Whoa, I’m all caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire now. :O I finished A Dance with Dragons yesterday, two years after I first started the series with A Game of Thrones. It’s definitely my favorite book series and I’ve spent countless hours discussing it in length with friends. Now I have to wait for The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring like everybody else. 😛
A Dance with Dragons takes place at the same time as the previous novel, A Feast for Crows, except that it focuses on different characters. While AFFC primarily dealt with events taking place in southern Westeros, ADWD explores what’s going on in the North/at the Wall and across the seas in Essos.
There were 18 POV characters in ADWD (compared to 9 in AGOT), so there was a lot going on. I was sad to see a few interesting storylines get abandoned halfway through the book, but I expect those will be continued in TWOW. Instead, the book concentrated on Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow.
Like AFFC, ADWD is slower moving than the first 3 books. There were some weddings and a few deaths, but there weren’t any major catastrophes. A few main characters are/were assumed dead, but I have/had a hard time believing those characters really died, especially since GRRM has brought people “back from the dead” countless times already. A lot of the chapters are probably unnecessary, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it… and I was really happy to see a brief appearance by one of my favorite characters at the end. ^^
Now that I’ve read all of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, if I had to rank them from favorite to least, it would probably be: