A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons

Overview
A Dance with Dragons is the fifth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. Martin began writing the series in 1991 and the first volume was published in 1996. Originally planned as a trilogy, the series now consists of five published volumes; a further two...

by American author George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin
George Raymond Richard Martin , sometimes referred to as GRRM, is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his bestselling series of epic fantasy novels that HBO adapted for their dramatic pay-cable series Game of...

.

A Dance with Dragons was originally intended to be the title of the second novel in the sequence, when Martin still envisioned the series as a trilogy
Trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

. Some early US editions of A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones is the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on 6 August 1996. The novel won the 1997 Locus Award, and was nominated for both the 1998 Nebula Award and the 1997 World Fantasy Award...

(1996) list A Dance of Dragons as the forthcoming second volume in the series.
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Encyclopedia
A Dance with Dragons is the fifth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. Martin began writing the series in 1991 and the first volume was published in 1996. Originally planned as a trilogy, the series now consists of five published volumes; a further two...

by American author George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin
George Raymond Richard Martin , sometimes referred to as GRRM, is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his bestselling series of epic fantasy novels that HBO adapted for their dramatic pay-cable series Game of...

.

A Dance with Dragons was originally intended to be the title of the second novel in the sequence, when Martin still envisioned the series as a trilogy
Trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

. Some early US editions of A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones is the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on 6 August 1996. The novel won the 1997 Locus Award, and was nominated for both the 1998 Nebula Award and the 1997 World Fantasy Award...

(1996) list A Dance of Dragons as the forthcoming second volume in the series. The 1998 anthology Legends
Legends (book)
Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy is a collection of 11 novellas by a number of noteworthy fantasy authors, edited by Robert Silverberg. All the stories were original to the collection, and set in the authors' established fictional worlds...

, which features the novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

 The Hedge Knight from the same universe, lists A Dance of Dragons as the fourth installment of the series. Like the previous four volumes in the Ice and Fire series, the book includes a lengthy appendix, with the volume running a total of 1,022 pages.

On March 3, 2011, publishing imprint Bantam Spectra
Bantam Spectra
Bantam Spectra is the science-fiction division of Bantam Books, which is owned by Random House.According to their website, Spectra publishes "science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative novels from recognizable authors" Spectra authors have collectively won 31 such awards in the fields of...

 announced that the novel would be released on July 12, 2011. Martin delivered the manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 to his editor on April 27, 2011; however, as early as 2006, Martin made sample chapters available on his website and at Amazon.co.uk. Additionally, the German branch of Amazon.com (Amazon.de) released a reported 180 copies two weeks early by mistake. The US hardcover
Hardcover
A hardcover, hardback or hardbound is a book bound with rigid protective covers...

 was officially published on July 12, 2011, having gone back to press for six printings (totaling more than 650,000 copies) prior to the 1,000+ page novel being available; 298,000 copies in print, digital, and audio formats were sold that first day alone, becoming publishing giant Random House
Random House
Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

's biggest book of 2011 and a runaway bestseller. The book was the second in the series to debut at the #1 position on the New York Times bestseller list. A few weeks after publication, A Dance With Dragons went on to be #1 on both Publisher's Weekly and USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

 Bestsellers lists.

Plot introduction


Set in a fictitious world reminiscent of Medieval Eurasia in which magic exists and the seasons can last for many years, A Song of Ice and Fire follows the violent dynastic struggles of an empire in turmoil. A Dance with Dragons continues the events of A Storm of Swords
A Storm of Swords
A Storm of Swords is the third of seven planned novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on 8 August 2000 in the United Kingdom, with a United States edition following in November 2000...

(2000), the third novel in the series. The first part of the book runs concurrently with that of its predecessor, A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows is the fourth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin...

(2005), while the second half gives a resolution to some of the storylines begun in A Feast for Crows.

Synopsis


The War of the Five Kings in Westeros
Westeros
The fictional world in which the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin take place is divided into several continents. Most of the story takes place on the continent Westeros, which consists of the Seven Kingdoms and an unmapped area to the north, separated by a massive wall of...

 seems to be winding down. In the North, King Stannis Baratheon has installed himself at the Wall and attempts to win the support of the northmen. This is complicated by the fact that the Lannisters have installed Roose Bolton of House Bolton (loyal to the Iron Throne) as Warden of the North, and much of the west coast is under occupation by the Ironborn. On the advice of Jon Snow, Stannis seeks and receives the support of the hill clans and captures Deepwood Motte from Asha Greyjoy. He then chooses to march south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell, but his army becomes snowbound.

On the Wall itself, Jon Snow has been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but the young man has enemies both in the Watch and beyond the Wall. After making a peace with the wildlings, he lets them through in large numbers to reinforce the Wall against the Others. The Red Priestess Melisandre shares many of her visions with Jon, telling him repeatedly that he has enemies in the Watch and warning him of daggers in the dark. Her prophecy comes to fruition when Jon is attacked by his Brothers and stabbed several times. The narrative closes with Jon losing consciousness.

Meanwhile, having killed his father Tywin, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister is smuggled to Pentos by Varys where he is sheltered by Magister Illyrio. Tyrion is sent south, on which journey it is revealed Varys and Illyrio have hidden the supposedly-dead prince Aegon Targaryen, with the intention of reinstating him as the rightful King of Westeros. After travelling with Aegon halfway across Essos, Tyrion is kidnapped by Jorah Mormont, who intends to deliver him to Daenerys. Later, Tyrion and Jorah are shipwrecked and sold by slavers to a Yunkish merchant as a part of a jousting dwarf grotesquerie. After reaching Meereen, Tyrion escapes in the mass confusion of the plague ravaging the Yun'kai army, and signs on with the Second Sons mercenary group and plans to switch their support to Daenerys.

In the far east, Daenerys Targaryen, believed by most to be the sole heir of House Targaryen, has conquered the city of Meereen, but struggles to maintain peace within the city and prevent military defeat at the hands of her many enemies. Daenerys marries the noble Hizdahr zo Loraq, hoping this will stop a series of insurrectionist murders and avert a planned attack by Yunkai and Volantis. The fighting pits are opened shortly after the wedding. Daenerys happens to avoid an attempt to poison her with honeyed locusts kept in her private box at the fighting pits. The games are interrupted when Daenerys' black dragon (Drogon) attacks the fighting pits. Daenerys climbs on Drogon who flies away from the chaos in the pit. Afterwards, Barristan Selmy removes Hizdahr from power when he is implicated in attempt to poison Daenerys. Having ventured across the world in a failed attempt to marry Daenerys, Quentyn Martell, Prince of Dorne, attempts to steal one of other dragons to bring back to Westeros. Instead, he suffers fatal burns and both dragons are unleashed upon the city. Meanwhile Drogon flies Daenerys to the Dothraki Sea where Dany eventually encounters the khalasar of Khal Jhaqo.

Aegon Targaryen lands in Westeros with the Golden Company, a mercenary army in order to recover the Iron Throne. Varys, still in King's Landing, steals in and murders Kevan Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle. Revealing his support for Aegon, and that Kevan was shoring up Tommen's power base, Varys declares that with Tommen back in Cersei's control, the kingdoms of Westeros will spend their strength fighting each other while Aegon prepares to conquer the Seven Kingdoms.

Characters


The story is narrated from the point of view
Point of view (literature)
The narrative mode is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the narrative, occurs because of the narrative mode...

 of 18 different characters, including two minor one-off point-of-view (POV) characters featured in the prologue and epilogue. All but two POV characters were identified before the book's release.

In the North:
  • Varamyr Sixskins (prologue), a skinchanger and one of the surviving wildlings north of the Wall.
  • Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and bastard son of Eddard Stark.
  • Bran Stark, rightful heir to his brother, the late Robb Stark. Seeking an old power beyond the Wall, believed dead by his own family.
  • Davos Seaworth, former smuggler and Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon. Has recently learned his letters.
  • Reek, The Prince of Winterfell, The Turncloak, A Ghost in Winterfell: Theon Greyjoy, presumed-dead son of recently deceased King Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, a captive of Ramsay Bolton and now tortured, starved and barely sane.
  • The Wayward Bride, The King's Prize, The Sacrifice: Asha Greyjoy, niece of King Euron Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, lately fled from the isles.
  • Lady Melisandre, a mysterious shadow-binder from Asshai and a devoted priestess to the red god R'hllor, advisor to Stannis.


In the eastern continent of Essos:
  • Daenerys Targaryen, heir to the Targaryen dynasty which ruled Westeros for 300 years until their deposition 15 years before the first novel. Self-proclaimed Queen of Westeros, she now rules the city of Meereen.
  • Tyrion Lannister, dwarf and uncle to the King Tommen of Westeros
    Westeros
    The fictional world in which the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin take place is divided into several continents. Most of the story takes place on the continent Westeros, which consists of the Seven Kingdoms and an unmapped area to the north, separated by a massive wall of...

    , a fugitive wanted for kinslaying and regicide. Recently fled the Seven Kingdoms.
  • The Merchant's Man, The Windblown, The Spurned Suitor, The Dragontamer: Quentyn Martell, eldest son of Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, traveling into the East on a mission for his father.
  • The Lost Lord, The Griffin Reborn: Jon Connington, one of the former Hands of the King to Aerys Targaryen and one of Prince Rhaegar's closest friends. Exiled, and falsely believed dead. His identity as a narrator was kept secret throughout the book's pre-release process.
  • The Queensguard, The Discarded Knight, The Kingbreaker, The Queen's Hand: Ser Barristan Selmy, the former Lord Commander of Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, and the first of Daenerys's Queensguard.
  • The Iron Suitor: Victarion Greyjoy, Captain of the Iron fleet, recently gone on a quest to find Daenerys and use her for the Ironborn's own ends.
  • The Blind Girl, The Ugly Little Girl: Arya Stark, hiding in the Free City of Braavos, where she has taken on the identity of the "Cat of the Canals" and continues her training as an assassin by the House of Black and White (The Faceless Men).


In the South:
  • The Watcher: Areo Hotah, Captain of Doran Martell's guard.
  • Ser Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard; currently occupying Riverrun.
  • Cersei Lannister, the Queen Regent, currently imprisoned in a tower cell, awaiting trial.
  • Ser Kevan Lannister (epilogue), head of House Lannister in light of his brother's death, and current regent
    Regent
    A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

     to King Tommen. His identity as a narrator was kept secret throughout the book's pre-release process.


Chapters for several POVs, which may include Sansa Stark, Samwell Tarly, Aeron Damphair, Arianne Martell, and Brienne of Tarth were written for the book, but they will instead tentatively appear in the next book, The Winds of Winter
The Winds of Winter
The Winds of Winter is the sixth novel in the award-winning epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. It takes place after the concurrent fourth and fifth books in the series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons .-Characters:By June 2010, Martin had finished four...

.

Map


The book includes a new map of the previously unmapped area of the Free Cities on the eastern continent (in addition to maps published in previous books).

Split in publication


According to Martin, his manuscript for the fourth novel in the series had become too large to publish in a single volume. Rather than simply split it in half and publish it as essentially "Part 1" and "Part 2," Martin decided to split the book by character and location. Published in 2005, A Feast for Crows is narrated primarily by characters in the South of the Seven Kingdoms and in the new locations of the Iron Islands and Dorne. A Dance with Dragons features characters in the North and across the narrow sea, although Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark and Victarion and Asha Greyjoy appear in both volumes.

Approximately one-third of the published A Dance with Dragons consists of material that had been written for the pre-split A Feast for Crows, although much of this has been rewritten by Martin.

In 2009, Martin confirmed that, contrary to earlier statements, Sansa Stark would not appear in A Dance with Dragons; Sansa chapters initially slated for the novel have instead been pushed back to The Winds of Winter
The Winds of Winter
The Winds of Winter is the sixth novel in the award-winning epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. It takes place after the concurrent fourth and fifth books in the series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons .-Characters:By June 2010, Martin had finished four...

, which is planned to be the sixth book in the series. In early 2010, Martin noted that his intent for A Dance with Dragons was for the first 800 manuscript pages to cover the alternate characters in the same time span as A Feast for Crows, and that "Everything that follows is post-Feast, so that's where some of the cast from the last book start popping up again." Stating that "I wanted to resolve at least a few of the cliffhangers from Feast," Martin also mentioned the possibility that some of his finished chapters might get pushed to the next novel, The Winds of Winter, depending on the length of the finished manuscript for A Dance with Dragons.

Road to publication


Despite original, optimistic predictions of possible completion in late 2006, Martin finally completed the novel in April 2011, nearly five years later. During this period, Martin's blog featured sporadic updates on his progress, and in January 2008 he posted an update affirming his vigilant commitment to finishing the novel. In early 2008, publisher Spectra Books (a division of Random House
Random House
Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

) announced that A Dance with Dragons would be released on September 30, 2008, but Martin stated this would only be possible if he finished writing by the end of June, before his trip to Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

; he did not meet his goal.

On February 19, 2009, Martin posted on his website: "I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A Dance with Dragons will likely be published in September or October." On June 22, 2009, the author expressed "guarded optimism" with respect to his progress on the novel, while still not confirming a publication date. When asked in a July 2009 interview with FREE! Magazine how the book was going, Martin stated, "It is going pretty well, actually. I am hoping to finish it by September or October; that is my goal." On October 6, 2009, Martin said that his working manuscript for A Dance With Dragons had just exceeded 1,100 pages of completed chapters, plus "considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs." He noted that this made the upcoming novel longer than his earlier books A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones is the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on 6 August 1996. The novel won the 1997 Locus Award, and was nominated for both the 1998 Nebula Award and the 1997 World Fantasy Award...

and A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows is the fourth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin...

, and nearly as long as A Clash of Kings
A Clash of Kings
A Clash of Kings is the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin expected to consist of eight volumes. It was first published on 16 November 1998 in the United Kingdom, although the first United States edition did not follow until March...

.

On March 2, 2010, Martin remarked that he had reached 1,311 manuscript pages, making Dance the second-longest novel in the series at that point, behind only the 1,521-page manuscript of A Storm of Swords. On July 8, 2010, Martin spoke at a conference and confirmed the current length of the book to be 1,400 manuscript pages. He expressed his disappointment that he was unable to completely finish the novel by the conference, although he would not speculate how soon the book would be completed after his return home on July 11. At the same conference, Martin also confirmed that he has written one Sansa, one Arya, and two Arianne chapters for the planned sixth novel, Winds of Winter, and had transferred two Cersei chapters from that book into A Dance with Dragons. On August 7, 2010, Martin confirmed that he had completed eight POVs, excluding the prologue and epilogue.

At the New York Comic Con on October 10, 2010, Spectra senior editor Anne Groell announced that Martin had only five chapters remaining to finish, with sections of the chapters already completed. She stated her desire to have the manuscript completed by December. In a December 2010 interview with Bear Swarm, Martin stated that he almost had A Dance With Dragons completed.

On March 3, 2011, the publisher announced that the novel, though at that point still not completed, would be officially published on July 12, 2011. Martin claimed this July 2011 publication date was different from the previous publication dates mentioned, in that this was "real," as opposed to earlier "wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, [and] honest mistakes". On March 12, he revealed that the unfinished manuscript had exceeded A Storm of Swords in length, making it the longest volume in the entire series. On March 27, he announced that the manuscript had exceeded 1,600 pages. On April 27, 2011, it was announced that Martin had completed A Dance with Dragons. Almost a month later, on May 20, 2011, Martin further announced that after incorporating requested changes made by his book editor and her staff copy-editors, suggested final draft notes from trusted friends, and his own final "sweat" (a line-by-line reread done to tighten and eliminate any unnecessary "fat" remaining in the manuscript), that the final draft had been reduced to 1,510 pages; this made Dragons the second-longest novel, by a narrow margin, to volume three, A Storm of Swords. The novel was now ready to meet its announced July 12, 2011 release date.

On June 29, 2011, Martin announced that Amazon Germany had mistakenly released 180 copies of the novel early and requested that those who held copies not spoil the book for fans who had to wait. Several A Song of Ice and Fire websites put an embargo in place on their forums with the same intent.

External links

of author George R. R. Martin
  • Review by Tom Shippey
    Tom Shippey
    Thomas Alan Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several scholarly studies. He is widely considered one of the leading academic scholars...

     at the Wall Street Journal