A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

There comes a point in every Song of Ice and Fire re-read that I long to go back to the start, when the Starks were happy, knights were chivalrous, Robert reigned and we were all such sweet summer children. And then before I know it, I’m five books deep again, steeped in misery and woe, and everything is either freezing or literally on fire. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

This read-through was my first time listening to the series as audiobooks, and despite previous complaints about Roy Dotrice’s narration, by the end I’d grown quite fond of him. A friend told me this is classic Stockholm Syndrome, but Bryeen, Peetyre and Welsh Tyrion would beg to differ.

I think on my next time through (and yes, I already know there’ll be a next time), I’ll go back to the combined version of Feast and Dance. Individually there’s nothing wrong with either book, but together they shine. And I do so miss Jaime and Cersei when they disappear for so long. (Not so: Bran).

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite storyline from the bunch, but if I was forced I think I’d opt for Jon and Tormund’s truce, and the wildlings crossing the wall. I absolutely love the chapter where the wildlings hand over their worldly possessions (including ivory dildos because of course they do) and half-feral little girls try to join the hostages demanded by the Watch. And as much as it hurts because the grey girl on a dying horse never turns out to be Arya after all, Jon brokering Alys Karstark’s marriage to the Magnar of Thenn is also one of my favourite subplots. And then there’s Theon remembering his name and rescuing Jeyne against the odds, and the friendship between Asha and the She-Bear, and Dany convincing herself that the blood of the dragon can make a hat, and, and, and.

I love this book. I love this series. I suspect I may die before The Winds of Winter comes into existence, and my grandchildren will be old women and greybeards before A Dream of Spring. But at least now I can re-read Dunk and Egg before starting all over again. Huzzah.

[Read from 25 March-19 June 2017]

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