Painfully spoiler-free book review: “A Dance with Dragons”

Joseph Conner, Copy Editor

After six long years, “A Dance with Dragons” exploded onto the marketplace, debuting at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. The fifth installment in George R. R. Martin’s epic series “A Song of Ice and Fire” proved to be worth the years spent waiting for it.

The saga recently gained popularity after being adapted for TV as the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” which returns to television for season 2 in spring 2012.

Shortly before midnight on July 11, I was notified that my pre-ordered copy of ADWD was available for download from the iBooks store.  After the long, torturous minutes spent waiting for it to download to my iPad, it finished, and from that moment, ADWD gripped me, barely allowing me to put it down long enough to use the bathroom (let alone work!).

A week later, I emerged from this immense and bloody web of conclusions and cliffhangers completely exhausted, emotionally distressed, and greedily unsated.

Martin, ever true to form, further develops these gargantuan, four-books-in-the-makingplots brimming with hope, lies, deceit and unfortunate events, allowing them to be only partially resolved but in a blunt and brutal fashion, treating the extensive cast with the ruthlessness that Martin’s fans have learned to expect (and prepare themselves for emotionally).

The timeline of ADWD runs concurrently with the previous novel in the series, “A Feast for Crows.”  “Dance” and “Feast” were originally meant to be one novel, but, as he has been known to do, Martin wrote WAY too much.  He prepared a voluminous monstrosity that was too big to publish as one novel.  Rather than dividing the story chronologically, the two are divided geographically.

While this allows storylines to (not really) run their course, it also makes the presence of some favorite characters disappointingly scarce.

Near the end of the book, the two timelines converge, allowing the plot to come to a head before everything bursts.

For those who are not readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” I strongly recommend picking up a copy of the first installment, “A Game of Thrones,” as soon as possible.

The next installment in the series will be entitled “The Winds of Winter” and will be released at some unannounced time in the future.

“It is said that autumn kisses you, but winter fucks you hard.”  Judging by the maelstrom peaking across the horizon, “A Dance with Dragons” has been but the gentle kiss of autumn before a long, hard and rough winter.

If the past is any indication, it will be a several years before “Winter” hits the shelf, but one thing is certain: “Winter” is coming.