Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Dance With Dragons




** SPOILERS **

In July, I read the first half of George R.R. Martin's "A Dance With Dragons" and then put it aside. It's the last Game of Thrones/"A Song of Ice and Fire" novel we'll get from him for a couple of years (at least?), and it was 10 months away from season 2 on HBO.  Had to spread out the time I got to spend in Westeros.

Six months later, I finally read the second half of "A Dance With Dragons". As I tore through the final few chapters, my complaint was: "Where's the crazy shit?" I love these novels in no small part because of the crazy shit that happens towards the end. The Red Wedding/Joffrey's Wedding/The Red Viper's death/Zombie Catelyn is the apex of crazy shit. (No wonder "A Storm of Swords" is my favorite and the best book in the saga thus far.)

I feel like the Julius Caesar-like "death" of Jon Snow, the dragons' roasting of Quentyn Martell, and the arrow to the gut of Kevan Lannister was George R.R. Martin aping his own Greatest Hits checklist: "Let's see: I need to kill a male Stark (or the closest thing to), I need to kill a Martell who does something really stupid, and I need to kill a Lannister... but not any of the good Lannisters." 

Arya Stark continues to operate as if she's in an entirely different book, now 100% removed from everyone and everything else going on in Westeros/Across the Narrow Sea. So many all-stars are across the Narrow Sea - Daenerys, Tyrion, Arya - and you wait for them to encounter each other but they don't. Teeth gnashing commences.

Waited the entire book for Stannis Baratheon to stop building snow forts and seige Winterfell finally, but nope. A gruesome death for Ramsay and Roose Bolton is denied me. Gods, those two are pieces of shit. How many years must we wait before the satisfaction of seeing them die? On the other hand, poor Reek. Theon Greyjoy will probably never again have what you or I might consider a good, normal day. It's tough to be a Turncloak.

I did mark out for the return of Varys in the epilogue. I've always liked The Spider. However, the reveal of the hidden plot to restore the Targaryens to the Iron Throne -- I don't know. I kind of hate the reveal and existence of Aegon Targaryen being alive and groomed to rule in secret all this time. I always liked the idea that Daenerys was the last Targaryen. But then, she's still just a woman; she can't assume the Iron Throne some day without a man (dragons still won't be enough in Westeros laws.) So the potential is in place, if this whole series ends as I've always suspected and hoped for where everything comes full circle and the Targaryens are again ruling Westeros, to have Daenerys marry her nephew and rule the Seven Kingdoms.

Now, who is Ser Robert Strong, Cercei's secret helmed champion? I'm at a loss. Nor do I understand how no one knows who he is but he somehow got appointed a Knight of the Kingsguard. What did his resume and application say? "It says here you're Ser Robert Strong, hailing from... blank. The rest of your application is blank. Well, Ser Robert, welcome to the Kingsguard! King Tommen will be delighted to have you protect and defend His Grace."

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