Of course the only previews I want to read are the ones that go "this is the best book ever." This isn't realistic, as no book written to date has that unanimous reception.
What I look forward to next is something that states "the book is jam-packed with events on par or greater than the events of Storm of Swords - and all these events are amazing."
What I don't want to hear is a comparison to Feast for Crows. I realize it has its defenders, as will anything, as art is subjective, but that was not a very good book. It wasn't terrible. It wasn't poorly written. It was
uneventful after the expectation set by Storm of Swords, where a ridiculous amount occurred.
But I consider Feast a give-me. GRRM's plans didn't work out as he intended, and there was no way he could keep the momentum going after so many culminations. So Feast was a buildup novel. Very well, six out of seven excellent books is more than anyone could ask for.
To hear that this may be yet another buildup novel is not welcome. We are three novels from the end. There's so much to cover, so much potential awesomeness that has already been built-up, that at this point this should be one long trek of things wrapping up in a spectacular fashion. What would make it worse is that GRRM has spent eleven goddamn years writing this book, and is on record stating his reason is that he isn't satisfied with just writing good material, he wants to write exemplary material. This perforce sets expectations high.
Do I want to read more philosophical deliberation, or musings on the plight of the common folk, or background information on events or personages who have no relevance to the rest of the story? No, I can read the forthcoming compendium for that sort of thing. I would prefer to see shit going down with Jon, Tyrion, Dany, et al. I would like to see long-awaited interactions, long-awaited climaxes...everything that I've waited to see, I would like to start seeing now. And any unpredicted plot twists too. I want to see momentum, not academic lectures on a fictional world. Feast did that, and it wasn't good. I'm praying the living crap out of Christ that doesn't happen here.
But then even if this is another serving of needless bloat in addition to Feast (and certainly "close to Feast in tone" does not necessarily need to indicate that), this still a chance it could be an entertaining book. Extraneous, bloated side treks in the story are sometimes entertaining, depending on how well they are written; just because most of the bloat in Feast (eg the preponderance of Brienne, Sam and Greyjoy chapters, some of Jaime's chapters, some of the Dorne chapters) wasn't entertaining* doesn't mean the same will be true in Dance.
However it goes, I hope I'm not making too much of the short review. I hope Grossman is the more reliable in this. And there is one bright side to a disappointing Dance, if worst comes to worst: I'm very curious how GRRM would react if all those years of devoted perfectionism ended up poorly received, whereas a book he spent a scant couple of years on (Storm) was his best received.
*Yes, defenders of Feast, I know. You think Feast is the best novel in the series. That's all well and good, but you are a rare breed. Far more will disagree with you than agree. So let's agree that while you may like more of the same, a greater portion of fans will not.
Notably this is also the case in ASOS which many regard as the best book in the series. If you look at the book, and it is particularly obvious in the British split paperback versions, that very little happens in the first half of the book - but its all set up for the second part.
A ton of stuff happens in the first half. We get: 1)Tyrion's interactions with his father, which had some of the best, most riveting dialog in the book; 2) Arya's interactions with the BwB and the Hound, which were also compelling, and included such events as the reveal of the much talked about Dondarrion and Thoros' rediscovery of magic; 3) Jon's experiences beyond the Wall, with the reveal of the much discussed Mance Rayder, in addition to all the important Wildlings, and furthermore the greatest movement in Jon's character arc in his interactions with Ygritte and his conflicts with his vows; 4) The Others return and there's a crushing defeat against the Night's Watch, and Mormont is killed; 5) Jaime's hilarious interactions with Brienne and Ser Cleos, and his remarkable character evolution; 6) The absolutely depressing string of events which led to Robb's death; 7) Tyrion's marriage to Sansa.
There's more, but I'm sick of listing them all. The beginning half was hella eventful. Most of it was buildup to a greater climax, but even the buildup was full of compelling and wildly entertaining events. Storm was a happenin' book.
Edited by Humble Asskicker, 03 June 2011 - 02:53 PM.