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A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire,…

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4) (original 2005; edition 2005)

by George R. R. Martin

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Title:A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
Authors:George R. R. Martin
Info:Bantam (2005), Hardcover, 784 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Read, Read in 2012

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A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin (2005)

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    Terrier by Tamora Pierce (swampygirl)
    swampygirl: Reading this book made me feel like I was rereading all of Pierce's books over again, and this one probably matches up the most closely.

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A FEAST FOR CROWS is George RR Martin’s fourth book in his SONG OF FIRE AND ICE series, now popularly known as the GAME OF THRONES books. The first three were true page-turners in every way, filled with vivid characters and a finely detailed fantasy world that very much resembles medieval Britain, but this latest volume is something of a plod, for it has nothing like the shocking twists and turns of STORM OF SWORDS. If the Red Wedding knocked you flat, then you’ll be disappointed in CROWS, for nothing quite so outrageous occurs between its pages. Furthermore, some of the epic’s biggest characters and fan favorites like Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Davos Seaworth, do not appear at all in the story, although they are constantly mentioned. This is because Martin, in a note at the end of the book, decided to cut the fourth installment of GOT in half after writing it, with CROWS centering on the characters in and around Kings Landing, while the next book, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, will tell the simultaneous adventures of Tyrion and the others on far-flung shores.

I think this was a mistake on Martin’s part and it makes CROWS feel awfully unbalanced at times, if for no other reason than there is no way to tell Tryrion’s story without the involvement of his twin siblings. The other books have always benefited with the striking contrasts Martin has drawn between the conniving court at Kings Landing, the brutal existence and constant threat from an unseen evil that is life for the Night’s Watch on the Wall, and the barbarian struggles among the tribes of the Dothraki in their desert land. I miss these places and their people, and constantly wonder what’s happening with them as I plowed through CROWS.

As always, Martin chapters are told from a single point of view as we follow a multitude of characters, some more or less virtuous than others. With some of the heavy hitters off stage in CROWS, some interesting heretofore-secondary characters get a chance to take a turn in the spotlight, namely Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow’s overweight friend from the Night’s Watch, who embarks on a journey at Jon’s insistence to become a Maester. Like Samwell, many of the other POV characters are on journeys of their own, Arya Stark, who believing all her brothers and sisters are dead, travels to a temple called the House of Black and White where she will learn the ways of an assassin to better exact vengeance on her family’s many enemies. Brienne of Tarth is on a mission, given her by Jaime Lannister, to find Sansa Stark, who is under suspicion in the murder of King Joffrey, a mission that may well prove fruitless as the reader knows Sansa’s whereabouts and that Brienne is hopelessly lost. The story also goes to the Iron Islands where the Greyjoys are having a battle of succession, one that ends with a new ploy to make them a great power in Westeros. In the kingdom of Dorne, Arianne Martell schemes to put another Baratheon child on the throne of Westeros, while her father, Doran Martell, makes moves that will insure that Dorne will survive the War of Five Kings unscathed.

For me the two most interesting POV characters were the incestuous twins, Jaime and Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. Jaime has become disinterested in the shenanigans at court in Kings Landing and in his sister as well. Dispatched by Cersei, still the Queen Regent, to the Riverlands to end a rebellion, Jaime proves to be his cunning father’s son by concluding the conflict with a complete victory and without further bloodshed, which allows him to make a fateful decision. Cersei proves to be less than her father’s daughter, for she lacks the shrewdness of either Tywinn or Tryion, instead letting fear and paranoia take control as she plots to rid herself of Margaery Tyrell, the teenage wife of her son, King Tommen, whom she suspects of planning to overthrow her mother-in-law. We learn some interesting things about Cersei, especially the identity of her first love, as she willingly goes down a most treacherous path.

The wanted Sansa Stark is now caught up in the manipulations of Petyr Baelish, who after murdering his wife and Sansa’s aunt, is now using her in a plan to take control of the kingdom of Vale long ruled by the Arryn family. Passing as Petyr’s daughter, she is nursemaid to her sickly young cousin, Robert, and feeling she has no choice but to go along with Littlefinger, lest she fall into the vengeful hands of the Lannisters.

Martin has a true knack for writing villains, the book really comes alive when Jaime, Cersei and Petyr are on the scene, not that Samwell or Brienne are not interesting in their own right.

I am giving A FEAST OF CROWS a high rating despite its disappointments simply because it still is a GAME OF THRONES book by George RR Martin, a master at fantasy world building and brilliant creator of compelling characters. His characters spin their plots and make their plans with most of them leading to very unintended results. Martin does well when he gives most of the story lines cliffhanger endings. If CROWS does not live up to the high standards of the previous books, that is because the bar has been set pretty high. ( )
1 vote wb4ever1 | Nov 5, 2015 |
I really love this whole series. How Martin keeps track of so many principle characters is quite amazing and how he makes each one so distinctive with different motives, personalities, speech patterns etc is an inspiration. I'm loving one of his sick and twisted villains in particular - the son of a lord who flays his victims. Other character reactions to him instil real fear - fabulous. I can't wait for the next one. ( )
  garethmottram | Oct 27, 2015 |
Love this, actually. Lots of people don't, and it suffers for all sorts of reasons that aren't its' fault, poor widdle bookie wookie, but, though manifestly incomplete and dealing with the aftermath of the exhausting Storm, foregrounding minor characters, touring various parts of the world, dealing with political machinations in hitherto marginal settings, Feast is a perfectly satisfying read, and may find kinder judgement when its companion volume is finally available. And I'd better find out what happens to Brienne, or there'll be words. ( )
1 vote Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
After the whirlwind of emotions and tragedy that was A Storm of Swords, I wasn't entirely sure how GrrM was going to be able to top it all. I was also a bit worried because I had been hearing complaints about how this was the worst book in the series. In my opinion that is far from the truth, in fact, I really loved this one.
Now, something that you'll find right off when reading this book is that a lot of familiar faces are missing. The book even starts introducing a handful of completely new characters. Quite a few of these characters don't make a reappearance as narrators for the remainder of the book. A lot of the characters in the very beginning make appearances as narrators but then don't have their own chapters again after that. Some faces that we all love that are missing are Jon Snow, Danaerys, Tyrion, Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos Seaworth. So, yes, if you're a Jon Snow and Dany fan like me, you'll be a little wroth at their absent. However, the characters that we do see in this book are equally as exciting.
Although, I must admit, I felt like this was the Cersei and Jaime Lannister show. I mean, I love Jaime Lannister's chapters and I think his character ARC is one of the best in the series. However, there was a bit too much of Cersei for my taste. I enjoy her character, she's the one we all love to hate, but I just found that I really wasn't wholly interested in everything that was going on in her character ARC. Of course, by the end I was changing my song, but then everything is so much more dramatic in the end in GrrM style.
Of the characters that we do get aside from the Lannister twins, one is Alayne Stone. You all know her as Sansa Stark, but her story gets taken to the Aerie where she has to hide her identity as Petyr Baelish's natural daughter. I have to say, Sansa's character progression has been some of the best in the series. She goes from being the simpering Stark girl, in love with the idea of chivalry and shining knights, to someone far more sly and far more clever after learning some of Littlefinger's politicking ways.
Arya Stark is also progressing leaps and bounds in this book. After being passed from outlaw to outlaw all across Westeros, Arya takes the coin she receives from Jaqen H'ghar and says the words that she whispers every night before she goes to sleep 'valar morghulis.' She's then taken to Braavos, across the narrow sea, where she becomes Cat and begins her training in The House of Black and White. Ayra doesn't get nearly enough chapters for me, but alas, I can understand why as there are far more dramatic things happening in Westeros.
Samwell Tarly is again a chapter character as he, the wilding Gilly, and Maester Aemon are sent across the sea to Hightown so that Sam may learn from the maesters and become master of the chain himself. Sam's chapters were good, but I admit that I would much rather have had Jon Snow chapters.
Cersei had more chapters than I think any other character in the book, except for possibly Jaime and maybe Brienne. Cersei is faced with keeping Tommen safe and on the throne even as his new wife Margaery seems to be competing with her for the rule. Things are quickly falling apart for the Lannister queen as she sees enemies in every shadow and friends nowhere.
Jaime's chapters are a bit uneventful, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I've come to really appreciate Jaime's character, especially as this book went on. He's definitely not the incestuous kingslayer that he's painted up to be in the first two books. If anything he's become something of a romantic hero (yes... i saw that on a meme on tumblr, but it really is true) he spends a vast majority of this book trying to build some semblance of honour for himself even as people continue to remind him of his kingslaying past.
A new character that I've fallen in love with is Arianne Martell. The Martell's are a house that is built on sand and blood and through Arianne's chapters we are introduced to the Sand Snakes. A group of Arianne's female cousins who are all warriors in their own rights. Dorne is the only kingdom in Westeros in which a woman can be named heir instead of a man and Arianne is the firstborn of the Dornish prince, Doran Martell. Even though it looks like we won't be getting any more of the Martell's in A Dance with Dragons, I'm really looking forward to more from them, especially with how Arianne's chapters ended at the end of this book.
Of the Ironborn, we get chapters from Asha, as well as Aeron and Victarion, her uncles. With the Ironborn chapters we see the formation of the kingsmoot, in which the ironborn choose who their next king will be. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Ironborn's, especially Asha. I really want more Asha chapters. She quickly sets herself up to make an attempt to gain control, even though the ironborn have never named a woman ruler before. I really wish we had seen more from her, but the Ironborn chapters disappeared halfway through the book as the book turned to other characters and what was happening with them.
Brienne of Tarth had a large number of chapters as well, and I admit that she is definitely one of my favourite characters. The strong warrior woman continues to take no shit from anyone, regardless. Even though at times she has second thoughts about her deviant lifestyle, she always, in the end, continues on her path because the knows that it's what she wants. Brienne's story takes her on a journey at Jaime's request to find Sansa Stark.
There was one thing in the book that I did take issue with, and that was the awkward repetition that GrrM used in this particular book that he's never used in any of the books prior. The chapters that saw the most of this were Jaime Lannister, Brienne, and Arya. Though, Jaime and Brienne's were by far the worst. I'm pretty sure the phrase: "I'm looking for my sister, she's a highborn maid of three and ten with a fair face and auburn hair." was used in every single Brienne chapter. All of them. And there were a lot of them. Jaime Lannister's chapters had a phrase that was repeated every single chapter as well. The repetition of particular phrases was bizarre and I didn't totally understand the reasonings for it, but it quickly became a point of amusement for me.
To be honest, the argument I have seen against this book the most is that it's "Introducing secondary characters and ignoring main ones." However, I feel like the people that say that are missing the point of these books. There are no main characters in these books. Each character that is given a narrative voice is in their own rights a main character. I mean, if you haven't figured it out by now, main characters in this book aren't very static. They're constantly having terrible things happen to them or being killed in various, terrible ways. The law of this series is never get too attached. So, to complain that GrrM is bringing in 'irrelevant characters' is actually pretty stupid. Because we've been shown so far that no character in this series is irrelevant. They all have pretty substantial roles in the history of Westeros.
All in all, apparently A Dance with Dragons is happening at the same time as this book, which might get a bit confusing for me (also, if you read this book there are some... spoilers about the outcomes of some characters. So, that's kind of weird...) I just find how GrrM went about this a bit weird. I understand that he now has too many characters to handle in one book, but i think i would have preferred it if he had kept the timeline moving instead of backtracking.... alas, I digress, I haven't even read the book yet, you all will hear what I think about that when it comes ;).
For me, these books are just consistently brilliant. I have yet to be disappointed in one. Although this one didn't have as many dramatic battles as the previous books had, it still had that GrrM landslide ending that had me making a high pitched whining noise throughout the last seven chapters or so. I am so in love with these books and I am so in love with every stupid character, no matter what their fate. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I finish A Dance with Dragons and have to actually wait for the next book. ( )
1 vote glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
The Good: I think this is where the TV show veers sharply away from the books. This book has a ridiculous amount of surprises, even for the avid show fan. You go in expecting one thing, or if you watch the you are expecting something different, what you get is something completely off the wall unexpected - and that's sort of amazing. Huge, HUGE, shocking revelations in this book just blew my mind. Sansa and Jaime really shine here, their stories fleshing out and growing their characters. The book slowed down a lot on the action and replaced it with political intrigue and setup for future events. The pace was slow but completely engaging.

The Bad: I hadn't noticed while reading, which probably says something, but this book only covers half of the characters. The last section of the book mentions that this installation in the series focuses on those close to King's Landing and that the next book will focus on those farther away like Stannis, Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion. So, while very long, the book only covers half of the current story. The next book is supposed to cover the same exact time period, which really should have been covered here. I would have rather had half the time covered, but all the characters - all the story lines playing out at once. ( )
  TequilaReader | Sep 24, 2015 |
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In the wrong hands, a big ensemble like this can be deadly, but Martin is a tense, surging, insomnia-inflicting plotter and a deft and inexhaustible sketcher of personalities... this is as good a time as any to proclaim him the American Tolkien.
added by Shortride | editTime, Lev Grossman (Nov 13, 2005)

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Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055358202X, Mass Market Paperback)


Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace . . . only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction.


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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, 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--emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes ... and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests-- but only a few are the survivors.… (more)

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