- Alternate Character Interpretation: Did Young Griff AKA Aegon VI react so juvenile to Tyrion because he didn't like the points he brought up or did he know such facts already and was releasing his own frustrations with the plan and present situation?
- Arc Fatigue: Daenerys' story arc, nicknamed the Meereenese Knot, is one of the most disliked plots in the series because it feels like she's just wasting time in Meereen when she should be taking her dragons to Westeros. By the end of the book, it still hasn't been fully resolved.
- Badass Decay: Daenerys spends the first three books building herself into an active conqueror. However, she spends most of A Dance With Dragons comparatively inactive and out of her depth. Her army is getting whittled away by rebels, her dragons are locked away, she's forced into a sham marriage and she's distracted by lust for Daario. And that's before she gets dysentery.
- Base-Breaking Character:
- Tyrion becomes a much darker character in this book, having crossed the Despair Event Horizon since we last saw him. While some fans consider this great character development, others are not pleased and have started to dislike Tyrion.
- Quentyn Martell. While some readers find him interesting and his story arc as a deconstruction of a hero's journey, others find him boring and overly idealistic, and thus find his story arc as Shoot the Shaggy Dog and a complete waste.
- Catharsis Factor: Janos Slynt gave Jon back in A Storm of Swords too much grief and was a massive Hate Sink with his actions; which included making him refer to Slynt as "ser" and "my lord" when those titles were not allowed to him, insulting his romance with Ygritte, insulting his illegitimacy and his birth father, and almost getting him executed after taking command of the Night's Watch. He stillcontinues to demean and insult Jon, despite his crucial role in stopping the Wildlings' raid on the Wall. So having Jon get the last laugh by executing Slynt himself for his repeated insubordination is very satisfying from start to finish. Especially with Slynt spending those moments begging Jon for mercy.
- Contested Sequel: The general consensus is that Dance is better than A Feast for Crows. However, the fandom does not seem to reach a consensus on whether the book is inferior to the first three books, at the same level of quality or even one of the best in the franchise along with A Storm of Swords.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The Sand Snakes are rightly enraged and horrified about finding out about Cersei's plot to have their younger cousin Trystane killed in an ambush on the Dornish party by a group claiming to belong to Tyrion. After their TV counterparts killed Trystane and his father by themselves this one leaves now a bad taste in the mouth.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Tyrion off-handedly mentions a pirate queen named Korra.
- Memetic Badass: Wyman Manderly has attained this status (with praises that sound almost Chuck Norris-esque, e.g. "Lord Manderly is a vegetarian. Meaning, he does not eat Freys until first he puts them into vegetative state with his fists."). His earned badassery comes from the fact that everyone underestimated the fat jolly man, and that he had the audacity to feed Frey pies to people like Ramsay and Roose Bolton without them even suspecting, and even having the bard sing "Rat Cook" right to their faces without them realizing anything, and finally surviving his throat being cut.
- Moe: Penny, the sweet, innocent dwarf girl Tyrion runs into.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- Theon notices whip marks on Jeyne (who's 12/13) who also claimed to be trained to please a man. And once you realize what Littlefinger meant with "I'll take care of her"...
- Varys crosses it when he murders Kevan Lannister to deliberately destabilize the realm. Regardless of his supposed good intentions, he's dooming thousands more to die, even though it's supposedly for the realm's good.
- Narm: Dany hears Quaithe talking to her in the stars, telling her "Remember who you are." This sequence is very close to events in The Lion King (1994), preventing some readers from taking it seriously.
- No Yay: Ramsay Bolton's very... fond of his Reek. This only makes being Ramsay even more terrifying, if that's even possible."And what do you want, my sweet Reek?" Ramsay murmured, as softly as a lover. His breath smelled of mulled wine and cloves, so sweet.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Wyman Manderly's granddaughter Wylla, who stands up for the Starks and gives Davos her support, despite her family's protests and attempts to silence her. Lord Wyman praises her bravado once he reveals his plan to Davos.
- Lyanna Mormont, who doesn't even get an actual scene. One letter to Stannis from the ten-year-old daughter of Bear Island refusing to bend the knee, and she is everyone's hero.
- Alys Karstark receives a lot of fan enthusiasm for her take-charge attitude. By fleeing her Evil Uncle on horseback, she avoids a forced marriage, and by entering a bold arrangement with the Magnar of Thenn, she stands to inherit Karhold with a house full of free folk backing her.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Theon Greyjoy becomes a lot more sympathetic, and even heroic, in this book.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Dany's teenage crush on Daario is one of the most frequently complained about things in A Dance With Dragons.
- The Scrappy: Prince Aegon Targaryen, primarily to Dany's fans due to his brattiness compared to Dany's maturity (at a younger age, no less), as well as him coming completely out of nowhere and going to conquer Westeros before Dany can. Plus, he has a much more solid claim to the Targaryen throne than Dany does, which Dany's fans feel ruins the value of her being the last Targaryen. To put this into perspective the prevailing fan theory before his appearance was that he secretly survived despite his alleged murder by Gregor Clegane. When he finally did appear, the prevailing theory was that yes, he did die, and this "Aegon" is a fake.
- Squick: The rather graphic depiction of Dany suffering from both dysentery and her period at the same time.
YMMV / A Dance with Dragons