In the late '70s, a great-great uncle died, leaving behind a house that hadn't been touched since approximately 1938. My mom and grandma attempted to clean it out before the wrecking ball came, and I spent an almost magical week with them that summer. It was stuffy, dusty, everything faded to become a living sepia photograph of the past. Outside were cars and pharmacies and neon; inside it was ancient rugs, yellowing prints in cracking frames, and appliances both monolith and quaint.
There was also a room full of books. I picked one up at random and started reading. Took it home. Kept reading. Became enchanted.
Jane Eyre. I didn't know books could even exist like this! I still have this copy, though it's best not to attempt to open it. There's no publisher's date inside, but it is very, very old. I treasure it. I've since read Jane Eyre a dozen or so times, and listened to it on audio book last summer. This contest over at The Fox is Black is making my heart sing.
Speaking of contests (in the most amiable and casual way), after a long hiatus, I decided to take a swing at Lily's Friday Prediction again. I hope I haven't overextended myself, but it seems to be okay so far. I like to keep up with commenting on others' entries, and if I can't, I won't participate. Anyway, my microflash, The Arsonist, is there for your perusal.
I finished GRRM'S A Dance With Dragons.
I finished it.
Aggravated. My jaw has dropped. I'm appalled. I'm hysterical with glee.
Was it worth the six year wait? I... oh, god... I think it was. And lord knows, I was one of those stamping my foot most impatiently.
In a review in my local paper about five years ago, the first of the series, A Game of Thrones, was given high marks but someone who admittedly does not like fantasy. I like fantasy, so I decided to give it a whirl. It immediately became (and still is) the best fantasy novel I've ever read. AGOT is amazing, and I wait for HBO's dvd of the series while, you know, stamping my foot. :)
The rest of the books, as so often is the case, are not quite as good as Game. And the last, A Feast for Crows, if you follow these sorts of things, is infamous in fan circles. It definitely left a sour taste in my mouth, and I was much displeased. I realize that GRRM had split one mammoth novel into Dance and Feast, but that didn't make it much better. Still, I was excited for Dance. Mostly because the title makes one think it will focus on Dany, my favorite character.
And it did. Thankfully. I sometimes get mightily bored by the doings of all these (male, it goes without saying) lords and knights in Westeros; give me a strong woman, a leader with a good heart and, you know, dragons. And an army of eunuchs and some cast-off, grizzled old knights. Yes. I love it.
And now... spoilers.
I can't complain about character POVs in Dance. Jon Snow, Dany and Tyrion get their due. So does the Onion Knight (YAWN) and Asha Greyjoy (pfft, don't care). And Bran is still toiling, now under the hills, with the dead outside and waiting as he learns from the being that is surely his predecessor.
And so does Theon.
No, I did not guess. My mind was scrambling through each of Reek's passages -- who was this? Who it could it be? I never once thought of Theon. So the reveal, well, it was a sit-up-and-gasp moment. Well done, Mr. Martin. I've been on the fence about Theon--I despise him, I'm fascinated. Still on the fence at the end of Dance, but man, I enjoyed his journey, even when I was repulsed by him. A mental challenge such as he faced is rare, in any book. I held my breath as he debated whether or not to jump with Jeyne -- and was surprised when he did. I look forward to more of Theon in the next book.
Which brings me to Ramsay Bolton. What a motherfucker. JFC. All I will say is this: The letter he sends to Jon Snow at the end was a jaw-dropper. He is clearly unhinged. Someone needs to separate his head from his shoulders, stat. Vile, vile, vile, with no possibility of salvation.
And after that letter? The book ends with a stabbing. I admit, I was sick to my stomach. I've been replaying the scene, and I can't see how Jon will live. While Martin has a reputation for killing off major and minor characters, beloved and hated characters, I'm not sure he really should do this. Like The Walking Dead, there is a character which seems to bind everything together. Jon Snow is Rick Grimes. Of course, Jon's death isn't spelled out, just the attack, so we'll see.
And that is also the book's only moment of un-reality, if you will. I am not really believing that Jon would react so rashly to that letter, and that he'd leave his post to answer what is essentially Bolton's name-calling.
Of course, I couldn't believe that Dany was in love with that sellsword, Daario, either. But I must admit that he has his charms. As Martin writes, young girls will choose the fire every time. I also wish she'd stuck to her guns and not re-opened the pits, but it happened. And if not for that, she wouldn't have found out that she can fly. Now, how to control a dragon? That is a question. "Remember who you are. The dragons know." I've been pondering this, and wondering what, exactly, it means.
Also pondering why Penny is still alive. Like the Onion Knight -- YAWN. And Jorah Mormont needs to get a personality. He and Griff are nearly one in the same.
All of this is to say that the book really came alive, and I remembered why I love Martin's writing so much. He's a great storyteller. Above, I've left out parts with Jaime and Cersei, that silly prince Quentyn Martell, Brown Ben Plumm, our little beloved Arya (No one!) and a host of others. There is so much meat here, you could chew on it for days.
If you haven't read any of them, start at the beginning and get hooked. If you've been waiting to pick up Dance, go and do it.