A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

by George R. R. Martin

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In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east—with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night’s Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.

Don’t miss the thrilling sneak peek of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Six, The Winds of Winter

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553582017
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/29/2013
Series: Song of Ice and Fire Series
Pages: 1152
Sales rank: 39,100
Product dimensions: 4.54(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.66(d)

About the Author

George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. As a writer-producer, he has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Santa Fe, NM

Date of Birth:

September 20, 1948

Place of Birth:

Bayonne, NJ


B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971

Read an Excerpt


He drank his way across the narrow sea.
The ship was small and his cabin smaller, and the captain would not allow him abovedecks. The rocking of the deck beneath his feet made his stomach heave, and the wretched food they served him tasted even worse when retched back up. Besides, why did he need salt beef, hard cheese, and bread crawling with worms when he had wine to nourish him? It was red and sour, very strong. He sometimes heaved the wine up too, but there was always more. "The world is full of wine," he muttered in the dankness of his cabin. His father had never had any use for drunkards, but what did that matter? His father was dead. He ought to know; he'd killed him. A bolt in the belly, my lord, and all for you. If only I was better with a crossbow, I would have put it through that cock you made me with, you bloody bastard.

Below decks there was neither night nor day. Tyrion marked time by the comings and goings of the cabin boy who brought the meals he did not eat. The boy always brought a brush and bucket too, to clean up. "Is this Dornish wine?" Tyrion asked him once, as he pulled a stopper from a skin. "It reminds me of a certain snake I knew. A droll fellow, till a mountain fell on him."

The cabin boy did not answer. He was an ugly boy, though admittedly more comely than a certain dwarf with half a nose and a scar from eye to chin. "Have I offended you?" Tyrion asked the sullen, silent boy, as he was scrubbing. "Were you commanded not to talk to me? Or did some dwarf diddle your mother?"

That went unanswered too. This is pointless, he knew, but he must speak to someone or go mad, so he persisted. "Where are we sailing? Tell me that." Jaime had made mention of the Free Cities, but had never said which one. "Is it Braavos? Tyrosh? Myr?" Tyrion would sooner have gone to Dorne. Myrcella is older than Tommen, by Dornish law the Iron Throne is hers. I will help her claim her rights, as Prince Oberyn suggested.

Oberyn was dead, though, his head smashed to bloody ruin by the armored fist of Ser Gregor Clegane. And without the Red Viper to urge him on, would Doran Martell even consider such a chancy scheme? He may clap me in chains instead, and hand me back to my sweet sister. The Wall might be safer. Old Bear Mormont said the Night's Watch had need of men like Tyrion. Mormont may be dead, though. By now Slynt may be the Lord Commander. That butcher's son was not like to have forgotten who sent him to the Wall. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life eating salt beef and porridge with murderers and thieves? Not that the rest of his life would last very long. Janos Slynt would see to that.

The cabin boy wet his brush and scrubbed on manfully. "Have you ever visited the pleasure houses of Lys?" the dwarf inquired. "Might that be where whores go?" Tyrion could not seem to recall the Valyrian word for whore, and in any case it was too late. The boy tossed his brush back in his bucket and took his leave.

The wine has blurred my wits. He had learned to read High Valyrian at his maester's knee, though what they spoke in the Nine Free Cities... well, it was not so much a dialect as nine dialects on the way to becoming separate tongues. Tyrion had some Braavosi and a smattering of Myrish. In Tyrosh he should be able to curse the gods, call a man a cheat, and order up an ale, thanks to a sellsword he had once known at the Rock. At least in Dorne they spea the Common Tongue. Like Dornish food and Dornish law, Dornish speech was spiced with the flavors of the Rhoyne, but a man could comprehend it. Dorne, yes, Dorne for me. He crawled into his bunk, clutching that thought like a child with a doll.

Sleep had never come easily to Tyrion Lannister. Aboard that ship it seldom came at all, though from time to time he managed to drink sufficient wine to pass out for a while. At least he did not dream. He had dreamt enough for one small life. And of such follies: love, justice, friendship, glory. As well dream of being tall. It was all beyond his reach, Tyrion knew now. But he did not know where whores go.

"Wherever whores go," his father had said. His last words, and what words they were. The crossbow thrummed, Lord Tywin sat back down, and Tyrion Lannister found himself waddling through the darkness with Varys at his side. He must have clambered back down the shaft, two hundred and thirty rungs to where orange embers glowed in the mouth of an iron dragon. He remembered none of it. Only the sound the crossbow made, and the stink of his father's bowels opening. Even in his dying, he found a way to shit on me.

Varys had escorted him through the tunnels, but they never spoke until they emerged beside the Blackwater, where Tyrion had won a famous victory and lost a nose. That was when the dwarf turned to the eunuch and said, "I've killed my father," in the same tone a man might use to say, "I've stubbed my toe." The master of whisperers had been dressed as a begging brother, in a moth-eaten robe of brown roughspun with a cowl that shadowed his smooth fat cheeks and bald round head. "You should not have climbed that ladder," he said reproachfully.

"Wherever whores go." Tyrion warned his father not to say that word. If I had not loosed, he would have seen my threats were empty. He would have taken the crossbow from my hands, as once he took Tysha from my arms. He was rising when I killed him. "I killed Shae too," he confessed to Varys.

"You knew what she was."

"I did. But I never knew what he was."

Varys tittered. "And now you do."

I should have killed the eunuch as well. A little more blood on his hands, what would it matter? He could not say what had stayed his dagger. Not gratitude. Varys had saved him from a headsman's sword, but only because Jaime had compelled him. Jaime... no, better not to think of Jaime.

He found a fresh skin of wine instead, and sucked at it as if it were a woman's breast. The sour red ran down his chin and soaked through his soiled tunic, the same one he had been wearing in his cell. He sucked until the wine was gone. The deck was swaying beneath his feet, and when he tried to rise it lifted sideways and smashed him hard against a bulkhead. A storm, he realized, or else I am even drunker than I knew. He retched the wine up and lay in it a while, wondering if the ship would sink.

Is this your vengeance, Father? Have the Father Above made you his Hand? "Such are the wages of the kinslayer," he said as the wind howled outside. It did not seem fair to drown the cabin boy and the captain and all the rest for something he had done, but when had the gods ever been fair? And around about then, the darkness gulped him down

When he stirred again, his head felt like to burst and the ship was spinning round in dizzy circles, though the captain was insisting that they'd come to port. Tyrion told him to be quiet, and kicked feebly as a huge bald sailor tucked him under one arm and carried him squirming to the hold, where an empty wine cask awaited him. It was a squat little cask, and a tight fit even for a dwarf. Tyrion pissed himself in his struggles, for all the good it did. He was up crammed face first into the cask with his knees pushed up against his ears. The stub of his nose itched horribly, but his arms were pinned so tightly that he could not reach to scratch it. A palanquin fit for a man of my stature, he thought as they hammered shut the lid and hoisted him up. He could hear voices shouting as he was jounced along. Every bounce cracked his head against the bottom of the cask. The world went round and round as the cask rolled downward, then stopped with a sudden crash that made him want to scream. Another cask slammed into his, and Tyrion bit his tongue.

That was the longest journey he had ever taken, though it could not have lasted more than half an hour. He was lifted and lowered, rolled and stacked, upended and righted and rolled again. Through the wooden staves he heard men shouting, and once a horse whickered nearby. His stunted legs began to cramp, and soon hurt so badly that he forgot the hammering in his head.

It ended as it had begun, with another roll that left him dizzy and more jouncing. Outside strange voices were speaking in a tongue he did not know. Someone started pounding on the top of the cask and the lid cracked open suddenly. Light came flooding in, and cool air as well. Tyrion gasped greedily and tried to stand, but only managed to knock the cask over sideways and spill himself out onto a hard-packed earthen floor.

Above him loomed a grotesque fat man with a forked yellow beard, holding a wooden mallet and an iron chisel. His bedrobe was large enough to serve as a tourney pavilion, but its loosely knotted belt had come undone, exposing a huge white belly and a pair of heavy breasts that sagged like sacks of suet covered with coarse yellow hair. He reminded Tyrion of a dead sea cow that had once washed up in the caverns under Casterly Rock.

The fat man looked down and smiled. "A drunken dwarf," he said, in the Common Tongue of Westeros.

"A rotting sea cow." Tyrion's mouth was full of blood. He spat it at the fat man's feet. They were in a long dim cellar with barrel-vaulted ceilings, its stone walls spotted with nitre. Casks of wine and ale surrounded them, more than enough drink to see a thirsty dwarf safely through the night. Or through a life.

"You are insolent. I like that in a dwarf." When the fat man laughed, his flesh bounced so vigorously that Tyrion was afraid he might fall and crush him. "Are you hungry, my little friend? Weary?"

"Thirsty." Tyrion struggled to his knees. "And filthy."

The fat man sniffed. "A bath first, just so. Then food and a soft bed, yes? My servants shall see to it." His host put the mallet and chisel aside. "My house is yours. Any friend of my friend across the water is a friend to Illyrio Mopatis, yes."

And any friend of Varys the Spider is someone I will trust just as far as I can throw him.

The fat man made good on the promised bath, at least... though no sooner did Tyrion lower himself into the hot water and close his eyes than he was fast asleep.

He woke naked on a goosedown featherbed so deep and soft it felt as if he were being swallowed by a cloud. His tongue was growing hair and his throat was raw, but his cock felt as hard as an iron bar. He rolled from the bed, found a chamberpot, and commenced to filling it, with a groan of pleasure.

The room was dim, but there were bars of yellow sunlight showing between the slats of the shutters. Tyrion shook the last drops off and waddled over patterned Myrish carpets as soft as new spring grass. Awkwardly he climbed the window seat and flung shudders open to see where Varys and the gods had sent him.

Beneath his window six cherry trees stood sentinel around a marble pool, their slender branches bare and brown. A naked boy stood on the water, poised to duel with a bravo's blade in hand. He was lithe and handsome, no older than sixteen, with straight blond hair that brushed his shoulders. So lifelike did he seem that it took the dwarf a long moment to realize he was made of painted marble, though his sword shimmered like true steel.

Across the pool stood stood a brick wall twelve feet high, with iron spikes along its top. Beyond that was the city. A sea of tiled rooftops crowded close around a bay. He saw square brick towers, a great red temple, a distant manse upon a hill. In the far distance sunlight shimmered off deep water. Fishing boats were moving across the bay, their sails rippling in the wind, and he could see the masts of larger ships poking up along the bay shore. Surely one is bound for Dorne, or for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He had no means to pay for passage, though, nor was he made to pull an oar. I suppose I could sign on as a cabin boy and earn my way by letting the crew bugger me up and down the narrow sea. He wondered where he was. Even the air smells different here. Strange spices scented the chilly autumn wind, and he could hear faint cries drifting over the wall from the streets beyond. It sounded something like Valyrian, but he did not recognize more than one word in five. Not Braavos, he concluded, nor Tyrosh. Those bare branches and the chill in the air argued against Lys and Myr and Volantis as well.

When he heard the door opening behind him, Tyrion turned to confront his fat host. "This is Pentos, yes?"

"Just so. Where else?"

Pentos. Well, it was not King's Landing, that much could be said for it. "Where do whores go?" he heard himself ask.

"Whores are found in brothels here, as in Westeros. You will have no need of such, my little friend. Choose from among my serving women. None will dare refuse you."

"Slaves?" the dwarf asked pointedly.

The fat man stroked one of the prongs of his oiled yellow beard, a gesture Tyrion fond remarkably obscene. "Slavery is forbidden in Pentos, by the terms of the treaty the Braavosi imposed on us a hundred years ago. Still, they will not refuse you." Illyrio gave a ponderous half-bow. "But now my little friend must excuse me. I have the honor to be a magister of this great city, and the prince has summoned us to session." He smiled, showing a mouth full of crooked yellow teeth. "Explore the manse and grounds as you like, but on no account stray beyond the walls. It is best that no man knows that you were here."

"Were? Have I gone somewhere?"

"Time enough to speak of that this evening. My little friend and I shall eat and drink and make great plans, yes?"

"Yes, my fat friend," Tyrion replied. He thinks to use me for his profit. It was all profit with the merchant princes of the Free Cities. "Spice soldiers and cheese lords," his lord father called them, with contempt. Should a day ever dawn when Illyrio Mopatis saw more profit in a dead dwarf than a live one, he would find himself packed into another wine cask by dusk. It would be well if I were gone before that day arrives. That it would arrive he did not doubt; Cersei was not like to forget him, and even Jaime might be vexed to find a quarrel in Father's belly.

A light wind was riffling the waters of the pool below, all around the naked swordsman. It reminded him of how Tysha would riffle his hair during the false spring of their marriage, before he helped his father's guardsmen rape her. He had been thinking of those guardsmen during his flight, trying to recall how many there had been. You would think he might remember that, but no. A dozen? A score? A hundred? He could not say. They had all been grown men, tall and strong... though all men were tall to a dwarf of thirteen years. Tysha knew their number. Each of them had given her a silver stag, so she would only need to count the coins. A silver for each and a gold for me. His father had insisted that he pay her too. A Lannister always pays his debts.

"Wherever whores go," he heard Lord Tywin say once more, and once more the bowstring thrummed.

The magister had invited him to explore the manse. He found clean clothes in a cedar chest inlaid with lapis and mother-of-pearl. The clothes had been made for a small boy, he realized as he struggled into them. The fabrics were rich enough, if a little musty, but the cut was too long in the legs and too short in the arms, with a collar that would have turned his face as black as Joffrey's had he somehow contrived to get it fastened. At least they do not stink of vomit.

Tyrion began his explorations with the kitchen, where two fat women and a pot boy watched him warily as he helped himself to cheese, bread, and figs. "Good morrow to you, fair ladies," he said with a bow. "Do you perchance know where the whores go?" When they did not respond, he repeated the question in High Valyrian, though he had to say courtesan in place of whore. The younger fatter cook gave him a shrug that time.

He wondered what they would do if he took them by the hand and dragged them to his bedchamber. None will dare refuse you, Illyrio claimed, but somehow Tyrion did not think he meant these two. The younger woman was old enough to be his mother, and the older was likely her mother. Both were near as fat as Illyrio, with teats that were larger than his head. I could smother myself in flesh, he reflected. There were worse ways to die. The way his lord father had died, for one. I should have made him shit a little gold before expiring. Lord Tywin might have been niggardly with his approval and affection, but he had always been open-handed when it came to coin. The only thing more pitiful than a dwarf without a nose is a dwarf without a nose who has no gold.

Tyrion left the fat women to their loaves and kettles and went in search of the cellar where Illyrio had decanted him the night before. It was not hard to find. There was enough wine there to keep him drunk for a hundred years; sweet reds from the Reach and sour reds from Dorne, pale Pentoshi ambers, the green nectar of Myr, three score casks of Arbor gold, even wines from the fabled east, from Meereen and Qarth and Asshai by the Shadow. In the end, Tyrion chose a cask of strongwine marked as the private stock of Lord Runceford Redwyne, the grandfather of the present Lord of the Arbor. The taste of it was languorous and heady on the tongue, the color a purple so dark that it looked almost black in the dim-lit cellar. Tyrion filled a cup, and a flagon for good measure, and carried them up to gardens to drink beneath those cherry trees he'd seen.

As it happened, he left by the wrong door and never found the pool he had spied from his window, but it made no matter. The gardens behind the manse were just as pleasant, and far more extensive. He wandered through them for a time, drinking. The walls would have shamed any proper castle, and the ornamental iron spikes along the top looked strangely naked without heads to adorn them. Tyrion pictured how his sister's head might look up there, with tar in her golden hair and flies buzzing in and out of her mouth. Yes, and Jaime must have the spike beside her, he decided. No one must ever come between my brother and my sister.

With a rope and a grapnel he might be able to get over that wall. He strong arms and he did not weigh much. With a rope he should he able to reach the spikes and clamber over. I will search for a rope on the morrow, he resolved.

He saw three gates during his wanderings; the main entrance with its gatehouse, a postern by the kennels, and a garden gate hidden behind a tangle of pale ivy. The last was chained, the others guarded. The guards were plump, their faces as smooth as a baby's bottom, and every man of them wore a spiked bronze cap. Tyrion knew eunuchs when he saw them. He knew their sort by reputation. They feared nothing and felt no pain, it was said, and were loyal to their masters unto death. I could make good use of a few hundred of mine own, he reflected. A pity I did not think of that before I became a beggar.

He walked along a pillared gallery and through a pointed arch, and found himself in a tiled courtyard where a woman was washing clothes at a well. She looked to be his own age, with dull red hair and a broad face dotted by freckles. "Would you like some wine?" he asked her. She looked at him uncertainly. "I have no cup for you, we'll have to share." The washerwoman went back to wringing out tunics and hanging them to dry. Tyrion settled on a stone bench with his flagon. "Tell me, how far should I trust Magister Illyrio?" The name made her look up. "That far?" Chuckling, he crossed his stunted legs and took a drink. "I am loathe to play whatever part the cheesemonger has in mind for me, yet how can I refuse him? The gates are guarded. Perhaps you might smuggle me out under your skirts? I'd be so grateful, why, I'll even wed you. I have two wives already, why not three? Ah, but where would we live?" He gave her as pleasant a smile as a man with half a nose could manage. "I have a niece in Sunspear, did I tell you? I could make rather a lot of mischief in Dorne with Myrcella. I could set my niece and nephew at war, wouldn't that be droll?" The washerwoman pinned up one of Illyrio's tunics, large enough to double as a sail. "I should be ashamed to think such evil thoughts, you're quite right. Better if I sought the Wall instead. All crimes are wiped clean when a man joins the Night's Watch, they say. Though I fear they would not let me keep you, sweetling. No women in the Watch, no sweet freckly wives to warm your bed at night, only cold winds, salted cod, and small beer. Do you think I might stand taller in black, my lady?" He filled his cup again. "What do you say? North or south? Shall I atone for old sins or make some new ones?"

The washerwoman gave him one last glance, picked up her basket, and walked away. I cannot seem to hold a wife for very long, Tyrion reflected. Somehow his flagon had gone dry. Perhaps I should stumble back down to the cellars. The strongwine was making his head spin, though, and the cellar steps were very steep. "Where do whores go?" he asked the wash flapping on the line. Perhaps he should have asked the washerwoman. Not to imply that you're a whore, my dear, but perhaps you know where they go. Or better yet, he should have asked his father. "Wherever whores go," Lord Tywin said. She loved me. She was a crofter's daughter, she loved me and she wed me, she put her trust in me. The empty flagon slipped from his hand and rolled across the yard.

Grimacing, Tyrion pushed himself off the bench and went to fetch it, but as he did he saw some mushrooms growing up from a cracked paving tile. Pale white they were, with speckles, and red ribbed undersides as dark as blood. The dwarf snapped one off and sniffed it. Delicious, he thought, or deadly. But which? Why not both? He was not a brave enough man to take cold steel to his own belly, but a bite of mushroom would not be so hard. There were seven of the mushrooms, he saw. Perhaps the gods were trying to tell him something. He picked them all, snatched a glove down from the line, wrapped them carefully, and stuffed them down his pocket. The effort made him dizzy, though, so afterward he crawled back onto the bench, curled up, and shut his eyes.

When he woke again, he was back in his bedchamber, drowning in the goosedown featherbed once more while a blond girl shook his shoulder. "My lord," she said, "your bath awaits. Magister Illyrio expects you at table within the hour."

Tyrion propped himself against the pillows, his head in his hands. "Do I dream, or do you speak the Common Tongue?"

"Yes, my lord. I was bought to please the king." She was blue-eyed and fair, young and willowy.

"I am sure you did. I need a cup of wine."

She poured for him. "Magister Illyrio said that I am to scrub your back and warm your bed. My name – "

" – is of no interest to me. Do you know where whores go?"

She flushed. "Whores sell themselves for coin."

"Or jewels, or gowns, or castles. But where do they go?"

The girl could not grasp the question. "Is it a riddle, m'lord? I'm no good at riddles. Will you tell me the answer?"

No, he thought. I despise riddles, myself. "I will tell you nothing. Do me the same favor." The only part of you that interests me is the part between your legs, he almost said. The words were on his tongue, but somehow never passed his lips. She is not Shae, the dwarf told himself, only some little fool who thinks I play at riddles. If truth be told, even her cunt did not interest him much. I must be sick, or dead. "You mentioned a bath? Show me. We must not keep the great cheesemonger waiting."

As he bathed, the girl washed his feet, scrubbed his back, and brushed his hair. Afterward she rubbed sweet-smelling ointment into his calves to ease the aches, and dressed him once again in boy's clothing, a musty pair of burgundy breeches and a blue velvet doublet lined with cloth-of-gold. "Will my lord want me after he has eaten?" she asked as she was lacing up his boots.

"No. I am done with women." Whores.

The girl took that disappointment entirely too well for his liking. "If m'lord would prefer a boy, I can have one waiting in his bed."

M'lord would prefer his wife. M'lord would prefer a girl named Tysha. "Only if he knows where whores go."

The girl's mouth tightened. She despises me, he realized, but no more than I despise myself. That he had fucked many a woman who loathed the very sight of him, Tyrion Lannister had no doubt, but the others had at least the grace to feign affection. A little honest loathing might be refreshing, like a tart wine after too much sweet.

"I believe I have changed my mind," he told her. "Wait for me abed. Naked, if you please, I expect I'll be a deal too drunk to fumble at your clothing. Keep your mouth shut and your thighs open and the two of us should get on splendidly." He gave her a leer, hoping for a taste of fear, but all she gave him was revulsion. No one fears a dwarf. Even Lord Tywin had not been afraid, though Tyrion had held a crossbow in his hands. "Do you moan when you are being fucked?" he asked the bedwarmer.

"If it please m'lord."

"It might please m'lord to strangle you. That's how I served my last whore. Do you think your master would object? Surely not. He has a hundred more like you, but no one else like me." This time, when he grinned, he got the fear he wanted.

Illyrio was reclining on a padded couch, gobbling hot peppers and pearl onions from a wooden bowl. His brow was dotted with beads of sweat, his pig's eyes shining above his fat cheeks. Jewels danced when he moved his hands; onyx and opal, tiger's eye and tourmeline, ruby, amethyst, sapphire, emerald, jet and jade, a black diamond and a green pearl. I could live for years on his rings, Tyrion mused, though I'd need a cleaver to claim them.

"Come and sit, my little friend." Illyrio waved him closer.

The dwarf clambered up onto a chair. It was much too big for him, a cushioned throne intended to accomodate the magister's massive buttocks, with thick sturdy legs to bear his weight. Tyrion Lannister had lived all his life in a world that was too big for him, but in the manse of Illyrio Mopatis the sense of disproportion assumed grotesque dimensions. I am a mouse in a mammoth's lair, he mused, though at least the mammoth keeps a good cellar. The thought made him thirsty. He called for wine.

"Did you enjoy the girl I sent you?" Illyrio asked.

"If I had wanted a girl I would have asked for one. I lack a nose, not a tongue."

"If she failed to please... "

"She did all that was required of her."

"I would hope so. She was trained in Lys, where they make an art of love. And she speaks your Common Tongue. The king enjoyed her greatly."

"I kill kings, hadn't you heard?" Tyrion smiled evilly over his wine cup. "I want no royal leavings."

"As you wish. Let us eat." Illyrio clapped his hands together, and serving men came running.

They began with a broth of crab and monkfish, and cold egg lime soup as well. Then came quails in honey, a saddle of lamb, goose livers drowned in wine, buttered parsnips, and suckling pig. The sight of it all made Tyrion feel queasy, but he forced himself to try a spoon of soup for the sake of politeness, and once he had tasted he was lost. The cooks might be old and fat, but they knew their business. He had never eaten so well, even at court.

As he was sucking the meat off the bones of his quail, he asked Illyrio about the morning's summons. The fat man shrugged. "There are troubles in the east. Astapor has fallen, and Meereen. Ghiscari slave cities that were old when the world was young." The suckling pig was carved. Illyrio reached for a piece of the crackling, dipped it in a plum sauce, and ate it with his fingers.

"Slaver's Bay is a long way from Pentos," said Tyrion, as he speared a goose liver on the point of his knife. No man is as cursed as the kinslayer, he reminded himself, smiling.

"This is so," Illyrio agreed, "but the world is one great web, and a man dare not touch a single strand lest all the others tremble." He clapped his hands again. "Come, eat."

The serving men brough out a heron stuffed with figs, veal cutlets blanched with almond milk, creamed herring, candied onions, foul-smelling cheeses, plates of snails and sweetbreads, and a black swan in her plumage. Tyrion refused the swan, which reminded him of a supper with his sister. He helped himself to heron and herring, though, and a few of the sweet onions. And the serving men filled his wine cup anew each time he emptied it.

"You drink a deal of wine for such a little man."

"Kinslaying is dry work. It gives a man a thirst."

The fat man's eyes glittered like the gemstones on his fingers. "There are those in Westeros who would say that killing Lord Lannister was merely a good beginning."

"They had best not say it in my sister's hearing, or they will find themselves short a tongue." The dwarf tore a loaf of bread in half. "And you had best be careful what you say of my family, magister. Kinslayer or no, I am a lion still."

That seemed to amuse the lord of cheese no end. He slapped a meaty thigh and said, "You Westerosi are all the same. You sew some beast upon a scrap of silk, and suddenly you are all lions or dragons or eagles. I can bring you to a real lion, my little friend. The prince keeps a pride in his menagerie. Would you like to share a cage with them?"

The lords of the Seven Kingdoms did make rather much of their sigils, Tyrion had to admit. "Very well," he conceded. "A Lannister is not a lion. Yet I am still my father's son, and Jaime and Cersei are mine to kill."

"How odd that you should mention your fair sister," said Illyrio, between snails. "The queen has offered a lordship to the man who brings her your head, no matter how humble his birth."

It was no more than Tyrion had expected. "If you mean to take her up on it, make her spread her legs for you as well. The best part of me for the best part of her, that's a fair trade."

"I would sooner have mine own weight in gold." The cheesemonger laughed so hard that Tyrion feared he was about to rupture and drown his guest in a gout of half-digested eels and sweetmeats. "All the gold in Casterly Rock, why not?"

"The gold I grant you," he said, "but the Rock is mine."

"Just so." The magister covered his mouth and belched a mighty belch. "Do you think King Stannis will give it to you? I am told he is a great one for the law. He may well grant you Casterly Rock, is that not so? Your brother wears the white cloak, so you are your father's heir by all the laws of Westeros."

"Stannis might grant me the Rock," Tyrion admitted, "but there is also the small matter of regicide and kinslaying. For those he would shorten me by a head, and I am short enough as I stand. But why would you think I mean to join Lord Stannis?"

"Why else would you go the Wall?"

"Stannis is at the Wall?" Tyrion rubbed at his nose. "What in seven bloody hells is Stannis doing at the Wall?"

"Shivering, I would think. It is warmer down in Dorne. Perhaps he should have sailed that way."

Tyrion was beginning to suspect that a certain freckled washerwoman knew more of the Common Speech than she pretended. "My niece Myrcella is in Dorne, as it happens. And I have half a mind to make her a queen."

Illyrio smiled, as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweetcream for them both. "What has this poor child done to you, that you would wish her dead?"

"Even a kinslayer is not required to slay all his kin," said Tyrion, wounded. "Queen her, I said. Not kill her."

The cheesemonger spooned up cherries. "In Volantis they use a coin with a crown on one face and a death's head on the other. Yet it is the same coin. To queen her is to kill her. Dorne might rise for Myrcella, but Dorne alone is not enough. If you are as clever as our friend insists, you know this."

Tyrion looked at the fat man with new interest. He is right on both counts. To queen her is to kill her. And I knew that. "Futile gestures are all that remain to me. This one would make my sister weep bitter tears, at least."

Magister Illyrio wiped sweetcream from his mouth with the back of a fat hand. "The road to Casterly Rock does not go through Dorne, my little friend. Nor does it run beside the Wall. Yet there is such a road, I tell you."

"I am an attainted traitor, a regicide and kinslayer." This talk of roads annoyed him. Does he think this is a game? "What one king does another may undo. In Pentos we have a prince, my friend. He presides at ball and feast and rides about the city in a palanquin of ivory and gold. Three heralds go before him with the golden scales of trade, the iron sword of war, and the silver scourge of justice. On the first day of each new year he must deflower the maid of the fields and the maid of the seas." Illyrio leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Yet should a crop fail or a war be lost, we cut his throat to appease the gods, and choose a new prince from amongst the forty families."

Tyrion snorted through the stump of his nose. "Remind me never to become the Prince of Pentos."

"Are your Seven Kingdoms so different? There is no peace in Westeros, no justice, no faith... and soon enough no food. When men are starving and sick of fear, they look for a savior."

"They may look, but if all they find is Stannis – "

"Not Stannis. Nor Myrcella. Another." The yellow smile widened. "Another. Stronger than Tommen, gentler than Stannis, with a better claim than the girl Myrcella. A savior come from across the sea to bind up the wounds of bleeding Westeros."

"Fine words." Tyrion was unimpressed. "Words are wind. Who is this bloody savior?"

"A dragon." The cheesemonger saw the look on his face at that, and laughed. "A dragon with three heads."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“What’s A Song of Ice and Fire? It’s the only fantasy series I’d put on a level with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. . . . It’s a fantasy series for hip, smart people, even those who don’t read fantasy.”—Chicago Tribune
A Game of Thrones
“Reminiscent of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, this novel is an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal.”—Chicago Sun-Times
A Clash of Kings
“Martin amply fulfills the first volume’s promise and continues what seems destined to be one of the best fantasy series ever written.”—The Denver Post
A Storm of Swords
“Riveting . . . a series whose brilliance continues to dazzle.”—Patriot News
A Feast for Crows
“Of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best. In fact . . . this is as good a time as any to proclaim him the American Tolkien.”—Time

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A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3434 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up the first book in this series after watching the show on HBO. Needless to say the first book is spot on to the TV show and pretty amazing. Books 2 and 3 were still great and then I started book 4 and was lost. I started to read reviews on line and understood that book 4 and 5 were split into 2 novels so on the day A Dance with dragons was released I had just finished A Feast For Crows and was more than ready to move on. Sadly, that never happened. I am the type of reader that will read anything and I mean anything Cereal boxes, Shampoo bottles and Junk mail just because I love to read and yet I had a difficult time focusing on this book. There are way too many non essential characters that bring less than nothing to the story line and whole chapters that leave you feeling that you just picked up another book entirely. You find yourself reading through them hoping to get a snippet of information that will pull you back into the story only to end up with nothing. In the first the books you saw a beginning, middle and end to some of the trials that each person was experiencing even though it was not the end of that persons story. In this book you're left with the feeling that nothing they did was ever completed it just dragged on and on and on. If you're looking to answers to any question that the first 4 books raised you're going to be Highly disappointed. This book is like season 3 or 4 of Lost. Lots of story that makes no sense. The writing is beautiful, the character and scenery descriptions are amazing but the story got lost. I am all for anything that gets people to read, but I would not recommend this series to anyone because I would hate to have them to end up disappointed. Also B&N should remove the star ratings from any review created before the release of the book. Most the the 5 stars were giving by people who could not have read it.
SabsDkPrncs More than 1 year ago
First off, I have read the book. This is a review of the book and not of how long it took to be published, or B&N's preorder process. I was really looking forward to this book. I think the first four books, even AFFC, could be the start to the greatest fantasy epic of this generation. ADWD is disappointing. The first part of the book takes place concurrently with AFFC, and this part obviously should have been in that volume. It is a bit confusing that Sam is in both books. The story drags. Nothing that happens seems very important, even the things that are definitely big revelations. This is 1100 pages of tying up loose ends. I get the feeling from this book that GRRM didn't know what he was going to do, and so had to do quite a bit of character pruning in order to move forward. All in all, not a great read and a disappointing entry in what has been a great series.
Dustin Spencer More than 1 year ago
First three books were amazing. Number four was decent. This one, not so much. The plot evolves at a snails pace, and the thrills are few and far between. The first 90% of most chapters is like wading through mud to reach the final 10%, which is generally pretty good. This book could have easily been trimmed down at least by half. After waiting so long for this to come out, I was hoping for so much more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not start reading this series until it came on HBO. I would rather read the book than watch the movie, so I started on these. Wish I had watched the show on this series. Books one and three were good but dragged myself through two and four. Hoped that GRRM would redeem himself on five, but no such luck. Glad that I did not start these books way back and have to wait the long years that many have. Book five just rambles and the story goes no where. In fact, other than a few places the story has gone somewhere off the board. Does GRRM even have a plan for his characters or the plot? If you haven't started this series yet, my advice is don't start them. Watch the HBO version and save all those thousands of pages of reading time for something more interesting and an author who gives his readers his best.
Sick-Tried More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying I am an avid reader of this Genre and believed the first 3 books of this series as 3 of the best ever; however, the books have now started to move at a snails pace (much like the WoT). Quite frankly I am disgusted with this most recent entry in the series. I am not sure any significant plot lines advanced. I am sure G.R.R's reader will remember as well as I when A Feast of Crows was published and the author stated he split the manuscript in to 2 books because it was too much for 1 novel, and lo and behold a mere 3 years later this is what we get. I can only hope enough people complain about these foot dragging authors that they will wake up and stop sacrificing the pace of a story to make a buck. I am done with this series and author. I no longer care what happens, I will now give my money to authors who care more about their readers and less about HBO's dollars (as soon as I find one, any suggestions?)
ActuallyPlayedMassEffect More than 1 year ago
Being a Martin fan is almost masochistic. He writes superbly and with amazing consistency a 'fantasy' series that is more charaxcter piece and feudal history, and like many others i love it. With all the hype recently built and the long wait for those of us who predate the HBO series and said hype, this release was a present eagerly opened for avid readers. Martin delivers all you would expect from 'Song', deep and intricate people, beautifully described landscaps and an amazingly deep history. Usually his novels pick up pace and we are whisked through battles, intrigue, moral grey areas, and the frustrating death of a beloved charactr who may be the only decent human being written into the story. This book drags, and its upseting. After years of awaiting its release i find myself wondering how much of the plot was moved along. Comparatively speaking, his previous novels have more scenes of moment, of import and emotion. Here i fiund those climax points to miss the mark or be downright friiustrating and disheartening. For the amount of reading there is very little movement to this novel compared to the previous titles or something akin, like Patrick Rothfuss' two epic, genre bending novels. Still, i loved it, and am thankful it released at all, but familiar fans should be forewarned, most of what you may anticipate to pass, does not. Let us hope the rumors of another 4year wait are untrue, because Martin owes us all alittle more for our patience, patronage, money and time.
Winterfan More than 1 year ago
For this I waited 6 years? I am completely underwhelmed. The story did not advance beyond what could have been written in about 250 pages. Mr. Martin has sadly disappointed this fan. I think you could even skip this volume and still follow the story. So much of the writing seemed like filler and did not captivate the way the first three books did (I say 3, because #4 was a bit of a disappointment also). If the next one takes as long to publish, I may be one of many who lose interest.
1Vlad More than 1 year ago
There was so much talk in this book if I could sleep while reading I would of, its like the Author was so busy looking for things to make the book bigger instead of getting to the point or getting to the characters in the previous books. Waiting for this book for years was a waste and I suggest you wait for all the books to come out and read it all at once maybe then it might make a better read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm seriously disappointed in all the impatient people posting bad reviews. So what if he took a long time to write a book? Art takes time, folks. Be mature and be patient. George R. R. Martin has obviously spent alot of time on this book, so it's bound to be wonderful. I'd rather he spent alot of time writing the book and making it as good as he can instead of rushing it and turning it into a disappointment. Martin has stated himself that he's a slow writer, so have a little compassion for the man. A writer shouldn't have to tailor to his fans, that's not how writing works. Martin is obviously taking the series in the direction he wants it to go. And why not? By writing these books for the populace, he's doing you a service. Stop complaining. Martin's work is absolutely wonderful. I'm a big fantasy fan myself, and I always have been. Martin lays out an intriguing world with grey characters and a plotline that will pull you in and not let go. This is a world where no characters are safe, a world where anything can happen. This is a world where the bad people usually triumph and where good people suffer great losses. This series is not for people who want a "safe" story with characters riding bunny rabbits and using foam swords, but it is for people who want a story that makes them keep guessing. It's for people who want realism along with those fantasy elements we've all grown to love. If you want a book where your favorite character can die on the next page and be completely unexpected, read this series. This is truly some of the best fantasy literature ever written, don't miss it.
Paradigm More than 1 year ago
First off, let me say that I have thoroughly enjoyed A Song of Ice and Fire, even though it is not exactly the type of fantasy that I crave. I generally prefer more magic, less politics, and less total destruction of MANY likable characters. I have also been a bit perturbed with the huge number of unnecessary side characters who make the story so convoluted and would require you to read the series 10 times with a huge chart to be able to finally figure out the historical and present connections between all of them. That being said, I very much enjoyed the first four novels. I really enjoy his writing style. It flows smoothly, is descriptive enough and has great characterization, and his dialogue and humor are top notch. That being said, I always felt like I was waiting for some major things to happen and every time something did happen, it seemed to me to send the story backwards instead of forwards. A Dance with Dragons was enjoyable to read, but I felt like nothing happened. You could jump from the first page to the last and here is where you would be ****spoilers**** Danaerys is still in Mereen, Jon is still a the wall, the North is still held by the Boltons, Arya has barely progressed with the assassin priests, Greyjoy is sailing to the East, Cersei is ruined, Jaime is in the riverlands twiddling his thumbs. Tyrion is the only character that really advances in the story. So, did I enjoy it while I was reading it? Yes, but I felt very unsatisfied when it was finished. Of course, that may be the sign of a good storyteller, as I will be looking forward to the next.
2ManyBooks_2LittleTime More than 1 year ago
All you crybabies that have been ripping on GRRM for the past several years can all go find something else to cry about now. Sure it was a long, long wait but it was worth it!! This could well be the best volume in the series so far! Tyrion and Jon have large roles and in my opinion they are the best and the strongest characters in the entire cast. Things pulled together, and even wove together, nicely from volume 4 and sets the stage for the final two books to include all the main characters in each book. I wait patiently for the next volume and if it is a few years so what! I'll read something else in the meantime and leave the crying to the usual suspects.
Regenbrecht More than 1 year ago
Great character development and story line. However, the lack of closure is wearing on me.
sghltx95 More than 1 year ago
I love Martin's series more than any other fantasy author, so I am coming from a very positive place. However, unlike his other books, I thought little in his 5th book moved the plot along at all. There's so much the book could have done without. So much detail, so many people, but what did it really add to the main story? I have enjoyed everyone of Martin's side tracks to date. This time, not all of them helped the reader get anywhere. I wish he could have took out chunks of this book and made it a 6 book series instead of 7. Truly, if you read book 5, you only need to read the last chapter on each character to see where book 5 gets you between 4 and 6.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to read this book and purchased it the day it came out. I was hoping the lives of some of the characters I had grown to love would be wrapped up in this book but that didn't happen. It left me feeling empty........I have no idea what happened to Sansa, Catelyn, Arya, Bran.............and many more characters. Is there another installment to follow? What happens to Tyrion, Cersei, Jamie...........so many questions, no answers in this book....disappointing. I am afraid that if there is another book by the time it comes out, I won't care. The other books were beautifully written but this one seems to have dropped in storylines for no reason.
petmel19 More than 1 year ago
I am sick to death of authors who simply drag a story out for no good reason. Instead of tying up loose ends in Dance with Dragons he introduced new storylines in this book. And the old questions remain unanswered. I'm done with these books. I love the world he has built, but I can't believe that reading 1000 pages failed to advance the story AT ALL.
Deborah Connors More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for much and more, but got little and less. Long and drawn out with tedious detail, symbolism rammed repeatedly down our throats. I am a big fan of this series, and am hoping for better next time, with a hopefully shorter wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible ending, if you could even call it a ending. It never finished telling the story. I don't know if he got tired of writing the story or thought he could come back to it. For fans sake he needs to wrap it up.
AKRon More than 1 year ago
After waiting all these years for another great book, I am rewarded with more obscure characters, endless descriptions of every character's ancestors, mode of dress and shoe sizes. I am so tired of this, so here is an ending: Dany and Tyrian get together, fall deeply in love, discover nuclear energy and just blow up the whole world as they sail away with the dragons. After, of course, stopping off to burn to death a certain novelist.
CrazyTwinMom More than 1 year ago
This was the worst book in the series. I wasted money buying it and wish I could have a refund. The character's stories were not compelling, except for Tyrion's. Tyrion saved this book somewhat. I would have liked to hear about Sansa and Catelyn.
Grizzly8 More than 1 year ago
Lets start with the title. A Dance With Dragons, this book was not about the dragons, but bad, evil characters that left me with a feeling of reading a long winded horror flick, not a novel. "Run, run, your going to die!" This is a very slow plot, with way to many POV's. And whats with the dwarf fascination? The little engine that could? The only "good" character is killed off, or not, cause he didn't actually say he was dead. Probably need 250 pages to detail that plot twist. It was a very weak plot twist. Throughout this book, I kept getting the feeling that George RR Martin was procrastinating on writing about what I wanted to read about, which was the original characters from the first book, instead new ones were created and boring to boot, or you read about the same terrible characters that basically do the same things they did in the previous books. The original characters felt like another teaser to so you would buy his next book. I won't read the next book or books, I'm done reading about lies, cruel torture, cheats, incest, back stabbing, filthy evil in general. I need a long hot shower with lots and lots of soap. I wish I could have my time and money invested in this book series back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started reading this series this year when Game of Thrones first came out. I was hooked on books 1 through 3. By book 4 I apwas seriously fatigued at the authors inability to advance this story. Just finished book 5 which may be the most bloated book I have ever read. 1100 pages and the story barely moves forward. This is likely my last book, I don't have the energy to allow him to finish the story at the pace he moves it along.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ugh! How long must we wait for the end to this story? Do not buy it yet!! Wait til he finishes the series if you havent readany of the books. This book was a very good one compared to the rest of the series. Please finish the series already!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story simply does not move. Jon goes on being depressing. Danaerys goes on being beautiful and frustrated. Theon miserable. Thus goes the story for 700 plus pages. Huge disappointment!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can tell this book was written with an eye towards having a long running tv series. Read the first 3, which were epic, and then watch the rest of the series on HBO. Hopefully, GRRM smartens up and istens to his fans and gets thecseries back on track.
DearReader More than 1 year ago
When years pass between titles in a series -- especially a great series like this one -- the expectations build sky high. I had to tone them down just a bit. When I started reading, it was just great to be returned to the world of so many favorite characters. Towards the middle of the book, it gets a bit swampy with superfluous story lines, but it's all great story so I slogged on anticipating more from my favorite characters. Then the final chapters really sped by -- and I'm on the edge of my seat once more, waiting for the next installment. Please don't keep us waiting years, GRRM!