Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin

What to say about George RR Martin’s megaselling franchise? Fifteen years ago, only us geeks read fantasy novels, and with a few noteable exceptions, very few of those were filled with the kind of foul language and sexual-sadism that permeates Mr. Martin’s world. Now, HBO has picked up (and done a fine job) of televising the first book of a Game of Thrones, and everyone from the nerd fringe at Dragon’s Lair, to the cute little pixie lawyerette in The Professor’s graduating class seem obsessed with the World of Westros. So what on earth to say about this book that hasn’t already been said?

Let’s start by suggesting that Mr. Martin’s narrative seems to be running away from him. So much time in A Dance of Dragons is spent with minor characters about whom no one seems to care. We’re forced to slog through endless pages of court intrigue amongst men with colored beards whose names read like fantasy clichés (Renak, Hizdahr, and Skahaz? Really?) The book only barely manages to narrow the focus of the ever-expanding cast of characters, and resolution of any kind still seems thousands and thousands of pages away.

These complaints aside, there are some fun action sequences here. Dragons, ship–fights, etc. And some of those characters you love are revisited, and have interesting things happen to them. Jon Snow and Aria Stark make an appearance. That wicked little incestuous queen Circe receives some measure of just dessert, and things finally start to happen in the North.

If you’re already this far into the series, grab and enjoy, since you know you will anyway. If you’ve not already started these, then you either live under a stone, or you know already that violent, dark fantasy isn’t your thing. As for me? I’ll be awaiting the next novel in the Song of Fire and Ice, and eagerly awaiting HBO’s next season of Game of Thrones. It’s far from art, but it’s still fun.

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