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A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire Book 5
George R.R. Martin
Bantam, 1016 pages

A Dance with Dragons
George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin was born in 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. He attended Northwestern University, graduating with degrees in journalism. Martin refused active service: instead he served with VISTA, in Cook County, Illinois. In addition to his writing credits, Martin has served as Story Editor for Twilight Zone, and as Executive Story Consultant, Producer and Co-Supervising Producer for Beauty and the Beast, both on CBS. He also was Executive Producer for Doorways on CBS. At 21, he made his first pro sale to the magazine, Galaxy. Martin now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

George R.R. Martin Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Busted Flush
SF Site Review: Dreamsongs
SF Site Review: The Armageddon Rag
SF Site Review: A Game of Thrones
SF Site Review: The Hedge Knight
SF Site Review: Windhaven
SF Site Review: A Storm of Swords
SF Site Interview: George R.R. Martin
SF Site Review: A Clash of Kings
SF Site Review: A Game of Thrones

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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As I predicted in my review of HBO's A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin's popularity has skyrocketed. Legions of new fans are marching to their bookstores (if they can find one) and libraries to get caught up with this series and my personal copies are now constantly on loan. Personally, I reread the entire series prior to completing A Dance with Dragons in order to reacquaint myself with the myriad plot lines. I came away from the experience with a rekindled understanding of just why Martin is on everyone's shortlist of fantasy literature's finest authors. A Dance with Dragons is a marvelous read and a sure fire bet to win a spot among our reader's choice awards this year.

To begin with, while A Dance with Dragons touches upon almost all the books central characters, it's main focus is on Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Jon Snow .We do hear briefly from Arya and Bran and get a healthy dose of Stannis Baratheon and Queen Cersi with some Jaime sprinkled in, but the bulk of the novel concerns The Wall, The Imp and the Mother of Dragons.

Westeros is a ravaged and war torn kingdom. House Lannister still controls King's Landing under Tommen's rule although it is tenuous at best. The Lannisters have earned themselves many enemies throughout the seven kingdoms and just about all of them are contending for the Iron Throne so the plotting, scheming and backstabbing, that Martin so loves to feature, are in full force in A Dance with Dragons. In the far north, Jon Snow has been promoted to Lord Commander of the Night Watch. He not only has to deal with the massive army of Wildings at his doorstep, but winter is coming and the threat of the Others looms heavily over Jon. He will be forced to make some very difficult decisions in order to keep the realm safe and his men satisfied. Meanwhile, across the narrow sea in Erros, Daenerys Targaryen has assembled a great host and marches forth in order to liberate the slaves and eradicate the trade. This task compels her to postpone her quest to reclaim the Iron Throne and she manages to make some powerful enemies while her power and her dragons slowly mature.

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth in a planned seven book series and it is massive in scope, surpassed only by Steven Erikson's masterpiece The Malazan Book of the Fallen. So it's safe to say that Martin is juggling an awful lot of plot threads at once. Despite that, I don't think most readers will have too much trouble following the action unless it's been a couple years since you finished A Feast for Crows. The Seven Kingdoms do not lack for Lords, Knights and Princes and they all seem to be playing their part in the game of thrones so, at times, some of the multitudes of lesser Lords, Knights, Princes and sell swords can get confusing, but like all the books in A Song of Ice and Fire there is a handy 54-page appendix of characters included, as well as some wonderfully detailed maps of Westeros and both are necessary reference tools for readers who insist on not missing any details.

What can one really say about a book like A Dance with Dragons? It's George R.R. Martin for crying out loud and he hasn't missed a beat. I could go on and on about what a fantastic writer Martin is... the Tolkien of our generation, etc. and so forth, but why bother? It's all been said before by some other critic and chances are you already know this stuff unless you're either new to the fantasy scene or have been living under a rock since the publication of A Game of Thrones in 1995. A Dance with Dragons is meticulous in its execution, rich in detail and a wonder to read. Of course, it will also leave you infuriated that you can't immediately pick up The Winds of Winter and continue the story because in typical Martin fashion almost nothing actually get resolved, the plot simply thickens, so don't expect to come away from the read with any real answers just more questions and a terrible longing to keep reading.

Note to the author: If by some stroke of luck you actually read this review, hats off, sir. Please don't keep us waiting long.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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