Game of Thrones, Pre-Dance With Dragons

Although I bought Dance with Dragons the day it came out (snagging the third-to-last copy in the store!), I just started it last night.  I had wanted to finish my re-read of the rest of the series before diving into the long-awaited next book.  I am glad I did.  The re-read certainly helped me become immersed in Martin's world again.  I noticed a few things this time around that I hadn't noticed before.  Perhaps most importantly, I liked Feast for Crows this time around, whereas before it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Here are a few more specific thoughts, mostly from Feast.  Spoilers for that below.

  • I liked the Brienne chapters in Feast a lot more this time.  I remember thinking before that her story just seemed so aimless and wandering.  I felt like I knew what Martin was trying to do there, but also didn't have a lot of patience for it.  This time, though, I dug it a lot more.  Her story wraps up some loose ends (with the Brave Companions), has some nice points of intersection with other parts of the series (returning to the Inn at the Crossroads, meeting the Septon on the road who becomes important in Kings Landing), and really shows Brienne as a character.
  • Cersi is nuts.  I think the disadvantage of giving her a POV in Feast is that she looses so much as a result. When I were viewing her thorough Jamie, Tyrion, Ned, and others, I certainly disliked her, but also admired her scheming and intellect as well as felt a little sympathy for her situation.  All that is blown away by the self-deception, ego, and general incompetence she displays in Feast.
  • Somewhere, there is serious academic work to be mined from the series' treatment of gender and/or parental issues.  Do you hear me, English Ph.D. students?!
  • There was actually a lot less Arya in Feast than I remember.
  • This book we see the distinct move from character driven POV's to "I need this person to narrate what's going on in this part of the world for the reader."  This is explicit and why we get chapters like "The Captain of Guards".  It's not like we're really meant to care that much about Hotah.  He's just giving us a slice of what's happening in Dorne.  I am not sure I like this move on Martin's part.
  • Speaking of Dorne, I am glad we get to see it, even though I think it's a big reason we've gotten so much book bloat and delay.  I like desert stuff.  I like Prince Doran and his gouty deliberateness.  And wasn't that the big reveal of Feast -- that Dorne was working with the exiled Targaryens (and, I guess, Varys and Illyrio) all along!  And now Quentyn is off to find Dany to woo her?
  • Final, small, semi-random note -- Tom o'Sevens is hanging out at Riverrun with the new Frey Lord of the castle.  This can't bode well for the Freys, can it?
I'm glad I can finally read Dance, now.  I am only a few pages in.  Tyrion has just passed out in Illiriyo's garden.


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