Dancing with Dragons on reflection

I finished A Dance with Dragons yesterday.  It’s a book that I, and many others, have been waiting six years for.  I devoured it as quickly as I could.

Now that I’ve finished it, I’ve been mulling it over.  Don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet, I’m going to try and make this as spoiler free as possible.

I don’t think that this book, or the last one (A Feast of Crows) is as good as the first three.  I reread A Storm of Swords right before reading Dragons so I could remind myself of what was going on.  I found some interesting and noticeable differences in style, some of which really kind of bugged me.

In Dragons, in nearly (if not) every chapter, there is at least one paragraph that describes in detail what the characters or creatures are eating.  I don’t know if Martin was on a diet when he was writing this book and really missed food, or if this was an attempt to submerse us in the story with another sense, or if its leading us to some other reaction.  But whatever the point of it was, as a reader I found myself time and again just glossing over those two or three paragraphs and thinking how if only he’d cut them out, we probably could have had another chapter with another character.

I’m saying the guy talked about food… a lot.

Being generous, I suppose it could be setting us up for what things will be like come Winter, when the characters have less.  But if I have to wait 6 years for the next book, is that what I’m really going to remember?

Well, since I’m moaning about it, I probably will.  But I bet a lot of people won’t.

Beside the food thing, my other complaint is that I just feel like, even after all the many, many, MANY pages of this book that, well, not a whole lot happens.  Ok, maybe that isn’t fair, there are a few VERY important, long awaited events that are cool and develop the story.  But damn it takes a long time to get there.  As he says repeatedly, “Words are wind.”  Frankly, I feel like I was in something of a wind storm, but there was very little rain.  We get new point of view characters and chapters that serve only to give us the back ground of a single action… something that was handled much more succinctly in the earlier books (such as finding out who sent the assassin after Bran).  We didn’t need 3-4 PoV chapters, we could have just had some detective work after the fact and call it a day.

And that’s another thing.  I felt the book was sprawling out of control.  There were simply too many threads.  For every one I was really interested in I had to wade through a bunch I didn’t care about.  And what’s with giving a single character a single PoV chapter?  If they are important enough to get one, surely they should have more.  And if they shouldn’t, they probably don’t need the first one to begin with.

Short of killing off a bunch of characters in needless ways, I don’t see how he can finish all of this in two books without it feeling forced.

Anyway, despite all of that, it was a good read.  Magic is coming back into the world in a pretty big way and the different styles and practitioners are very intriguing.  I enjoyed the good parts of the book, I just wished there were more of them.

Or, to put it another way, the dance was sweet, I just resent all the people who cut into it.