Quote Marlow: "Instead we got what? 11 real world years of waiting for something to happen. If he quickens the pace, Feast and Dance are really going to stand out in the series after it's finished as a bit of a bog that newcomers will have to wade through halfway through."
There is nothing to "wade through" here. Dance with Dragons is a huge, epic and sprawling book with a lot happening, possibly more than in any other book of the series, except Storm of Swords. I really enjoyed it and I am sure many others do aswell.
Tyrion digesting the murder of his own father and his exile and finally returning to his old self. A journey into the heart of the old world. Daenerys the Conqueror struggling to become a "good and just" ruler and failing in it*. The horrors of Ramsay Bolton. The appearance of a Targaryen Prince long thought dead. A journey into the cold wastes of the north and the fate of Bloodraven. Bran whispering to his father - such a beautiful scene ! "The north remembers" and Lord Manderly's Frey-pie. The Dragons growing into truly fearsome beasts. Comic relief: Yunkai forces assembled. The madness of war and pestilence. The memories of Ser Barristan, which will be key to resolving several important questions of the past. The harsh grip of Winter descending on Westeros. The hall of faces in the Braavosi temple. Information on the Doom of Valyria. Jon Snow showing he is a true heir of Eddard Stark**. Dragonlore. The cult of R'hllor and Prophecy. Cersei's walk of shame. The start of what you could call the "third Blackfyre rebellion" and the return of Targaryen forces to Westeros. And much more.
Dance has added several layers to the story, geographically and historically. Persons and events described in the Duncan & Egg storyline are connected to the Game of Thrones storyline. The events in Summerhall appear to be at the centre of things. The story of Dunc and Egg will probably find its resolution there. The present Song of Ice and Fire (Rhaegar's song ?) might well have started there. In the end, we will have one big epos that can truly compared to Tolkien's Middle Earth.
*Sidenote: It is quite interesting how many people despise Tywin Lannister but apparently want Daenerys just to become like him.
** In every way, from "The man who passes the sentence ..." to being blind to the machinations of those around him, to paying a terrible price for doing the right thing.