A Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust – George R R Martin

I’m opening this by saying I’m actually typing this up having just finished the second part of A Dance with Dragons, I should have written this up back in October or November of last year, but, well, didn’t. I did have notes though, and I’m fleshing them out as best as I can to complete this series of book reports.

A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust initially feels confusing, this is because it steps back to the beginning of A Feast for Crows and begins telling us the tales of some of the other characters and the goings-on from the fourth instalment in the series from their perspectives, so we begin to learn the reasons for Jon sending Sam to the Citadel and his thoughts regarding the deceit he has had to bring in to play regarding Gilly’s daughter. I found A Feast for Crows to be a bit of a grind and found the choice of characters to focus on to be a bit perplexing, thankfully that’s remedied here as we return to more of the key characters in the overall plot.

I liked how the different viewpoints were offered up here, but I feel like there were times when it would have suited the flow of the overall story better if the events and characters in this book were folded into that of A Feast For Crows. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one, but it felt like we weren’t really getting anywhere, having to tread over old ground again.

One returning character that we’ve not seen in a while is Theon Greyjoy, if memory serves me well, we last saw Ed Starks ward taking his revenge on the family that raised him and being given the position of the man who brought Winterfell to the ground whilst helping rid Westeros of the Starks. Though his actions came back to haunt him as he was betrayed by his servant, Reek, who revealed himself to be none other than Ramsey Bolton. Here, now, things have changed greatly, He’s now well and truly Ramsey’s slave, lower than a slave, his name is Reek, to rhyme with weak. Now Martin has turned a character that we were taught to hate, he was a smug little prick who turned on the family that raised him, into something (note, not someone) that the reader feels absolute pity for, he’s become less than a man, physically, mentally and spiritually, he spends his days not just fearing what Ramsey will do to him, but thankful of the things that he hasn’t done to him and despite everything, you really do want things to change for him and for him to be just a little bit cocksure, because whilst he was pretty insufferable, that cockiness made him a fun character to read.

The suffering isn’t just Reek’s though. Bran goes through an interesting arc too. Here he, Hodor and the frog twins finally find the Three-Eyed Raven and Bran begins to learn how to become a warg, we get lots of vividly told descriptions of him learning to be other creatures and having full control over what he/they are doing rather than him simply slipping into a dream state and “living” within the skin of Summer, but things develop to the extent that Bran begins to effectively travel through time and experience the lives of the tree’s, observing the world as they would and maybe having some ability to influence the things he has begun to witness.

Lastly, pretty much everyone’s favourite character, or at least favourite Lannister, has managed to escape Westeros (after killing his father) and spends the majority of the book moving through various groups, travelling along rivers and pretending not to be Tyrion Lannister whilst also acting exactly as Tyrion Lannister always acts, that is trying to show everyone how much he is much more intelligent than they are, talking his way into and out of trouble and trying to talk his way between the thighs of anything with breasts. Thankfully most of his companions neither know nor care who Tyrion Lannister really is, and most seem to be trying to make their way to Meereen to persuade a certain Dragon Queen to bed them. Obviously, things always go a bit tits up for Tyrion, and not in the way he loves either, and here things are no different as we leave him at the mercy of a slaver ship.

There’s a whole lot more going on, I mean when isn’t there? But those were all the key points that stuck in my mind. I definitely enjoyed this one over A Feast for Crows, but on the whole, the characters are all settling into specific patterns, and yes, I’ve watched the show, but my memories terrible so all the minor beats and patterns have long gone, but generally, there are no big curveballs to be thrown in here.

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