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So A Dance with Dragons, A Song of Ice and Fire #5, is coming out in about a month. Honestly I’ve been wondering if it really would drop (at ~1000 pages, it’s literally going to be a heavy drop). Seems as if it’s for real, Publisher’s Weekly has a short review up (and Lev Grossman will be penning a positive review in Time soon). Overall from what I can glean it looks as if A Dance with Dragons will receive a straight-B grade. My own current plan is it to wait for the first assessments to come in on Amazon, and get the Kindle version if the star ratings remain above A Feast for Crows. It is strongly hinted in the Publisher’s Weekly review that this is basically another “bridge” book, suggesting that George R. R. Martin still hasn’t gotten the story under control yet. Nevertheless, it may be that we finally reach the threshold of the portion of Martin’s epic which shifts from Dark Age historical thriller to magical high fantasy, a transition the author has promised, and which helped me convince Alan Jacobs to give the series a second look after being disappointed by the lack of fantastical elements early on. Martin’s penchant for dark plot twists, and shades of gray in character and actions, certainly gave his work a level of verisimilitude which put it above and beyond other works of fantasy, but I’m honestly not too excited about a magicked-up version of the Book of Job. Whereas some fantasists use magic as a deus ex machina which transforms their narrative into farce in short order, at his point a little numinous wonder would do the characters of the A Song of Ice and Fire a world of good.

Also, I still haven’t see the Game of Thrones HBO series, but the incessant web-chatter about it certainly does remind me of A Song of Ice and Fire. I guess it’s doing some good in terms of marketing Martin’s brand.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
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  1. In the opening credits for GoT (, you can clearly see that they pictured the world as concave. I got so excited: does this mean that the whole thing happens in a Dyson sphere? A ringworld? A generation ship? Many interesting implications there. Could explain the weird seasons.

    But this interview of the makers of the credits ( states that this was a design decision from them, nothing from GRRM. Oh well.

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  2. Ezequiel;

    I know Martin has gone on record saying the seasons thing will have a magical explanation without sci-fi elements. But of course that could just be classic author double-speak.

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  3. Zach says:

    The HBO series has definitely gotten me re-interested in GRRM’s work, though I don’t remember anything that happened after the first book. I’m thinking about waiting for more of the series to come out before reading the last book. They have a lock on the next book, at least. So far, the show has been quite true to the books (moreso than any other movie based book that I can think of).

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  4. Maybe I’m a terrible person but I’m waiting for GRRM to either finish the series or die. I don’t want to get sucked into several thousand pages and then have to wait years for more of the story.

    I recently read all 21 Aubrey/Maturin books and they were wonderful — but looking at the copyrights I can’t imagine having read them contemporaneously and having to go years between installments. I guess I am a terrible person, or at least a terrible book lover.

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  5. I’m loving the HBO series. My take on the strange concave map in the intro comes straight out of the world’s ficion– it’s a literal interpretation of the fable told about the world existing inside the blue eye of a giant.

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  6. Am I a horrible person for thinking that this is more melodrama if not soap opera than solid plot? I get the impression that the author was hot for a girl in high school who was dating an alpha-male named Stark and this series is a revenge fantasy. What he does to that family seems to glorify punishing the righteous.

    Sure, this isn’t a Disney movie where the villains wear black and are eeeeevil and the just and good are given every good thing in life after a short but always successful clash with the bad. But the Lannisters are every sort of corrupt and they only benefit from it. And the damage they do to the Starks is considerable and grotesque.

    If this is commentary about other works in the genre being overly goody-goody and preachy, the point is lost on me. A condemnation of chivalry?

    I’ve seen more compelling evil characters, several of which have made for compelling TV. Dexter, Deadwood, Rome, any of the vampire lit/tv from Anne Rice to TruBlood all managed to make fundamentally immoral characters compelling if not appealing. Is there anyone out there on Team Lannister? They seem all around vile and annoying.

    Maybe I’m missing something.

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  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    It is my understanding that DwD is essentially the other half of AFfC. The two books were originally one but got too big to publish as one. Now, the fact that he took so many years to publish DwD worries me. That said, I’ve already preordered the hard cover for the book shelf and will get the Kindle for the train.

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