Link: A Dance With Dragons on Amazon (Hey, look who has a top review!)
*Beware, Minor Spoilers*
If you had told me to make a list off the top of my head before I sat down to read this novel, of events I'd want to see, or resolutions I was looking for, it would have been something like:
Dany mastering her dragons, escaping the Meereen situation, and heading west.
Tyrion arriving at Dany's court to serve her in his unique ways.
The battle with the Others finally starting in a serious way.
Jon learning who he is.
Cersei's trial and the unleashing of FrankinGregor.
What is Jaime going to do?
Is Briennie dead, what did she say to get out of the noose?
Quentyn arriving at Dany's court and revealing Dorne's plans to her.
Victarion using the horn to control the dragons.
Bran meeting the Greenseer and finishing his training.
Arya finishing her training.
A pretty obvious list based on the story so far, right? I would have been happy with 3 of these stories moving along, 4 would have been downright wonderful. Instead I got one and a half. And the kicker...it's the last one and a half I would have chosen.
This would have been bad enough...only it got worse. GRRM manages to add two more very interesting plotlines, one of which is Stannis' battle for the North, the other of which we'll let be a secret, and he gives no resolution for them either.
This is a novel that ended 200 hundred pages short. Throughout all of it we are given two "big" stories, the North and the East, and both of them look to lead towards large power altering battles that will rival the Blackwater...only we never get to them. The book stops before BOTH.
It is a novel filled with ships sailing, and sailing, and sailing some more. Of marching, and marching, and marching some more. Jon Snow becomes muddled in food stores, concerned with wildlings, with not an Other in sight of the wall. Dany reverts back to trying to save absolutely everyone, doing anything at all to make a false peace, and turns on her own dragons. Cersei has 2 chapters, Jaime 1, and both of them feel like they should have either been included into AFFC or left out till Book 6. Bran and Ayra train, but it has no end in sight.
Tyrion....Tyrion learns to cherish his inner dwarf. If all this doesn't sound exciting, don't worry, you will be lucky enough to get to read near 50 pages of food descriptions scattered about the novel. There is also about 100 "You know nothing, Jon Snows", about 50 "Words are Wind" and considerable "I must go forward" and something about Lannister's and debts I didn't know about...
I can't say it was all bad. If there wasn't good I wouldn't be so disappointing in where the book ended after all. Reek, Barristan, Asha, and Davos were all fantastic, the single Melisandre chapter shed much light on a certain bastard's destiny, and my main-dragon Drogon was the star of the book.
But...I have just finished 1000 pages, it is fresh in my mind, and what drives me to my disappointment is the thought of another 5 years...where I will have my list above, one scratched off, and yet two more added.
3.5 but it doesn't deserve the curve.
Main Focus: Gush (Fantasy Action/Adventure) Novel, First Draft = 21k out of 100k estimate (21%)
Side Focus #1: Assault on Dread Fortress Paine (Post FM6 Novella) = 20k out of 35k estimate (57%)
Side Focus #2: The Glassbreaker Goes Home (Post FM6 Novella) = 26k out of 40k estimate (65%)
Back Burner #1: FM7 School Story = 0k out of 80k estimate (0%)
Back Burner #2: Super Secret Awesome Project
Other Stuff I Need to Get To: FM3-FM6 concordance updates