Tuesday, August 30, 2011

George R. R. Martin's A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

          First of all, I'd like to mention that when I first typed the name of the series, I accidentally typed, "A Dong of Ice and Fire" instead of "A SONG of..."
          So I'm pretty distracted, giggling about that. But I will pull myself together.
          Okay.
Dude, it's 959 pages long. And that's NOT counting the guide to characters at the back.

          (By the way, I did my best to avoid any spoilers.)
          I just finished reading A Dance With Dragons, book 5 in Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. For those who don't know, it's an epic heroic medieval fantasy, sort of Tolkienesque. But Martin's characters aren't hairy-footed little pussies, and there aren't any lovely lovely elves, and the magical elements are very few and far between, which I think makes the whole thing more believable.
          It's set in a very harsh kingdom, where no one is clearly good or evil, they're just messily human. And bad things happen to most of them. What makes Martin's writing unique, I think, is that the chapters alternate viewpoint from character to character, like in a big cycle. For instance, one chapter may be about poor little Arya, a fierce princess on the run from assassins. But the chapter will end on a cliffhanger, and the next chapter is from someone else's viewpoint, in another part of the kingdom. So you have to wait until Arya comes up again, and meanwhile OTHER characters are in dire situations. I can't put these books down!
          Now there's a miniseries on HBO, called "Game of Thrones," based on the series, and I can't see it because we don't get HBO! It's not out on DVD yet, either. I tried streaming it online and the picture quality sucked. I'm gnashing my teeth.
          Anyway, just thought I'd post the review I put on Goodreads and Shelfari, my two favorite keeping-track-of-what-I-read sites. (By the way, I prefer Shelfari because it's prettier and looks like actual wood shelves, and I can navigate it more easily. But most people seem to like Goodreads better. Not sure why) Here's my little review:

(3 out of 5 stars)
         Sigh. I love "A Song of Ice and Fire," and I will definitely read the next book in the series, no matter how long it takes him to finally grunt it out.
          I love Tyrion, I love Jon Snow, I love Arya, I love many of the characters, especially the moral grey area most of them are smack in the middle of. Just when I think Tyrion is disgusting and irredeemable, he shows true kindness to that poor little dwarf girl, and becomes her protector in his gruff, crude way.
          And I do love Daenerys, BUT I am pretty sick of her wasting so much time in Meereen when we're all waiting for her to just f*cking return to Westeros with her dragons. This particular installment in Martin's big fat unwieldy series didn't move the many plots and subplots far enough to satisfy me. It's over 900 pages long, and I wanted things to come to a head more. I still found it very readable. But at this point there are so many characters that I was confused and floundering at the start of many chapters, trying to remember who the current character was, and their relevance to things.
          Not to mention it's been years since the last book and I can't remember where many of the subplots left off.
          The epilogue was the most exciting chapter in the whole book, despite the fact that it hinges on a revelation about a certain character I did not remember at ALL, and had to immediately search for in the extensive dramatis personae at the back. It pissed me off even further to find that there were at least TWO characters with the SAME FIRST NAME, but I ended up figuring out which one was mentioned in the epilogue.
          So what.
          Character is the most important thing in any story, and if I STILL can't wait to find out what happens to these characters even when I have to go through a guide to figure out who they are, then Martin must be a pretty good writer. I remain a loyal fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire." And they better release that damn miniseries on DVD soon, so I can see it.

1 comment:

  1. George R R Martin has messed me up to all other novelists. His work is simply just extraordinary, the very best I have ever before read. It is extremely adult, however easily readable, and can have you absolutely hooked from the very beginning. He isn't reluctant to take potential risks, and also the twists and turns imply you simply don't know what exactly is just about to happen.

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