reek forced to assume his previous identity of Theon to give away the bride and help reassure the North that Jeyne is Arya. After the wedding, Ramsay repeatedly abuses Jeyne physically and sexually. Several murders in the castle increase the already high tensions between House Frey and the northern Houses present, with Roose and his vassals desperately trying to keep the peace. In Winterfell's godswood, Reek begs for forgiveness and hears Bran's voice calling him "Theon", which restores his sanity. He is approached by a disguised Mance and compelled to help him free the false Arya, but Mance and his spearwives are left behind when the alarm is raised. Theon and Jeyne escape by leaping from the castle wall into the snow, and are then captured by Stannis' forces nearby. Theon is reunited with his sister Asha, who does not initially recognize him. Stannis decides to confront the Boltons at Winterfell, but his army becomes snowbound.

Tyrion convinces Aegon that Daenerys would rather learn of her nephew from his conquest than by his demanding recognition. Aegon and his guardian Jon Connington capture four castles with little resistance, including the Connington ancestral seat of Griffin's Roost, with the intention of marching on Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon. Meanwhile, Connington is secretly succumbing to the infectious disease "greyscale".

Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard presents the skull of Gregor Clegane to Prince Doran Martell and his court as justice for the murder of Doran's sister Elia. Doran agrees that Myrcella Baratheon may return to the Westerosi capital King's Landing with her betrothed, his son Prince Trystane, but reveals to his family that Cersei intends to murder Trystane. Doran summons the three eldest of the 'Sand Snakes', his late brother Oberyn's bastard daughters, and sets each a task: Obara Sand to distract Ser Balon by leading his hunt for Ser Gerold Dayne, the knight who previously tried to kill Myrcella; Nymeria Sand to assume the seat offered to Dorne on the Small Council; and Tyene Sand to infiltrate the Great Sept of Baelor and ingratiate herself with the High Septon.

Having negotiated the surrender of Riverrun, Jaime Lannister offers peace to House Blackwood, the last of Robb Stark's allies still at arms. The Stark-Lannister war in the Riverlands is nominally over, but brigands holding no allegiance now roam most of the broken countryside, and Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully is still missing. Jaime sets about restoring order, and follows when Brienne of Tarth tells him that she has found the missing Sansa Stark, who she claims is in danger from Sandor Clegane.

In order to gain release from her imprisonment, the dowager queen Cersei confesses to several of the lesser charges against her, but does not confess to having murdered her husband King Robert Baratheon and many others, nor that her children are the product of incest. As a condition of her release, she is stripped naked and forced to march under escort from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. Cersei tries to maintain her pride but the smallfolk pelt her with rotten vegetables and insults, by the end she is crying and crawling on her hands and knees. Meanwhile, the ex-maester Qyburn has perfected "Ser Robert Strong", an eight-foot-tall figure encased in armor, assigned as Cersei's champion in trial by combat. Having taken control of the regency of Cersei's son, the young king Tommen, her uncle Kevan Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle attempt to undo the damage caused by Cersei's incompetent rule. Later, Kevan finds Pycelle murdered, and is subsequently shot himself with a crossbow by Varys. Varys reveals that he has been plotting for years for the Lannisters to destroy themselves so that the Targaryens may return to power. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 25, 2016 |
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It's terrible. Martin has taken the concept of the pot-boiler to an extreme — it's a novel where nothing happens other than continual seething, roiling turmoil. He whipsaws the reader through a dozen different, complex story lines where characters struggle to survive in a world wrecked by civil war — one other problem is that I'd hit a chapter about some minor character from the previous four books, and struggled to remember who the heck this person is, and why I'm supposed to care — and again, nothing is resolved. Well, not quite: major characters are brutally killed, if they're male, and graphically and degradingly humiliated into irrelevance if they're female. I guess that's a resolution, all right — perhaps the last book will be a lovingly detailed description of a graveyard, draped with naked women mourning?
added by jimroberts | editPharyngula, PZ Myers (Jul 28, 2011)
Martin remains boundlessly creative, sketching out intricately realized new civilizations, societies, religions, and factions on one continent while continuing to complicate the established political agendas on another. No part of his world ever feels like an afterthought or an easy fantasy cliché.
Even so, “A Dance With Dragons,” for its bounty of adventure, is more about Mr. Martin marshaling his forces in anticipation of the cycle’s final two books.
Was "A Dance With Dragons" worth the six-year wait? Absolutely.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin, George R. R.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Norey, VirginiaHeraldic Crestssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dotrice, RoyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Jeffery L.Endpaper and interior maps bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Ce volume est pour mes fans

pour Lodey, Trebla, Stego, Pod,
Caress, Yags, X-Ray et Mr. X,
Kate, Chataya, Mormont, Mich,
Jamie, Vanessa, Ro,
pour Stubby, Louise, Agravaine,
Wert, Malt, Jo,
Mouse, Telisiane, Blackfyre,
Bronn Stone, Coyote's Daughter
et le reste des cinglés et des folles furieuses de
la Confrérie sans Bannières

pour les sorciers de mon site web
Elio et Linda, seigneurs de Westeros,
Winter et Fabio de WIC,
et Gibbs de Dragonstone, à l'origine de tout

pour les hommes et les femmes d'Asshai en Espagne
qui nous ont chanté un ours et une gente damoiselle
et les fabuleux fans d'Italie
qui m'ont tant donné de vin

pour mes lecteurs de Finlande, Allemagne,
Brésil, Portugal, France et Pays-Bas
et tous les autres pays lointains
où vous attendiez cette danse

et pour tous les amis et les fans
qu'il me reste encore à rencontrer

Merci de votre patience
First words
The night was rank with the smell of man.
"Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal."
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies .... The man who never reads lives only one."
Women do not forget. Women do not forgive.
Give me priests who are fat and corrupt and cynical ... the sort who like to sit on soft satin cushions, nibble sweetmeats, and diddle little boys. It's the ones who believe in gods who make the trouble.
There are ghosts in Winterfell. And I am one of them.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary
Little plot progress
Dragons? Dany? Others? Imp?
Do nothing at all

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553801473, Hardcover)

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again--beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone--a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

Dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series--as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:15 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

New threats emerge to endanger the future of the Seven Kingdoms, as Daenerys Targaryen, ruling in the East, fights off a multitude of enemies, while Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, faces his foes both in the Watch and beyond the great Wallof ice and stone.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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