(Note: No specific spoilers here – although there are some very vague hints)
Just finished the latest book by George R. R. Martin. One word: disappointed. With this book, his transformation to Robert Jordan is complete. The story after 1000 pages doesn’t advance much. It does start with a lot of promise. Things happen. Interesting things, and cool things – like finally a bad guy (although not the baddest of em all) gets taken care off in a way that was satisfactory to me. There is a build-up of unbearable tension in one of the threads, and you start salivating… Yes its going to be one bad-ass redemption, its going to be so good …. And then … (to be completed in the another five freaking years!!!).
Note: “redemption” as in “payback”
Oh and yeah by the way, there is a nasty surprise/twist at the end, but the effect is about 1/1000th of the previous ones. He has pulled some of these tricks too many times for it to have any effect now. It feels like a cheap, cheap, sitcom season cliffhanger. But still, to me, the book would have been better if that one thread came to a satisfying conclusion. Then the surprise may even have had a better effect. Now it seems like George is throwing surprises, just for the sake of surprise, and sorry, that seems pathetic!
I think George basically likes surprises a bit too much, and thus perhaps he has a problem giving the readers what they want. So 5 years after Feast of Crows (which was 5 years after Storm), many, many readers wanted something – and Dance seems to shows us the middle finger and say See’ya in maybe another five years suckers! And then may be….. Or not!. Although I do realize that George has no obligation to any of us (Someone made a song that he is not our bitch – good point) – but I cant help but rant. I understand that this is not easy, but he and his editors could have realized what this kind of a book may have on a significant % of the readership (overall rating on amazon.com isnt that good) . To me, either they misread things completely, or didn’t think through or weren’t sympathetic enough.
I will probably have grand-kids by the time he finishes this series, and I find that my patience is not limitless. Surprises are great – in fact that was the main reason why I loved the series. But too many of them, in a very long series is frankly … exhausting. And of course the thought of another five years to see if he is going to rope-a-dope again – that is almost enough to not give a damn!
(This is perhaps cheap, self-indulgent point) His love-affair with wanting to always surprise frustrates me the most w.r.t to the redemption and bad guys (i.e. payback for all the nasty things they have done). I and I would think most readers want the bad guys to go down spectacularly, because we have been gritting our teeth through 4000 pages seeing them stomp all over the good guys. The nasty surprises w.r.t bad guys still getting a point scored when good guys had them pinned was painful, and even strangely endearing, but we knew – eventually they all will get their proper due. I now realize that this probably isn’t going to happen because that would mean giving what readers want, and that may be exactly what George does not want to do! All the redemption except the last one in Dance feels like “meh…” – and if you think about it, this guy wasn’t that important! Before that we got to “hear about” a bad guy supposedly suffering through his last days (and that is about as satisfactory as a fat-free, sugar-free, taste-free heath food), another big bad guy going down due to daddy issues (somewhat better, but for what he did – it just wasn’t good enough for me). Also, worse of all, off late, no one wants to stay dead – bad guys included.
Advice: This book need not be read until the next book comes out. In fact, if you have not read Feast of Crows, hold off reading that also, wait for the next book, make sure people say “finally, the story is moving forward”, and then read Feast and Dance and the next book. Unless you like being frustrated, and thought of waiting for 5 years to find out if the story moved another inch is something you look forward to.