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A Dance with Dragons 2: After the Feast -- George RR Martin
Why read this one?
It's part two of book 5. There, enough reason for anyone who has read the preceding novels. I have consumed this series with haste and nothing was going to stop me reading this one. There will be another to come but for now this is where the story lies.
It's a decent price at present too, Amazon have it via Kindle or paperback for just under £4. Not bad for a good read.
As ever and importantly 'Winter is Coming'. That old Stark maxim that harbours much truth and fear, for winter in Westeros is not as we know it. Winter in Westeros lasts years and beyond and in that time 'The Others' come and take you. But it matters not to those who sit in the comfort of lands afar, those on the wall are there to protect the good folk from the 'Others' and who really believes in fairy tales? Does the young King who sits the Iron throne believe? Games are still to be played and many seek power - blind to the danger that looms.
The game continues...
Reluctantly I picked up this book, pages turned slow initially - this due to me wanting to prolong my enjoyment but it was short lived. I soon had no choice but to read faster because Martin had lots to tell in this book.
The pace is even and heats up appropriately and in timely fashion, though not always for an outcome of my liking. Be warned he is culling again and Martin can be brutal. I am soon reacquainted with two of my favourite characters and hence I am happy. Tyrion Lannister weaves his wonderful wit within the lines of the pages as he navigates his way through danger with his tongue, that may seem an odd thing to say but for those who know this little guy it is a given. Without him these books would not be what they are, he adds the intelligence and humour to the tale and brings great joy and respite. I feel it's time to settle in when Tyrion time is upon me. Martin has created a standalone character that is much loved by many fans, a real treat. Needless to say if Martin culls him he'll be in trouble.
Much more to do with Daenerys in this volume and the situation is political and uncomfortable to read, not because Martyn has bogged it down with listless politics, but because I don't like the outcome. I wanted an entirely different outcome which involved the love of her life, the one she is passionate about - he who lights her fire. I wanted knight in shining armour stuff and my heart was eager to have it happen, I willed it to unravel before my eyes and what did I get? I can understand why Martin chose the outcome, I would probably have done the same if I'd have had pen in hand as there needs to be obstacles to our dragon Queens happiness. It will be all the more satisfying to me as a reader if she gets to be happy much later in the book. Who knows if she will make it though, one never knows with Martin.
I had some surprises, intrigue and satisfaction throughout the prose. Plot lines weave within and around each other and surface plot pulls the tale along whilst we await the bigger, deeper stuff to be unveiled - or should that be unleashed. That is how Martin likes to work, he has you ambling along taking in the scene and getting to know new characters and then wham; there you have it.
I particularly enjoyed revisiting Winterfell, after all this is where it all began. It saddened me to see the walls missing certain people but the action that is happening now is fascinating. Castles are built to keep others out and give the upper hand for war but how often they fall. Time and again you see it happen and a nobleman's life is never a long one. Snow lies deep and falls hard, food scarce see's improvising of a repulsive kind - difficult times bring out the beast in men and women. I was compelled to keep reading as human nature was showcased in the raw elements.
Within the walls of the castle of Winterfell is one of the most loathed characters and his cruelty is beyond belief, Martin has created a vile man in the Bolton bastard, he is horrendous. I can't remember disliking a character as much as I do him, even Malfoy from Rowling's Harry Potter pales into insignificance when put alongside Bolton.
All the while I have been composing this review my mind has been on the wall. The huge ice wall that separates human kind from those of the inhuman kind, the dead and the Others. But as intriguing and fearful as those supernatural and mystical creatures are they are not my concern. John Snow occupies my thoughts. He is the most compassionate and loyal character in this prose, he has a lions heart and he appeals. I have seen him develop courage and strength, all the time not being afraid to speak the truth and not bend to others expectations. He has made mistakes and that is what I like about him too, that makes him all the more real. He has accomplished much and has capability of doing so much more but I fear for him and his direwolf. I don't think I could bear it if Martin slayed this character, not John Snow. I hope Martin leaves him alone and Tyrion Lannister but like everyone else I am at his mercy and must wait a year or so to find out.
When I finished this book I felt numb. I was left with many questions and concerns that I want answers to, so many characters didn't make an appearance in this book and those that did either made it to fight another day or are hanging in the balance of Martin's mind. This is good and I am impressed because he has got me to care, a lot, about more than one character. I have also developed a healthy dislike for others and I can report that Cersei is back in the bad books, I felt sorry for her in the last one but not anymore. She runs true to form that one and even though she is a horrible woman it's good to have her around making mischief.
I would say that I am satisfied with the ending, not happy as such as things are definitely hanging by a thread but that makes certain that I buy and read the next installment, job done. An impressive feat so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
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Amazon paperback £3.86 at the time of writing.
If you have read the previous installments then you can't miss out on this, though it will leave you wanting more and for that we must wait. Dragons run amok; Daenerys faces challenges that will surprise though don't expect a rush of blood to your heart in this one. Tyrion is on his best form; this character is one of Martin's best and is a treat throughout bringing light relief within intellectual morsels. Winter is coming; games are still being played as many clamber for power. It is a battle to keep up with all the clans and houses but don't let that worry you, just enjoy the ride. The bastard of Bolton repulses and horrifies but at the wall Lord Snow provides courageous and compassionate moments. There are unexpected changes in this one and Martin culls again, will it be your favourite?
Published on Ciao