Monday, July 28, 2014

SIF 05: A Dance With Dragons (Martin, George RR)

Rating: 5
Year: 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yes.

The long-awaited triumphant conclusion to the epic "A Song of Ice and Fire"!, sorry. It's not over yet. There are still some Starks to kill off.

"Dragons" runs mostly parallel to 2004's "A Feast For Crows" and follows characters who weren't included in that book.

There are 16 Point Of View characters in this 1,040-page wrist-breaker.

Tyrion Lannister has fled Westeros after killing his father. The old man had it coming:
--having convinced the dwarf that his wife had been nothing more than a whore; it turns out she had legitimately loved Tyrion. This is what got his father killed--when Tyrion asked him where Tysha was, Lord Tywin told him, "wherever whores go."
--he claims he would have saved Tyrion from execution after blame for King Joffrey's murder fell upon him;

Tyron makes his way across the Narrow Sea to the city of Pentos. He ultimately joins a band of people headed for the city of Meereen, hoping to meet with Daenerys Targaryen. They hope to convince her to return to Westeros to take the Iron Throne as the rightful Queen.

Things don't work out for Tyrion. He gets taken captive and sold into slavery as part of a novelty dwarf-jousting act--but he does end up in a slavers' camp right outside of Meereen, so that part worked for him.

Meanwhile, in the northern reaches of Westeros, Jon Snow is learning how to be the commander of the Night's Watch. His men and supplies are stretched too thin and winter is coming. The Others and their walking dead troops are coming and there's no way the Watch can stop them, even with the great Wall blocking their path.

Jon knows the only way to fight the Others is to make peace with the Wildlings, long the enemy of the Watch, and bring them through the Wall to help his men staff its castles.

Meanwhile again, Daenerys Targaryen is trying to keep her own realm together. One of her three dragons has gone from eating sheep to children. Then he goes missing when she tries to pen the dragons to protect her people.

She holds Meereen by slender threads. Thousands of former slaves are loyal to her, but their former masters are scheming to take the city back. Other slave cities have answered their calls and have sent ships and troops to lay siege to the city.

All roads seem to be leading to Meereen. There are at least four men who want to marry Daenerys, but only one she really wants.

Another meanwhile! Cersei Lannister, the manipulative mother of dead King Joffrey, has been imprisoned in the Great Sept. The only way out is to confess her sins, and being Cersei she confesses only enough to get herself out of there. She denies having slept with her twin brother Jaime, having borne him three children, and engineering the death of her husband King Robert. She's lying, but she'll stand trial somewhere in the 6th book.

There are at least 12 more "meanwhiles," but this is a good stopping point. For being such a thick book, "Dragons" left me wanting more. I put off reading it for nearly three years because of its length and because the last time I read the first four novels it took me 6 months to get through them. That was in 2010, just after my medical troubles started. Between that and wasting time on the Internet, I don't feel like reading nearly as much as I used to. This one only took 6 days!

One thing that amused me was Martin's nicknames. EVERYONE has a nickname.

Jon Snow? The Bastard. He is, though--his father got an unnamed woman pregnant.
Tyrion Lannister? The Imp or Halfman. He's a dwarf.
Ser Gregor Clegane? The Mountain That Rides. Dude's really big.
Jaime Lannister? Kingslayer. He killed Mad King Aerys, who came by his own nickname honestly, too.

There are tons more. Even people you only encounter as some background guy on page 860 and never again. Barristan the Bold, Dolorous Edd, the Knight of Flowers, the Blackfish, the Sword of the Morning, the Hound. If you don't have a nickname, you're just not cool.

This is why the 6th book isn't out yet, and why it took 7 years for Martin to finish the 5th. He was coming up with nicknames.