Review Revisited: George R. R. Martin – A Feast for Crows
Length: 1062 pages
Originally Read: 15 August 2006
Re-read Finished: 10 August 2011
Where did it come from? My fantasy favorites shelf; originally purchased from Amazon.
Putting “Crows” in the
title but not including
the Night’s Watch is mean.
Summary: Now that the War of the Five Kings is essentially over, things could begin to get back to normal… but of course, they don’t. Cersei has two goals: to make sure that nothing happens to Tommen, and to use her the power that was denied her as Queen to her fullest extent as Queen Regent. She turns to Jaime for support, but Jaime is tired of the politics and the scheming; by way of redemption, he’s sent the lady knight Brienne out to find Catelyn Stark’s daughters. But Arya has fled across the Narrow Sea to Braavos, where she is in training to be of service to the Nameless God, and Sansa is in the Eyrie, posing as Peter Baelish’s natural daughter. Meanwhile, Sam is taking Maester Aemon back to Oldtown, the Iron Islands are in the throes of a bloody battle of succession, and the kingdom of Dorne may be fomenting rebellion. And everywhere there are rumors from across the sea… rumors of dragons.
Original Review: The note from the author in the back of the book says that this book should be considered the “first half” of book 4 in the series, as it only deals with half of the character’s viewpoints. Unfortunately, the half that the author picked to go in this book were by-and-large characters that I either didn’t care about (the Greyjoys), or characters that I got bored with very, very quickly (*ahem* Cersei). A lot of chapters seemed repetitive and unnecessary; maybe a few more passes of the editing knife would have let everything fit into one book that actually held my attention. He also seems to be getting a kick out of re-introducing minor characters from several books ago, and it’s clear that some of them are supposed to be significant, but I don’t remember who they are three thousand pages later, and I don’t care enough about the storyline they’re re-entering to bother going and looking it up. Hopefully the next book (narrated by more of the characters I like) will be better.
Thoughts on a Re-Read: Okay, this was a little better the second time around – I read it with a fresher eye, and caught a lot more of the subtleties (also having read The Hedge Knight helped me understand some parts way better) – but on the whole I’m sticking by my original opinions. I do not care about the Greyjoys. I mean, I like Asha well enough, and I’d like to know what happened to Theon (who is obviously not dead; in fiction, and especially in this series, when everyone is saying “Oh, he’s totally dead, but no, I didn’t see him die and I haven’t seen the body,” that person is basically guaranteed to still be alive.) But they succession and the squabbling and the Kingsmoot? Don’t care. Also, Dorne? Don’t care. Certainly don’t care enough to have multiple chapters from multiple points of view to deal with a plot point that could have been handled just as well as hearsay in someone else’s storyline. I’d be trucking along with my re-read, and then I’d hit a Greyjoy or a Dorne chapter, and it was like a brick wall; the book got put down and not picked up again until the next day, when I could start fresh and slog through.
I did care about what’s going on in King’s Landing, but Cersei’s arc (which basically boils down to “Cersei sucks way worse at scheming than she thinks she does, and is also totally losing her shit”) could also have been dealt with just as effectively in half the space. Similarly, Jaime’s, Sansa’s and Brienne’s POV chapters were interesting enough and didn’t feel like overkill, but they’re going around in circles (literally, some of them), and not much actually happens in any of those arcs until the very end of the book. Conversely, Arya’s storyline was pretty interesting, but wasn’t given nearly enough time to get somewhere really interesting. Samwell’s really the only character that I thought had the right ratio of forward story momentum : number of POV pages.
All of that stalling and slow plot lines – especially compared to how much stuff happens even within the first two hundred pages of A Game of Thrones – is what makes the author’s note re: the splitting of A Feast For Crows and A Dance with Dragons really chafe. I found it pretty annoying back when I originally read this book, when my impression was that all of the characters’ chapters were essentially done, but they would just be published separately (“next year (I devoutly hope)” according to the note dated June 2005 in the back of my copy). Now, six years after that was written, and with a fresh-from-the-“new-arrivals”-shelf copy of A Dance With Dragons in hand, I find it really annoying. But I’m dying to know what’s going on with the rest of the characters, and I find that even after a few days, I’m already anxious to dive back in to Martin’s world, so I guess I will forgive the authorial and editorial (and publishorial? I don’t know the whole story behind the split) hijinks and keep reading. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Oh, also, the “minor characters” I was complaining about in my first review was Pate; I apparently totally missed the connection between the prologue and the epilogue of this book my first time around.
Other Reviews: Roughly a bazillion of ’em over at the Book Blog Search Engine.
First Line: “Dragons,” said Mollander.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 323: “As he trotted up the column, Jaime passed boars, badgers, and beetles, a green arrow and a red ox, crossed halberds, crossed spears, a treecat, a strawberry, a maunch, four sunbursts counterchanged.” – a conventional M-shaped representation of a sleeve with a flaring end used in heraldry.
- p. 348: ““I propose we build new dromonds,” said Aurane Waters.” – a large, fast-sailing ship of the Middle Ages.
- p. 800: “Over it he wore greaves, gorget, gauntlets, pauldrons, and poleyns of blackened steel, none half so dark as the look upon his face as he waited for Jaime Lannister at the end of the drawbridge.” – a piece of plate armor for the shoulder and the uppermost part of the arm, often overlapping the adjacent parts of the chest and back; a piece for the knee, made of plate or leather.
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