This is just about the slowest paced and most tedious book I have ever listened to. There are about 44 hours of boredom slowly, torturously metered out. You wait for scores of mostly irrelevant characters to do anything more than aimlessly ponder what they might do, but don't do. At most, there are about 5 hours of anything interesting that actually does happen in this enormous story. Nor does Roy Dotrice's once superb narration add anything to the book. For some inexplicable reason, in this book he has given Denaris, the 14-year old gorgeous queen, a voice like a broken old ancient hag. The first three books and narration were superb. Sadly, the 4th and 5th books are about as enjoyable as a kidney stone. It seems like the author, George RR Martin, is merely rambling aimlessly along just to milk this series as long as he can.
Loved the first four books. They are absolutely the best series I have read, but this book was not worth the wait. Over half way through and nothing much has happened. It just drones on.
Let's get the important stuff out of the way. Writing? As good as the rest. Narrator? Read the other reviews. Should you get it? It's not like you won't. What's the problem then?
The problem is that nothing happens in this book, even (unbelievably) less than in the last one. I understand that Martin wanted to skip ahead in time and deal with everything in flashbacks, but he wrote this book instead, a book of not-flashback folderol. At best, it is an engaging slog. The first three books were full of movement, literally. People went places and killed people, often as part of giant armies. Then all of a sudden, everyone decides to sit around for a while, twiddling their thumbs, remembering times past and talking talking talking. There are a few armies in this book, and one of them does manage to move for a while before stopping to have a nice chat. Only Tyrion and Victarion actually bother to pick their feet up and go, and they're the best bits. Jaime and Davos get about two chapters of movement, just enough to remind us that they're awesome before vanishing off to get ready to do of something interesting in the next book, presumably. Some new characters appear out of nowhere and take the time to tell us their names. Daenerys sits around worrying over logistics, marriages, food, and the meaning of leadership. Jon sits around worrying over logistics, marriages, food, and the meaning of leadership. Asha and Ser Barristan do much the same, although mildly less insufferably. Only Theon's story truly kicks ass in this book, and boy does it. I actually started to get annoyed at each new Jon chapter. Each one was an hour of blather and petty bickering. By the end I was hoping he would die like his boring old dad. Arya turns up again, still with the mysterious dudes who don't bother to say anything that might hint of a plot. Cersei turns up again, to feel sorry for herself some more. All of this might be bearable if we could expect the next book any time soon. I don't.
If it were any other writer I would rate this book four stars...but I have higher expectations of Mr. Martin. The writing is vintage Martini- perfect pitch- sparse but beautiful- sometimes his prose is poetry. BUT...the plot moves (at least I think it moved) at the pace of a wounded snail- NOTHING happens- no resolution to anything. The book reminids me of the cul de sac that Robert Jordan got himself into in Volumes 8 and 9 of the Wheel of Time Series...worthless. Mr. Martin needs an editor- at least one who will let him know when he has so many characters stuck in place doing nothing but wandering, withdrawing and dithering. I expect more from Mr. Marting. Perhaps he should draft Brandon Sanderson to finish the last two books of this series. Mr Sanderson has delivered two volumes of the WOT in the last two years- beautifully written (as close as possible to Jordan) but much more fast paced. Seriously- it took Mr. Martin five years to write this morass of confused plot lines.
Okay enough ranting- I feel the way I did as I slogged through the middle of Robert Jordans WOT series- I was to invested to turn back. Please- will someone please tap Jordan on the shoulder and tell him that plot lines should MOVE occasionally! What a disappointment. The first three books in this series were spectacular - better than Tolkien- the fourth slipped a little- and now this?
I wavered between two and three stars. I was really irritated with the cliff hanger endings particularly at the Wall. No way the series will be done in two more books - it will be three at least (assuming the mortal body of George R. R. Martin holds up for another 12-15 years). For eleven years of waiting I cannot say I was impressed with the results.
I don't think Roy Dotrice went back and listened to A Storm of Swords. His voices for many of the main characters is different (especially Dany), but of course he has seven years on him from the recording of A Storm of Swords so some slippage is to be expected.
The best parts of the book are the two Darwin Award winners. One disobeyed a direct order from a Commander who would have a very personal grudge against him, and the other for someone who thinks dragons can be handled like any other livestock. Honorable mention for someone who does not learn from his sire or his brother.
I logged in to write how Roy Dotrice changed Dany's voice from the first three books in the series he narrated. I see that everyone else is complaining about it. First off, the book is great. I've been waiting years for it and I'm not dissapointed. I do have an issue with at least one of the voices; Dany's. There was always a voice here and there that I thought was a bit ridiculous, but it was never a main character; especially since Dotrice already had a perfectly good voice for Dany in the other books. He basically gave her the voice of an old wildling crone. Didn't anyone at Random House pick up on this? Anyway.... five stars still, I love the series and I love Dotrice. I just had to point out that annoyance.
If there's a chance in hell that I ever pick up another George R R Martin book it will be in another 10 years to see if anything has happened.
Ok, first off I like Roy Dotrice, he is very good with the male characters in this series. The women on the other hand are horrible and inconsistent unless it is a washer woman or old servant. He has changed Dany's voice from a normal, slightly softer voice to this old lady commoner voice and now Melisandre has gone from a husky, smokey cool voice to a high pitched accented voice. This sucks. You would think someone involved with the production would have pointed out to him that the voices were completely different in the preceding books. The reader should of at least listened to his prior readings (Maybe 11 years made him completely forget the series). Who is running the show over there at random house audio. Please call Steven Pacey for the rest of the series
Let me begin by saying I was as big a fan off this series as you could find. I considered it and the lord of the rings as the absolute best of fantasy. That is no longer the case. The 1st 3 books were incredible. I gave Martin a pass on book 4, but after reading a Dance I have little confidence in Martin being able to finish the series on a high note.
Technically the writing is great and on par with the other books. The dialogue is fantastic and the strength of the book. The problem is the plot. While it is extremely well written, It doesn't move the story along that far. It seems that Martin is trying to slow the story down rather than speed it up. As the story billed to its climax, Martin drops the ball. "Hey George, you already made your point. We know your not afraid to kill off major characters. In fact we now expect it."
As a fan of the series, I root for certain characters. If my favorite characters are killed off do I really care if some characters introduced in book 5 who I couldn't care less about are meant to be the heros?
Does every character who displays the slightest bit of honor need to die?
The Daenerys storyline is a mess. All of the sudden Martin has her making stupid decisions and of course all she can no longer control her pets. Because if she could, God forbid, she might get to Westeros before book 6.
Meanwhile, all the "Really Bad Guys" are doing well. Life's a beach for them. Drinking, hunting, whoring, and taking long walks through the city.
And How, after waiting 6 years do you leave the book with a cliffhanger ending? Do I really have to wait another 6 years to find out what happens in the Jon and Stanos storylines? "Even as disappointed as I am, George, I'm still going to buy book 6." Throw us a damn bone and give us a complete book.
I can only hope that Martin bring the "dead character" back in a similar way as Mrs. Stark. I'll keep my fingers crossed for, lets say 6 years.
I have loved this series from the beginning. Was so excited to listen until I heard Roy's performance, was very sad what they did to this book.
I think the narrator aged to much to do the female voices. Everyone sounded like an old man with the same tone of voice. I never knew who was talking in conversations, and rarely did you understand the end of sentences. Run-ons and same voices, very disappointed in the performance.