A Dance with Dragons, Hardback Book
4 out of 5 (16 ratings)


HBO's hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R.

R. Martin's internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age.

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is the fifth volume in the series.The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.In the east, Daenerys, last scion of House Targaryen, her dragons grown to terrifying maturity, rules as queen of a city built on dust and death, beset by enemies.Now that her whereabouts are known many are seeking Daenerys and her dragons.

Among them the dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, who has escaped King's Landing with a price on his head, wrongfully condemned to death for the murder of his nephew, King Joffrey.

But not before killing his hated father, Lord Tywin.To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone - a structure only as strong as those guarding it.

Eddard Stark's bastard son Jon Snow has been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but he has enemies both in the Watch and beyond the Wall, where the wildling armies are massing for an assault.On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves.

The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all...


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1040 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780002247399

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Showing 1 - 5 of 16 reviews.

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Review by
Summary: Jon Snow, newly elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, has a plan for protecting the realm against the White Walkers, one that means allying with the wildlings that have been the enemy for time out of mind - a plan with which no one is particularly happy, including King Stannis, who is also still fuming at the lack of support he's received from the northern lords. One of those northern lords, the sadistic Ramsay Bolton plans to marry Arya Stark and thus claim Winterfell, but Arya is in Braavos, in training to be a servant of the Nameless God, and the only one who knows that Ramsay's bride is not who they claim she is is Reek, a tortured thrall of Bolton's who used to be someone else entirely. Bran and his companions continue their journey north of the Wall, to find Bran's three-eyed crow.Meanwhile, on the other side of the narrow sea, everything seems to be converging on Daenerys. She holds the former slave city of Meereen only loosely, and discontent is rampant in the streets. Her dragons have gotten too large to control, and one of them seems to have gotten a taste for human flesh. Suitors that intend to marry her, and thus gain control of Westeros approach from Dorne, from the Iron Islands, and from Volantis. Tyrion finds himself with this latter group after being smuggled out of King's Landing, and soon realizes that he is once again in the middle of a plot that is decades in the making.Review: Oh, so good. And more to the point, so much better! Not only did this book have all of my favorite POV characters that A Feast For Crows lacked, but it actually had things happening! In all of the storylines! Forward plot momentum on multiple fronts! Hooray! It wasn't quite the breakneck pace of some of first few books, and there were a few places that dragged - in particular, Daenerys's story could have been told equally effectively in substantially fewer installments, and some of Tyrion's adventures didn't seem to have a point... although it's entirely likely that I just don't see their point yet. But on the whole, this book kept me absorbed in the reading and interested in its story, more or less from first page to last. Even better, there were parts of this book that took the duller parts of A Feast For Crows (the Dorne chapters, in particular) and moved their story forward in ways that made the last book retrospectively much more important and interesting.However, there were a few parts that kept this book from being great. The later chapters pick up with POV characters from AFfC, but since they're not the focus it leaves their chapters feeling incomplete and crammed in where they don't fit. In particular, I'm still scratching my head at the end of Jaime's few chapters... something happens that doesn't seem to square with the end of AFfC, and there's no explanation of what's going on, or how things got from there to here. Too, in past books Martin's been able to pull off a really good shocking twist, or reveal, and there wasn't one in this book. (Hell of a cliffhanger ending on a couple of storylines, though. "Cliffhanger" doesn't even cover it. When's the next book coming out?) Although, the lack of good reveals is more my fault than Martin's; there were a few points that I think were designed to be shocking, but since I was reading pretty carefully on my re-read, they basically just confirmed things I already suspected.Apart from the improved pacing and plotting, this book also lives up to the standards of character development, worldbuilding, grey ethics, and wordcraft that Martin established in the rest of the series. It's crazy how just a few well-placed words ("You know nothing, Jon Snow.") can give me the creeped-out shivers, just by putting them in the mouth of the right character (Melisandre) - and there are equally well-done touches like that throughout the book. Similarly, and I should have expected it after A Storm of Swords transformed Jaime from completely irredeemable into one of my favorite characters, but damn can Martin do complex characterizations. When your heart breaks hardest for a character that you don't even like, that's pretty impressive.So, overall: not without its flaws, but a definite improvement over book 4, and full of the stuff (and characters) that made me fall in love with this series in the first place. (But argh! The cliffhangers!) 4.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Don't even think about picking this up unless you've read the first for books, but if you have and you're stalled out after A Feast for Crows, then don't worry: A Dance with Dragons picks things up again.
Review by

First, a sigh of relief: Dance is much better than the sprawling Feast. Given the time elapsed since Feast was published, I also like how the author inserts quick recaps about the major events in the early chapters, so one isn't forced to re-read the earlier books. Overall, while the book is a highly enjoyable romp with Martin's ingenious characters, the plot doesn't advance much. I fear the next volume will likewise tread water plot-wise.What started as a fantasy take on York vs. Lancaster (Stark vs. Lannister), has turned into a world creating exercise that has run out of control. Martin's world approaches a Wagnerian <i>Gesamtkunstwerk</i> (thus its suitability for epic TV). It is, however, currently at the stage of Gustav Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand with its requirement of three different choirs and an extra large orchestra. Martin just has too many players and locations in his universe. Martin's task for the next volume will be to reinsert the Feast characters back into the narrative and hopefully zoom in on a main storyline (if it still exists). I wish Martin had followed George Lucas and Stan Lee in sketching out the characters and the main story lines but letting others run with it. There are simply too many great stories within his universe to be told in his limited number of books written by a single writer. While Martin has not yet created a Jar-Jar Binks, too many of his characters follow side alleys that are only partially helpful in advancing the main story (who sits on the Iron Throne isn't all that interesting). I hope Martin is healthy enough to actually complete his series. It would be a shame to trade the main story line for the character vignettes.Martin is at his best in involving his characters in the hard trade-offs of political infighting. While I don't like the inconsistent mix of high and late medieval weaponry and tactics, it is in climatology and biology that the books are weakest. Apart from the long winters, the non-matching of climate zones to their latitude is vexing. Thus, the Wall is covered in perpetual ice while to its north one finds plenty of vegetation. In biology, the direwolves should be more accurately renamed diredogs, as they exhibit more dog-like than wolfish behaviors. Most relevant in A Dance with Dragons, though, is the (mis-)treatment of the titular animals. Martin's dragons are impulsive creatures that display less intelligence and dressability than a goose. Imprinting seems to work, behaviorial training isn't attempted at all. A Dance with Dragons doesn't really occur in this book, at least not to the extent I expected from such a title.Overall, a great read that triggers a long wait, sweetened by HBO's TV series (hopefully not to be abandoned mid-way). The British first edition printing messed up by not including the main Westeros maps printed on the cover insides of the American edition. Together with a large number of typos, the publisher did not do a good enough job in the limited time window between Martin's handing in of the manuscript and the rush to publication shortly after the finale of the TV series.

Review by

And so <i>this</i> is what GRRM has been working on for the last six years? Well, it's not <i>bad</i> but one does wonder what the hold up was. After all, in his post-script to <i>A Feast For Crows</i> Martin was already talking of how much he had written, hence the need to split this section of the story into two books. Given that so little really happens over these near 1000 pages you can't imagine it being the fine details of plot that GRRM was fussing over.Whatever the reason for the delay there's no hiding the fact that <i>A Dance With Dragons</i> is a disappointment. Well written, certainly, but the novel fails to exude any sense of excitement or adventure. Most characters simply tread water in this novel. There are some exceptions - quite early on Bran finally reaches a stage where his story can develop but, alas, he is then seen no more of in the novel. Others - Griff and Victarion - are stand outs because their chapters, and characters as a whole, are ones which demand action, but their chapters are few and far between. Barristan Selmy, during a few brief chapters, provides further insight into Robert's Rebellion and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty, which is welcome, yet this again occupies too small a portion of the novel.Instead our plate is overloaded with generous helpings of Tyrion getting no-where fast, Jon Snow fretting about the Others without actually encountering them at all, and Daenerys sitting uncomfortably in Meereen. Theon's chapters aren't too bad but nor are they tremendously exciting either. Oh, there's the Dornish prince too but so little time is devoted to his story that it was very hard to become involved in his struggle and to care. Perhaps I'm grumpy because I've never especially liked Dany's chapters and she's so prevalent in this book. I realise she's the long game - that the climax of the story will be her getting to Westeros - but all the time she is away from Westeros I find her activities rather tedious. The War of Five Kings and the Wall are in Westeros - they're the exciting bits for me and that's where I want to see what's going on! That's why from the start I've never been too enamoured with Daenerys. Perhaps fans of her will like ADWD a great deal. Yet I found her attitude even more annoying than I remembered. Armies line up outside her city to sack it and return her "children" to slavery and yet for rather feeble and barely touched upon reasons she refuses to utilise her dragons. I groaned as much as her advisers did when I read of her attitude. Plus, I know her plot armour protects her from everything but it seemed a trifle selfish to demand those close to her help out with the flux infected citizens (but of course, none of her close friends or advisers could catch anything because that would reflect badly on Dany!).There are other more minor gripes I have with ADWD. Brienne's fate from AFFC is revealed here and it's done in the most casual and minor manner that it made me slightly despair. It was one of the cliffhangers from the previous book and yet it seemed to matter for nothing here. On a similar point, the fate of another major character from this novel left me unconvinced. GRRM has pulled the same trick a few too many times for me to believe any point of view character dead unless their guts are spilling out onto the floor or their heads are loose from their body at the time of supposed demise.There were times when ADWD felt like it might finally move out of second gear but unfortunately the book ended before that occurred. As I said at the start, it's still well written and better than the vast majority of the fantasy genre. It just accomplishes next to nothing and has me concerned about whether or not Martin can finish the saga in just two books. I fear it would be a horrible fudge if he did so. Events need to move swiftly in the next book but I can't see that happening and that has me worried about the future of the series as a whole. It's a despondent note to end on but the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch (despite his personal problems holding back the Gentlemen Bastards series) have come to the fore in GRRM's absence and with the Malazan saga finished hopefully Erikson will eventually have something new to show too. So even if Martin continues to stutter and falter, and I hope he doesn't, I know the fantasy universe is bigger than just George R.R. Martin.

Review by

I like it. I really do. It has a few of those "Omigod!" moments, and that's a Good Thing. Same issue I had with the last one, really. Its good. The great moments are great. It does feel like we're lost in the woods sometimes-- at least Arya's found a bit of a teacher now. Sounds like plot threads are going to be tied up, and shortly. Plus, everyone dies. Not that that's particularly a spoiler.

Review by

Continues the sprawl of ISOIAF - although Martin is obviously trying to rein his stories in towards a finish, he still has too many horses in the field. As with A Feast For Crows, feels like it could have been more aggressively edited (preferably by the author) - but there's enough here to hold interest and promise that everything will become relevant by the end.

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