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A Dance With Dragons [SPOILERS!]


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#41 Anna J

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 07:19 PM

It also seemed too on-the-nose current event-wise, with its foreign invader bogged down in a desert-ish land by a disgruntled populace and an insurgent war. ...I still don't think it works well for the flow of the story, but I do appreciate how Martin does not let his readers or characters ignore the messes they make.

You know, I usually have a sharp radar for overdone current events allegories, but I didn't notice this one. You're right, it is a little too close. But yes, Martin's refusal to ignore the wake of his characters' warpaths is one of his best qualities.

For me, Quentyn Martell worked better. He serves as a contrast to Dany (and maybe also Bran) as a character who, despite being guided by idealism, personal integrity, birthright, political cunning (not his own, unfortunately), and even prophecy ("the blood of the dragon", perhaps), fails completely. He might even serve an important role in advancing the plot--not dragon-wise (poor guy), but in delivering his friends to Meereen (I have a feeling we'll see Drink and the big man again).

Yeah, now that I think about it more, I think he does work well as the sweet young idealist with big hero dreams who gets crushed unceremoniously, even though he's got a lot of things going for him: earnesty, innocence, and determination. I suppose book 6 will tell us more.

I guess most of my frustration was about the regression of Dany. I hadn't really thought her character was capable of the kind of swooning that happens in this book. But maybe Martin has done this so that her resolve will strengthen in a different direction toward the conclusion. She begins to think more and more like a Westeros queen in this book, which was an interesting twist. I guess I was hoping for Dany the Barbarian in this installment.


Re: Dany the Barbarian, me too. She seemed to be just closing in on full-throttle "waking the dragon" territory, and then it all kind of fell to pieces. I guess she already had the compassion and strength needed for a queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but what she needed was temperance and wisdom, since she had lost or driven away nearly everyone who could cultivate it in her. She is only a "young girl" after all, and nothing can replace the experience of seeing one's own city burnt to a crisp by one's own dragons. It's basically Robert's reign (or Aerys's) writ in brief.

#42 M. Leary

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 08:24 AM


It also seemed too on-the-nose current event-wise, with its foreign invader bogged down in a desert-ish land by a disgruntled populace and an insurgent war. ...I still don't think it works well for the flow of the story, but I do appreciate how Martin does not let his readers or characters ignore the messes they make.

You know, I usually have a sharp radar for overdone current events allegories, but I didn't notice this one. You're right, it is a little too close. But yes, Martin's refusal to ignore the wake of his characters' warpaths is one of his best qualities.


And at least he began the series long enough ago that Dany was already slated for desert war anyway. I didn't pick up on this either. Especially the insurgent part.

#43 Jason Panella

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 08:13 AM

Sorry I'm taking so long, folks. I'm averaging about three to four chapters a day, so this might take another week or two.

I finished a particular Bran chapter that was completely nuts. Bran warging into Hodor and smacking zombies with a broadsword ("Hodorhodorhodor!"), children of the forest, the three-eyed crow (who, from what I'm gathered on forums, is a character from the Dunk and Egg novellas Martin wrote. Guess I should read those!) And speculation about Coldhands being the Ranger Formerly Known As Benjen seems to have held up especially well at this point.

#44 opus

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 10:01 AM

Finished the book last night after a couple of late night reading sessions. Overall, I have to agree with sanshiro's sentiments about this book being all about positioning and setting up the last two books -- which are going to be absolute monsters with everything that Martin has been building up to date. A few random, spoiler-filled thoughts:

* Like others have noted, the Dany storyline got frustrating at times. Part of that is because I always get lost in the Meereenese knot, with all of the slavers, sellsword companies, and whatnot. At times, it felt like Martin was heaping on complexity just for complexity's sake.

* I loved Jon's interactions and dealings with the wildlings, particularly with Tormund Giantsbane. And his dealings with Janos Slynt... wow.

* Also, Jon can't be dead. He can't be... that is all.

* Loved Theon's redemption. (Those Bolton chapters give me the heebie-jeebies.)

* Davos is still awesome.

* I was glad to see Arya again, but I'm not sure how Arya and her new abilities are going to fit into everything. I can sort of see how everything else does, or I have some theories, but not with Arya.

* I wanted more Jaime and Bran.

* I didn't get that Manderly had baked any Frey pies, though I sort of wish he had. I hate those Freys.

* I know that Martin keeps the supernatural on the books' periphery, which is one of the things that I like. But I do find the various comparisons betweens the gods and religions interesting, especially with the arrival of R'hllor. I've read that the conclusion of the book, in which the reason for Westeros' crazy seasons will be revealed, will be supernatural in nature. That, combined with the Children of the Forest, Bran's visions, and the inevitable rise of the Others, makes me wonder just how much more prominent the supernatural will become in the last two books.

Edited by opus, 25 July 2011 - 10:05 AM.


#45 Anna J

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 01:02 PM

R'hllor gives me unfortunate flashbacks to the "One True God" of Battlestar Galactica's Cylons (as opposed to the Colonies' many gods), and that depresses me when I think of how the supernatural took over that show as well, and ultimately ruined it.

The undead in particular seem to be multiplying. I hope there is not too much focus on zombies - I'm kind of worn out on zombies.

I'm a little more vague on my Arya theories than I used to be. Clearly she is being groomed by George for something spectacular, but I am not good enough at clues to pick up what that might be.

#46 Jason Panella

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 01:12 PM

R'hllor gives me unfortunate flashbacks to the "One True God" of Battlestar Galactica's Cylons (as opposed to the Colonies' many gods), and that depresses me when I think of how the supernatural took over that show as well, and ultimately ruined it.


The more GRRM focuses on the religions of Westeros and Essos, the more I'm captivated. I feel like the various religions have nods toward real-life counterparts without getting too much into allegory. For the most part, I didn't mind the mono/polytheistic story arcs in BSG, but it reaaaaally became shrill in some spots. Thankfully, A Song of Ice and Fire hasn't reached that point for me, and I'm hoping it stays that way.

Also, Ron Moore has a mullet and dictated random plot twists to the scriptwriters via cell phone.

#47 Overstreet

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 01:24 PM

I am carefully avoiding reading anything on this thread, so forgive me if I'm repeating anything: But GRRM is speaking in Seattle on Friday at Town Hall.

#48 Anna J

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:03 PM

The more GRRM focuses on the religions of Westeros and Essos, the more I'm captivated. I feel like the various religions have nods toward real-life counterparts without getting too much into allegory. For the most part, I didn't mind the mono/polytheistic story arcs in BSG, but it reaaaaally became shrill in some spots. Thankfully, A Song of Ice and Fire hasn't reached that point for me, and I'm hoping it stays that way.

Also, Ron Moore has a mullet and dictated random plot twists to the scriptwriters via cell phone.

Heh. I didn't mind that those storylines existed on BSG; I just resented the fact that they basically steamrolled the whole show from season 2 on, even though the religions themselves were vague and not very well explained. There just wasn't much to them when you really looked closer.

That is one thing I really like about ASOIAF - the religions each seem to have structure and distinct personality. The Seven (and sept(a)(on)s) and their temples, the Northern gods and their godswoods, about which we learn a lot more in ADWD, and R'hllor, god of fire and light.

I can't remember now if this was explicitly detailed in the book, or if I read it online, but I like the idea that the sacred godswoods were actually once sentient humans who warged into trees. Or "greenseers" - I forget the difference. Anyway, that makes a lot of sense as to why they would be worshiped.

#49 M. Leary

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:15 PM

That warging bit was in the book during one of the Bran sections. Can't remember which.

There was increased commentary on the various religions via Tyrion as well, which I think may become a more important part of his character arc. Not only is there more detail emerging on these various religions, which I agree are going to become a major part of the conclusion, but a lot of different perspectives on what religion is. There are the believers, the cynical, those who use religion to gain power, there are those who are discovering religion.

I just like the way Martin contours the presence of religion here with the way people actually respond to religion in real life.

Edited by M. Leary, 25 July 2011 - 02:15 PM.


#50 opus

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:26 PM

Curious: have there been any indications that the gods, themselves, actually exist and have intervened? There's a lot of talk about the faithful and whatnot, but there's also a prevailing cynicism amongst most of the characters that the gods don't exist or simply don't care. There's been some indication that there's some power behind the religion of R'hllor, thanks to the various deeds of Melisandre and Moqorro, but I think there's still plenty of ambiguity as to whether or not their deeds are more tricks than anything else. There's also that interesting exchange between Jon and Melisandre where the latter admits that her visions are sometimes flawed and not at all certain (though she maintains faith that R'hllor's messages are pure and truthful).

#51 Jason Panella

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:03 PM

Curious: have there been any indications that the gods, themselves, actually exist and have intervened? There's a lot of talk about the faithful and whatnot, but there's also a prevailing cynicism amongst most of the characters that the gods don't exist or simply don't care. There's been some indication that there's some power behind the religion of R'hllor, thanks to the various deeds of Melisandre and Moqorro, but I think there's still plenty of ambiguity as to whether or not their deeds are more tricks than anything else. There's also that interesting exchange between Jon and Melisandre where the latter admits that her visions are sometimes flawed and not at all certain (though she maintains faith that R'hllor's messages are pure and truthful).


I mean, I think Martin's pantheon does parallel our own world a bit here, and the variety of ways people interpret faith. Looking at the faith of the Seven in the books, Tyrion, Cat Stark, the Sparrows, the various High Septons, Cersei, and the Elder Brother (who has one of my favorite scenes in any of the books) all have drastically different takes on religion. I'm wondering if Martin is just going to keep being ambiguous with how faith works in this work, and not give a cut and dry answer.

#52 M. Leary

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:18 PM

Curious: have there been any indications that the gods, themselves, actually exist and have intervened?


So far Bran and Daenerys seem to be the main characters most connected to something "out there." Daenerys' entire character plot is born out of the "miracle" of the birth of her dragons, while her moon and stars was permanently altered as a result of a religious ritual. And then there is the entire Bran issue, who though is now schooled in the art of psychedelic religion has always been affected by some sort of prophetic gift.

Taking our cue from this, it seems that this entire world of divine beings is somehow real, and it can be appealed to with varying degrees of success.

All the King's Landing stuff seems pretty bogus though, or has become more a political tool than anything.

#53 Jason Panella

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 12:33 PM

Still working my way through this slowly. I'm bringing the novel on vacation next week, so hopefully I'll be able to finish it then.

For now, all I have to say is:

"The north remembers."

#54 M. Leary

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 12:55 PM

Sure, but which north...

#55 Jason Panella

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 01:45 PM

Sure, but which north...



Whatever north has Wyman Manderly in it, preferably being awesome.

#56 Jason Panella

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 09:23 PM

I finally finished this today. I loved it. I know a lot of fans were frustrated with both this book and Feast, but I'll admit that I like the slower pace. I liked all of the POVs (yes, even Quentyn and Victarion), but I especially liked Dany's and Theon's chapters.

And man, those pork pies at Ramsey and "Arya"'s wedding...ick.

#57 opus

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 09:45 PM

I think Theon really came into his own, and his arc showed off what Martin does best: transform characters that you come to hate so much, and slowly but surely bring them to a place where they rediscover some sense of nobility and honor. Of course, he still might turn out to be no good, but I have hope for him now, and I hope Martin does, too. Dany's arc did less for me -- the Meereenese politics got too muddled IMO -- but ended very well.

#58 Andy Whitman

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:07 PM

I'm nowhere close to approaching Book 5 yet, but I am nearing the completion of Book 3, and I find myself caught up in this tale in ways that actually keep me up at night, grieving over the loss of characters who meet shocking ends. I think. You never know with this guy. I'm sure many of you have experienced that as well. Martin is not a great writer, but he is a great storyteller, and I'm marveling at his ability to keep so many balls in the air simultaneously.

And I was right ... those dragon eggs were good for more than potential breakfast food.

#59 Jason Panella

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:15 PM

I'm nowhere close to approaching Book 5 yet, but I am nearing the completion of Book 3, and I find myself caught up in this tale in ways that actually keep me up at night, grieving over the loss of characters who meet shocking ends. I think. You never know with this guy. I'm sure many of you have experienced that as well. Martin is not a great writer, but he is a great storyteller, and I'm marveling at his ability to keep so many balls in the air simultaneously.


Glad to hear your fine the story compelling, Andy. I just wanted to say that while I certainly wouldn't rank Martin among the writers I consider great, he's certainly better than most folks working in the popular fiction realm. He dips into purple prose, sure, but there's always some nicely worded passages to round it out.

For what it's worth, he does such a good job of describing a certain Very Evil character in A Dance With Dragons that I had a nightmare the character was TORTURING ME. I actually woke up screaming.

#60 M. Leary

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 07:24 PM

All the crests.