A Dance With Dragons – Review

(© Random House)

A Dance With Dragons is the fifth novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I haven’t included any spoilers about Dance in this review, but it is impossible to discuss the book without revealing events from the first four. So if you haven’t read A Game of Thrones (1996) and its sequels, go ahead and get yourself caught up. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page (literally), you’re probably a little unsatisfied by A Feast for Crows (2005). After all, as Martin writes in the afterword, “Wait a minute, wait a minute! Where’s Dany and the dragons? Where’s Tyrion? We hardly saw Jon Snow. That can’t be all of it…” Fortunately, that is correct. The story Martin set out to tell in Feast was too big to fit in just one book, so he divided it into two. Dance tells the rest of the story, although like all of the other books in the series, it ends with more loose ends than knots.

In Dance, the game of thrones is far from over, and it has become clear that the game is not worth winning (though losing is much worse). Only one of the original claimants in the “War of Five Kings” still lives, but new contenders keep popping up. The fight for control of Westeros has become a world war, with new fronts opening up north of the Wall and across the Narrow Sea.

Martin’s great strength is his ability to flesh out all of his characters by regularly shifting point of view. Cersei Lannister, in particular, begins the saga as a calculating ice queen, but is startlingly human in Feast and Dance. Like the real world, Westeros contains no heroes or villains, just people whose mistakes cause unintended suffering.

George RR Martin
George R.R. Martin on the set of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ (AP Photo)


About Matt Hlinak

Matt Hlinak
Matt Hlinak is an administrator at Dominican University, just outside of Chicago. He teaches courses in English and legal studies. His short stories have appeared in 'Sudden Flash Youth' (Persea Books 2011) and several literary magazines. 'DoG' (2012) is his debut novel.


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  2. Lee Robinson

    I'm sorry, but is this a review or a book report? I take it you like the book? I like the series as well, and digested all of them in a short time span. It is becoming clear to me, however, that the author is incabable of tieing together the story lines and ever finishing this thing. Some story lines never even go anywhere. It seems highly improbable that he will be able to have adequate closure in 1000 more pages. 500 of which must be dedicated to what people are eating and/or wearing.

  3. Lee, I share your skepticism that this series will ever wrap up, based both on the length of time between books, the length of the books themselves and the fact new storylines keep emerging. It's hard to review any book in the series without knowing how it will end. If the final back resolves everything in a satisfactory manner, the series will be a success. If not, though, the whole thing will be a big disappointment.

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