George R.R. Martin – A Dance with Dragons
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, War
“What have I unleashed upon the world? ”
Horror and transformation spare no one in the fifth installment of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Through the characters’ eyes, we watch the corpses pile up — and sometimes rise — as war and pestilence ravage their world.
Compared to the past few books in the series, A Dance with Dragons seems more tightly edited, more compact content-wise, though the book’s still quite hefty. George R.R. Martin shuttles the reader across Westeros and Essos with ease. A page or two may read as pedestrian high fantasy, but the writing soon recovers as we plunge into unexplored territories of emotion or imagined geography.
Consequence is Martin’s sharpest weapon, wielded with scant mercy upon even the most sympathetic of his creations. The series might as well be titled “A Crash of Calamities,” as innumerable motives race towards unforeseen impact. A conqueror’s success is never complete, a commander’s responsibility can never rest, and a captive’s torture knows no inner or outer bounds.
There’s humor, often bleak or crass, in fair proportion to the devastation. Martin even slips in a few modern pop culture references: “That dragon queen’s got the real item, the kind that don’t break and run when you fart in their general direction.” Fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s works might appreciate that there’s a Dagon amongst the bloodline of the kraken-worshipping Greyjoys.
Whether their story is split over many chapters or contained in one, the viewpoint characters in A Dance of Dragons must adapt quickly to the tumult or fail in the attempt. Identity emerges as the theme, as two questions gain overriding importance: What am I? What is my name?
No specific spoilers in comments, please.