The Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne.
As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros,
victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel
and the coldest hearts...
Chapters: 46 (Plus a prologue and an appendix.)
Book Links: Goodreads
Jesus, A Feast for Crows is massive! I am exhausted... (Which is why I'll probably keep this review short. That and I'm lazy...)
For the fourth entry in A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin pulls back the pace and ups the scale. We're definitely more contemplative as Westeros tries to manage the consequences of the war for the Iron Throne, a war that threatens to reignite at every turn. It's both a good and bad thing. It's good because A Feast of Crows returns to its harrowing focus on politics and paranoia as some try to ensure their claims and others try to extend theirs, and bad because a lot of immediacy and accuracy are lost.
Overall, however, Martin brings another epic entry to the table, spinning webs with countless spiders, and all of them are ravenous...
SPOILER WARNING (Should only be for the synopsis, and they won't be too surprising.)
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
The Lannisters reign supreme, for the most part.
War has been reduced to embers and the Iron Throne has its king, but for how long?
From the ashes arise new contentions, new plots and new enemies.
Battles have moved from the field back to the shadows and whispers.
Cersei fights to remain Queen; Jaime hunts for his purpose; Brienne searches for the lost; the Iron Isles elect a new and terrifying king; Sansa remains hidden; and Arya continues her training under the Many-Faced God.
But not all of them can have their happy endings.
Some will have to watch their nightmares come to life and devour them piece by bloody piece...
Plot - 4/5 Stars
There are a lot of aspects to A Feast for Crows, but I'll try to keep things succinct. With the war dying down, our distinctive characters are far from safe. A shadow war is waged and fought in whispers. Shady politics rule as everyone tries to get ahead of one another. It's probably the most engaging part of the plot, and reminds me of this series' first entry: A Game of Thrones.
In most ways that's what we're back to. The story sets up mostly new threads as the old ones burn. A consequence of having A Storm of Swords as a predecessor is that this entry comes across less focused and unsure of itself. The previous novel is sharp and shocking, with huge events capitalising on a lot of plots. A Feast for Crows, while exciting, is a little scattered. There is an abundance of repetition, and sometimes I started a chapter almost identical to the last.
In saying that, there are so many wonderful things that it's worth it. Suspense and tension are phenomenal bedfellows as you adventure through the story. The land is tenuous and rife with danger, ensuring every corner leaves your heart in your throat.
Pace - 4/5 Stars
Slow and steady, even when we come to some chilling cliffhangers the pace never picks up from its wander. It's rarely a hardship, due in large part to Martin's beguiling writing and lovable cast, but I recommend taking A Feast for Crows sparingly.
Try to fly through it and it'll consume you.
Characters - 4/5 Stars
We meet a plethora of new cast members this time around, and for the majority they're fantastic. The author has a way with backgrounds and personalities that make every character feel like the most important one in the entire series. We also focus on some familiar faces we haven't seen much insight to. They've been prevalent in previous novels, but A Feast for Crows gives us a better look at their mindsets and plans.
There are notable viewpoints missing: Jon Snow, Tyrion and Daenerys. I definitely missed them, but I'm content enough with what we're given. Of those we are, the progression and development are, as always, sensational. A Feast for Crows might not blow your socks off with its epic-ness, but it will satisfy you with its enthralling character studies.
Writing - 4.5/5 Stars
Apart from some sayings you'll find used over and over again, Martin shines as the wordsmith that he undeniably is. His attention to detail, the story's continuity, the characters' development, are all staggering. You can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of information you're handed, but it gives you something to mull over in your quieter moments.
Overall - 4/5 Stars
Not my most favourite entry, but a slouch it is not. For medieval fantasy full of magic, politics and palpable paranoia, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Previous Instalment: A Storm of Swords, Part Two: Blood and Gold
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