This is the fourth book in mega-franchise Song of Ice and Fire … aka Game of Thrones.
It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears… With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist–or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.
But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces–some familiar, others only just appearing–are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.
It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes…and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests–but only a few are the survivors.
— — —
NB: This review will contain spoilers from books 1-3.
Firstly, can I just say that I understand why everyone wants to be Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms? This is a pretty fabulous hometown, I would want it too.
A Feast for Crows marks a departure from the previous books in this series in a number of ways. Firstly, you don’t see the perspectives of all the key players in the Game of Thrones. Only half of the characters will have their stories told. The other half have their stories told in the subsequent novel, A Dance of Dragons. As such, the novels take place simultaneously, whereas the series was previously told chronologically.
I do not like this new style. After finishing Crows and (at the point) getting about halfway through Dragons, I certainly feel that the pace of the story is much slower. And in an intricate and highly detailed story, it can be difficult to go back and think to yourself while reading Dragons, ‘ok, this happens when blankedy-blank happens in Crows’.
There are a few websites out there run by what I can only assume to be dedicated superfans, who have stitched the timeline of the two books together for other readers. If you are willing to read Crows and Dragons simultaneously, these sites outline the sequence of chapters from the books to give you a chronological timeline.
I thought about using this to read the books (I’d been forewarned) but I worried it would be too much of the world, and I wouldn’t make it through. I have to have a good break between books of a least a few months, or I find that I can’t get through the second novel.
So with that having been said, here are my thoughts on A Feast for Crows!
Petyr Baelish aka ‘Littlefinger’ I found Petyr be less fun and a whole heck of a lot creepier than he was in the previous books. He comes across as a real ‘come get candy out of the back of my van, little girl” kind of guy. I definitely like his portrayal better in the show, where he is deliciously creepy but in Crows, he has an “ick- factor”.
Jaime Lannister aka ‘Kingslayer’ Jaime is much more clever, serious and responsible in this one. He reads less as a spoiled (though talented) courtier of the most powerful noble family in Westeros and more as a ‘man’. It is too bad that he and Ned Stark were enemies … if they had of spent a lot of time with each other, I think that each would have improved the other.
I foresee Jaime becoming more of a heavy hitter as the series continues and think he and Cersei will be less of a dynamic duo. (okay, very minor spoiler in this sentence) I really loved that Jaime tried his best to keep his promise to Catelynn Stark and to protect Sansa. It will be fun to see if they ever cross paths, or if he finds out that Arya is still alive.
Cersei Lannister aka ‘The Queen’ Cersei. Ugh. She was deliciously evil in the previous books and starts out that way in Crows. As much as she is the antagonist, there were things you had to admire in her and at times I even pitied her in the past. Not so much now. I wonder if Cersei is losing her grip on reality since Joff’s death. She is certainly a worse ruler and cannot keep up with the changing hands of power in King’s Landing. The Kingdom is on the brink of collapse and for once it has nothing to do with usurpers to the throne.
Cersei is nowhere near as clever as she thinks she is and is so terrified of losing another child, that she acts blindly. Pride goeth before a downfall and that is most certainly going to be the case for her. She has received fantastic advice from Jaime and her Uncle but doesn’t trust them, just as she had no respect and grace in receiving Tyrion’s assistance during Stannis’ invasion. I’m going to foretell her demise in the forthcoming sixth book.
Samwell Tarley I think that Sam should get the “most improved character” reward. His story-line went from mainly whining about how cowardly he was and ‘just leave me here to die’ melodrama to interesting and exciting. His plot has finally divested from The Watch and the reader gets to see more mysticism entering the series in The Citadel. This hasn’t shown up yet on the show; it will be interesting to see the new sets and meet new characters when it does.
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne’s journey was pretty boring until the very end of the book when things got serious right quick.
Her’s is one of the stories I am most looking forward to exploring in the future. She meets Lady Stoneheart. If you don’t understand who this as you read the books, google it. Very important, but too spoilery to post here.
Sansa Stark aka ‘Alayne’
Sansa is just beginning to make her transition from young, feeble-minded girl to confident woman. She isn’t playing the Game of Thrones yet, as portrayed on television, but she is heading in that direction.
I enjoyed A Feast for Crows but not nearly as much as I enjoyed A Storm of Swords. Then again, how could you top a book that contained both the Red and the Purple Weddings?!
A lot of new, seemingly unimportant characters are introduced in this one, from The Prophet, and The Captain of the Guards to The Reaver, The Iron Captain, The Drowned Man and the Queenmaker. While I’m sure they will contribute to the breadth of the story later on, as I was reading, it felt like filler. It was difficult to keep track of everyone and I missed the heavyhitters who were saved for Dragons, like Dany.
If, like me, you struggle a bit with this book, give into the internet and do some quick googling. Especially if you have seen the HBO series or are unafraid of spoilers. At this point, you probably won’t find too many major spoilers because you are almost up to date and it really increases the experience by having all these random bits explained … like the real identity of Lady Stoneheart. The tower of the hand website was my favourite information guide.
* * * *