A Dance with Dragons
|Author||George R. R. Martin|
|Audio read by||Roy Dotrice|
|Cover artist||Larry Rostant|
|Series||A Song of Ice and Fire|
|Published||July 12, 2011|
|Publisher||Voyager Books (UK) |
Bantam Spectra (US)
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||1016 (US hardcover)|
|Award||Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2012)|
9780007456376 (UK hardback)
|LC Class||PS3563.A7239 D36 2011|
|Preceded by||A Feast for Crows|
|Followed by||The Winds of Winter (forthcoming)|
A Dance with Dragons is the fifth novel, of seven planned, in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin. In some areas, the paperback edition was published in two parts, titled Dreams and Dust and After the Feast. It was the only novel in the series to be published during the eight-season run of the HBO adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, and runs to 1,040 pages with a word count of almost 415,000.
The US hardcover was officially published on July 12, 2011, and a few weeks later went to No. 1 on both Publishers Weekly and USA Today bestsellers lists. The novel has been adapted for television as the fifth season of Game of Thrones, although elements of the book have also appeared in the series' third, fourth and sixth seasons.
The Wall and beyond
Stannis Baratheon, a claimant to the Iron Throne of Westeros, occupies the Wall at the realm's northern border, having helped to repel an invasion of wildlings from the northern wilderness. Stannis apparently executes Mance Rayder, the leader of the wildlings, for refusing to submit to him, and marches south with his army to seek support in his bid for the throne.
Jon Snow, the newly elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, the order that defends the Wall, brokers a truce with the wildlings, allowing them through the Wall in exchange for their assistance in defending the Wall against the hostile otherworldly creatures known as the Others. This creates unrest among the Night's Watch, who have considered the wildlings their enemies for centuries.
Stannis's advisor, the sorceress Melisandre, warns Jon that a Northern girl is in trouble, who Jon assumes is his half-sister, Arya Stark. Mance is revealed to be alive thanks to Melisandre's magical trickery, and he is sent to the Starks' ancestral castle Winterfell, now occupied by the enemy Boltons, to rescue Arya. However, the girl in Melisandre's visions turns out to be Alys Karstark, a young noblewoman fleeing to the Wall to escape her treacherous uncle. To protect Alys and aid the wildlings' integration into Westerosi society, Jon arranges for Alys to marry Sigorn of Thenn, a wildling leader.
Jon receives a taunting letter from Ramsay Bolton, who claims to have crushed Stannis's army at Winterfell. Ramsay demands that Jon hand over to him Stannis' wife and daughter or be killed, and also insists that Jon deliver Arya and his foster-brother Theon Greyjoy, neither of whom Jon has seen in years. Jon instead decides that he will seek out and kill Ramsay himself, asking for volunteers from the Watch to accompany him. For this perceived betrayal of the Watch's principle of neutrality, Jon is betrayed and stabbed by several of his own men.
Meanwhile, Jon's crippled half-brother Bran Stark, traveling north of the Wall, is led to the last surviving Children of the Forest, the non-human natives of Westeros. They introduce Bran and his companions to the "last greenseer", an ancient man intertwined with the roots of a weirwood tree. He helps Bran learn clairvoyant "greensight", enabling Bran to witness the past and present through the eyes of the weirwood trees that grow throughout the North.
Across the Narrow Sea
In the Free Cities
Having killed his father Tywin, the Hand of the King, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister is smuggled out of Westeros to the city of Pentos by the spymaster Varys, where he is sheltered by the aristocrat Illyrio Mopatis. Tyrion is sent south with a party ostensibly to aid the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, who controls the only living dragons, in claiming the Iron Throne; on the journey, he learns that Varys and Illyrio have hidden the presumed-dead Aegon Targaryen, son of Daenerys's late brother Prince Rhaegar, intending to eventually install him as king of Westeros with Daenerys's aid. Tyrion persuades Aegon to invade Westeros immediately, without waiting for Daenerys. Soon afterward, Tyrion is kidnapped by Daenerys's disgraced advisor Jorah Mormont, who intends to deliver him to Daenerys in order to regain her favor.
In the Free City of Braavos, Arya is an acolyte of the guild of assassins known as the Faceless Men. Temporarily afflicted with blindness at their hands, she develops her sense of hearing, and realizes that she can "see" through cats the same way she could with her pet direwolf, Nymeria. After her sight is restored, she is tasked with assassinating a corrupt merchant while magically disguised with another girl's face. After doing so, Arya is declared an apprentice of the Faceless Men, to be sent to another assassin to continue her training.
Daenerys has conquered the city of Meereen and banned slavery, but struggles to maintain peace within the city while also trying to prevent military defeat at the hands of the neighboring city of Yunkai. A plague known as the "pale mare" (dysentery) ravages the city. Daenerys' dragons have become increasingly dangerous, and she reluctantly confines them in a dungeon for the safety of her people. Drogon, the largest, evades capture and flies off. Despite her sexual relationship with the mercenary Daario Naharis, Daenerys marries the Meereenese nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq to secure an alliance that will hopefully appease the Sons of the Harpy, a violent Meereenese resistance group.
Quentyn Martell, the son of the Prince of Dorne in southern Westeros, arrives in Meereen to seek to reestablish the allegiance between Daenerys's family and his, but is unable to maintain her attention. Jorah and Tyrion are shipwrecked, kidnapped, and sold to a Yunkish slave trader; at Meereen, Tyrion escapes in the mass confusion of the plague ravaging the Yunkish army, joins the Second Sons mercenary group, and secures their support for Daenerys. Meanwhile, another Westerosi, Victarion Greyjoy, the brother of the king of the Ironborn, sails for Meereen, intending to marry Daenerys and use her dragons to overthrow his brother.
At Hizdahr's insistence, Daenerys reopens the city's "fighting pits" for gladiatorial combat, but the noise and carnage attract Drogon. Two hundred people are killed in the resulting panic, at which point Daenerys climbs on Drogon to calm him. He flies off with Daenerys on his back. Hizdahr is soon implicated in an attempt to poison Daenerys, and her advisor Barristan Selmy removes Hizdahr from power and prepares for battle with the armies outside Meereen. Quentyn attempts to prove his worth by riding one of the remaining dragons, but is killed, releasing both dragons in the process.
Drogon flies Daenerys to the Dothraki Sea, the grassland controlled by the nomadic Dothraki people. After several days, Daenerys encounters a Dothraki horde led by Khal Jhaqo.
In the Seven Kingdoms
In the North, Roose Bolton has assumed authority after conspiring with House Frey to overthrow the Stark family, the North's longtime overlords; meanwhile, much of the region is occupied by the Ironborn. Stannis wins the support of the northern lords and hill clans by pledging support for the Starks and fighting off the Ironborn; while doing so, he captures Asha Greyjoy, Victarion's niece. He marches his forces toward Winterfell to attack the Boltons, but his army becomes snowbound and cannot advance.
Stannis's advisor Davos Seaworth is sent to win the support of the wealthy lord Wyman Manderly, who pretends to execute Davos to curry favor with the Lannister regime that controls the Iron Throne. In a secret meeting, Davos is told the Manderlys and other Northern vassals intend to feign submission to the Boltons and Lannisters while plotting revenge for Robb Stark's death. Revealing to Davos that young Rickon Stark is in hiding on the remote island of Skagos, Manderly pledges to support Stannis if Davos can retrieve Rickon and unite the Starks' supporters around him.
Theon Greyjoy is a prisoner of the Boltons, mutilated and driven nearly insane by torture at the hands of Roose's sadistic son Ramsay, who renames him "Reek". To cement his rule over the North, Roose Bolton has Ramsay apparently married to Arya Stark; his bride is actually Jeyne Poole, a friend of Arya's sister Sansa forced to impersonate Arya. Ramsay abuses Jeyne physically and sexually. Mance Rayder arrives at Winterfell in disguise and enlists Theon to help him free the false Arya. Mance and his spearwives are left behind while Theon and Jeyne escape, leaping from the castle wall into the snow to be captured by Stannis's forces.
Jaime Lannister, the uncle (and, secretly, father) of the young king Tommen Baratheon, negotiates the surrender of the last of the late Robb Stark's allies, nominally putting an end to the Stark–Lannister war in the Riverlands. Brienne of Tarth, whom Jaime had sent to search for Sansa Stark (and who unbeknownst to Jaime was captured by Sansa's undead, vengeful mother Catelyn), finds Jaime and tells him Sansa is in danger; he follows after her.
After Tyrion convinces Aegon to attack Westeros, Aegon and his forces capture several castles in the Stormlands with little resistance. Meanwhile, Aegon's foster father Jon Connington is secretly succumbing to greyscale, a deadly and infectious disease.
Cersei Lannister, Tommen's mother and queen regent, has been arrested by the Faith on charges of fornication and conspiracy. In order to gain release from her imprisonment, she confesses to several of the lesser charges against her, but does not confess to having murdered her husband King Robert Baratheon, nor that her children are the product of incest. As a condition of her release, she is forced to walk naked across the city as the smallfolk pelt her with rotten vegetables and insults. Meanwhile, Cersei's ally, the ex-maester Qyburn, has created "Ser Robert Strong", an eight-foot-tall figure encased in armor, to be an unbeatable champion in Cersei's upcoming trial by combat.
Having taken control of the government, Cersei's uncle Kevan Lannister and the Grand Maester Pycelle attempt to undo the damage caused by Cersei's misrule. However, Varys returns to King's Landing and murders both Kevan and Pycelle, revealing that he has been plotting for years for the Lannisters to destroy themselves so that Aegon Targaryen can take the throne, having been raised to be an ideal ruler. The book ends with Varys sending his "little birds" (child spies) to finish Kevan off.
In addition to the maps published in previous books, the book includes a new map of the previously-unmapped area of the Free Cities on the eastern continent. Like the previous four volumes in the Ice and Fire series, the book includes an appendix with a complete list of characters.
The story is narrated from the point of view of 18 different characters, including two minor one-off point-of-view (POV) characters featured in the prologue and epilogue. All but two POV characters were identified before the book's release.
In the North:
- Prologue: Varamyr Sixskins, a skinchanger and one of the surviving wildlings north of the Wall.
- Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and bastard son of Eddard Stark.
- Bran Stark, rightful heir to his brother, the late Robb Stark. Seeking an old power beyond the Wall, believed dead by his own family.
- Davos Seaworth, former smuggler and Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon. Has recently learned to read, sent to negotiate with northern houses.
- Reek, the Prince of Winterfell, the Turncloak, a Ghost in Winterfell: Theon Greyjoy, presumed-dead son of recently deceased King Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, a captive of Ramsay Bolton and now tortured, starved and barely sane.
- The Wayward Bride, the King's Prize, the Sacrifice: Asha Greyjoy, niece of King Euron Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, fled the Iron Islands after her uncle's coronation.
- Lady Melisandre, a shadow-binder from Asshai and a devoted priestess to the red god R'hllor, advisor to Stannis.
In the eastern continent of Essos:
- Daenerys Targaryen, heir to the Targaryen dynasty which ruled Westeros for 300 years until their deposition 15 years before the first novel. Self-proclaimed Queen of Westeros, she now rules the city of Meereen.
- Tyrion Lannister, dwarf and uncle to the King Tommen of Westeros, a fugitive wanted for kinslaying and regicide. Recently fled the Seven Kingdoms.
- The Merchant's Man, the Windblown, the Spurned Suitor, the Dragontamer: Quentyn Martell, eldest son of Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, traveling into the East on a mission for his father.
- The Lost Lord, the Griffin Reborn: Jon Connington, one of the former Hands of the King to Aerys Targaryen and one of Prince Rhaegar's closest friends. Exiled, and falsely believed dead. His identity as a narrator was kept secret throughout the book's pre-release process.
- The Queensguard, the Discarded Knight, the Kingbreaker, the Queen's Hand: Ser Barristan Selmy, the former Lord Commander of Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, and the first of Daenerys's Queensguard.
- The Iron Suitor: Victarion Greyjoy, Captain of the Iron fleet, recently gone on a quest to find Daenerys and use her for the Ironborn's own ends.
- The Blind Girl, the Ugly Little Girl: Arya Stark, hiding in the Free City of Braavos, where she has taken on the identity of the "Cat of the Canals" and continues her training as an assassin by the House of Black and White (The Faceless Men).
In the South:
- The Watcher: Areo Hotah, Captain of Doran Martell's guard.
- Ser Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard; currently occupying the lands around Riverrun.
- Cersei Lannister, the Queen Regent, currently imprisoned in a tower cell, awaiting trial.
- Epilogue: Ser Kevan Lannister, head of House Lannister in light of his brother's death, and current regent to King Tommen. His identity as a narrator was kept secret throughout the book's pre-release process.
Chapters for several POVs, which may include Sansa Stark, Samwell Tarly, Aeron Damphair, Arianne Martell, and Brienne of Tarth were written for the book, but they will instead tentatively appear in the next book, The Winds of Winter.
A Dance with Dragons was originally intended to be the title of the second novel in the sequence, when Martin still envisioned the series as a trilogy. Some early US editions of A Game of Thrones (1996) list A Dance of Dragons as the forthcoming second volume in the series. The 1998 anthology Legends, which features the novella The Hedge Knight from the same universe, listed A Dance of Dragons as the third installment of a four-book series.
In May 2005 Martin announced that the "sheer size" of his still-unfinished manuscript for A Feast for Crows had led him and his publishers to split the narrative into two books. Rather than divide the text in half chronologically, Martin opted to instead split the material by character and location, resulting in "two novels taking place simultaneously" with different casts of characters. Published in 2005, A Feast for Crows is narrated primarily by characters in the South of the Seven Kingdoms and in the new locations of the Iron Islands and Dorne. A Dance with Dragons features characters in the North and across the narrow sea, although Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark, Areo Hotah and Victarion and Asha Greyjoy appear in both volumes.
Approximately one-third of the published A Dance with Dragons consists of material that had been written for the pre-split A Feast for Crows, although much of this has been rewritten by Martin.
In 2009, Martin confirmed that, contrary to earlier statements, Sansa Stark would not appear in A Dance with Dragons; Sansa chapters initially slated for the novel have instead been pushed back to The Winds of Winter, which is planned to be the sixth book in the series. In early 2010, Martin noted that his intent for A Dance with Dragons was for the first 800 manuscript pages to cover the alternate characters in the same time span as A Feast for Crows, and that "Everything that follows is post-Feast, so that's where some of the cast from the last book start popping up again." Stating that "I wanted to resolve at least a few of the cliffhangers from Feast," Martin also mentioned the possibility that some of his finished chapters might get pushed to the next novel, The Winds of Winter, depending on the length of the finished manuscript for A Dance with Dragons.
Road to publication
Despite original, optimistic predictions of possible completion in late 2006, Martin completed the novel in April 2011, nearly five years later. During this period, Martin's blog featured sporadic updates on his progress, and in January 2008 he posted an update affirming his vigilant commitment to finishing the novel. In early 2008, publisher Spectra Books (a division of Random House) announced that A Dance with Dragons would be released on September 30, 2008, but Martin stated this would only be possible if he finished writing by the end of June, before his trip to Spain and Portugal; he did not meet his goal.
On February 19, 2009, Martin posted on his website: "I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A Dance with Dragons will likely be published in September or October." On June 22, 2009, the author expressed "guarded optimism" with respect to his progress on the novel, while still not confirming a publication date. When asked in a July 2009 interview with FREE! Magazine how the book was going, Martin stated, "It is going pretty well, actually. I am hoping to finish it by September or October; that is my goal." On October 6, 2009, Martin said that his working manuscript for A Dance With Dragons had just exceeded 1,100 pages of completed chapters, plus "considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs." He noted that this made the upcoming novel longer than his earlier books A Game of Thrones and A Feast for Crows, and nearly as long as A Clash of Kings.
On March 2, 2010, Martin remarked that he had reached 1,311 manuscript pages, making Dance the second-longest novel in the series at that point, behind only the 1,521-page manuscript of A Storm of Swords. On July 8, 2010, Martin spoke at a conference and confirmed the current length of the book to be 1,400 manuscript pages. He expressed his disappointment that he was unable to completely finish the novel by the conference, although he would not speculate how soon the book would be completed after his return home on July 11. At the same conference, Martin also confirmed that he has written one Sansa, one Arya, and two Arianne chapters for the planned sixth novel, Winds of Winter, and had transferred two Cersei chapters from that book into A Dance with Dragons. On August 7, 2010, Martin confirmed that he had completed eight POVs, excluding the prologue and epilogue.
At the New York Comic Con on October 10, 2010, Spectra senior editor Anne Groell announced that Martin had only five chapters remaining to finish, with sections of the chapters already completed. She stated her desire to have the manuscript completed by December. In a December 2010 interview with Bear Swarm, Martin stated that he almost had A Dance With Dragons completed.
On March 3, 2011, the publisher announced that the novel, though at that point still not completed, would be officially published on July 12, 2011. Martin claimed this July 2011 publication date was different from the previous publication dates mentioned, in that this was "real", as opposed to earlier "wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, [and] honest mistakes". On March 12, he revealed that the unfinished manuscript had exceeded A Storm of Swords in length, making it the longest volume in the entire series. On March 27, he announced that the manuscript had exceeded 1,600 pages. On April 27, 2011, it was announced that Martin had completed A Dance with Dragons. After incorporating requested changes made by his book editor and her staff copy-editors, suggested final draft notes from trusted friends, and his own final "sweat" (a line-by-line reread done to tighten and eliminate any unnecessary "fat" remaining in the manuscript), the final draft had been reduced to 1,510 pages; this made Dragons the second-longest novel, by a narrow margin, to volume three, A Storm of Swords. The novel was now ready to meet its July 12, 2011 release date.
On June 29, 2011, Amazon Germany had mistakenly released 180 copies of the novel early. Martin requested that those who held copies not spoil the book for fans who had to wait. Several A Song of Ice and Fire websites put an embargo in place on their forums with the same intent.
- Bulgarian: Бард: "Танц с Дракони" ("Dance with Dragons")
- Catalan: Alfaguara: "Dansa amb dracs" ("Dance with Dragons")
- Chinese (traditional): Three volumes, "與龍共舞" 上, 中 and 下
- Croatian: Two volumes, Algoritam: "Ples zmajeva" ("A Dance of Dragons")
- Czech: Talpress: "Tanec s draky" ("A Dance with Dragons")
- Danish: "En dans med drager" ("A Dance with Dragons")
- Dutch: Two volumes, Luitingh-Sijthoff: "Oude vetes, Nieuwe strijd", "Zwaarden tegen draken" ("Old Feuds, New Battle", "Swords Against Dragons")
- Estonian: Two volumes, hardcover : Varrak "Tants Lohedega" ("A Dance with Dragons") book 1 (09/23/2016) & book 2 (05/18/2017)
- Finnish: Two volumes: "Lohikäärmetanssi" ("Dragondance") 1 and 2
- French: Three volumes, Pygmalion: "Le Bûcher d'un roi", "Les dragons de Meereen", "Une danse avec les dragons" ("The Stake/Pyre of a King", "The Dragons of Meereen", "A Dance with Dragons")
- German: FanPro (2012): "Drachenreigen" ("Dragons' Round"). Two volumes, Blanvalet (2012): "Der Sohn des Greifen", "Ein Tanz mit Drachen" ("The Son of the Griffin", "A Dance with Dragons")
- Greek: Two volumes, Anubis: "Το Κάλεσμα της Φλόγας", "Το Σπαθί στο Σκοτάδι" ("Call of the Flame", "The Sword in the Darkness")
- Hebrew: "ריקוד עם דרקונים חלק א – חלומות ואבק, ריקוד עם דרקונים חלק ב – לאחר המשתה" ("Dance with Dragons Part I – Dreams and Dust, Dancing with Dragons Part II – After the Feast")
- Hungarian: Alexandra Könyvkiadó: "Sárkányok tánca" ("Dance of Dragons")
- Italian: Three volumes, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore (2011, 2012): "I guerrieri del ghiaccio", "I fuochi di Valyria", "La danza dei draghi" ("The Warriors of Ice", "The Fires of Valyria", "The Dance of Dragons")
- Japanese: Hardcover : Three volumes, Hayakawa (2013): "竜との舞踏" ("Dance with Dragons") I, II and III, paperback : Hayakawa (2016), I, II and III
- Latvian: "Deja ar Pūķiem" ("A Dance with Dragons") 
- Lithuanian: Two volumes: "Šokis su Drakonais: Sapnai ir Dulkės", "Šokis su Drakonais: Po Puotos" ("Dance with Dragons: Dreams and the Dust", "Dance with Dragons: After the Feast")
- Norwegian: Two volumes, Vendetta: "Drømmer og støv", "Dragenes dans" ("Dreams and Dust", "Dance of the Dragons")
- Polish: "Taniec ze smokami" ("A Dance with Dragons")
- Brazilian Portuguese: Leya: "A Dança dos Dragões" ("The Dance of Dragons")
- European Portuguese: Two volumes, Saída de Emergência: "A Dança dos Dragões", "Os Reinos do Caos" ("A Dance of Dragons", "The Kingdom of Chaos")
- Romanian: Nemira: "Dansul dragonilor" ("The Dance of the Dragons")
- Russian: AST: "Танец с драконами" ("Dance with Dragons")
- Serbian: Two volumes, Лагуна: "Плес са змајевима Део први: Снови и прах", "Плес са змајевима Део други: После гозбе" ("A Dance with Dragons Part I: Dreams and Dust", "A Dance with Dragons Part II: After the Feast")
- Slovenian: "Ples z zmaji" ("A Dance with Dragons")
- Spanish: Ediciones Gigamesh: "Danza de dragones" ("Dance of Dragons")
- Swedish: "Drakarnas dans" ("Dance of the Dragons")
- Turkish: "Ejderhaların Dansı" ("Dance of Dragons")
- Ukrainian: One volume, KM Publishing (2018): "Танок драконів" ("A Dance of Dragons")
- Vietnamese: Three volumes: "Trò Chơi Vương Quyền 5A: Đánh thức Rồng Thiêng", "Trò Chơi Vương Quyền 5B: Trấn thủ thành Mereen", "Trò Chơi Vương Quyền 5C: Vũ điệu Rồng Thiêng". ("Game of Thrones 5A: Awake Dragon", "Game of Thrones 5B: Defense on Mereen", "Game of Thrones 5C: Dance of Dragons")
The Atlantic's Rachael Brown found A Dance with Dragons "infinitely more satisfying than its predecessor, 2005's bleak and plodding A Feast for Crows. The aspects of Martin's work that have endeared him to fans are abundant here – rich world building, narrative twists and turns, and gritty depictions of the human struggle for power. Characters who were sorely missed in Feast – Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow – make up more than a third of the novel, and Martin is wise enough to give us at least a chapter from (almost) everyone else. Weaknesses that have plagued Martin's previous books are also present: too much repetition, unexceptional prose, and characters who use the same idioms (and have sex in exactly the same manner) no matter their ethnicity, social class, or continent. But while A Dance with Dragons cries out for better editing, it remains entirely engrossing. Martin has hidden so many clues and red herrings throughout his previous volumes that it is a thrill to see certain pieces fall into place."
Remy Verhoeve of The Huffington Post said, "A Dance with Dragons is just a book, of course. It is not the Second Coming or anything. And I understand that the author must feel a lot of pressure concerning this one (he should). It's late and it has to repair some of the damage done by A Feast for Crows, which frankly felt as if it was written by a ghost writer at times. Finally it is here, and some of the things we've been wondering about for more than a decade are actually revealed (not everything, but at least some things). It has the same structural problems as the previous book; it is sprawling and incoherent at times, but at least the characters are more interesting than in the previous installment. It does feel like I'm reading a bunch of separate stories within the same setting–the chapters are told through the eyes of various characters–but that doesn't really bother me as I love the setting and like to see it through various points of view. Theories that have been bandied about online for the last ten years mostly come true in this book, so in that respect the novel isn't shocking but neither is it disappointing. Martin also manages to put in a few twists, but ends the book much like he did the previous one with cliffhangers instead of wrapping things up a little better so the next long wait won't hurt so much."
David Orr of The New York Times said, "A Dance With Dragons comes in at roughly 9,574,622,012 pages, and smart money says the final two books in the series will make this one look like 'The Old Man and the Sea'. Such length isn't necessary, and it hurts Martin's prose and his plot mechanics. Tyrion 'waddles' at least 12 times here, and even if we suppose the unflattering word reflects Tyrion's contempt for his own awkward gait, it seems unlikely he would indulge this contempt when he's, say, fighting for his life. Similarly, when your novel's terrain stretches across hundreds of miles and your world lacks jet propulsion, as an author you face some basic problems of transportation that can result in conveyance via Rube Goldberg."
Time's James Poniewozik found a possible "weakness to the early Meereen sections [by] marking time (and making Dany uncharacteristically indecisive) to allow time for all the pieces to fall into place" and said, "All this makes for a thousand-page book that feels half as long, that moves dextrously, answers key questions and gobsmacks you with convincing feints and change-ups. As in AFFC, there are sections that feel like they could have used an editor. In some chapters you suddenly find yourself in a strange land with a character you have little attachment to, wondering where this thread is going, as if you had stayed too long at a party after the friends you came with have left.
The Washington Post's Bill Sheehan said, "Filled with vividly rendered set pieces, unexpected turnings, assorted cliffhangers and moments of appalling cruelty, A Dance With Dragons is epic fantasy as it should be written: passionate, compelling, convincingly detailed and thoroughly imagined. Despite a number of overtly fantastic elements (dragons, seers, shape shifters and sorcerers), the book — and the series as a whole — feels grounded in the brutal reality of medieval times and has more in common with the Wars of the Roses than it does with The Lord of the Rings. The result is a complex summer blockbuster with brains and heart, a book with rare — and potentially enormous — appeal.
Megan Wasson of The Christian Science Monitor said, "A Dance with Dragons may well be one of the best books in the five-book series so far. Martin's prose is concise but pithy, begging to be devoured over and over again. All the fans' favorite characters make an appearance, unlike in the last book. But what truly sets this book above some of the others in the series is Martin's ability to keep his readers on their toes and the edges of their seats. No character, no matter how likeable and seemingly important, is ever safe from Martin's pen (remember Ned Stark?), and on the other hand, no one can ever be truly pronounced dead. What you thought was going to happen after reading Books No. 1, 2, and even 3 and 4, now clearly will not happen, and that's where Martin's strength lies."
In April 2012, A Dance with Dragons was nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel. In May 2012, it was nominated for the 2012 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and won it in June 2012. In August 2012, the novel was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.
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[Martin] finally confirmed at FargoCon 2009 that Melisandre would be a POV, but there was also another POV as yet unrevealed.
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