*emerges from cave, does not see
shadow Book Six, considers slinking back* You guys, it’s almost enough to make me sit Winds of Winter out altogether, and just wait until the end. (You know I kid, GRRM. I am your bitch. I am like an insatiable, Westeros-eating baby.) It’s just…this has been the sole occupation of all my spare hours for the last four days, and where is my next chapter?!?
Because A Song of Ice and Fire is not, as some series are, a cluster of stand-alone books with crossover characters, nor is it a batch of miniature plot arcs underneath the umbrella of a Mighty Plot Arc. It is a single, 7000-page novel with BOOK COVERS and WAITING PERIODS every 1000 or so pages (GRRRRRRM is threatening [possibly jokingly] that it may take him eight books to finish, but if it does I will go over there and Robert Jordan him myself).
THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER-FREE FOR BOOK FIVE, but I will probably say vague spoilerish things about the previous four books like Remember how we used to all hate Jamie Lannister and now we kind of like him? Or Remember that main character we sort of thought was going to be the protagonist early on until he was totally beheaded all of a sudden?
Because ok, there is more of that here. No matter how many characters His Martinness poisons or strangles or mass-murders at a wedding, I am always shocked and delighted and unmoored by his willingness to invest long and complicated plot threads in people whom he is ultimately going to set on fire. It feels profligate and wastefully lifelike. And no matter how appalled I was when I first realized I was sympathetic towards Jamie Lannister, who is clearly the Worst Person Ever, I’m still impressed by Martin’s ability to make me root for characters he has just spent much energy making me hate.
And there are many gentle reminders of previous events in previous books, thank god, because even with Tower of the Hand’s ace summaries I struggle to keep all eleventy plot lines straight. Sometimes he’ll remind you of things that happened in earlier chapters of this book, but even when I’m like, Dude, I remember that, I’m still very grateful. And as spitting mad as I was when A Feast For Crows ended, I’m now glad that he divvied characters equally into the two, so that there’re only half the plot lines running through each, because sometimes I am still like, Davos who?
I have two complaints: One, GRRM will sometimes take longish and not-terribly-pertinent-seeming forays into history, which seems inadvisable in a series already so deep and wide in scope. Especially with all the conquering and the taking of names and the naming of sons after forebears, and it becomes rather like trying to keep the British monarchy straight. And two, goddamn where is Book Six? Because not a lot of things are actually accomplished in DWD, but it ends with a handful of major players on the cusp of either total world domination or death.
All that to say, Dance was very excellent and very much in keeping with the series thus far and VERY TANTALIZING. I know that this review doesn’t say much of anything, but honestly? If you’ve enjoyed the ride this far you’ll keep going, and if you haven’t been sucked in yet, dooo it. It’s fantasy but there’s way more political wrangling than magic sword wrangling.