(There’s one major, major, major spoiler in this post, so if you’ve not read the book and plan on doing so, turn back.)
Well, after many, many months of chipping away at it, I finished A Dance with Dragons a few weeks ago. Sadly, I’m not sure it was worth the time and effort. As people around me can attest to, I grumbled a great deal about the number of characters and the seemingly lost main plot. Things didn’t really get better as I worked through the latter half of the book. More new point of view characters, hooray; more “endings” that lack any real sense of closure, woot. I get that there are more books to come, but some kind of closure at the end of 1000 pages would have been nice. But alas, no – the book doesn’t end, it more just… stops. Reading, reading, reading, and hey, I’ve ran out of pages to read. Honestly, if I described my feelings right after finishing the book in a single word, it would have to be disgusted.
And I have to say – that’s a bummer. I loved book 1. Books 2 and 3 were good, too, if not as amazing as book 1. Books 4 and 5? Something has gone awry. These aren’t page turners any more, at least not for me; they’re work. I enjoy the multiple point of view characters, but there are simply too many now. With so many POV characters to jump between, ultimately, the actual story slows to a crawl.
One final thing that irked me? Who Martin killed off. I’m all for some characters dying – it keeps things interesting, at least to an extent. But for me, it’s reached the point in Martin’s books where it just feels cheap. It comes across like he’s just killing off characters for the shock factor – “aha, look who I’ll kill now!” – and less like he’s doing it for any real plot purpose. It seems baffling to me that he spent thousands of pages building up Jon Snow from nothing to him being the commander of The Wall, only to kill him at the end of book 5. And, even better? Now whenever book 6 comes out, we’ll end up getting a new point of view character to replace Jon Snow’s lost viewpoint.
At this point, I’m not even sure if I’ll read book 6. If I do, it’s going to be after I’ve watched critical reviews roll in. If book 6 is more of this meandering, “I need ALL THE CHARACTERS!” crap, I may sit it out, and just catch the rest of the story via the HBO show.
Ball has been dropped, George. Pick it back up.