A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin. The fifth book in the Fire and Ice series.
I regret getting started with this series. It seems to be going on forever with not much new happening.
Martin’s methodology is to make his characters struggle for a while, but no have them get anywhere. Then, he kills off your favorite characters near the end of the book.
This book is largely concerned with characters that are stuck in the city of Meereen, where there is much conflict but nothing much happens. Several of the key characters wind up in this pest hole where they ponder what to do about their bad situation for endless chapters.
The first third of the book seems to consist of chapters cut from the previous book. Much of the first part of the book is recounting events that have already happened by the end of the last book.
Some characters, such as Sansa, are not even mentioned. Arya, one of the more interesting characters, gets two short and unsatisfying chapters. Bran gets a chapter or two, but barely moves as far as plots go. Jon has a tough time of it, but doesn’t really accomplish anything other than prove how boring it can be to be an administrator with lots of chapters devoted to Jon’s developing management style.
Entirely too much time is devoted to Theon (Reek) who is unpleasantly crazy and can only have a bad end. Kill him and get it over with.
Tyrion, who I think is George’s alter ego, goes through lots of humiliating changes. Martin makes him suffer, but never kills him off, so I guess that Martin is saving Tyrion to die in the series climax – probably heroically.
Several characters die near the end, some badly. Some are going to die, and some seem to have been killed, but are probably not dead. The situation has not changed much since the last book with the exception of the dead and dying characters, and Daenerys and her dragons.
I will have to wait another 5 or 6 years for the next book, and the book after that will probably be written around 2025 posthumously by some hack from Bantam or Tor. By then, if I am still alive I will be in my 70s, I will have forgotten the first book. I read it a dozen years ago – but I wish that I had not.