Wings of Fire Anthology Review: The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin *spoilers*

August 5, 2014 2014 Read & Review, 2014 Reading Challenge - Review, 2014 Reading Challenge - TBR Decimation, 3.5 Stars, Anthology, Book Review, Dragons, Fantasy, paperback, short story/Vignette, slice of life, War & Recovery 0

Wings of Fire

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Dragons: Fearsome fire-breathing foes, scaled adversaries, legendary lizards, ancient hoarders of priceless treasures, serpentine sages with the ages’ wisdom, and winged weapons of war…

Wings of Fire brings you all these dragons, and more, seen clearly through the eyes of many of today’s most popular authors, including Peter S. Beagle, Holly Black, Orson Scott Card, Charles De Lint, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula K Le Guin, Dean R Koontz, George R. R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Garth Nix, and many others.

Edited by Jonathan Strahan (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Eclipse) and Marianne S. Jablon, Wings of Fire collects the best short stories about dragons. From writhing wyrms to snakelike devourers of heroes; from East to West and everywhere in between, Wings of Fire is sure to please dragon lovers everywhere.

GRRM is…an incredible writer. He manages to jam a lot of things and a lot of emotion into few words (when he wants to).

GRRM also seems to be a big fan of rape. I’m NOT saying that he has/wants to/dreams of raping someone personally…but he damn sure seems to be unable walk away from any opportunity to rape someone in prose. *rolls eyes* And that shit makes me upset. I don’t want to hear any BS about “realistic” either – these are GRRM’s authorial decisions and nothing more.

So. “The Ice Dragon” is the story of Adara and her family. Adara was born during a very cold winter and her mother died in child birth. Adara was “full of winter” – she could be outside and barely feel the cold, unlike her siblings. Adara was not just physically cold, she was emotional cold as well. She didn’t smile, didn’t cry and rarely showed emotion. Adara could play with ice lizards when others could not – the body heat that other people created would melt and kill the ice lizards. Adara also had an Ice Dragon. Made from ice with the breath of pure winter, Adara’s ice dragon would come to her in the winter…extending each winter year after year.

At the same time Adara was growing up with her ice dragon, a war was taking place between two kingdoms…and in the end Adara’s kingdom was being overrun. Adara’s father refused to leave the farm even though his brother, Hal, told him that the soldiers were coming and they would burn and/or kill them. Hal fought and fought with his brother to leave but Adara’s father refused. When the soldiers finally arrived, Hal tried his best to save his family but he was burned alive by enemy dragon riders. 🙁

Adara runs away and manages to call her ice dragon…but as the dragon was taking her away Adara hears her father scream. Somehow this changes Adara – the winter leaves her – and she begs the dragon to help her save her family. The dragon begins to mourn but helps her by freezing the majority of the dragon riders…but one manages to get close and breathe fire on the ice dragon’s wing. The wing melts, crashing – and thus shattering – the ice dragon. The ice dragon manages to kill the remaining dragon & rider…and then it died.

But the last dragonrider was behind them now, the enemy in full armor on the dragon whose scales were the brown of rust. Adara screamed, and eve as she did the fire enveloped the ice dragon’s wing. It was gone in less than an instant, but the wing was gone with it, melted, destroyed.

The ice dragon’s remaining wing beat wildly to slow its plunge, but it came to earth with an awful crash. It’s legs shattered beneath it, and its wing snapped inn two places…

The ice dragon painfully raised its head once more, and made the only sound that Adara ever heard it make: a terrible thin cry full of melancholy, like the sound the north wind makes when it moves around towers and battlements of the white castles that stand empty in the land of always-winter.

When the cry had faded, the ice dragon sent cold into the world one final time: a long smoking blue-white stream of cold that was full of snow and stillness and the end of all living things.
– George R.R. Martin, “The Ice Dragon,” pg 30

Adara goes into her home to find her father nailed to a wall…forced to watch as soldiers gang rape Adara’s older sister, Teri. And this was where I just lost it. WHY in the fuck does GRRM need to write a gang rape into a 9 page short story???! WTF. Can he NOT rape someone once in a while? I have to admit that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back with me and GRRM. I’m not reading a damn thing he writes from now on. *very unhappy MrsJ* I will note that the scene is not graphic and only encompass a few lines – but they were very important lines and I have had to come to the realization that GRRM’s authorial decisions always leave me upset. He’s just not for me.

All of the members of Adara’s family make it (except Hal, of course) and Adara becomes like other girls: she laughs and plays and is warm. Nothing is left of the ice dragon but a pond of very cold water.

And I cried. I cried for the death of the ice dragon. I cried for Teri. I cried for Hal.

I also deducted .5 stars for Teri’s gang rape and the torture of Adara’s father.

It’s a well written but sad story…and while I appreciate the incredible wordsmithing of GRRM…I’ll not sample his work again. I hate rape and torture.

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