Tuesday, 4 March 2014

George R. R. Martin - A Dance with Dragons

I’ve finally reached the end of the current published instalments of A Song of Ice and Fire and I’m left with a resounding sense of... mild disappointment. It’s not that this book isn’t great because it is, and it is certainly better than A Feast for Crows which did feel like an epic slog. It’s just that, well... nothing really happened.

I bought the book in two volumes. Dreams and Dust (624 pages) and After the Feast (493 Pages) have a combined length of 1,117 pages and that’s a lot of prose to write without pushing any major storylines forward.

It’s hard to describe my dissatisfaction towards this issue with ruining the books for those who have not read them. Incidentally, this makes it almost impossible to talk about it with my two friends who have read the books when my other friends, who only watch the television series, are around. So everyone will have their opinion on the subject but mine is going to remain very general.

I will, however, express even more dissatisfaction toward the lack of chapters relating to Jaime, who I’ve actually grown quite fond of. It seems that he has some kind of part to play but this isn’t elaborated on at all as all he does is ride around the Riverlands to chat to some minor characters about the King. He’s hardly in it and when he is, he is very under-written.

I have the same criticism towards the Iron Islanders chapters but for different reasons. I don’t like them. I think their whole background is shit and that they are just there to be a minor irritant. All they do during the book is sail. And then sail. And then sail some more. Victarion says some stuff about being from the Iron Islands and that’s about it. But, because of my overall dislike of them, I have to continue to question their overall contribution. I mean, obviously they must have some part to play. But I will be really annoyed of having been subjected to their Drowned God bullshit throughout If they just turn up at some battle and get smashed to pieces by everyone else.

Victarion also has a poor memory or he is poorly tensed. On page 345 of After the Feast, I became really confused. Victarion, while they are sailing, occasionally captures some ships. When he does, he changes the name of the ship to be more to his liking. However when he captures one such ship, the Willing Maiden, and renames it Slaver’s Scream, it is then referred to by its previous name in the following paragraph. It took me a while but I go there in the end. But my confused could have been avoided had the line read ‘the ship formally known as the Willing Maiden.’

There were only two other things that stopped me during reading, so compared to A Clash of Kings and A Game of Thrones it is essentially a very well written novel.

Number one was on page 141 in Dreams and Dust. It’s the first page of a Davos Chapter where we are talking about torches in a hall. ‘Twenty iron sconces were mounted along his thick stone walls, but only four held torches, and none of them was lit.’ I’m pretty sure this sentence does not need the last comma and also it should be ‘were’ instead of ‘was’ as it is referring to four torches, not one.

Number two was on page 370 of After the Feast and is simply a case of mistaken sex. ‘I am beautiful, she reminded himself,’ which I absolutely loved because I fucking despise Cersei Lannister and want to see her die. Without giving too much away, this was one of my favourite parts of both volumes.

Despite what I’ve said above, I really did enjoy the books even if the end wasn’t very rewarding. This is even more frustrating after looking back over publication dates. A Feast for Crows was published in 2005 and A Dance with Dragons in 2011, so it looks like we’re going to have to wait another three years before finding out what happens to some of our beloved characters. And the less beloved ones as well.

A Dance with Dragons bibliography:

A Dance with Dragons – 1: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin was published by HarperVoyager in 2011. RRP £9.99 (Paperback)
A Dance with Dragons – 2: After the Feast by George R. R. Martin was published by HarperVoyager in 2011. RRP £9.99 (Paperback)