Dubbed the American Tolkien by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the number-one New York Times best-selling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series - as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again - beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times 3,000 enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone - a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
Enchanted? Check out the rest of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.
©2011 George R.R. Martin (P)2011 Random House
"Martin has produced--is producing, since the series isn't over--the great fantasy epic of our era. ... his skill as a crafter of narrative exceeds that of almost any literary novelist writing today." (Lev Grossman, Time)
"Martin's love for sophisticated, deeply strange fantasy permeates Dance like a phantasmagorical fever dream…Martin seems poised in the last two books to bring home one of the best series in the history of fantasy." (Jeff Vandermeer, Los Angeles Times)
"Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will surely think the wait was worth it. ... The great attraction of the story must lie in its panorama of a medieval kingdom: knights in armor, mercenary ‘sellswords,' tavern wenches, struggling and surviving inhabitants in all forms, from low to high." (Tom Shippey, Wall Street Journal)
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
While I disliked having to wait five years for A Dance with Dragons as much as anyone else, I wasn’t too disappointed with the experience of reading it. In fact, I was thrilled just to be immersed in George R.R. Martin’s gritty, living world again, and to revisit my favorite characters (Tyrion, Jon Snow, Daenyrs, and a few others) and locations. I couldn’t put down the audiobook (well, the device containing it).
The first three books were tough acts to follow, and Martin can be partially forgiven for falling a little short on books four and five. However, the chorus of frustration from fans isn’t without merit. Martin kind of painted himself into a corner back in 2004, when he realized that the book he was writing had gotten too long. Rather than edit it down to a more manageable size, he split it in two. A Feast for Crows wound up being an immense novel of in which lots of hitherto minor characters got placed into new intrigues, along with some new characters. Was there was a larger purpose to these minor adventures? Or had the author just gotten swallowed in his own world, convinced that what the reader really wanted on this bus tour through Westeros was more stops, with no roadside stand or historic marker not worth a visit? (Hey, it worked for Patrick Rothfuss.)
A Dance with Dragons doesn’t really resolve those questions, but at least we get the major characters back, and the things eventually start to pick up steam and head somewhere. Tyrion hitchhikes his way east by a few less-than-ideal arrangements. Jon Snow tries to do his duty while dealing with the conflicting demands of an impatient king. And Theon Greyjoy makes a return, in *very* changed circumstances. As always, the “living, breathing” world remains brilliantly vibrant and alive, its drama infecting everything that happens in the foreground. For example, there’s one sequence in which soldiers are sent on a dreadfully misplanned winter mission, not unlike Napoleon’s troops in Russia. While this sequence could have been shorter, the details of cold, starving, weary men were so vivid, I didn’t really care -- I was just along for the ride. And the chapters with Daenrys in Myreen illustrate the difficulties of ruling a “liberated” land in a way that seems not unfamiliar. By the time the dragons in the story finally come into their own, we’re feeling as ready for it as she is.
I agree with a few other reader complaints. Martin has slipped into the bad habit of repeating catchphrases (“words are wind”, “my name is Reek...”) and important pieces of information multiple times, from multiple angles, rather than trusting readers to see the connections themselves. The new characters he introduces aren’t terribly interesting, and there’s little tension (for now) over the possibility that our old favorites will die, as they have in the past. I wouldn’t have minded a little more exploration of strange and wondrous things (e.g. the ruins of Valyria).
On the audiobook experience, I had very mixed feelings. Overall, Roy Dotrice’s grandfatherly tones are a great fit for Martin’s writing, but, to my ears, he gets some voices horribly wrong. Young women sound like old hags or Monty Python members in drag. Too many knights sound like Long John Silver, and Tyrion could be a leprechaun. For the first hours, I was tempted to give up and get the print edition, but, luckily, my ears adapted. In general, I’m pretty tolerant of less-than-perfect readers for audiobooks -- your mileage may vary.
Yet, all that said, I remained hooked on the series, and even a flawed entry is one I can’t put down. Martin has tested us with two long novels of buildup, buildup, and more buildup, but I remain hopeful that the tour bus will be getting back on the highway and heading towards the big destinations that his fans signed on for.
A Song of Ice and Fire is my "most favorite" Audible series (member for over 10 years), but I was actually disappointed in this audio book. For the most part, it was probably the narration by Roy Dotrice that ruined it for me. Mr. Dotrice did a superb job narrating previous books and I remember being very upset that he stopped narrating the more recent ones. So, I was thrilled to see that he had been brought back for this book. Unfortunately, he was just not up to the task. I had to listen very carefully when a chapter started to know who the characters were because each chapter had a nearly identical set of "voices".
Daenerys (young dragon queen), was probably the worst voiced character. She has a prominent role in this book, which made her voice all the more disappointing. Instead of sounding like the most beautiful queen in the realm, she sounded like an old hag. In fact, nearly all the females sounded old and haggy. Nearly all the knights sounded the same as well. But, at least you could always pick out any male from house Lannister because they all sounded like Tyrion :)
I am not trying to be mean here since I love the series and loved Roy Dotrice in the previous books he narrated. I will have to say that George Martin went a little overboard with the number of characters in this book and perhaps that had something to do with the narration problems. Also, this book did not have nearly the action and pacing of the previous books. I find this is typical with writers who are trying to "tie up" all the loose ends in a series or just trying to do a good job of bringing things to a logical conclusion. Then the last part of the last book is so full of action and pace that you can't put it down and find yourself wishing the writer had done a better job of spacing the pacing (so to speak).
Perhaps George Martin is now such a mainstream success that his editors were afraid to touch the script... I mean book. Please, please, please, Mr. Martin, Mr. Dotrice, and "editors", return to the style of the earlier books for Book 6 and you will have my undying appreciation!
I bought and listened to all 5 volumes of this series recently. I was pleased to see that Roy Dotrice was returning as the reader for book 5. That was until I began listening. I can only assume that Mr. Dotrice and his director chose not to reacquaint themselves with the voices he used for various characters in the first 3 books. Is there a more egregious audiobook flaw than to have the same performer radically change voices for characters across volumes?
I wondered how this could happen. Looking back over the audible.com descriptions, I see the first 3 books were published by Books On Tape with Random House audio while books 4 (narrator change!?) and 5 (return of Dotrice but no voice / character continuity) were Random House only.
I give book 5 4 stars for story but only 1 star for shabby audiobook direction/production. I think Dotrice is a fine reader but the change in character voices is unforgivable. If I was in charge I would have Books On Tape re-record books 4 and 5 with Dotrice as narrator but make sure the director takes care to maintain voice / character continuity.
I previously PRAISED Roy Dotrice's performance of the books in this series. I struggled through the defeating sludge of uninspired data that made up most of A Feast For Crows, just to get back to the story- and BACK TO ROY DOTRICE. What a catastrophe. How can an actor of his magnitude think that a fourteen year old beautiful willful queen should sound like a lowborn troll? This is not the Denaris Stormborn of three books past. WHAT HAPPENED ROY? Unfortunately, the narrator's reading of the female voices so vital to this story have made this book IRRITATING rather than pleasurable to listen to. What a way to kill what once was a such a good thing. Women should not sound like old men. Wassup Random House?????? Is nobody listening?
Yes, Dotrice is much better than the guy from the previous book. But Daeneyrs is my favorite character, I have been waiting 10 years to find out what's happening with her and her chapters are ruined by the old crone strange accent that Dotrice is suddenly using! It's wrecking this book for me. You may be less sensitive, but be warned. Did no one on the production side listen to this to hear the jarring change in voice of such a major character?
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.
I agree with other reviewers who point out that Roy Dotrice, who was so excellent in the first 3 books ruins the reading here by changing the voices of Daenerys and Mellesandre. This is especially noticeable with Dany who is such a central character. She is supposed to be a young, royal woman but now sounds like an old serving wench. I can't fathom the change. I've so enjoyed listening to this series, but I don't know if I can make it through this one. I love hearing the old Tyrian again, but I find myself wanting to turn this off anytime Dany speaks. What happened here?
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?
this review will be about the audio performance and not concern the story itself. I am delighted that we the audience were heard, and that Roy Dotrice has returned. The audio performance of book 4 was a crime against fiction.
But this performance is no where near as good as were the 1st 3 books and I am angered that no one involved in this production cared enough to make it better. Was there no director? Was Mr Dotrice given time enough to prepare? Was this project not worth the bother of continuity?
I echo the criticisms of all the others who said that Dany's voice is terrible. But also its much harder to tell the difference between the characters speaking and the thoughts they don't voice. In previous books there was no question. And some of the emotionality is just wrong. For example, I don't think this is a spoiler, Jon thinks to himself that he must kill the boy inside himself to become a man. But the thought " kill the boy" is delivered with a venomous rage that would be more appropriate were Jon thinking about Theon. The depth and perception of the earlier work is betrayed here.
its still way better than book 4
One small mention of the writing itself - this book is coarser in a lot of ways and made even more so by lots of chatter about bodily functions and elimination behaviors. That the narrative has been peppered with references like this all along has never bothered me, but this one has too much. Its cheap.
I can't help but think they didnt give it enough time or perhaps they just see the audio as income and not as at artform with intrinsic value. Its such a pity. I feel like Christmas was cancelled this year
A whole lot of new characters without notable characteristics. Nothing much happens. Reminds me of a student trying to stretch a 500 word idea into a 10,000 word paper. Even Tyrian seemed lame. Dotrice didn't care enough to get the voices right, not even for the jester who keeps shouting "I know!, I know!" And considering the title, the dragons get short shrift. Way too much self analysis, way too little action.
GRRM phoned it in. I won't hold my breath for number 6.
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