Reprint: 9 May 2013 at 2:44 am
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Song of Ice and Fire is not my favorite foray into the classic
Fantasy Epic. While I agree that a world patterned after our own middle
ages or Early Modern period cannot avoid grittiness and brutality
without being trite or juvenile (as in YA). But George RR Martin seems
has created a narrator and a narrative that argues in favor of
viciousness as a strength and kindness as a weakness that can only be be
rewarded by justifiably brutal loss. In fact, the waters are so muddied
that no good deed goes unpunished and only brutality done in the name of good intentions can ever be truly good. I find it tainted and the least among peers.
That said, reviews of A Dance with Dragons
have, in my opinion, been equally vicious and unjustified. Martin is a
Hollywood writer and that is an important consideration, when reviewing
It has been said that this book was Jordanesque in an attempt to
denigrate it, and it it true that the book lacks a clear plot arc.
However, It is clear that Martin has taken the time and effort to give a
number of his previously two-dimensional (dare I say Anime-esque)
characters more life and believability. The more ADD reader may find
such trivialities as motivation, self reflection and growth to be wasted
text in need of editing, but it seems to me that this is the necessary
improvement to transform SoIaF from pornographic violence into a story
with meaning and depth. It is an encouraging step.
The other aspect that other reviewers have missed entirely is that,
Martin's cinematic style, born of long hours writing scripts for TV and
film, leaves him cutting critical material in favor of an audience with
poor attention span and difficulty following subtle plotting. One might
view this book as the deleted scene's reel that should have been
interleaved into a Storm of Swords and a feast of crows. This material
was cut for length and "readability" to accommodate a ninth grade
reading level, and a rigid plot arc.
Someone said something about a marketable book format being the
harbinger of critical acclaim or something like that. I paraphrase of
course. The vast improvements in setting, characterization and plot
development make this the best of the series and the necessary panacea
to keep me reading what was in danger of becoming an offensive and banal
celebration of vice and brutality. Hurrah for Martin.