By George RR Martin, I think I’ve done it…
I have finally finished A Dance With Dragons. All 1,097 pages of it. And I have to admit this one was a bit of a slog. It took me about six weeks to read. Admittedly, I read a couple of books in the middle, but one was a kids book and doesn’t really count. I often read kids books in between things – it’s one of the perils of having kids. You want to know what they’re reading and the amount of kissing bits, yada yada. But it didn’t take me six weeks to get through Book 3 and 4. And more stuff seemed to happen in book 3 and book 4. There was a lot of – well, walking around.
And sailing. And random people popping up that didn’t really seem to have much to do with moving the story along. I’m sure there haven’t been as many individual characters before (just checked Mr Google and the verdict is no, there were the most EVAH in this one). Read a couple of reviews, and yeah. Apparently, Mr Martin has had an Issue or two with the Fact Checkers – that peculiar breed of person who reads every single word, cross references comments made in past books and writes nasty emails to correct the author – hello, a horse is a horse is a horse. Just because its gender changed from one book to the other, maybe the owner liked the name and transferred it to another horse. BIG Deal.
Which explains a lot about this book, really. Everything was described in the most minute detail. It was like someone else had cross referenced every mention of every other character that was in the previous book and made sure their cloaks were green and blue and not blue and green. The events in Mereen – dull as dishwater. Everything took soooooooo looooooooooong to happen. Dany pining for her lover, wearing ridiculous clothes, pining more, rooting a good bit, people dying of the flux, people trying to get to Dany… and hey, I’ve just summed up about 400 pages in 25 words or less.
The first bit was good, the last bit – well, that was a cracker. The middle bit. Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, some really cool stuff happened which I won’t go into, only one really major character died (probably. There’s the whole POV thing – he allegedly died in his chapter, which may actually mean he’s not as dead as you’d be thinking. Or not. He might be. Stranger things have indeed happened.)
I suppose while I am in fact looking forward to Book 6, I feel vaguely disappointed with this book. It didn’t GET anywhere. Every time it went back to Westeros, stuff seemed to be moving along without us coming along for the ride. And there were two bits at the end – one was all OOer and crikey, and t’other (mentioned above) was a bit WTF. So, yes, I’ll persevere with the series, but there’s going to be a hell of a lot of reading of other books with a fully functioning plot while I wait. I think this book would have been vastly better had 2-300 pages been culled at some point.
And wasn’t it Book 5 of Harry Potter that would have benefited from some judicious editorial work?