A Song of Ice and Fire, book five
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.
Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
MY RATING: 4 STARS
*closes book* Now what? I’ve been reading these things since last September, and they’ve become a habit!
All moaning and groaning aside, let’s get on with the review, and I’ll do my complaining first. Whatever happened to chapter headings being named after the character…by proper name? It’s confusing! And it can’t ever be the same nickname, because how boring and conformist is that? No, that’s why we have the Kraken’s Daughter/The Wayward Bride/The King’s Prize, etc., along with Cat of the Canals/The Blind Girl, The White Knight/The Queen’s Hand, you get the idea. I still feel like Dorne is just deadweight, even more so here. The subplot with Quentyn Martell just seemed so…pointless. And for the love of God, Martin had better get some good mileage out of Young Grif before he inevitably kills him off!
I think that’s most of the complaining done, so I’m onto the rest of it. I’ll skip Bran because there wasn’t much action on that front. So how about Dany? The situation with Hizdar feels like a step backward from the unbreakable queen she’s developed into. And while I wish she would hightail it back to Westeros already (you have your army of fearless soldiers! What are you waiting for?!) I get it. She set the people in Slaver’s Bay free, and she wants to make sure they stay that way. Were she any different, I wouldn’t love her so much. I loved the bit in the fighting pit and with Drogon; it felt more like the warrior queen I had gotten used to.
Jon Snow…OMG! WTF? How could you leave me on a cliff hanger like that? How? I think I prefer Jon Snow to Lord Commander Snow–think Richard Cypher vs. Richard Rahl–but still, the poor guy’s in a tight spot with so much opposition and having so many different factions to put up with. I wonder if he’s stopped evolving as a character…he developed nicely in A Storm of Swords but looks like he lost a lot of forward momentum. And in light of that cliff hanger…I don’t know, man. I really don’t.
Tyrion has gotten to be a little more self-serving, but that makes sense under the circumstances. I liked his interactions with Ser Jorah and Penny, but my favorite bits were in the beginning–“Where do whores go?” And Martin has messed with my emotions yet again! I don’t WANT to root Cersei on, damn it! The man has a knack for turning the villains inside out and showing you their humanity, forcing you into their corner whether you want to be there or not. I don’t know if I’m ticked off about it, impressed that he pulled it off, or jealous of the skill it took. Maybe all three. It was the same story with Theon, or Reek, or whatever we’re supposed to call him now.
Theon. Those were the moments that kept me in the most suspense, even though he had more names than Gandalf the Grey. I spent most of the second book wishing he would fall off the face of the earth, but what can I say? He became sympathetic, and I became a fan. I’m curious as hell to see what happens next there.
All in all, this was better than the last one but nothing tops A Storm of Swords. Now, everyone join me in saying WHERE THE BLOODY F**KING HELL IS THE WINDS OF WINTER?!