A Dance with Dragons

By George R. R. Martin
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A Dance with Dragons is the fifth of seven novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire American author George R. R. Martin.
A Dance with Dragons was originally the title of the second novel in the sequence, when George R. R. Martin still envisioned the series as a trilogy. Some early U. S. editions of A Game of Thrones (1996) list A Dance of Dragons as the forthcoming second volume in the series. The 1998 anthology Legends, which features the novella 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 1022 pages.
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 (2000), the third novel in the series. The first part of the book runs concurrently with that of its predecessor, A Feast for Crows (2005), while the second half gives a resolution to some of the storylines begun in A Feast for Crows

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin: The War of the Five Kings in Westeros seems to be winding down. In the North, self-declared King Stannis Baratheon has installed himself at the Wall and vowed to win the support of the northmen to continue his struggle to claim the Iron Throne from the supposed children of his dead brother Robert Baratheon, actually offspring of incest between Robert’s wife Cersei Lannister and her twin brother, Jaime the Kingslayer; this is complicated by the fact that the Lannisters have installed the traitorous House Bolton as Lords Paramount of the North, and much of the west coast is under occupation by the Ironborn. On the Wall itself, Eddard Stark’s bastard son 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.
Meanwhile, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister has been wrongfully condemned to death for the murder of his young nephew, King Joffrey Baratheon, and has fled by ship across the narrow sea to Pentos, but not before murdering his hated father Tywin. In the far east, Daenerys Targaryen—sole heir to the deposed ruling family, the Targaryens—has conquered the city of Meereen, and rules it to hone her skills of leadership before she moves on to take back Westeros. But, her presence is now known from the Iron Islands, Dorne and Oldtown to the Free Cities. There are now emissaries on their way to find Daenerys and use her cause for their own ends…

Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, is beset on all sides by threats and danger. King Stannis Baratheon wants land and waycastles belonging to the Watch, which he means to hand out as fiefs to his most loyal supporters. The Others are continuing to mass beyond the Wall. And the free-folk host, once led by Mance Rayder but smashed by Stannis during the events of A Storm of Swords, still numbers in the thousands, and to Jon’s mind each wildling represents one more wight the white walkers can send against them. To this end he takes great pains to court the wildlings, winning them over to his side and uniting them with the Watch against their common foe; but in doing so, he loses the support of his sworn brothers, several of his sworn brothers stab him in full view of the rest of the Night’s Watch and his last chapter ends with him falling unconscious, it is not known if he survives. Melisandre, meanwhile, has Mance Rayder burned… but is later revealed to have used her powers of glamor to disguise Rayder as Rattleshirt, the Lord of Bones, and vice versa. She reveals to Jon Snow that a grey girl on a dying horse, whom she interprets to be Arya Stark, is coming up the kingsroad to seek asylum, and with Snow’s permission dispatches Rayder and several spearwives to bring her in. The woman is revealed to actually be Alys Karstark, fleeing the manipulations of her relatives in light of her father’s death. And Stannis takes Jon’s advice and is able to seize Deepwood Motte with the allegiance of the hill folk, the Karstarks and half of the Umbers, and then moves against Ramsay Bolton, who has taken up seat in the ruins of Winterfell with the other half of the northern bannermen. At last report—a gloating letter in Ramsay’s handwriting to Jon Snow—Stannis’ host was smashed and the king slain… (Summary by Wikipedia)

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