Monday, November 4, 2013

Chapter Review: Excerpt of The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

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So I recently learned that George R.R. Martin has put out a chapter excerpt of The Winds of Winter, book 6 in the A Song of Fire and Ice series (a.k.a. Game of Thrones) on his website. Many people are flat-out refusing to read it. And I get it. I really do.

Though I'm a huge fan of Martin's series, and just enough of a sucker that I'll always read any new books he puts out, the last two books, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, were pretty much collosal disappointments (the former more so than the latter). Added to the fact that Martin has a history of 5-6 years on average between installments, and I get why fans are frustrated.

Now, with the HBO series in full swing, and the series more popular and talked about than ever, Martin needs to come up with something utterly amazing to redeem himself in the eyes of his fans. Goodreads.com still lists the expected release date of The Winds of Winter as 2015, but here's hoping for a miracle (i.e. an earlier release date). If an author as successful as Martin can't pull it off, none of the rest of us have a prayer!

Still, I decided that I wanted to read the excerpt. Just to see what, if anything, I can tell that Martin has in store for us. Here's what I thought:

Even when I do my usual book and film reviews, I generally don't do a star rating system of any kind, but if I had to give this excerpt a rating, I'd go with 2.5 or 3 out of 5 stars. 

I thought the writing was very good and it put me right back into the story. But, did it leave something to be desired? Yes. 

The excerpt is from Arianne's point of view. She's the daughter of the Dornish king and those who've read the books know she's tried her hand at conspiracy before with disastrous results. (*Mild spoiler: the whole Princess Myrcella gets ugly fiasco.*) Now, at least partly due to the consequences of that attempt, her father has sent her with a retinue to meet a man who claims to be the assumed-dead Hand of the now-dead-and-deposed Mad King, Aerys Targaryen. Most of those with her think it's just a sell sword, pretending to be the Hand (a man by the name of Jon Connington) and trying to capitalize on it, but Arianne has hopes that perhaps the man truly did survive. Overall, this excerpt is her thoughts during her journey and musings about what is going on around her. We don't see her arrive at her destination, and there's relatively little action in the snippet.

Good points: As I said, the writing is good, and for not having much action, I was never bored. Also, I will admit that reading this made me eager to find out what will happen when she comes face to face with the alleged Connington. I want to know if he is who he says he is, what he proposes to do to help Prince Doran (Arianne's father) and what all will happen next. Kudos for that, Mr. Martin.

Negative Points.: Unfortunately, there are a few.

1) I reiterate: not much actually happens and we aren't given much clue as to what book 6 has in store for us.

2) No one cares that much about this story line at present. This is a side story about characters we aren't very invested in as yet. Now, if the consequences of this little rendezvous play into the bigger, overall plot; if they affect Daenerys or the Starks in some major way, then we'll care very much. Of course, that all depends on what happens when Arianne reaches her destination, and where Martin takes the thread from there.

3) It's not what we really want to know about. If Martin really wanted to excite his fans for book 6, he'd give us a snippet about Arya, Bran, Jon Snow, or the dragon queen. I'd even be excited to read about Brienne, myself. (Though AFfC was a disappointment, it did help me fall in love with Brienne's character.) 

Overall, for what it was, the excerpt was a fun read, and I enjoyed it. I'm still excited for the release of book 6, whenever it decides to get it's spine in gear and park itself on shelves, real or digital.

But, could Martin have put a little more effort into throwing his die hard fans a bone? Yeah, I think he could have.

Has anyone else read this excerpt? What did or do you think based on my review?

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