Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Book Review: A Dance With Dragons pt 1 by George RR Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

***Warning! This blurb contains a massive plot spoiler from the book A Storm of Swords part 2 on the second line! Don't read the blurb or review if you haven't read the book or seen Game of Thrones season 4!!!***

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction.

Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head.

To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark's bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall. And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.

My Review: 
This book contains the POV of Tyrion, Dany, Jon, Bran, Davos, Theon, Asha, Melisandre, and Hotah. It also features Quentyn, Griff, Frog and Reek. 

It was good to get back to seeing what was happening with Jon, Dany, Davos, Tyrion and Bran but I also missed the chapters from Samwell, Jaime and Cersei this time. It was good to see Melisandre added into this one, and an update on Theon.

Tyrion survives the journey to Pentos and is quite happy to drink himself to death at the home of Illyrio Mopatis, who tells him that he should meet Dany. Tyrion joins the group of sellsword Griff, but soon realises the hidden royal identity of one of their number, just as they are attacked by the deadly Stone Men. The Golden Company meet the new pretender to the Iron Throne and pledge their swords to him when he decides not to grovel to Dany but invade Westeros to take his Throne. 

Quentyn Martell is having similar doubts about his plotted marriage to Dany. The Sons of the Harpy are determined to get Dany out of their city and kill one of her Unsullied soldiers. She ponders whether to open the fighting pits and has to decide how to bring peace to the city. Xaro offers her ships for the journey to Westeros and is furious when she decides she has unfinished business in Slaver's Bay. Dany realises that she has to endure a political marriage for the good of the city when it is Daario that she really wants. Jorah has taken a prisoner that he hopes to use to get back into favour with Dany.

Stannis is greatly annoyed that Jon refuses to give the Castles of the Wall to southern Lords and Melisandre warns the Lord Commander about her vision of betrayal and daggers in the dark. He decides to place his trust in Jon's plan to take Deepwood Motte back from the Ironborn instead of attacking the Dreadfort. Jon decides that it is time he stamped his authority on the Night's Watch and sends Sam and Gilly away from Castle Black with Maester Aemon-and Manse's baby. He is tired of Janos Slynt and his attitude and decides it is time to deal with him. He is also forced to watch Mance Rayder being burned and the wildlings facing a difficult choice over bending the knee. Melisandre reveals her trickery to Jon and that she has sent people to rescue Arya from Ramsay Bolton.

Davos picks up the latest news about Robb's betrayal, Tywin's death and the Boltons taking charge of the North, things that may well doom the chances of Stannis gaining any allies on this mission, and endanger his own life. An unlikely alliance brings him the chance to track down a missing Stark boy to win an alliance for Stannis that he badly needs. Bran realises that Coldhands is actually more dead than alive but decides they have no option but to trust him if they want to get to their destination. In Dorne, Prince Doran has uncovered a plot by Cersei to kill his son en route to King's Landing and blame the murder on Tyrion. He asks the Sand Snakes if they are ready to get revenge on the Lannisters, plotting to have them in place ready for his orders.

Ramsay tells Theon that 'Reek' must serve him at his wedding to Arya but Theon is quick to realise that the girl at the wedding is not the real Arya Stark. He also has to the face the prospect of betraying his people at Moat Cailin to please Ramsay, and being asked by both father and son to spy for them. He is unable to agree to help Ramsay's terrified bride in fear of his own life. With Euron taking charge, Asha has to decide on her next move but before she can do anything, Deepwood Motte comes under attack and her people have to flee. 

Lots of things happening in this book. I actually liked the Dorne story in this book with Doran showing that he is a lot smarter than he was given credit for. His plots to outwit his enemies while looking like a gutless coward really changed my opinion of him and I found this more interesting than any of the previous Dorne stuff. If there had been more of this plot and less on Arianne's love life in A Feast For Crows, I think a lot more people would find Dorne interesting. I very much enjoyed Jon taking real command and dealing with the likes of Slynt and Thorne, showing that not only is he strong enough to be Lord Commander, he has a good mind for tactics. I like his interaction with Stannis. Stannis as always is great to read about and I liked seeing him battling to win over the North by driving out the Iron Born and taking on the Boltons. I liked seeing Theon and Asha's continued struggles too.

I'm not greatly interested in the Quentyn Martell and Aegon plotlines to be honest. There are enough good characters like Cersei, Stannis, Dany and the Tyrells fighting for influence and control of the Iron Throne without throwing in a couple more recent contenders to confuse matters. I think it might be these extra threads that are now causing so many ulcers for GRRM in completing his last two books as it is more resolution to be found that the plot really didn't need. That said, I'm not being critical of him for it but I can see why HBO writers pulled the plug on these extras to focus on the established characters trying to win the Iron Throne. GRRM obviously wanted all of his lands brought to life so there had to be the Dorne side of things but such a pity that Oberyn had to die as I loved his character!

These books are just so wonderfully complex and rich in character development and exciting plot. I admire any writer who can produce something on this level and just keep up the standards the way he does. I can imagine every part of the world he describes and I love so many of the characters and even manage to enjoy the bad guys. I have the second part of this book to read now and then it will be the agony of waiting for The Winds of Winter!

Read January 2018
5 stars 


  1. I’m glad you liked it! You’re almost caught up on the series! Then you’ll have to spend forever waiting for GRRM to get his butt in gear and write the next one.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I'm less worried (but still impatient) about The Winds of Winter but I'm REALLY concerned about whether we'll get the last book! I just had to read them anyway! I hope to get to the last book so far soon.

  2. I loved getting a Melisandre POV. When I first saw it I was like SERIOUSLY? HE'S GIVING US A EMLISANDRE POV?? I was floored lol.

    Quentyn has an at times interesting storyline but I could have done without it too. I agree, the extra strands are just weighing everything down, to an extent. Aegon came out of left field, and the first time I read it I was like woah! The second time I was like this is going to cause all kinds of trouble! Love seeing the Golden Company in Westeros! I don't know if you've seen the Forsaken sample chapter for Winds of Winter (it's on the internet various places) but after you finish Dance with Dragons you should check it out. It's pretty dark but has some hints for where the Greyjoy story is going...

    The Jon/ Stannis/ Melisandre angle I really enjoyed!

    1. With so many fighting for the throne, I just didn't want to see a whole new Targaryen claimant coming forward. Doran's plots are interesting but Quentyn fails to excite. I'm deliberately avoiding The Winds of Winter chapters so I can read it unspoiled, especially when I'm still a book behind!

  3. I didn't read your review because I am working my way through this series too.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. I really have to make reading this series a priority. I have the books but need the time to sit down with them. I am so glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. It has kept a great standard through the books. Yes I have niggles but there is so much to love!

  5. This sounds amazing! I did the horrible thing of watching the shows prior to reading the books. My goal is to get to them before the show starts up again, although I know they differ somewhat. The story is just so compelling! Love all the characters. At least those that survive!

    1. I don't really read fantasy so I would never have picked up the books had I not become obsessed with the series! Plus with my poor memory, being able to put faces to most of the characters was useful when reading the books!

    2. I was thinking the same when I started book one. It started slow, for me. But knowing the characters now I'm sure they will be easier to follow.

    3. I think the more we watch it or read about it, the easier it gets!