The cynic’s summary

A review of A Dance with Dragons posted on Amazon:

Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister sat at the head of the
council table in places of high honor. They had been sorely missed in
the previous volume and were expected to do great things now that they
had returned. Other major characters took up the rest of the seats on
either side of them, while hundreds upon hundreds of side characters
filled their own tables that crammed the great hall like fruits in a
barrel. A cacophony of sounds and colors filled the room, so much that
they could not tell one man from another. All the finery of Westeros and
the lands beyond were present with all their sigils and banners and
native tongues as they awaited the attack of the Others outside their
walls. Winter was coming too, though reports differed on exactly when.

stood up, her tokar billowing down like a sea of pearls on soft eastern
fabric. “Lords, ladies, random no-name filler characters who I would
soon forget in a minute or so, you know why we are all gathered here!”


that is indeed what you came here for,” she giggled, as if it were a
secret jest. “The Others are outside our door, winter is coming,” she
winked at Jon. “I have three dragons, and soon I will retake my father’s
throne! But before we get to all that riveting stuff, and since words
are wind and hardly filling, we feast!”

Thousands of confused
whispers greeted her announcement, as if they could not imagine feasting
at a time like this. There’s never a bad time to feast! she thought.

Tyrion quipped next to her, “I would sooner have a whore feast on my-“

brought it in the dishes then: bowls of venison swimming in butter and
garlic, suckling pigs with apples in their mouths roasted to a light
brown crisp, crunchy capons flavored with garlic and cloves stuffed with
bits of bacon and vegetables, neeps fresh from the soil dabbed with
butter and sweet and sour sauce, cakes and pies and pastries of
chocolate and vanilla and fruit with icing molded to various different
shapes that pleased the eyes as well as the tongue. They tucked into
them, crumbs and sauces coating their beards and doublets. Even the
ladies could not seem to get food stains off their dresses.

serving man brought her barley stew with chopped carrots and greens on a
loaf of hollowed flat bread. He was a short man with even shorter hair,
parted in the middle with wisps of grey among the black. He had small,
close-set eyes and a wide, flat nose that made him resemble the suckling
pig on the table. His doublet was brown roughspun slashed with vair and
velvet and bore the sigil of the house he served: a fierce gray troll
on a field of green. The man was born Braavosi, but his mother took him
and fled to Westeros when his father died from the pox, taking a job as a
washerwoman for some minor lord. He did not like spicy foods, his
favorite color was yellow, and he liked to walk along the shoreline as
the sun descended into the sea.

They ate like this for hours,
lustily and with abandon, while the Others banged outside. How rude!
Perhaps they’re hungry, Dany thought.

When they were done Dany
wiped the grease from her chin and addressed the table. “That was an
incredible feast. Let’s have one again in a couple of pages. Jaime, what
is our situation?”

“The Others have us surrounded, your grace,”
he reached for a goblet, which tipped over and spilled when he used his
golden hand.

“I see. Ser Barristan, what do you suggest we do?” She turned to the knight.

I would be so bold your grace, I would suggest you take your dragons to
battle. The Others are cold, fell creatures, and fear dragon fire.”

“That sounds like a splendid idea, Ser Barristan! But I seem to have misplaced my dragons.”

The old knight looked confused. “You…what?”

I don’t really know where they are,” she shrugged. “No matter, I’ll
ride my boyfriend to battle. He’s so handsome, with his forked beard and
blue hair….on second thought, I think I’ll ride him to bed. I’ll
leave the Others and retaking my father’s throne to the rest of you.”
She hiked up her skirts and ran up the stairs to her bedchambers,
singing DAARIO, OH DAARIO in a high pitched, Disney Channel voice.

table was silent and befuddled when Ser Barristan cleared his throat
uneasily. “I…suppose my queen and her dragons will not be joining us.
Forgive her…she’s still young…Lord Snow,” he turned to Jon for
rescue. “Will the Night’s Watch avail us? Battling the Others is your

Jon looked up solemnly from his food, flexing his sword hand. “Wildlings.”

“Excuse me?”

“Wildlings. I must deal with the wildlings.”

Barristan spoke slowly. “That sounds most…valiant, but…don’t you
think the Others are more important? They’re right outside our-“

KNOW NOTHING, SER BARRISTAN!” Jon stood up suddenly, his face fierce.
“None of you do!” He faced each member of the table in turn. “All of you
are so concerned with your game of thrones and your dragons and this
one is backstabbing that one while marrying this one, none of you have
any inkling what’s really happening! There are…so…many…WILDLINGS!
So many! I don’t know what to do with them all! Wildlings in my room,
wildlings in my privy, wildlings in my soup, wildlings, wildlings,
WILDLINGS! You don’t think I would rather vanquish Others and wights,
but how can I when I have to wade through WILDLINGS?!” Tears ran down
his bearded face. “But do you care?! NO! It’s because I’m a BASTARD
isn’t it? WAAAAAHHHH!” He ran from the table, sobbing, his path impeded
by a sea of wildlings.

“Why, isn’t this a lively war council.” The imp laughed.

Barristan was at his wits end. Will no one do SOMETHING? “Lannister,
while I am loathe to trust you, we could all use your cunning to
navigate this impending battle.”

Tyrion grinned, a terrifying
sight without a nose. “I am flattered Ser Barristan, but I don’t give a
mummer’s fart what happens to any of you. Maybe in the next book. But
for now, all I want to do is to find where whores go. Podrick, fetch me
my armor and steed!”

His squire came out of nowhere, pulling a
pig on a leash. He donned Tyrion in mail made of cardboard painted with
crude, peeling designs, and placed a jester’s cap on his head. The
character assassination was not complete until the imp hopped onto the
sow in a graceful tumble that would not have shamed a mummer, and
galloped away as fast as those piggy legs could take him out of the
castle, and out of the story…while stopping every now and then to ask
passersby “Where do whores go?”.

Not for the first time Ser
Barristan wondered how he had ended up here. Was he the only one who
remembered what really mattered? Surely he wasn’t that old. “So, what
does that leave us?” he addressed the rather emptier table. “Our most
major characters are off dallying about like headless chickens, doing
things no one cares about, ignoring what made our series so riveting in
the first place…” He stopped, there were people missing. “Where are
Bran and Davos?”

Cersei answered him. “I see them at the edge of
my vision sometimes. They come and go so quickly that if you blink too
fast you’ll miss them. Its quite unnatural. I’d rather they stayed dea-”
She gasped when Davos appeared beside her, but was gone again just as

Barristan placed his head in his hands, never feeling so
old as he did now. “Will NO ONE do something about the Others? Or just
something INTERESTING! ANYTHING that we can do so I won’t go mad?”

“…Osmund Kettleblack and Moonboy for all I know…,” Jaime murmured.

“…Ser Meryn, Ser Ilyn, Queen Cersei…”, prattled Arya.

Stannis gritted his teeth.

Victarion did something crazy or whatever.

“Why am I even in these books?” Asha called out, but was ignored.

Bran popped out from under the table, “I’m almost a man grown!” and was gone again.

save us,” Barristan groaned, as the Others broke down the doors and
swarmed into the castle. Barristan faced the readers. “Please, return to
us in The Winds of Winter, spring 2020, if you still care.” The old
knight plopped his head on the table and went into a much needed

The plot slept with him.

The sad thing is, that was actually more interesting and better-written than the 959-page slog of the book itself. Let’s face it, in a more honest world, the book would have been entitled “A Literary Death March with The Very Occasional Dragon”.