"For the Watch..."
I finally finished the 5th book in A Song of Ice and Fire , and my first thought was, "Dammit, the last book took 5 fucking years to come out!." I mean that to be a positive reaction, as my craving for this story is firmly at war with the anxiety that the author's heart can explode at any minute.
|The face he made suffering his third heart attack...|
Seriously, I need George R. R. Martin to have a Stephen King crisis of mortality and finish this damn thing (King famously wrote the final three books of The Dark Tower series back-to-back after doing his finest impression of a bug on a windshield). With that said, I can only imagine that the 5+ years A Dance With Dragons took to finish only helped make the final product a polished gem, and probably the best in the series behind the original Game of Thrones .
A Dance With Dragons is of one book and mind as its predecessor, A Feast For Crows , in that they are the center wheels in which the story turns toward reaching its climax. Dragons does not follow Crows , but rather runs concurrently (to a point) with its predecessor as each of the character chapters were written chronologically and were then split between the two books into following "regions."
OK, I had a love/hate relationship with A Feast For Crows - sure it had some great character moments with Jamie and Arya, but it just felt like too much time was spent on the peripheral Iron Islanders and Dorne, and there was not much development with the "main" characters. I understand though, that those characters and their machinations had to be introduced in order to drive the story of the central cast further, it just seemed like a really long-winded way to get back to them. Perhaps that is why A Dance With Dragons was destined for acclaim, in that it is the almost half-decade long return to Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion, and Bran.
"Plots Within Plots"
Make no mistake though, this is not just a book devoted to a set number of the already established crew. As I should have already come to expect in this series, Martin throws in several game-changing surprises and introductions that suddenly paints old events - and characters - in a different light. This book focuses primarily on the Wall, Slavers Bay, and the Free Cities, but there is quite a bit of time spent with a new character, "Reek," as well as some PoV chapters with my new favorite old knight, Ser Barristen Selmy.
Tyrion and Bran's journeys are tinged with a bit of sadness as the two physically challenged characters resign themselves to accept their existence within the world. Arya finally takes her first real steps to becoming a supreme badass (*cough*Assassin's Creed*cough*), and Cersei gets a much needed emotional beatdown.
|Stick them with the pointy end|
It's really hard to write a review when I am dying to actually talk about plot developments. I won't spoil anything, but there is the grand return of the, "I can't believe that fucking happened" chapter that will make you put the book down and do a little light drinking. Also, we finally hear some stories of the much fabled "Doom" that tore Valyria asunder, something that only had been vaguely hinted at before.
A Dance With Dragons is rich, complex (good luck telling apart Yukhaz zo Yukhaz from Hakhaz mo Fuckit), and unpredictable - exactly what we have come to expect from A Song of Ice and Fire. As much as I thought the story was becoming a little transparent, Martin ups his game to the point where I am just left yearning to know what happens next.