Dancing, Always Dancing
July 20, 2011 § 5 Comments
Sooooo…what I felt about A Dance with Dragons.
I do not even know an apt comparison. I waited five years for this book; five years is almost 1/5 of my life. And this wasn’t waiting in the sense that I waited for a video adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. True, I waited for that every day but it wasn’t an active waiting so much as a blind hope in the back of my mind. “One day,” I said, “I just know they’ll do it one day.”
This was different. The moment I put down A Feast for Crows I wanted more and I wanted it now. And then I had to wait 5 years for that more. Not a week, a month, or even a year. Five. Obviously I wasn’t counting the days (that would be churlish. A lady, and a dragon, never come before they are ready), but we were teased. We were led along by the nose with promised release dates, with endless “delays”, but always safe in the knowledge.
It will come. “One day,” I said, ‘I just know he’ll do it one day.” And then he did.
And I wasn’t incredibly pleased with it.
In a way, that was to be expected. Nothing is as good as five years of expectation makes it, especially when what came before was toe-curlingly good. Let’s be clear though, I’m not going to criticize the book, nor offer some sort of arbitrary number or letter grade. You should all read this book. That is all I will say about what I have to say about this book. GRRM writes better than I could reasonably hope to, so much so that it doesn’t need to be defended. Any book bearing his name will be well-written and worth the time to read it. It is known.
But in the end, I wasn’t happy with it. Parts made me scratch my head in wonder. Areo Hotah’s chapter made me wonder why he felt we needed what was, and I’ll be blunt, an info-dump in the middle of a book that was already 980 pages. Two characters did so little throughout the book I wondered why they got POV chapters to themselves, new characters were introduced that did little and added less to the plot, and some awesome characters, ones we had spent lots of time with and gotten to know and love, didn’t make it (Not a spoiler. This is GRRM after all. If someone important didn’t die we’d be worried.).
Yet the book is wonderful, amazingly well-written, and the careful plotting, which is oh so careful it hurts, is clearly evident. If Yamamoto Tsunemoto tells us the samurai lives with intent, then GRRM’s plotting is mother-trucking Gochin no Tajima. The chapters with Reek (It rhymes with Leek) are some of the best I’ve read in any book ever. His dedication, the amount of hard work and suffering that went into this book, the impossibly visible frustration that was necessary to get so much different material working together in the same book…they are there. As a writer, I understand so much of what he did and why it was so hard. Why 6 years (I didn’t read AFFC until a year after it was published) was such a short amount of time to finish such a thing.
I wish I knew how to reconcile the fact that for me, both of the last paragraphs are equally true. In almost any other medium this wouldn’t make sense. It would be like looking at Napoleon Crossing the Alps with googly-eyes. Thank you, Dan.
I still don’t know how to reconcile these feelings. I want to like the book, I really do. I don’t need to defend it; it’s a marvellous, imaginative, important book.
But I don’t feel like that.
In other news, I totally forgot how bitch-ass (I don’t know what I’m referring to with that word. On the one hand, a “bitch-ass” would likely refer to either an unpleasant female’s bum or a dog’s butt. On the other, it refers to…the same thing. But that is not the image I want to convey with that word. I want you to imagine snowboarders in neon-green jumpsuits, saying “radical!” and “gnarly!” That’s the “bitch-ass I’m going for) playing card games was. Holy Host is the AGOT card game so much fun. It lets me enjoy the sheer, unbridled, intoxicating joy of opening a pack of cards, which is a joy that if you’ve never partaken of it, you can not judge me, as it’s like legal crack, but without the risk. Plus, it’s nicely balanced except for fuck you three Lannisport Castellans. Seriously.
Now I go to sleep (lol in like, 40 minutes) because I have to be up early for work or something. What the hell, day. Where did you go?
Have some Pogues and commiserate with me.