Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Book five in George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Book five in this series picks up where book three left off for certain characters. Book four, A Feast for Crows focuses on one set of characters and DWD takes the other half. We get a glimpse of a some characters from book four, but mostly its a different group.

I was honestly a little disappointed by this book. I think that is partially because of actual changes in Martin's writing and partially because of the six year wait for this book and surrounding hype. Martin was constantly saying how complicated plotlines were in this book and how everything was so hard to get to come together. I really fail to see how that's the case in DWD. There was very, very little resolution and plot advancement. Some complexity and characters were added, not much resolved.

Martin is famous for being the fantasy author that kills off major characters. There was a big surprise in book 1, and others later. Now though I think Martin is building himself a nice track record of implying characters are dead and then bringing them back. This is a trope of which I am not fond. Now every time a character dies or is said to be dead I assume they are coming back and roll my eyes. It sucks! It's better when writing plays for keeps. DWD even introduces dead characters where no previous clue was ever given that they lived. It's a little cheap.

Martin is also descending down the road of rape as a cheap plot device. If there is a character we aren't supposed to like, the clue we get is them raping people. Not real subtle or clever. Rape was a constant theme in DWD. I felt like I was reading those shitty Terry Goodkind books in places! Not cool. The Song of Ice and Fire setting has always been a harsh place where bad things happen, but this is different. This excessive use of rape as a plot device is lazy writing, I believe.

I always felt like Martin's characters of significance were all very dimensional and fleshed out. There are now major exceptions. There was one character especially in DWD who was apparently 100% evil with no motivations or character traits other than evil. Again, I was flashing back to reading those awful Terry Goodkind books with the shitty one dimensional villain Darken McDarkevil or whatever his name was. The story lacks realism and relevance if characters have no depth.

I did mostly enjoy reading this book. He is still a great fantasy author and this is a great fantasy series. I just think his writing and plot took a turn for the worse in this book. I am so invested in these characters that I found the lack of resolution frustrating. I just want to know what happens!! I hope the next book is better.

There were some unexpected gems in this book as well. A character who is sort of villainous in a subtle way gets her own POV chapter which is super cool and nuanced. A super cool twist occurs with the identity of another POV character. OK, maybe I was the only one honestly surprised by that. There were surprise visits from other characters I like, even though one or two were back from the dead, which is getting to be an expected trope. Every chapter was enjoyable and exciting. It just isn't clear why the book took 6 years and so much bitching by Martin about the complexity!!

1 comment:

  1. Most of this series has been a disappointment for me. The first couple of books were good, Martin writes interesting well dimensioned characters which he, unfortunately, eventually betrays, maims and then kills. It's boring and it's predictable. Following a character for a while? Liking where their story is going? Well don't get too attached because they will be betrayed, maimed and then killed. Anyone's story you get to follow, this seems to be the story arc, only characters whose pov we don't get actually have any success.

    It's lazy and stupid George, if you couldn't find a way to weave their stories back together and temper their successes with a little or a lot of tragedy as the situation demanded surely you could have done something a bit more complex than simply (repeatedly) betraying, maiming and then killing them. To be honest I think you just couldn't think of a better way of combining their stories again and instead just came to the realisation that focusing on the individual stories and tragically ending each of them allowed you to produce a lot more books and make a lot more money. You write well and the backstory and settings are all interesting but you just don't seem to be able to conjure a story with any real depth or which includes a greater spanning story arc.

    Loved the TV series, the end of the first season left us gasping and looking forward to more intrigue in the second. I couldn't wait and started reading the books but the general arc from the first series just continues with the rest of the books and it all just ends on a downer.

    If you're just getting started with 'A song of fire and ice' my advice to you would be don't bother; unless of course you're into tragic endings...for everyone you care about.

    Some of us out here are just getting sick of being manipulated by some ass so he can make money George, grow a set and let something good happen to your characters once in a while. Ok sure, it's a big bad world out there but jesus christ, most of the main characters just never catch a break. It's depressing. I'm two thirds of the way through a feast for crows and frankly I'm sick of this bullshit.

    The only high point for me from these books is that I borrowed them from a library and thus didn't pay a fucking cent for them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...