"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one."
This series of books alone, with its vast array of characters, offers a reader hundreds of lives: lords, princes, queens, whores, fools, pawns, swordsmen, witches, holymen.
A Dance with Dragons, book five of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice. This series has been quite the unexpected 5000-page diversion for me these last few months. I'd planned on reading all sorts of things this summer. Instead I found myself embroiled in the politics of Westeros.
I've been reading it sunny days on the boat, rainy days curled up on the sofa, late into the night, with my morning coffee. Sure, I read a few smaller novels alongside these, but the world of A Song of Fire and Ice has sprawled across my summer.
The standout book for me is book three (A Storm of Swords), but each of them has its key events and players and shifting tides.
A Dance with Dragons had a lot of hype to live up to. I'm disappointed that this book had almost nothing about Arya, whose storyline and current circumstances I find most intriguing. There's little about Cersei and Jaime, nothing of Sansa or Sam. But instead Martin returns us to Tyrion and Jon, whose respective stories had been ignored in book four. One thing I dislike about this book is the new trick of naming chapters coyly (for example, The King's Prize, or The Blind Girl) instead of owning up immediately to the character perpective being taken as has been the tradition so far. But I guess the suspense ultimately pays off.
I'm devastated that certain people die.
The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife. Summer dug up a severed arm, black and covered with hoarfrost, its fingers opening and closing as it pulled itself across the frozen snow. There was still enough meat on it to fill his empty belly, and after that was done he cracked the arm bones for the marrow. Only then did the arm remember it was dead.
This series is addictive. The world is detailed, the characters (most of them) are fully three-dimensional. Life here is ethically complicated. There are bits that drag, but Martin always kept me wanting to know what happened next. I'm already looking forward to The Winds of Winter.