Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Dance With Dragons

A Dance with Dragons
by George R. R. Martin

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 three thousand 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 Night’s 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....

Holy hot damn, guys. This is the last A Song of Ice and Fire book that I will be reviewing for a while. It seems like I've been reviewing these forever. I'm not complaining about it because it's been fantastic, but it's very weird to think that it might be a couple of years before I read another book in this series. It's been a long time since I actively followed an ongoing book series. I've been reading finished book series since I gave up on the Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which was... six or seven years ago, if I am remembering this correctly.

So here we are at the end of the road (for now.)

Like I said in my review of A Feast For Crows, that book and this book have some overlapping time. Most of the book seems to be overlapped time, actually. So any of the characters you were missing in the last book come to the forefront in this one.

Things are happening at The Wall. Stannis Baratheon has moved most of his forces up there to defend the Wall and is now moving to bring the Watch on his side, despite their oath to loyalty only to the Watch. He leaves a force, including Mellisandre, to ensure their cooperation, which causes unnecessarily petty problems with how the Watch operates.

But things are changing with the Watch as well. Operations seem to grind to a halt as the Watch moves to elect a new Commander and Samwell (before leaving with Aemon and Gilly) plays a rather conniving role in changing the course of the Watch. And Jon Snow's destiny has become a much heavier burden.

I'm sure you can infer a hell of a lot of spoilers from that, but I'm not explicitly saying anything, so don't blame me if you figure everything out.

Our buddy Tyrion Lannister has fled the Seven Kingdoms in a rather ungainly fashion with the help of the Targaryen's old host, Illyrio. Tyrion learns that someone who was thought to be dead isn't and through a series of misadventures, teams up with the jaded and miserable Jorah Mormont and an idealistic and na├»ve dwarf-lady named Penny. I have to admit, Team Tyrion is a bit like Team TARDIS – I prefer it in threes. The balance of Tyrion, Mormont, and Penny is really interesting. Penny and Mormont are pretty static characters and their motives are clear to the reader, but to see Tyrion navigate between them and move them through the political mess of the world is fantastic. It's Tyrion Lannister at his best, I think, because all of the things he used to rely on have been taken away, so he becomes much more resourceful and cunning.

Of course, we also have Daenerys, who is losing control of Mereen. Conquering the city was easy enough, but she is learning that maintaining a city is much more difficult and it is looking like she is not quite up to the task. At the same time, the dragons are growing and are less controllable, but sets up the most exciting part of the entire book.

So I'm not going to talk about it because that would be spoiler-tastic. Let's just say it's the most exciting thing to happen in the series to date.

Yeah. It's crazy. And awesome.

If you've made it this far in the series, I think it's clear that you need to read this one, too. It's phenomenal. I'm incredibly impatient for the next book, but I am definitely recommending this one.

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