Spoiler Check: I have completed Chapter 38 of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons started off as a bit of a stately Waltz with Dragons. At first it looked to be nothing much more than the other half of the individual story threads from A Feast for Crows, itself the result of George Martin having determined that his “readers would be better served by a book that told all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters”.
Not a promising thought. A Feast for Crows was, on reflection, little more than a collection of largely tame short stories, loosely linked by being set synchronously in the same universe, and interleaved chapter-wise.
There was always the hope that the presence of Danaerys, Jon Snow and Tyrion might provide the necessary lift. But Dany just continued with her cycle of deepening woes in Meereen, Jon Snow has turned worthy and taciturn with the responsibilities of leadership in tough times, and even Tyrion was initially off colour by his standards of entertaining wit. One pleasing plus point has been Dolorous Edd Tollett, put to good use by Martin as the comic relief, particularly as voiced by Roy Dotrice in the Audible version.
But my early misgivings were misplaced. By around half way through, Dance has evolved into something less routine and more passionate. A Tango with Dragons? A Flamenco with Dragons? Arguably a Lambada with Dragons, thinking of Asha and Qarl. I am finally hooked and actively looking forward to every opportunity to keep reading, something which never quite happened with Feast. Who knows, it may yet gather more steam and we might be treated to a Tarantella with Dragons!