A Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust – George R.R. Martin

Outside, the night was white as death; pale thin clouds danced attendance on a silver moon, while a thousand stars watched coldly. He could see the humped shapes of other huts buried beneath drifts of snow, and beyond them the pale shadow of a weirwood armored in ice. To the south and west the hills were a vast white wilderness where nothing moved except the blowing snow. “Thistle,” Varamyr called feebly, wondering how far she could have gone.
“Thistle. Woman. Where are you?”
Far away, a wolf gave howl.

It was about half way through A Feast For Crows that I realised Tyrion seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth, and Jon, and Daenerys but I needn’t have worried, Martin didn’t forget about them, he just didn’t have room.
So we kick off here, Tyrion is being put up by Illyrio Mopatis, the same Illyrio who took in Viserys and Daenerys back in book one (remember that one?), he seems a very charitable chap. Soon though Illyrio sends him on his way, meeting up with none other than a young Prince Aegon! Who has appeared out of absolutely nowhere. However he’s not with Aegon long before he’s bundled off by none other than Jorah Mormont, who intends to take him to the Queen. They are joined on their trip by Penny, whose antics on the back of a dog Tyrion remembers from Joffrey’s wedding.

Back at the wall, Jon Man’s up, holds his ground against the niggardly old Stannis and executes Janos Slynt (bravo!). He’s determined to hold the wall for the extremely slow in coming winter, as well as keep an eye on his back for the Wildlings who have been allowed to settle on The Gift. Lucky for him Stannis’s Lady in Red is hanging around to help him, as is Mance Ryder. Yep, Mance, who Stannis ordered burned alive is in fact, still alive, and not burnt, but disguised cleverly as Rattleshirt.

Across Slavers bay Daenerys is having problems of her own. She’s horny, she’s had to lock up her dragons (well two of them, the other one cleared off) and her city is in the midst of a bloody guerilla war from rebellious subjects. Apparently she needs to take a husband, and not just for the her first problem, apparently this will also help with the second one as well. And, what do you know, she has two hopefuls on their way! The aforementioned Prince Aegon, who luckily doesn’t have to worry about being related to her because that’s all good if you have dragon blood. But he’s not the only one, Quentyn Martell, the Dornish prince betrothed in secret by others to Daenerys, only he ends up marching to her in an army that is against her. A lack of planning is what that is. Let’s see how it goes, they could both be in luck, the dragon has three heads.

Bran meanwhile is still with Cold Hands and his Elk, until the Elk collapses with cold but he does finally meet the Three Eyed Crow who promises to teach him how to fly, which seemingly involves being underground having a tree grow through you.

We are introduced to Reek, who in fact we have met before, he is now a pet of Ramsay Bolton and helps deliver Moat Cailin from the Iron Men, his own people, before giving away Arya in marriage to Ramsay.
Davos, the Hand without a full hand, fares even less well, when his work as an Envoy ends up costing him his life. The blunt and honest ex smuggler was one of the few genuinely good characters in the book, it makes sense that he had to be killed off at some point, see Ned Stark. But wait, no it doesn’t! Wyman Manderly knows that Bran and Rickon are still alive! He knows where they have gone and wants Davos to find them, I expect we’ll see Davos again in book forty one.

At the end Tyrion’s ship is rescued by a slaver, we can hazard a guess at what happens there, but then again Martin is not one for a straightforward plot line. The series is now an epic, vast in terms of the world it inhabits, with a spaghetti jumble of plot lines and intrigues that Martin weaves with an adept skill. Just when you think he has forgotten about something that started a few books ago, it reappears. When I started I thought the whole series had finished, it’s only as I’ve been reading and paying more attention to it that I realised it’s no where near finished, so I should probably take my time with the last one, while I wait for book six.

“Three corns and one roast raven,” said Dolorous Ed. “Very good, m’lord, only Hobb’s made boiled eggs, black sausage, and apples stewed with prunes. The apples stewed with prunes are excellent, except for the prunes. I won’t eat Prunes myself. Well, there was one time when Hobb chopped them up with chestnuts and carrots and hid them in a hen. Never trust a cook, my lord. They’ll prune you when you least expect it.”


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