The Seven Kingdoms is still out of balance as many still try to conquer and control it, however, there are threats in every direction to those who seek this control, especially from those they consider their allies. And on The Wall Jon Snow tries to protect the south from the horrors that live beyond the wall which threaten the Seven Kingdoms as well. This Dance with dragons, is going to be chess game where there wrong move will lose you the kingdom and probably your life as well.
This book occurs at the same time as book four in the series. My understanding is that Martin did not think that he could do all of the characters and plot line justice if he only had one book at this moment of time in the series. Therefor, we get a little bit of a repeat from the previous book but told from a different point of view. So while I may not have enjoyed the repeating parts as you know what was going to happen (and what is going on), I appreciated that they were from a different point of view and a different perspective.
This book was also more political than the previous books. There are no real major battles, deaths or weddings that take place therefore, this book is much more about the cat and mouse game, however, it is in the cat and mouse game (this seems to be true for basically all the characters within the book) is where you will find the most shocking points in this book (I really do not want to spoil them but lets say they are big). That said due to the fact that this book is a cat and mouse game it does tend to drag on a bit and feel very slow at times.
Tyrion has always been one of my favourite character, and I think that is probably true for most of the readers of this series. However, I got tired of how many times Tyrion would ask "Where do whores go"? This questions was asked multiple times when there were sections from Tyrion's point of view and I mean multiple. I do not think there was a section in this book where he does not ask it. I just found that Tyrion was more whiny in this book and I missed the whit that he had presented and became known for in the previous books. I will say that the further you get in the book the old Tyrion does come back at times, I just wish he was there throughout.
I really liked that we finally got to find out with happened to Theon (Reek) as it has been awhile since Winterfell and his betrayal of the people he once called family, The Starks. It was interesting to see the degradation in his character and the darkness that Martin inserted into this part of the book. The tortures that he must have suffered were great but you can still see the "real" Theon underneath it all and what he thinks is owed to him.
While I a few parts of this book did not live up to the previous installments in this series, I think every reader who has made it through all the books is anxiously awaiting in the next book in the series to see where Martin takes the characters and well with the cliffhangers of the last two books in the series. I know I feel the need to read on. I'm just glad I have not been waiting the six years like some people have been (well I hope I do not have to wait six years).
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