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A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
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A Dance with Dragons (original 2011; edition 2011)

by George R.R. Martin

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Member:nategoldschmidt
Title:A Dance with Dragons
Authors:George R.R. Martin
Info:Bantam Books (2011), Edition: First Edition, First Impression, Hardcover, 704 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Author) (2011)

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A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the 5th book of George R. R. Martin’s GAME OF THRONES series is a big improvement over its immediate predecessor, A FEAST FOR CROWS if for no other reason than some of our favorite characters are back and in front and center of the story. And coming in at over a thousand pages, there is plenty of story in DRAGONS, which is not technically a sequel to CROWS as much of its action takes place simultaneously to what is happening in the fourth book, which concerned itself mostly the happenings in King’s Landing and greater Westeros while the 5th installment takes us to the far corners of the realm and across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cites and Slavers Bay. At a point, DRAGONS catches up and moves ahead of FEAST, getting everyone back on the same page.

Though many characters get their own POV chapters, the big three of DRAGONS are Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and everyone’s favorite, Tyrion Lannister. All three have set themselves on perilous paths filled with imminent dangers and lethally unintended consequences. As is Martin’s style, the more one his characters desires a specific goal and the harder they work to obtain it, the further away it slips from them. Jon Snow has now assumed command of the Night’s Watch on the Wall in the north, and must immediately deal with an influx of Wildlings, the Watch’s traditional enemies, on their side of the wall in the face of Mance Rayder’s defeat; it is not easy making allies of old enemies, nor does it help when he is drawn into the power struggles of Stannis Baratheon, one of many claimants to the Iron Throne, who came to aid of the Watch in when Raider’s army was about to overwhelm the Wall. Daenerys too finds herself inmeshed in local concerns in the conquered city of Meereen, where she struggles to maintain peace inside its walls while being besieged by enemies from the outside; not only that, but her three dragons have grown large and hard to control, so much so that they now need to be confined. Then there is the man Daenerys loves and another she marries out of convenience; meanwhile two different would be suitors are making their way to Meereen to propose politically useful marriages of their own. Tyrion is fleeing west with a price on his head, wanted for the murder of his nephew and father, and falling into one tight spot after another. The true high points of the novel is seeing this former Hand of the King brought low, even to the point where he is enslaved and forced to perform in a Mummer’s farce, but at every turn the most infamous dwarf in all literature finds a way to come out on top with his razor sharp tongue still in his mouth. Other characters have multiple POV chapters as well, some of whom have truly fallen on very hard times: Theon Greyjoy has been tortured and flayed repeatedly at the hands of Ramsey Bolton, so much so that he hardly knows his own name anymore; an imprisoned Cerci Lannister is forced to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing, jeered at by the common folk and pelted with rotten fruit. The long missing Bran Stark shows up as well. The old knight, Barristan Selmy, finds himself caught up in a deadly war when Daenerys enemies lay siege to Meereen when she inexplicably leaves, while a heretofore hidden Targaryen heir makes himself known.

For me, the true climax of the book comes when Jon Snow receives a letter from the vile Ramsey Bolten, simply addressed, “Bastard.” It sets off one hell of a dramatic series of events, leading to a truly shocking scene; it is Martin at his best.

If there is any theme in DRAGONS, it is the dire consequences that come when one turns from their chosen path which comes from ignoring what their heart tells them is the right thing. This is especially true in the cases of Jon Snow and Daenerys, who find themselves in situations where those whom they have trusted now stand with knives at their backs. Only Tyrion, with his relentless tough row to hoe, holds on to his sense of purpose, along with his sense of humor. I took notice of more than one character that looks back with regret at events and sees far too late where things all went wrong, not only for them, but for all the Seven Kingdoms.

At over a thousand pages, A DANCE OF DRAGONS is quite the read, but Martin truly brings his A game this time as he puts these characters we have come to know so well through hell; his mastery of dialog and description has never been better. There is no writer today better at world building, his Seven Kingdoms and beyond is a living and breathing place, one with a long, dark, deep and very cruel history that is constantly revealing itself. It’s a place filled with ruthless schemers who will do anything to get what they want, where those who wish to find love and happiness are often rewarded with grief and spite. If there is a God in this world, then he is one made in the image of Nietzche, whose only gospel would be, “That what does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

Sadly this is the last of Martin’s GAME OF THRONES books published to date; THE WINDS OF WINTER is promised some time before the end of this decade. As with most fantasy series, there is that sense of bloat that usually sets in after the third book, but Martin is such a great writer I don’t mind. And he leaves with more than a few cliffhangers and questions for the next book; I know the HBO series has moved past the books and has plans to wrap up after two more seasons, but written page and the TV screen are two separate and alternate universes and Martin has indicated that he is not bound to follow the script; nor should he, hopefully, us diehard fans will two completely different endings to this wonderful that has kept us up reading for so many nights.

Just write hurry up and write the damn books, George. ( )
  wb4ever1 | Sep 30, 2016 |
I thought this book was great! I probably had an easier time with it since I only just discovered the Song of Ice and Fire series so I didn't have a super long wait for this to come out.

I like that we get to check in with some of the people that weren't in book 4, and see what they have been up to. I think Dany's story is spinning its wheels a bit and even Tyrion is moving ahead slowly. This felt a lot like a set-up book. ( )
  Sarah_Buckley | Sep 17, 2016 |
I'm counting this as finished even though I technically didn't read the last three chapters in protest. I always said that is Martin killed on of my two favorite characters I was done. So I ragequit.

My husband is convinced that this person is going to come back somehow. If they do in the next novel (which is now not coming out until 2016) then I will come back and read the rest of this book and continue the series.

If not, I'm done. I have no motivation to continue because I pretty much can't stand any of the surviving characters at this point. And the ones I don't dislike, I'm apathetic about.

Ugh. ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
The Review Can also be found here.
My Impressions:

My favourite thing about the audiobook, by far, is the narrator Roy Dotrice. I have this book in Kindle Edition, Paperback and my husband has it in audiobook, which we both have access to since we share our Amazon libraries. The paperback edition's print is very small, I wish it were a little larger. The Kindle Edition has some of the same elements as the paperback, i.e., the elegant chapter headers.

Plot:
Alas. Although I love this world, it's so hard to love the plot in this 5th book. I feel like Martin is purposely stalling. Much of nothing happens to Daenerys. I think we have all been waiting for something to happen with Daenerys but no, nothing really happens.

Until the end, and even then it feels like it just doesn't fit into the story. Daenerys rides away on the back of her runaway dragon. Then after he refuses to take her back to Mereen, she just wanders around and is met by a Kalasar, We don't know who the group is.

Interestingly the person with the most intriguing story happens to be our most beloved Theon [sarcasm - for those who missed it]. While in Winterfell he will play a huge role. I don't know if the show will be taking it along that line, so I will leave my spoilers for the show/book comparisons.

A lot is happening with Jon at the wall [granted that is probably because we didn't hear anything from him in all of the last book]. Melisandre keeps hinting at his power which we believe to be his warging that he is not embracing. He is struggling to be Lord Commander while also protecting the realm from the Others. However the two seem to be working against him. As he mingles more with the wildings, he creates issues among the men of the Night's watch.

There are widely popular fan theories about Jon Snow. One is that he is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. The problem I am having with this theory is that, if this is true, Jon is still a Snow bastard. I don't know how this really helps. The second, less popular theory, is that he is really Azor Ahai. Now this theory I do like, and I can see how it will benefit the story. There is a theory that Dany is it, but with her never making a significant impact in Westeros, it makes less sense. Jon is in the north, where it matters in the fight against the Others. Although, the book ends Jon's story with him dying or at least stabbed several times.

Tyrion's story is just all over the damn place. He travels from place to place, and encounters many different changes in circumstances. But for all of this, nothing really happens for him. He is mainly used as a vessel to observe what is happening where he is and with whom.

Tyrion's different roles include escapee, friend and ally, prisoner, and slave.

Bran's story is somewhat interesting but we don't hear from him for about half the damn book. He is finally going to start the training he has been struggling to reach.

There are hints that he is now present in the weirwoods but I guess we will have to find out in the next book

I really hate how the story was split down the middle in bad way. I constantly feel the need to go and look up what happened in the last book. This book was a whopping 48 hours [and many minutes] long.

We get one chapter here and there from some characters who were mainly in A Feast for Crows such as Cersei, and Jaime. Both have very interesting endings to their stories. Especially Jamie.

Brienne shows up and they ride of together. No one hears from him again.

Overall though, most of the story takes place in the North of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. And as usual, it is a lot.

Arya is one of the few characters that are in both books, although none of her chapters are actually named "Arya". She is in the process of becoming a faceless man, but she struggles with letting go of her past.

She finally gets to change her face.

There is war [of course], lots of sex, and overly vivid descriptions of festering wounds. In fact, as I was listening to this book, I am wondering if I didn't pay as much attention to how graphic the books were, or if it's just this one, and the show used this writing style as inspiration for the show.

The book ends on a bad note to me though.

Varys returns to kill Pycelle and Kevan Lannister, in hopes to turn the Lannister men and High Garden against each other, while the newly discovered and much alive, Prince Aegon takes Storm's End.

I particularly don't like this change because it will continue to keep Cersei in a position of power.

Characters:
As with all previous books, all our characters are fleshed out very well. Although the world is so vast, you get a clear understanding of what each of your main characters are experiencing. Besides Theon and Cersei, and maybe Sansa, I think I like most of our characters.

Writing:
The writing as I have said is amazing. Martin makes it seem like you are right there in the story. He has the ability to create cliffhangers that just make you want to scream. But it does it's job in getting you to come back and read more. ( )
  kayjenx | Sep 14, 2016 |
Still working my way through the book, but George Martin really has a twisted mind and the book is endlessly more clever than the tv show. It is amazing that he can create a whole world and keep it entertaining. I particularly like the Jon Snow and Daenaerys portions of the plot, with the nod going to J Snow. Black Watch is an interesting concept where you can break bad and go to the Wall and redeem yourself. I would lov to see the backstory on Mance Ryder.

I understand why some people would get restless and skip through the lesser threads of the story. There really are a lot of families and subplots to keep track of, and is is quite lengthy. Personally, I am reading one or two chapters a day, knowing that it will prob be another year before the next book comes out. I think there is a lot of the story that can be compared to true life, and lessons to be learned from it. It is well worth the investment of time and effort. ( )
  delta351 | Sep 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 315 (next | show all)
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.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

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.
Quotations
"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
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Book description
Haiku summary
Little plot progress
Dragons? Dany? Others? Imp?
Do nothing at all
(amweb)

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 5 descriptions

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