A Dance With Dragons

I haven’t read anything by George R. R. Martin.

That’s not true. I haven’t read much by George R. R. Martin.

Many years ago, when finally finishing up my college degree at lovely Towson University, a friend told me that Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series was being adapted for HBO. I was able to find a copy of the 2nd book in the series, but for some reason, the first book wasn’t available anywhere I looked – even Amazon listed it as being out of print. I finally obtained a copy, read the first few pages, put it down, and never picked it up again.

Clearly there’s something about these books that people love, and maybe I just need to give it a second try.

In any case, there’s a growing controversy over the fifth book in the series, which is suffering from “JK Rowling Maximus” syndrome — i.e., it’s been five years since the last book came out, why are you writing long diatribes and not finishing the dammed Dances with Dragons?

It wasn’t until I finished the last page a few days later – technically, as it was 2 a.m., a few mornings later – that I understood what the clerk at Powell’s Bookstore told my husband after seeing the book in his hand. It was something to the effect of, yes, that’s a great book, but once you finish it, you’ll be suffering along with the rest of us.

The gripping epic, as most of the fantasy-loving universe already knows, is only volume one in a planned seven-part series titled “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Four of the books have been published so far. That wouldn’t be such an issue, except that the last cliffhanger came out five years ago.

Kelly, who wrote that interest in the books has grown even more lately with an HBO series in the works, refers to “the five stages of George R.R. Martin fandom: introduction, enthrallment, disappointment, disbelief and bitterness.”

What to do? The first book was, as I’ve said, a wild read, though far heavier on violence and death than I like. I could easily stay up late for weeks tearing through the next three massive books in the series, getting much farther in the story before being abruptly halted again.

I waited semi-patiently for each Harry Potter, I read the original Watchmen series month by month in its comic book form, I even watched each TV episode of Lost as it ran. This is the first time I’ve considered waiting to invest more time in a series. If we were waiting on Book 5 of 5, instead of Book 5 of 7, I don’t think I’d hesitate.

I checked the Bookstore’s inventory system (ATLAS), and indeed, Dances with Dragons is listed with a publication date of September, 2010. However, I’m inclined not to believe it: Amazon, for instance, lists it at December, 2012. I’m going to assume the book was announced (at least internally), then Martin couldn’t meet his deadline, and the date just keeps getting pushed back on the item ticket.

In the meantime, though, you can buy Jon Snow’s sword, Longclaw:

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I don’t know who Jon Snow is, but I do love the pommel.