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A Dance with Dragons

Jul 1 2011

ShareReads: A Song of Ice and Fire

by Jesse M

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

***UPDATE***: You can now place reservations on A Dance With Dragons!!

T-minus 11 days until the fantasy literature event of the year, the release of A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin’s long awaited (5+ years!) fifth installment in his epic, award-winning A Song of Ice and Fire series (hereafter referred to as ASOIAF). I can hardly contain my excitement!

Fellow fans of the series will understand why. Beginning with A Game of Thrones and continuing through A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows, Martin has taken readers on a wild ride across kingdoms and continents, through battles and political intrigues, and into the hearts and minds of some of the most compelling characters ever to grace the page. The high quality writing, epic scope of the series, and the sizable (and still growing) number of point-of-view characters have resulted in a large and devoted fan base who eagerly await the remaining novels and hungrily devour every scrap of news related to the series.

Map of Westeros

A fan submitted map of the continent of Westeros, where much of ASOIAF takes place. Click through for a larger image.

To help keep track of all the myriad characters and plotlines, as well as to keep themselves occupied while waiting for Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons, fans have created websites which index a variety of information pertinent to the series. In-depth character and plot analysis, maps, heraldry, and spirited discussion of various “conspiracy theories” (some plausible, some rather dubious) can be found at such sites, the two most notable being Westeros.org and Towerofthehand.com. Both sites also contain episode guides and discussion forums for the ASOIAF television adaptation, Game Of Thrones, which just recently wrapped up its first season.

But let the reader beware: plot spoilers abound on both sites, particularly in the discussion forums. While both sites do a good job compartmentalizing potential spoiler information so that users won’t accidentally browse upon it, Tower Of The Hand also has a clever system in place which lets visitors to the site indicate how many books in the series they have read (as well as how many episodes of the television program they’ve viewed) and then hides problematic articles and essays. Even so, commenters aren’t obliged to add spoiler tags, so if you aren’t all caught up, be cautious.

For those who, like myself, read all the books years ago and would like a little refresher on what’s going on before diving into A Dance With Dragons, the blog Wertzone has written an excellent four part essay on what has happened so far. Part 1 details the ancient history of the world, part 2 covers the events of the past 300 years, part 3 recollects the events of the first two books, and part 4 catches readers up with the events of the third and fourth books.

While the long, agonizing wait for A Dance With Dragons is finally coming to an end, George R. R. Martin isn’t the only author who has kept his readers in a state of frantic anticipation as they await the next installment of a beloved series. An old friend of mine told me that the gaps between installments of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series were nearly unbearable for him (the spread between the publication of first installment and seventh and final volume was a staggering 27 years!), especially after King’s accident in 1999 when he was struck by a vehicle while walking on the shoulder of the road (The injuries King sustained were so difficult to cope with that at one point he announced his retirement from the writing world before eventually reconsidering and finishing the series).

What authors/series have kept you in suspense? Was the wait ultimately worthwhile?

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