Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dragons on Ice

Reprint: 9 May 2013 at 2:44 am

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)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 his work.
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.

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