There is something very intimidating about picking up a Song of Ice and Fire book months after you've finished the last ones. I tended to take breaks in-between the books but this was the longest pause I had taken, to the point where I didn't even remember what had happened at the end of the last book. Luckily, Song of Ice and Fire is so popular that there were tons of websites that could help me out.
Dance with Dragons takes place at mostly the same time as Feast for Crows but from different characters' points of view. Going in, I didn't think I would like it as much because it was more peripheral characters, ones that had ventured beyond the main bits of Westros and were in uncharted territories. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise because there are some very exciting things happening beyond the Narrow Sea.
I'm usually not a big fan of Dany's stories but this book kept me hooked, mainly because there were so many people out to find Dany that I wanted to know just who would make it. I'm still not entirely sure what she thinks she's doing out in Meereen but to each dragon queen, her own. I did enjoy hearing about the things the dragons were up to because them being dangerous, though obvious, was unexpected and I liked Dany losing a bit of her control.
Tyrion continues to delight the reader with his wits and cunning. I have no idea what is going to happen to this guy as the story goes on but I love reading about him. His time in Griff's company was great and I love his strange friendship with Penny, who I think is lovely. She's a great additional character.
I'm enjoying Griff very much, as well. I like that we have a few new characters in this book to follow. Griff and his boy, along with the rest of their strange party, add a lot to the story, bringing in a new possible ending and some good intrigue.
I continue to adore Dorne and everyone in Dorne. I thought Quentyn was a great character, a good addition to the mix. I want to hear more about Arianne in the next book and I think we will so I'm quite excited about that. Westros could definitely use some more Dornishmen.
The use of the Boltons is getting a bit old. Although they are some very nasty enemies and that Ramsay is a piece of work, I think we need to move on the tiniest bit. Can someone just flay Ramsay and get on with it?
The Wall continues to be interesting, although it has become a bit overly political with Stannis up there. I like having a Melisandre POV chapter, though, which I thought was very interesting and added a lot to her character that wasn't normally there. Definitely a good addition.
All in all, I think Dance with Dragons was a good continuation of the series but definitely left out a lot that should have been included. And you all know we're going to have to wait years for Winds of Winter. Ah well. Winter is coming, eventually.