5 = perfect
-1 for bad editing
-1 for no story, just people training and doing things.
Review Summary: This book is filler. George obviously needed his dragons to be bigger (Miracle Grow for Dragons might have been a better name) for the last two "planned" books in the series. Therefore he is taking us through the daily lives of all of his characters rather than just say "one year later". And it shows...painfully so...as much as those superhero movies that spend an hour of the movie explaining the superhero's powers. Well, George has all of his characters learning new roles and building their "powers" so to speak.
NOTE: I don't think I spoil any great details in my review. I've read it carefully and talk about generalizations more than anything.
The Long Review and me bitching:
First off, to the standards of Bantam which publishes A Dance of Dragons (and is an imprint of Random House which is the pinnacle of the publishing industry)...the editing in this book is absolutely atrocious. Maybe it's because they wanted to rush it to print because it took George seven fucking years to write it and people are angry (they should be), or, because he's just too powerful and arrogant as an author to even try to edit. I've no idea what's going on. But there are examples of, "The column of horses north rode along the highway..." Only to a dyslexic person is "north rode" acceptable. It should be "rode north".
I caught Tyrion spelled "Tyron" in several places. This could have been found out by a computer that was programmed to flag this name in a spell check.
In the chapter "The Kingbreaker" he writes:
Those had had a good acquaintance with sword and spear and battle-axe even before Ser Barristan got hold of them.There should be a "who" in there or at least to break up the "had had".
Then there's just examples of incredible wordiness. George must say more than 200 times "He was not wrong," or "she was not wrong" or "they were not wrong." This as opposed to: "he was right" or "she was right" or something along those lines. It's so frequent that it really does start to bludgeon you over the head. This book is ENORMOUS. It could go on a diet. I am not wrong! <==that is supposed to be clever. But literally, 70% of this book could be chopped off the front and you would never notice.
Every chapter is top-loaded with absolute worthless crap for the first 70-80% and then the last four pages are AMAZING. And yes...it is these last four pages that drive me forward in the narrative. It's like I'm being fed gruel and then suddenly a tiny morsel of the best tasting roast beef appears which explodes in my mouth with flavor and quickly disappears and then there is more gruel.
Additionally...nothing notable happened for the first 1500 pages. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No action at all (my ebook copy is 2700 pages long--yes I'm blind as a bat and I increase the font to make life easier--think of it as size 14pt font on my iPad). It kind of got frustrating lol. I wanted to speak with Bantam and say..."someone needs to reign this guy in. This is why we have to wait 7 years for a bite of creme brulee or chocolate mousse...he's busy writing thousands of pages describing women parts and food and figs and filling things with unpronounceable names." Literally, reading A Dance With Dragons is like having a conversation in a book that reads like:
"a;'lkdn;l ;lkbi;'k of clan ';lkb;lk rubbed his thumbs over the hilts shaped like naked women in an almost obscene way. He turned to ;alkcn b;lke cl;kenj who was so fat that sails of yellow silk must have been used to cover all his jiggling suet. They both laughed and ate figs, cherries floating in sweet cream, and talked of how they would rip the heads off their enemies and drape their entrails from the city walls." And blah blah blah blah blah.ENOUGH. I wish Bantam had the nuts to have someone that checked up on George. A little conversation like "George...just checking up on you today. What have you got for us?"
George: "I'm so glad you called. I'm working on The Winds of Winter. I'm in the middle of typing the thirtieth page describing Asha's c*nt."
Bantam: "Okay...George...that won't do. You need to only spend one paragraph on Asha's c*nt and then move on with the story. Not a whole thirty pages needs to be devoted to how sweaty and wet it is...okay? Are we clear?"
Here's another example of bad editing from A Dance With Dragons in a chapter called "The Iron Suitor":
"The day before that, three ships had come out of the south together--his captive Noble Lady, lumbering along between Ravenfeeder and Iron Kiss. But the day before and the day before there had been nothing..."This is just bad prose. "The day before and the day before"... This should have been edited. It's like a broken record skipping when it reaches a scratch.
Some of the dialogue made me shake my head. I don't think this is a spoiler but there is a scene where a warrior attacking a woman says nothing but line after line of "c*nt! c*nt! c*nt!" and this goes on over and over as he's hacking at her with an axe. Really? George defends all of his language and misogyny in his books as "Westeros is a medieval world".
Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Obviously I did. I read it all weekend. I like living in his world even if it is to follow Tyrion while he eats, walks, eats, walks eats...talks stuff...talks more stuff...talks even more stuff. Perhaps I should be beaten with a stick because I'm enslaved to these books. Will I buy "Winds of Winter" when he manages to crap that out in five years? Yes. Do I recommend people read his books. Yes. But keep in mind that he's a genius author that has decided to sell out and be a bad writer. That doesn't mean that occasionally you won't catch glimpses of that genius before it gets buried in a landslide of shit.
However, I have this to say in speculation of Winds of Winter. With all of this buildup of nothing that happens in A Dance With Dragons, the payoff in Winds of Winter is going to be the biggest money shot in the history of fantasy fiction. Storyline after storyline is going to come to a head in that book. It has to. It will probably be the most epic fantasy book ever written because of the fourteen year slow-boil that George is giving us prior to it. If I'm wrong and it's like this book, you may read about me in headlines. "A Salt Lake City blogger was arrested today after harassing GRRM at a comic convention with a yellow paint bucket in hand and threatening to paint a stripe down the "American Tolkien's" back."
And just for the record...George...you are no Tolkien. You may have his talent when you try, but Tolkien could stay on target.