A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R.R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons | Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin © impressionblend.com
*This book review contains spoilers*
George R.R. Martin. You love him and then you hate him.

Eventually you do love him. But it drives me crazy that this book is not a sequel to his last one; it runs in parallel instead. So the chapter about Jon which is really happening in sequence somewhere in “A Feast for Crows”- the fourth book – is being read by you in the fifth book instead. So you are sort of travelling back in time. Only, you have already read through that time!

Clearly time travelling is not for me. It gets confusing, very confusing.

Why Martin chose to adopt this technique is beyond me. Perhaps he was tired of being predictable – where every character turns evil (if good) or good (if evil), displays a trait that you wouldn’t imagine and then dies, often in a shocking moment with no farewells. The world understands how Martin’s mind works, so maybe that’s why he decided to say – “Ha! I bet you didn’t see this coming.” (The reason he actually employed this technique is because the manuscript ran into way too many pages! I would still like to think he decided to toy with his fans instead.)

It took Martin six years to get out this instalment, that too set at the same time as the start of the previous book. It doesn’t help that the previous book was sort of runt-in-the-litter… well, in my opinion. I wonder if fans were disappointed when the fifth book first came out in print in 2011.

Ok, so I’m a very sequential person.

Are there any redeeming points?

Yes of course. Martin is a favourite for a reason.

One – he continues to keep Tyrion alive. Thank god for that. I can’t imagine a world without Tyrion. Not Westeros. Not HBO. Not my real world where all his real fans exist.

Two – the book does offer a twist that the HBO series didn’t cover. Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar’s son is alive. He didn’t die in the sack of King’s Landing. I wonder if he might be an imposter though, the way King Henry VII faced imposters during his reign.

Brandon Stark, the Lord of Winterfell © storiesbywilliams.com

I wished the book had more of Bran. Too few chapters told his story. I keep thinking he has a much bigger role to play before the end and I was hoping the book would show more of him. Alas, disappointment!

It was heartening to see Reek, though not in the tortured form that he is in. I obviously disliked Reek back when he was Theon. But ever since Ramsey walked into his life, I’ve only felt sorry for him. Sure, Theon is a turncloak, having stormed Winterfell and left it in ruins, and his father’s derision for him could have been punishment enough, but Reek as he is in this book, is little more than human. I like that the story had this unexpected twist, but I feel he has been tortured enough. Time for him to be rescued?

Jon Snow is learning to live like a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. He doesn’t agree with everything that is happening, but he does them anyway because he is responsible for the Watch. That said, he is not supposed to take sides in the war raging in the kingdom, and yet, he does.

Daenerys Targaryen, The One Likely to Rule Westeros in the End? © yamaorce.deviantart.com

I like Daenerys. Or used to. In this book, she doesn’t seem to be doing much. Except waiting. Which she seems to be doing a lot of. Several characters seem to be moving towards her, but she stays right on in Meeren. I wonder if that actually means something good; that power attracts and people naturally gravitate towards the man, or woman in this case, who might actually rule Westeros someday.

Many other characters have chapters devoted to them, which frankly I could do without. It’s nice to know what is happening with Quentyn Martell, Asha Greyjoy and others, but I would much rather read more about one of the main characters instead.

This book was really like a game of chess in progress

A lot of pieces move around the board, but there is no conclusion to it – because this is just one part of the fifth book. Perhaps this is why I should be buying one volume editions.

At this point I am taking a break from reading the next part of the book for two reasons – one, this book was too much matter without enough adventure, which made it slightly boring (and yet I scored it a 4 on 5); two – the minute I end part two of the book, I suspect I will be left in a vacuum. The next season doesn’t release on HBO till at least April of next year, maybe even gets delayed, and the sixth book releases Martin-only-knows-when. Or maybe he doesn’t know either.

For now, I will indulge in reminiscing about my favorite fantasy series, recommend it to anyone who has the heart to digest the massive tomes and Google for which of the characters or rather actors are walking the ramp. The last one’s a fun pastime.

Rating: 4/5 | Pages: 624 | Read: 17 July 2016



  1. I would love to tackle this book series but I am waiting for the release of the entire collection before delving in for myself. So it seems I may be waiting a little while.

    Excellent review.

    1. Thanks Stuart. I bet you wouldn’t be able to stop reading once you start. Actually, don’t wait. Take the plunge. Then wait, like the rest of us tortured souls!
      Have you watched the show yet?

      1. The show introduced me to this phenomenon back in 2011. I have been intrigued by the novels ever since, especially since I have a great love of detailed lore. I just can’t do it until they are all available though. Tempted though!

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