Over the course of the last few weeks, I have dragged myself through George R. R. Martin’s latest, A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in his Game of Thrones series.
I’m done. No more. I’m not reading any of his books any more.
It’s terrible. Martin has taken the concept of the pot-boiler to an extreme — it’s a novel where nothing happens other than continual seething, roiling turmoil. He whipsaws the reader through a dozen different, complex story lines where characters struggle to survive in a world wrecked by civil war — one other problem is that I’d hit a chapter about some minor character from the previous four books, and struggled to remember who the heck this person is, and why I’m supposed to care — and again, nothing is resolved. Well, not quite: major characters are brutally killed, if they’re male, and graphically and degradingly humiliated into irrelevance if they’re female. I guess that’s a resolution, all right — perhaps the last book will be a lovingly detailed description of a graveyard, draped with naked women mourning?
And all the death and destruction accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t further the plot, it doesn’t change any situations.
There is still a mysterious, supernatural menace lurking beyond the great wall to the North; but don’t worry about them, they do absolutely nothing in the entire book. That’s the problem with the undead: inertia. They just kind of lie there.