Monday, 18 March 2013
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows picks up directly after the dramatic events of A Storm of Swords. Robb Stark, the King in the North, is dead. King Joffrey is dead. Balon Grejoy is dead. Tyrion has left King's Landing after murdering his father, Tywin. Sansa is with Littlefinger in the Eyrie, realising just how power hungry he is. Arya has boarded a ship for Westeros, Daenarys is dealing with the uncomfortable information that Ser Jorah Mormont was a spy and Jon Snow has just become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
It's safe to say that A Feast for Crows has a lot of loose ends to pick up and a lot of consequences to deal with. I was pre-warned before reading that the pace slows considerably in this volume and that only some of the main characters are featured. It's a good thing I was warned otherwise the lack of Jon, Daenarys and especially Tyrion would have been irritating. But as I was expecting it, I found the change of pace welcome after the drama of A Storm of Swords and I actually really enjoyed getting to meet some new characters and places.
I think one of the reasons that I loved A Feast for Crows is that it focuses on a lot of the women characters. In King's Landing, Cersei Lannister has finally got the power she has been craving all along as regent for young King Tommen, but now that she has it, she has no idea how to use it. It's fun to watch her blundering along from mistake to mistake and to finally see her outplayed by a younger version of herself, Margaery Tyrell. Cersei is one of the few 'love to hate' characters (her only redeeming feature is her love for her children), so there's a lot of satisfaction in seeing the mighty fall.
A large part of the plot of this volume takes part in Dorne, a kingdom to the far South that seems to be loosely modelled on Arabia. At the end of book three, Prince Oberyn was murdered by the Mountain and we get to see how Prince Doran and the many women of the royal family react. I just loved Dorne - if I was to be a member of any of the houses, I would be a Martell. Similarly, I appreciated the new setting of Braavos, which was a bit like medieval Venice.
One issue I keep finding with this series is that in every volume, there seems to be one character that is doomed to spend the novel wandering aimlessly around Westeros. For the last few books, it was Arya Stark. Now Arya has more of a plot in Braavos, the role of 'looking for things unsuccessfully' fell to Brienne, a character I had previously enjoyed. But in this novel, she just moved around without a clear idea of where she was going and it became a bit tedious. Hopefully we'll be spared a wandering character in Dance with Dragons.
I think I'm in the minority as I actually enjoyed this as much as Storm of Swords. Yes, there was less action and shocking events were fewer and far between, but I loved journeying with Martin to new areas of Westeros. I'm glad I was pre-warned about the book only focusing on some of the main characters and can't wait to start Dance with Dragons to see what Jon, Daenarys and Tyrion have been up to.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2005
Score: 5 out of 5