'A Dance With Dragons' Awaits 'Game Of Thrones' Fans

Game of ThronesWith "Game of Thrones" off the air until next year's second season, now is as good a time as any to start reading "A Song of Ice and Fire," the novel series that provides the foundation for the HBO fantasy epic. It's an especially good time to come on board considering that "A Dance with Dragons," the fifth book in the series, is finally in stores after six years of delays. Needless to say, it's straight to the local book shop after work.

Though we're still years away from seeing "A Dance with Dragons" on the small screen (assuming, and hoping, that "Game of Thrones" lasts long enough to make it that far), it's never too early to get excited for more "Thrones" mania. After the jump, find five reasons why we're looking forward to dancing with "Dragons" in George R.R. Martin's latest adventure.

A fair warning — if you haven't read up to "A Feast for Crows," there be spoilers beyond the jump. Another fair warning — this is NOT a place for "Dragons" spoilers. If you're already deep into the book, keep the plot reveals to yourself!

Winter's Here, Finally!

Did we mention that it took "Dragons" six years to get here? Yes, we did. What we didn't mention is that it's been eleven years since we saw POV chapters from Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow or Tyrion Lannister. That's right: to borrow a quote from "Almost Famous," ELEVEN! That's way too long to be apart from our favorite "Ice and Fire" heroes. Now, we're reunited, and all is well.

A Stark Contrast

Riffing on the previous point, "Dragons" is bound to give us a much healthier dose of the Stark family than we were treated to in the most recent "Ice and Fire" novel, "A Feast for Crows." In "Crows," George R.R. Martin focused much of his energy on the Lannister clan and the goings-on at King's Landing. With "Dragons," we'll once again spend time with Jon Snow on the wall and Bran Stark beyond it. Hopefully we'll see some more of Arya in Braavos and Sansa — err, Alayne — in the Eyrie, too, though their screen time is likely small compared to other members of Team Stark.

There Be Dragons

The title kind of gives this one away, doesn't it? We know that dragons are back in the world of "Ice and Fire," courtesy of the trio of fire-breathers tagging along with Dany and her crew. We met them as infants. Now, they are growing. What can we expect from Viserion, Drogon and Rhaegal in "Dance"? And are there other dragons to behold, either in Westeros or the lands beyond?

Hail To The Queen

Dany ranks as one of our all-time favorite characters in the "Ice and Fire" saga, which is an impressive feat considering how far removed she's been from the main cast all this time. But in "Dance," she'll have the opportunity to engage at least a few of our most loved heroes and hated villains, including the delightfully ambiguous Tyrion Lannister; the wicked dwarf has fled Westeros and is undoubtedly on a collision course with the last scion of House Targaryen. We can't wait to see what happens if and when they meet.

Spring Comes Closer

While we're trying to stay focused on "Dragons," it's hard to not look past this latest book and towards the future of "Ice and Fire" as a whole. We officially have five out of seven books in our possession, and with the HBO series picking up so much steam, it's suddenly not out of the realm of reality that GRRM's epic tale will reach its conclusion within the next decade. Perhaps we're being too optimistic — especially given the bleak nature of this story — but we're feeling pretty darn good about the "Song of Ice and Fire."

Have you picked up your copy of "Dragons" yet? Let us know in the comments section and on Twitter, but keep it SPOILER-FREE please!