Thursday, January 19, 2012

George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

I just finished the exhausting experience that is George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, the fifth volume of his gigantic epic, A Song of Ice and Fire. I enjoyed it; the time I spent listening to the book was the best part of many recent mid-winter days. In places it sent my imagination soaring. But at the end I find myself more annoyed and frustrated than pleased.

A Song of Ice and Fire is not like other books. Reading any volume of this monstrous epic is something like climbing Mount Everest, weeks of grueling effort enlivened by glimpses of wonder and the odd shooting pain. Or like one of those World Cup soccer matches that goes on for 89 minutes of brilliant but scoreless play, your tension and frustration growing with each passing minute, until at the end the other team scores and you fall into mourning over your side’s loss. . . .

This a long review, and the rest is here. I tried to keep it free of spoilers, but it will give you a vague idea of how the story unfolds over the first five books.


Jason said...

Thanks for the great review. I read all nearly 5,000 pages in 2011 and have similar feelings on the series. The first 3 books were a different experience for me than 4 & 5 which are more, as you describe it, a slog. But I too am now totally invested in the series. There will be no way I could not read additional installments. If you haven't seen it yet, he has a sample from the next book, The Winds of Winter, on his web site.

John said...

Thinking it over, I agree that the first three volumes were tighter and faster-paced than the last two. Which is probably a bad sign; as Martin's fame has grown, he has, like other authors, more fully indulged his own uncommercial tendencies, which in his cast seem to be stretching out the story forever and filling it with mind-numbing detail.