A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

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Title: A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast
Author: George. R. R. Martin
Published: 2011
Challenges: None
Star Rating: 5 out of 5

*Warning: Spoilers/Theories at the very end of this review*

Synopsis
It is difficult to write a synopsis for a book in a series, especially when you don’t want to give away too many spoilers. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast returns to the battle for the Iron Throne, beginning where Part One ends – obviously! A Dance with Dragons focused on the North and life across the seas from Westoros, however Part Two sees the narratives of most of the main characters come back together again. By the end of the book the dragons are on the loose, Cersei Lannister has fallen from power and Jon Snow has made the difficult decision to get involved in the war, something which men of The Wall are not supposed to do.

My Thoughts
It is easier to talk about my thoughts on the book than focus on what happens as I am slightly less likely to give away spoilers this way. After A Feast for Crows I felt a little lost as far as this series went, but I am so glad the last two books returned to form and I cannot wait for the next one, even though the publication date is still unknown. I don’t think I’ll be able to say anything new as far as my feelings on these books goes, but I love them. Yes, in places the narrative is complicated and occasionally I forget what happened to a character in a certain book, but I discovered this amazing website (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/A_Song_of_Ice_and_Fire) which gives detailed profiles on every character and what happens to them in each book. I think this will come in handy when the next book is released as I’m sure I’ll forget what has happened to some characters by then.

Spoilers/Theories
The best thing about finishing A Song of Fire and Ice so far is that I can speak to my friend about theories as to what might happen next *geeks*. I did have one OMG moment in the last Jon Snow chapter as I genuinely did not see it coming, don’t worry he is alive (we hope!). In the earlier books I had an idea about Gendry, one of Robert’s bastard sons, and how maybe he would come to play a bigger role in the narrative, but as of yet he has failed to make a huge impact. Both my friend and I think Jon Snow is actually Lyanna Stark’s son with Rhaegar Targaryen, but my friend thinks we will then marry Danyeres and rule the Seven Kingdoms. I’m not too sure. She also has an interesting theory about who the three dragons represent and something involving Tyrion which I never thought about. Only time will tell I guess.

Mostly I am relieved I have finished the series before the TV show starts again. I had a nightmare avoiding spoilers in the past, so at least now I don’t need to worry about that. And I can finally watch series three and four.

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A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust

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Title: A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
Author: George. R. R. Martin
Published: 2011
Challenges: None
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust is the fifth instalment in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series and this is Part One of the novel. It is very confusing when I try and explain to people that I am reading book five in the series but it is the sixth physical book I have read (I think!). This novel focuses on The North and the lands beyond Westeros, which means it focuses on some of my favourite characters, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Jon has been made the 998th commander of The Wall and is torn between his fellow Brothers, the Wildings who survived the battle at The Wall and King Stannis and his Red Woman. Tyrion has added ‘kinslayer’ to the list of names he has hurled at him and has fled to the East. Here he meets various characters-most of whom see through his disguise- and makes an interesting and potentially game changing discovery about the Targaryens. However when he is captured by Ser Jorah Mormont and knows he will soon be before Dany he isn’t quite as pleased. Dany is struggling to keep control of the cities she has freed from slavery, beginning to realise that freeing so many slaves and stopping trade has only served to make people angry. To add to matters her dragons are growing and getting uncontrollable. Plans are also afoot in The North with Roose Bolton being wed to ‘Arya Stark’ and planning to take control of Winterfell, with the help of Theon Turncloak. Beyond The Wall Bran and co have made it to the Three Eyed Crow and Bran, realising he will never walk again, discovers he can fly. And the book ends there, with only Jon appreciating the threat the wights have on the Kingdom and no one making any dramatic moves for The Iron Throne.

My Thoughts
It’s really hard to summarise the plot of any novel in A Song of Fire and Ice as they are so complex and you need to read them in order to fully appreciate and enjoy them. Add to that the fact I don’t want to drop any spoilers, especially as I loathe them whenever the TV series is being aired, you are left with an incredibly wooly synopsis of what happens. When I read A Feast for Crows at Christmas I moaned about the missing characters and wanting to know what they were up to and I felt much happier about this in this book. I feel a bit more understanding as to whyMartin divided the books in this way and because I knew what most of the characters around Kings Landing were up to I could fully enjoy this book.

Everything I want to say about this series I have already said. I’m not completely convinced where I think Martin is going with this, but I have one more (published) book in the series to read before I can properly think about this. I know my friend has already read all the books and has her own theories, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with her. A good read and now I’m debating whether or not to read the next book soon, or should I wait? Especially as Martin has revealed the next book will not be published in 2015.

A Feast For Crows

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Title: A Feast For Crows
Author: George R. R. Martin
Published: 2005
Challenges: None
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
The war for the Iron Throne is still raging through the Seven Kingdoms. The Lannisters have a king on the throne but their reign is by no means secure and there are many who are just waiting to see them fall. There are ever increasing signs that winter is well and truly on the way and with the corpses hanging from trees or floating down rivers at every turn, it is clear Westeros is a kingdom rife with uncertainty and devastation.

Ceresi Lannister is desperately trying to protect her young son, Tommen, the King. However with her allies gradually disappearing and her growing hatred towards the Tyrells and the young Queen, she is becoming increasingly more reckless in her actions. She has also severed ties with her twin, Jaime, who having lost his sword hand in the last novel, is trying his best to re-establish his authority by capturing Riverrun, despite his oath to Catelyn Stark to never harm a Tully or Stark. Sansa Stark is in hiding at The Eyrie masquerading as The Lord Protector’s daughter, the safest way to keep hidden from Cersei’s wrath. Her younger sister, Arya, has escaped the Seven Kingdoms and is attempting – unsuccessfully – to forge a life as a nobody away from the troubles she left behind. Brienne, is on a quest to find Sansa before Cersei’s spies find her. Samwell has left The Wall to protect Maester Aemon and to travel to the Citadel to become a Maester himself. Although obviously none of it is as simple as I make out, but then I am loathe to give away too many spoilers.

My Opinion
Those who read my blog regularly know that I am a huge fan of this series (A Song of Fire and Ice) and of my intentions to read the books before I watch anymore of the series. It was released over the weekend that Season Five starts in April, so I might try and read the following two books before then, as avoiding spoilers is so hard. However back to this book. A Feast For Crows has been my least favourite book in the series so far. Although it follows the same narrative style as the previous books, I found it difficult to follow in places and new characters were introduced who I didn’t quite understand/ care much about. I was also missing some of my favourite characters – Jon Snow and Tyrion in particular – although Martin does explain his reasons for excluding them from this book and they do make sense, I still missed them. As the fate of many characters have been left on cliffhangers, I have a few fears that they will be excluded from the next books and I will have to wait for the following book to be published before finding the answers to my questions, which will be so frustrating. I can only liken it to when the Harry Potter books were released.

That being said, I did of course enjoy the book and in particular I loved the hints as to what might happen next as this allowed me to start developing my own theories as to the fates of the different characters. Cersei is the character I have the most theories about, especially in terms of will she survive or not and how will she meet her fate. My friend has finished the series and has her own ideas, so I am looking forward to completing it myself and chatting with her. I am tempted to start re watching the TV series, well the two I have, just to see if there is anything else I have missed or any clues as to what will come, but that might have to wait.

A Feast For Crows is a vital part of the book series and obviously this is not a series you can read out of sequence, but it certainly wasn’t my favourite of the books so far. As always I look forward to reading the next book and seeing how the characters progress on their different journeys, but for the time being I think I need a mini break from ginormous reads and I am going to make a start on my TBR Pile 2015.

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold

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I LOVE George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, as do millions of other people. Having watched the first two series – after I had read the books – I decided I wasn’t going to watch any more of the TV show until I had read all the books. As I have mentioned before the hardest thing about this little mission of mine is avoiding any spoilers when the new series is being aired and so far I have been pretty successful with this. Due to my desire to avoid spoilers this review won’t be very long and won’t contain any spoilers as I truly think people should discover this amazing and epic series for themselves.

A Storm of Swords 2 picks up where the last one ended and the problem I had with this is I couldn’t quite remember what had happened to each character at the end of the last book. All this has done is highlighted that I need to read the books closer together. The battle for Westeros is still raging, with several challengers to the throne, all of who, have their armies and their enemies. Across the ocean, Daenerys is quietly gathering her own army and raising her dragons, biding her time, waiting to strike for the Iron Throne. Whilst everyone is fighting for the right to rule they are neglecting the North and most importantly the growing dangers of what lies beyond The Wall.

I could wax lyrically for paragraph upon paragraph as to how much I love Martin’s writing and how engrossed I become in the books, but I do that every review and I think it might be getting a little boring now. This is a hefty book with over 500 pages but I sped through it in a couple of days. Yes, I had the advantage of being on half term, but I also credit a lot of it with the style of writing, the gripping narrative and the engaging characters you genuinely want to know more about.

For now I am going to make a start on my Australia reading for AusReadingMonth but I am determined to read the next book in the series before Christmas. If you haven’t read any of the books or watched any of the TV show Game of Thrones I strongly recommend that you do, although obviously I would urge you to start with the books.

A Storm of Swords: Part One

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A Storm of Swords is the third book in George R.R.Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, probably made most famous by the TV show Game of Thrones. As far as I can work out, book three is divided into two parts and as the more switched on of you will notice, this is Part One. It is hard to write about this book and discuss it unless you have read the first two in the series, something I strongly recommend as they are amazing.

A Storm of Swords picks up where the last books ended, after the fiery Battle of the Blackwater. There is still the fight for the Iron Throne, with Robb Stark, Stannis and Joffrey all planning their next move. Everyone seems to be preoccupied with the battle for Westeros and building strong connections with other powerful families, thus paying little attention to what is happening across the sea, where Daenerys is building her army, led by the dragons, or to beyond The Wall where Wildings and The Others are creeping ever closer to the Seven Kingdoms.

I love this book series. It is so easy to become engrossed in the world Martin has created and to be swept along with all the various characters on their journeys, some to victory, some to be reunited with their families and some to protect the realm. As I have mentioned in my reviews on the first two books, one of my favourite things about this series is the narrative style. Each chapter focuses on a different character and they nearly always end on a cliffhanger and you have to wait a few chapters to find out what happens next. A clever narrative style for sure and one that ensures I just want to read non stop. In comparison to the previous books I don’t feel as though much ‘big’ action takes place in A Storm of Swords: Part One however I am assuming that is because it is coming in the next part and because sometimes you need to lay the ground work for the next plot twist.

With great long reads such as this one and with ones where I have the actual book it is very rare that I turn down pages to earmark quotes, however this once I did. The quote just made me think about why I love reading and rereading.

‘Sometimes Old Nan would tell the same story she’d told before, but we never minded if it was a good story. Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit them from time to time.’

A brilliant read and I am so glad I have managed to avoid the third and fourth series of the TV show and any potential spoilers as I am absolutely determined to read the books first. My housemate even has series three in the flat at the moment and I am being very strict with myself and keeping away. I do really want to start Part Two right now, but I also need to read something for school and I’m rubbish at reading two books at once.

Challenges

A Storm of Swords counts for the year 2000 in my Reading the Twentieth Century challenge ;

A Clash of Kings

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I finally finished the second installment in George R.R.Martin’s epic Song of Fire and Ice series, which not only means that I can watch the second series of Game of Thrones but that I am desperate to read the next book. I shall try and write this review with as few spoilers as possible, but apologies if one creeps in.

A Clash of Kings picks up where the first book ends, with havoc spreading across Westros, a vicious fight for the Iron Throne and the growing fear that Winter is well and truly on its way. There are four contenders for the throne: a northern king, two brothers who both think they are the legitimate heir and the ‘son’ of the previous king. All four are determined to succeed at any cost and a great many battles, defeats and triumphs ensue. Needless to say the fight is still raging at the end of the novel, although some of the contenders are certainly out of the race. As with the first novel each chapter of A Clash of Kings focuses on a different character, mainly the Stark family. The Stark children, the five legitimate ones and Jon Snow ‘the bastard’ are divided across the country and throughout the novel we read of their personal struggles to get back home, protect their home and family or aid in protecting the Kingdom from what lies beyond The Wall. Other key characters from the previous novel also return and we glimpse the lives of Tyrion Lannister the Imp, Theon Greyjoy, the Starks former ward and Daenerys Targaryen, the young Mother of the Dragons who fled from Westros after her family were slaughtered, who hopes to return one day.

My short synopsis does not do the novel or the series any justice at all as it is an incredible, epic read and I feel it will continue to be one of my favourites throughout the next few years. I have spoken before of my admiration of Martin’s writing style and easy it is to become engaged and immersed in the world he has created. I have a love/hate relationship with the chapter style; I love how we get an insight into each character’s life, but I hate the cliffhanger endings that leave me desperate to read on and get to the next chapter for that character. I feel this narrative style is what makes such a long, long novel an easy and engaging read as the action is constantly moving and you don’t get any boring overkill on what a certain character is up to during the day etc.

As with any great read there were lots of shocking moments and cliffhangers. I always try and end my reading at the end of a chapter and I know I was crazy shocked at one point regarding some sudden deaths that I just couldn’t put the book down, despite knowing I needed to sleep. As with the first book it was a real ‘no, I can’t have just read that’ moment, that I wanted to keep reading to prove myself wrong. And did I? Well you will have to read it yourself. I’m sure those who have read the book will know exactly what I am talking about. Perhaps if there was one thing I felt the book was lacking is that we didn’t see a lot of Daenerys and I am quite keen to see how her character will progress.

I am as eager as ever to read the next book, but I think it might have to wait in line as I have a whole stack of books that have been gathering dust on the to be read pile that I must see to first. On the plus side, I have the second series still to watch, so if I get Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms I know exactly what to do.

Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones is set in the fictional world of the Seven Kingdoms, a fantastical world where summer can last a lifetime and winter twice as long and ten times as harsh. Eddard Stark is Lord of Winterfell and is expecting an imminent visit from his old friend Robert Baratheon, King and Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and the one who sits on the Iron Throne. The King’s visit sparks of a chain of events spanning the whole of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands to the East, affecting all families and dynasties throughout the world and an epic fight for the Iron Throne. Whilst this battle rages in the South in an age of never ending summer, there are signs in the North that winter is gradually creeping closer to the 400ft Wall that separates the two areas and bringing with it an evil not seen before in the Seven Kingdoms.

I have a confession to make; I watched the first series of Game of Thrones before I read the book! Tut tut! Everyone I knew seemed to be talking about it and I was beginning to feel as though I was missing something so I borrowed the boxset from a friend of mine. I was hooked! I whizzed through seven episodes over the course of one weekend I was so addicted. Even when I said ‘oh I’ll just watch this one episode’ I couldn’t help moving on to the next. If a TV show can grab my attention that quickly I think it is only fair that I give the books a try.

I always say that fantasy really isn’t my genre but I feel myself becoming more and more engaged with it as I get older and I am pleased to say that I still feel this way and that I loved reading Game of Thrones. It is an epic read of nearly 800 pages and yet from the moment I picked it up I did not feel intimidated by its size or worried that I would lose interest. I was hooked from the beginning and even though I had watched the first series recently I did not feel disengaged or that there was no point reading the book because I already knew what happened. In fact I felt the complete opposite and I loved the fact that I knew what was going to happen next as I liked discovering how different events were captured in the book as opposed to the TV show.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that made this such an enjoyable and easy going read is that each chapter is from the perspective of a different character and this is how the story develops and how key events unfold. Most chapters then end on a mini cliffhanger so you are keen to return to different characters’ journeys. It is hard to choose a favourite character from the array Martin creates, but Tyrion Lannister is certainly one of the most memorable. Tyrion is the second son of Lord Tywin and brother of the Queen. However he is a dwarf and therefore has always been marginalised and treated with contempt and suspicion by all he meets, including his own family. Despite this Tyrion displays a keen sense of loyalty and honour to his family throughout and also brings humour to the story.

Martin has created a hugely fascinating and complicated world with a history spanning hundreds of years and a map of characters as intriguing as it is complicated. This sounds like a recipe for a heavy going read, yet it is delightfully easy to engage with and become engrossed in right from the first chapter. I am incredibly keen to read the second instalment and I am determined to do so before I watch the second series; this would be much easier if my brother didn’t keep messaging me to tell me how amazing the second series is. I take credit for introducing Game of Thrones to him as I bought it as a birthday present. I am off to Devon for a week tomorrow and I am so tempted to buy book two to take with me, however I have already packed five books and I should probably get started on my Jane Austen reading for Austen in August. Either way I am eager to return to Martin’s writing and see what happens next in the battle for the Iron Throne.