A Feast For Crows
George R.R. Martin
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.
Rating: 3.75 / 5
When I first opened A Feast For Crows, I felt uneasy – no, reluctant. A Storm of Swords, the previous installment of George R.R. Martin’s feverishly popular “A Song of Fire and Ice” saga, was good but still boggled my brain to the point where I was thinking, “Maybe I should quit this series…” I knew I’d only get more of that in A Feast For Crows. Plus, I was aware and disappointed that three of my favorite POV characters (Danaerys, Jon Snow, and Tyrion) wouldn’t appear in this book. But in the end, the reader in me wasn’t a nitpicking carrion crow, but a hungry reveler savoring every morsel of the banquet.
Like its predecessors, A Feast For Crows is a juicy fruit of conflict, lust, blood, and manipulation. The various points of view contribute to this. Martin continues storylines for several fan favorites (Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Jaime Lanniser, Samwell Tarly) while finally offering glimpses into the heads of other familiar faces (Cersei Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Asha Greyjoy). He also introduces us to new players (and potential “Game”-changers) from Dorne and the Iron Islands, as both locales have now been drawn into the overall picture after the events of A Storm Of Swords. Alliances once thought unbreakable are tested and ripped apart. Secrets are shared and spilled. Strategies are carefully woven in the shadows – and often shredded by the agendas of other characters. Then again, isn’t that what this “Song of Ice and Fire” has been based on since the beginning?
Despite my initial hesitation, I really enjoyed the new POVs and settings introduced in A Feast For Crows. Dorne entranced me completely; it contains the same debauchery and political chess matches seen at King’s Landing, but it seems more colorful, lush, and exotic. Arianne Martell, Princess of Dorne, is hands down my favorite new character. She embodies the lusciousness of her homeland while easing herself into Martin’s catalog of strong female characters with her persistence, stubbornness, and desire to overcome her wounded past. And wow, did I enjoy Cersei’s take! She proves her status as the saga’s “Lady You Love To Hate” as readers get a first-hand look into her machinations, as well as the start of what could be her downfall. Out of the returning POV characters, my trophy goes to Jaime. His evolution has become increasingly arresting with each book. He’s still the arrogant, headstrong knight from A Game Of Thrones, but he’s clearly plagued by guilt over his (unintentional) role in his father’s death and questioning his loyalty to his sister / lover Cersei. Where Jaime goes from here, I have no clue but definitely want to follow.
I can’t say I hated or disliked anything about A Feast For Crows, but the fact that some of the new POV characters have only one chapter annoyed me. If someone’s viewpoint matters only for a few pages, why include it at all? Why not write the chapter from the perspective of a character who’s guaranteed to pop up more often as the series continues? Here’s hoping this “single shot” error doesn’t become a habit in A Dance With Dragons.
For now, though, I’m relishing the Westeros smorgasbord again. A Feast For Crows has renewed my interest in “A Song of Fire and Ice.” And even though it’s missing some of series’ most exciting characters, I welcome most of the new additions and can see their potential significance in the slowly unfolding plot. It’s fascinating to see how wide the net of impact has been cast beyond King’s Landing. To me, that hints at universal implications of the saga’s eventual ending – and at Martin’s unprecedented writing genius. Now I definitely have to read A Dance With Dragons before Season 5 of the HBO show begins next year.
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Coming Soon: Maria V. Snyder’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel Poison Study will be the next feature for Recent Reads. Until then, stay tuned for a new “Chronicling The Craft” to celebrate 60,000 words on my WIP!