Monday, January 13, 2014

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A DANCE WITH DRAGONS 1 - DREAMS AND DUST ~ GEORGE R.R MARTIN




A Dance With Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust is the first half of the fifth book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire Series by George R.R. Martin. Initially the events of A Dance With Dragons coincide with the events of A Feast For Crows, but eventually surpasses Feast. This time around the major POV characters are Daenerys, Jon, Tyrion and Bran, with some minor characters giving us their perspective from time to time.

Daenerys' storyline is becoming very interesting. With a great host comes great responsibility and great challenges.  Daenerys comes to realize that storming Westeros and claiming the Iron Throne is not going to be quite as easy as she had hoped.  While Ser Barristan urges Dany to march for Westeros, she has decided to establish her rule in Mereen first; but doing major harm to the slave trade, Daenerys soon finds herself the common enemy of all her foes, who are now joining forces to destroy the “Slave Queen”.  As if housing and feeding her thousands of "children", and the troubles from the forces who oppose her aren't enough to worry her, Dany's dragons have finally grown too large for her to control!  When it appears her dragons are no longer only feeding from livestock but are growing a taste for human flesh, Dany has a very difficult choice to make.   The question is, will her dragons accept new restrictions? 

Daenerys with Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal. Art by Yama Orce

She is also exceedingly pressured to take a husband and comes to realize she can no longer avoid or delay.  There are many who seek to make Daenerys their Queen, chief among them the suitors in Mereen itself - but more interesting I find Quentyn Martell (who has a fighting chance considering he brings with him the support and strength of Dorne, and the fact that her brother Rhaegar was married to a Martell), and most surprisingly someone with a better, stronger claim to the throne than Daenerys herself!  All things considered though (and this includes Dany's infatuation with Daario Naharis), my money for the top contender is placed firmly on Euron Greyjoy.  While I find Euron very intriguing, there is no denying he is quite sinister; but he has the thing Daenerys needs most - Euron is possession of the only known dragon horn.  With this horn Dany's dragons can be controlled!  She needs that horn, and my guess is that Euron will insist on her hand in turn. He wants the Iron Throne quite badly himself, and with a Targaryen by his side he can make it happen.  The question is, is he truly interested in claiming Daenerys for his wife, or is he only coming for her dragons?  Considering he holds the horn, Daenerys might have no choice in the matter.

Euron and the dragon horn. Art by Mathia Arkoniel.

Bran finally encounters the three-eyed-crow (who is in fact
one-eyed Brynden Rivers) and he (and the reader) discovers more about being a warg and a greenseer.  Brynden Rivers will also be the one to teach Bran the ways of the warg.  The question is, can Brynden be trusted, or does he have his own agenda?

Bran and the Three-Eyed-Crow by March Simonetti
 
Tyrion is making an interesting journey following the surprising events in King’s Landing.  His intelligence is once again brilliantly displayed when he makes a shocking discovery that would have been impossible for anyone with a lesser mind, and he plays a vital role in changing the course of the future.  He later winds up embarking on a perilous journey with a surprising companion, and forms an unlikely friendship with someone from his past – and what a lovely friendship it is! 

Tyrion's journey. Art © Fantasy Flight Games
 
We finally learn what truly happened during the fall of Winterfell, and we discover the fate of Theon Greyjoy (though if you watch Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on this book series, you already know).  I thought I hated Jaime Lannister once; I hated Theon and perhaps even Littlefinger... And while I do hate the Tywin Lannister and the Freys, I have never truly known character loathing before Ramsay Snow Bolton. I have no words... I cannot wait to see Ramsay Bolton meet his end. Hopefully the pointy end... of Needle. 

Theon and Jeyne Poole.  This scene took my hatred of Ramsay to a whole new level
 
Most surprising turn of events? While I've been convinced (happily so) that ASOIAF would ultimately end with Daenerys on the Iron Throne (but would that be too obvious? GRRM hates the obvious!), while hoping against hope it would be Arya Stark (though I doubt it - she has no claim to the throne), I suddenly find myself rooting for Stannis Baratheon!  He was indeed the only of the self-appointed kings to respond to the call of the Night's Watch (back in A Storm of Swords), and more and more I find that Stannis fights for the realm, not for himself.  I'm not saying that I want him to win the Iron Throne in the end, mind you, but he is certainly earning my respect.  He might be the only ruler in Westeros more concerned with protecting the people of the realm than securing a "cosy" seat.

Jon Snow and Melisandre. Artwork by Jezebel
 
I find Jon Snow to be an excellent Lord Commander of the Night's Watch! I like the way he thinks, the way he treats people, the way he handles his authority.  He is smart, daring, compassionate and very forward-thinking.  I have always enjoyed the Jon Snow chapters, but now even more so.  I am a little concerned that he might fall into whatever trap Melisandre has snared for him, and I am terribly concerned that Ghost seems to fall under her spell - But then I ask myself, if Ghost likes her, can we trust her?  If dogs can sense evil, surely so can direwolves?   What is she up to?...
 
Melisandre and Ghost

Martin brings two characters back from the dead, so to speak - characters we were led to believe were dead, but are in fact still among the living – three if you believed Theon to be dead.  One of them leaves me quite indifferent, but the other? Oh, his reappearance is going to shake things up in Westeros and beyond.  I don’t quite know what to make of him yet, but he sure is interesting.

"Young Griff" as he is known. His real name is a major spoiler. Art by orevalc
 
A Dance With Dragons 1 is mercifully much more entertaining than The Adventures of Cersei Lannister A Feast For Crows.  I am once again thoroughly entertained by the series, so much so that I have already dug into part 2!  There are so many characters left off in questionable places and situations (in Dance 1 as well as Feast), that I just can’t wait to see if they are alright; or indeed still alive…


Product Information:
Title: A Dance With Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 704
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0007466064
ISBN-13:978-0007466061



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