Beware, spoilers ahead!
I read the George RR Martin's first 4 books of A Song of Ice and Fire as they were published, so it has been a long time since I have even thought of the books since the last book was released/read in 2005. Not until both the new HBO series and news of the next book in the series (A Dance With Dragons) being released had me thinking once again about the Stark's and the Lannister's. Strange that I think of the series as the "Starks and the Lannister's" as they may have been the focus in the first book or two, but no longer.
My memory was a bit shady as the books are extensive and the number of characters is mind numbing, but I did remember the first book pretty well, Bran's fall, Jon Snow going to the Wall, and of course, Eddard's death. But somewhere between the years and other 3 books, my brain added stories and lost some stories since 2005. For some reason I thought Jon Snow left the Wall in search of his real mother in Dorne and that Lady Melisandre died by fire. Those that have read the first four books obviously know neither are true, but somehow these crawled into my brain and remembrance from those books. Strange what the mind remembers and what it makes up.
So I decided to take a dive back into the series both to prepare for the TV show and the new book. My avenue was to re-read via Audible books all four books before A Dance With Dragons was to be released in July. Unfortunately, I did not take into account how many hours each book would be. I fiinished the first book by the start of the TV show in April 2011 and the second book by the release of A Dance with Dragons, both of which books I seemed to remember the most accurately. It was obvious that the 3rd and 4th books are the ones I was having trouble with (besides remembering the the Red Wedding) which is interesting since they are the most recent books. One would think it would have been the other way around, that I remember the early books, but not the recent books. That may say something about this series.
Therefore I went to the web to find chapter by chapter synopsis of both A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows (I have since found a more detailed chapter by chapter synopsis). While reading these summerized versions of each chapter, the "what has gone before" slowly returned, as well as the "why" I could not remember. Less so for A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows was just not engaging to me. I was not emotionally attached to most of these characters therefore not feeling connected with the decisions that the characters were making or the caring about the outcomes. And I was missing so much of the other characters not included that are my favorites.
Thus the newly released A Dance of Dragons would by my savior. More of Daenerys whom I loved more as the series progressed, Tyrion and his honesty(yes, I said honesty), Jon at the Wall (I just can't get enough of this!), and my favorite character of all, Arya. Please, no Sansa (I just can't comprehend her) I prayed.
Now that I have finished A Dance of Dragons, did it re-ignite what I felt with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings? Or was it just a continuance of the A Feast of Crows and monotony of bad characters making stupid decisions and the ramifications of such (ie. Cersei).
First, Let's focus on the title "A Dance of Dragons". I do not remember any dragon dancing but I do remember:
- Theon is George RR Martins Bitch
- The Taming of Daenerys
- The Misadventures of Tyrion
- The Fat Men Across the Narrow Sea
- Weddings-R-Us (with more to come!)
- The Storm of Lost Ships
- The Knives at Night
Now on the book itself, what I immediately liked was the book began right after A Storm of Swords and caught up to the A Feast of Crows about two-thirds of the way through the book. This may confuse some people and finding some of the earlier stories from a different perspective a bit confusing. I enjoyed it as it went back to a time in the story that I was still somewhat engaged with the characters and this portion of the book really focused on the the big 3 (Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion). Please note, I realize that any criticisms coming may in fact be wrong as I do not know the future of the story. All my opinions are based upon the books to date.
Cersei returns at the convergence point, but please George, just put her out of her misery. She has become a characature of herself that I no longer care about in any way. Am I to have some emotion or connection with her now that she is humiliated and weak? I do not care about her any longer, or have cared for about 3 books. This may be just me.
The emergence of long 'lost/supposed dead' characters that have not been in the series at all previously seems a way to make changes the "easy" way. Although in most cases I did like the new characters, a part of me could not help but feel a bit let down. It seems like the process is to kill off the old characters and bring in new to advance the story. Fine. I guess that is real life. I just don't read fantasy for real life. Unfortunately, the story did not reveal anything that I wanted revealed, and only left more threads unsolved with more mysteries. The forums are ripe with peoples predictions and who they think is Jon's parents, Tyrion's parents, etc…
My favorite characters:
- Jon - Although there was a good portion dedicated to Jon, not much moved or changed of significance that I did not expect other than the final scene.
- Daenerys - All I can say is that she was the focus, even in other POV chapters, and her strength was taken from her and made weak in this book. Made me sad.
- Tyrion - I think everything but death happened to him during his romp across the narrow sea. He was fun to follow, but it seemed like he did move forward in character, but in significance to story.
- Arya - although she only had a few chapters, I was rivited. I want a book of nothing but her story! I am on the edge of my seat anticipating how her story will develop.
- And thank you for a very little of Sansa.
In the prologue, bringing Varys back and exposing his spiders may be the only real reveal in the book. Makes me wonder when Arya will join them.
I could give my thoughts a feelings chapter by chapter, but this blog post has gone on long enough. To sum it up, I did give it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because it reignited my love for the series, even with its weaknesses. I look forward to the second series on HBO and the sixth book. I must have an ending…. Even if it is in ice or fire.