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A Dance With Dragons

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George R.R. Martin’s latest Song of Ice and Fire novel A Dance With Dragons hits bookstores Tuesday and publishers are expecting a blowout best-seller (it’s already at the top of Amazon’s Top 100). We’ve read the novel and answer 10 burning fan questions below.

Warning: There are mild spoilers below, like the sort of information contained in a typical book review. So if you’re really sensitive to, say, knowing what viewpoint characters are in Dance, what they’re up to at the very start of the book, and whether the book contains big shocks or not, do not read what’s below. Here we go:

Q: Can I read Dance With Dragons if I have only watched the HBO series Game of Thrones?

A: No. Please don’t do that to yourself. You will be totally confused and will have missed out on a ton of great storytelling. If fact, stop reading this post before you’re spoiled on which characters are still alive.

Is Dance better than Book 4?

Definitely. I’d rank the Ice and Fire series: 3>1>5>2>4.

What’s the most awesome thing about Dance?

Your favorite characters are back, and in abundance. Tyrion, Dany, and Jon Snow get a lot of chapters, plus one character returns unexpectedly and that story just might be the strongest (and most heartbreaking) in the bunch.

What’s the least satisfying thing about it?

There are a lot of meetings and traveling scenes, particularly in the first half. Also, characters are so separate from each other that Dance feels like several different stories rather than various perspectives on a cohesive tale like in the first few books. By the home stretch, however, the threads start to come together.

What are main characters doing at the start of the book?

Fugitive Tyrion is considering seeking out an alliance with a certain dragon queen. Dany wrestles with guerrilla attacks against her forces in Meereen. Jon Snow negotiates his future with Stannis and prepares his forces at The Wall for winter.

Do we get any new chapters that advance the stories of Book 4’s viewpoint characters, like Arya, Jaime, and Cersei?

Yup. Not a lot, but there’s some great stuff.

Are there any new viewpoint characters?

Yes, mainly a prince of Dorne who sets out to win the hand of Dany. Other characters get one or two chapters where we duck into their perspective along the way, but the book mostly focuses on Dany, Tyrion, Jon and that other unexpected character I mentioned.

Are there any huge shocks?

That would be a Yes. One scene in particular will haunt you.

Wait, does that mean there are major character deaths?

Not telling.

Does it have a great ending?

Hmm. Can you feel satisfied and still want more? You’ll blow through the 1,040 pages. There’s several cliffhangers that will leave you longing for Book 6. Whether that constitutes a great ending or not probably depends more on your expectations.

Read more:

EW interview: George R.R. Martin talks ‘A Dance With Dragons.

Spoilers flood the Web after R.R. Martin’s ‘Dance with Dragons’ ships early

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