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A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R.R. Martin
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Bantam Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553582017
Date: 29 October 2013 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

When Great Houses clash, everyone suffers and many die. The saga continues as the sides align and new claimants to the throne emerge. Nobody is safe, with one exception, Daenerys Targaryen, as the second half of the story started in Feast for Crows is completed. Once slated to be a single volume, the story grew until it could no longer be held in one binding.

The action in Dance with Dragons starts off running concurrently with the end of A Feast for Crows. The first third of the novel is material related to the action in Feast. In one chapter we see the same scene from another perspective. It was quite interesting to see how Jon and Sam viewed the action and dialog.

With the split between A Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons, not every main character made it into the action. For some this was a great as they didn't have to read the chapter of a character they loath. For others it was disappointment as they missed the continued development of the character.

The return of Theon was a surprise to readers, but will not be to fans who are watching the TV series. In the TV adaptation, the creation of Reek is presented much earlier. The change makes sense as it would be difficult to keep an actor on hold for several years with no work. The process of the transformation is also interesting. It also shows what a true bastard the Bastard is.

This is a long awaited paperback release of the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. When asked why it was delayed, Martin said it was because people kept buying the hardcover edition. While the world awaits the next chapter in the series, The Winds of Winter, there are several new works from the Westeroes. There is a historical piece included in the Dangerous Women anthology that tells of the original Dance with Dragons. The Targaryen's fight over the iron throne. There are also the Dunk and Egg stories in several anthologies.

I originally read A Dance with Dragons in hardcover. As is usual, a reread brings new things to the fore. Of course I still struggle to read the Daenerys chapters. When rereading some of the series for the umpteenth time, I do find myself sometimes skipping her chapters and enjoying the books more, especially since most of the action around her has nothing to do with the rest of the characters.

As the fifth book in a long running series, it is not the best starting place. There is a huge cast of characters and numerous points of view characters that can be confusing. New readers need to start at the beginning. Fans of the HBO series should be able to follow the action, but seeing what was originally intended is a better way to go.

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