Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

This is the fifth book in Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. Long awaited, much anticipated, and released not long after HBO’s masterful dramatization of the first volume in the series, Game of Thrones, this book could hardly hope to measure up to everyone’s expectations, and alas, it does not. It’s too long, and has too many subplots. Our favorite characters from the earlier books are either dead or powerless, trapped or lost, and we spend far too much time on secondary plotlines that are disgusting or confusing, or both. Unfortunately, Martin’s flashes of brilliance continue to pop up at unpredictable intervals, rendering me unable to abandon the series entirely.

No, really, I won’t give up on them. These books are unique, with sympathetic original characters, inspiring plotlines, a refreshing lack of stereotypes, and huge emotional payoffs. If Martin has a fault, it’s that his imagination is too vast to be easily contained within the pages of a normal-length novel. That’s not so bad, really. My friend Max, who is 19 and a zealous fan of these books, gave me a pep talk the other night when I saw him at his parents’ house. His continued wide-eyed devotion to the books made me consider them with a fresh perspective. Talking with him reminded me of the sense of wonder and anticipation that a series like this can bring to a reader and made me want to recapture some of that for myself, even if I have to wade through nearly 1,000 pages find it.

ETA: The Onion weighs in.

(Book 40, 2011)


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