Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Dance with Dragons (Fantasy Novel)

The Game of Thrones. Hostages. Sacrifices. Suitors. Princes. Diseases. Magic. New Alliances. 

Let me say two things upfront. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin is big, over a thousand pages in the hardback edition. Second, I am not the only person who found it tremendously rewarding to read. It is the winner of the 2012 Locus Fantasy award and is nominated for the 2012 Hugo and British Fantasy Society awards. The novel is the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

The first part of A Dance with Dragons takes place directly after A Storm of Swords (the third book in the series), continuing storylines not fully furthered in A Feast for Crows (the fourth book in the series): Jon Snow, Tywin, Daenerys, Bran Stark. There are a few times when an event from Book 4 is described from a different point of view in A Dance with Dragons. The second part of the novel continues storylines from both books. One thing that makes the novel more challenging –many will say more interesting– is that chapters are often titled by a description of the character rather than by a proper name. Keeping all the storylines straight is an interesting challenge.

Here are some brief highlights. Winter has almost arrived. People continue to vie for control of the Seven Kingdoms. We see people we thought were dead. We learn much more about the mysterious Varys. Tyrion continues to suffer indignities and meet interesting people. Daenerys has multiple men who want to marry her, and in order to protect her people she makes a questionable decision. Jon Snow, as Commander of the Night Watch, finds that none of his decisions makes anyone particularly happy with him. Bran Stark finally flies. Of course, the book ends with us wanting to know what happens next.

I find this series amazing. It has multiple storylines being woven in and out. It keeps my attention; many of the chapters end with some unexpected twist. It has wonderful characters. The descriptions are so vivid that I feel like I am living in the books. A Dance with Dragons is definitely Hugo worthy.

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