Rightio! I finally cracked and readA Dance With Dragons. I put it off for a while, because ASoiF and I have a love/hate relationship. I’m redonkulously over the casual misogyny and ableism when I’m not reading it, and impatient for the plot to GO GO GO! when I am. I don’t mean that last in a good way, either, since I feel like there are some characters who other fans really like that get a ton of POV chapters (:cough: Tyrion!) that don’t advance their CHARACTER-building (THIS JUST IN: Tyrion thinks of most women as whores, sex objects, or possessions) in significant ways and other characters who’re just more interesting (:cough: Sansa!) who are left by the wayside. It kinda makes me think of The Moon Goddess and the Sun, only that was published all in one book, so you had the option of skipping POVs you weren’t interested in.
Anyways, here’s a random ordering of my initial reactions:
1. For some reason, ADwD felt way, way more problematic/racist/colonialist/sexist than the other books. If we’re not hearing about Skahaz’ “odious face”, Daenarys is all upset about how this conquered populace won’t just lie down and stay conquered, and she’s got to do stupid shit like WEAR FLOPPY EARS with these sallow, tricky-ass motherfuckers who have FUNKY HAIR. I know she’s supposed to be the good liberator, but seriously, wtf. Also, I felt we got even LESS characterization for the Dothraki than before. How are they one of the cultural groups we’ve known about since the beginning of the series but still the least fleshed out? Also, wtf, how is Daenarys still pulling this stranger in a strange land BS when she GREW UP on this side of the Narrow Sea? Like, not EVERYTHING should be a bewildering surprise. Also, wtf, sometimes GRRM gets it SO wrong when writing from a female POV. Like, why would Dany, given her history of sexual assault from her bro, her own status as a queen/mother of all, etc., begin fantasizing about Daario as someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer? On the one hand I can see how it might have been meant to parallel her marital rape, but on the other hand, it just felt super clumsily handled.
2. I don’t get how Tyrion, who’s been perpetually sheltered from the realities of being a dwarf by his class/privilege, is somehow better at being a streetwise dwarf than Penny, the GIRL (she’s never a woman) he meets. How does that make sense? Like, seriously, how does that make sense? Some of his narration is beautiful, though, particularly the scene with the stone men on the Sorrows.
3. I like the Sand Snakes. They’re viciously all right.
4. Oh, greyscale. You make me think you’re magical gay leprosy, what with Jon Connington’s revelation that he loved his prince coming up in the same chapter we find out he’s got it, and Tyrion not getting it even though he fell in the same dang river. I know Shireen’s got it as well, but seriously, that whole section, with Jon deciding how he was going to hide it, etc., really resonated for me in a bad way.
5. I don’t think Jon is Rhaegar’s son anymore — I am hoping that the surprise twist will be that Rhaegar wasn’t into the ladies himself. As it is, we have a couple different theories for Ned having fathered him (the fishermaid, the woman with the big boobs that Baratheon slept with, Ashara Dayne) as well as several spare Targs. It’s less narratively “neat” for Jon to be a Targ now. I’m thinking that Ned is actually an honorable goofball, and accidentally killed a woman or something during the war, and so took in her son (less likely), OR that Lyanna took a commonborn lover, and that’s why he has all those dreams about her asking him to promise her something (more likely). He doesn’t need to be a Targ to be Azor Azhai reborn. Plus, with all these bastard sons of noblemen running around, it’d be nice to have Jon be the bastard son of a noblewoman who found love in a hopeless place.
6. The dragons were amazing. Finally, something strange that felt genuinely otherworldly that wasn’t Othering and weird.
7. WTF!! JON SNOW!! Okay, if he’s a warg and popped into Ghost after the betrayal, does that mean Robb is still in his wolf as well??? Also, this is really the book where Jon Snow finally finally finally came into his own as a POV narrator. He’s all grappling with morality and leadership, living in gray areas his father MUST’VE at one point (remember, Ned did participate in a revolution/coup), and really trying be good. Loved his chapters, love love.
8. Poor Theon. He’s… not nearly as arrogant now. Nope.
9. Bran is turning to the dark side of the force. Poor Hodor.
10. Varys is SECRETLY A LOYALIST to the OLD REGIME. Holy crap! <3
11. Oh, Cersei. I’m not sure why they needed to shave your pubes for that scene, but that was the only off-note in that scene for me. Hair grows back, bb. Also, I’m really hoping GRRM gets over himself and moves away from, like, being so critical of women’s bodies when they’re over 20. Apparently the only thing Cersei had going on was her beauty, and now that she’s 33 that’ll DISAPPEAR. Now NO ONE will want to fight the war for Cersei’s cunt! (Also, what’s up with the parallels between Cersei’s walk and the Stations of the Cross? Meant to emphasize that she’s absolutely not a savior-figure?)
12. Loving Davos. I think he’s the one of the only legit “good guys” in this piece.
13. I’m also hoping that one of the female characters is revealed as into women as more than just substitutes for men who won’t/can’t sleep with them. It was WEIRD when Cersei’s depravity was linked to her bisexuality.
I’m reading the series aloud with my husband, so we’re really into it right now. What are your thoughts on ADwD? What are some things you loved?