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Dancing with Dragons

Here on the East Coast in the States, it’s technically less than an hour until A Dance With Dragons finally makes its debut.  I feel as though I should write about my feelings or my expectations or something, however high-school-journaly that may sound.  I’ve thankfully been able to avoid spoilers up until now, and hopefully I can continue to do so until I complete the novel.  Though I know there will be many fanboys and fangirls testing my spoiler-avoiding prowess at GRRM’s signing on Thursday.  Working full time really puts a kink in any plans to hide oneself away, safe from trolls, in a nice quiet place, to read away until there’s nothing left and the world is once again safe.

To be honest, I have no right to claim that I never thought this day would come.  I’m relatively new to the ASOIAF fandom.  Several years ago in college, a friend told me to read the series.  I Wikipedia’d it to get a general idea of what it was all about.  I still have a clear image of what I imagined while reading the Wiki synopsis, which was different from what can be found today.  I imagined the Starks as a family as cold and ruthless as the winter they so anticipate.  I saw Dany as a dark-haired woman, not a child, making her way through glacial landscapes to reclaim what was rightfully hers.  And one of the main characters was a dwarf, a fact I found rather unique.  That trip down memory lane aside, I never started ASOIAF at that time.  I was wading through college and professors were throwing books at me from all directions.  I didn’t have the stamina or time to take on such an epic.  So I bookmarked the ASOIAF Wiki page and promised to pick it up in the future.

Years later, in 2010, HBO was running teasers for Game of Thrones.  I knew that if I wanted to experience the books the right way, without any precedent, I had to start them.  And so I bought each and finished each and here I am.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get into the series sooner.  Fortunately for me – and I consider this a huge plus – I didn’t have to suffer the painful five-year wait for the next title.

But now, whether you’re a fan from the beginning who has struggled to keep sane this last half a decade, or you’re someone who picked up the novels after catching the HBO show, or like me, you fall somewhere between, one thing is certain:  We can all rejoice tomorrow, when we get the next dose of the drug we’ve all been craving.

As far as expectations go, mine are high.  Maybe it’s the title, or the characters that will be featured, but I’m anticipating ADWD to be of the same caliber as A Storm of Swords, which, in my opinion, is the best in the series so far.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to the possible convergence of several storylines:  Jon Snow dumped his bastard’s baggage when he turned down Stannis Baratheon’s offer of Winterfell in exchange for the Night Watch’s support; he is now building up his identity as the Watch’s new Lord Commander, and will hopefully continue to do so between wildlings and bitter kings.  And with a Lannister, a Greyjoy and a Martell heading toward Daenerys Targaryen, we may finally see the young queen (now in practice and not just in name) insert herself into the affairs of Westeros.   For me, these two characters – ice and fire, respectively – are the two true heroes of the series, and I can only hope the fifth book ends with them on their way to connecting with each other.

There’s a host of questions in my mind.  Who is Jon’s mother?  Who is Quentyn Martell?  Did Varys truly grow up a mummer?  Who is Coldhands?  Is Tysha alive?  Is Syrio Forel alive?  Will Arya be okay?  Will Jaime run back to Cersei?  Will Bran Stark find the three-eyed crow, and what exactly is it?  Are the Children of the Forest actually extinct?  Where is Rickon?  Is Davos dead?  What will new characters like Barristan Selmy and Melisandre reveal?  Will Theon Greyjoy escape the Dreadfort?  Is there any hope for a Northern revival?  Where are you, Howland Reed, Maege Mormont?  Will we learn about Lyanna?!  Rhaegar?!  I could go on, but what’s the point?  I’m sure you all get it.  We all want the same thing, and we’re so, so close to getting it!

Finally, let me just say one thing:  HAPPY DANCING WITH DRAGONS!

Note:  There will be NO ADWD SPOILERS posted on The Kings’ Keep.  I will also most likely take a hiatus for a few days in order to complete the book without taking the risk I may stumble upon some myself.  Until then, happy reading!

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