[SPOILER ALERT: While I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free, depending how far you are along in the series, some things may be given away. Read with caution]
After the whirlwind of intrigue, betrayal, and bloodshed that swept through Westeros in A Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin‘s A Feast for Crows begins in an unfamiliar place, removed from the war that has been raging among the main houses of Westeros. Set almost entirely in the southern part of the continent–but also venturing to the seas and Braavos–Feast introduces new places, new characters, and new cultures. You learn that while the Starks and Lannisters and Baratheons have been fighting for the throne, the people of Dorne, Highgarden, and the Iron Islands have all been hatching their own plans. But there is also a lot going on with the more familiar characters from the first three books.
Sam Tarly is on his way to becoming a maester because, after all, the Night’s Watch needs to have a maester, and poor ancient Aemon won’t live forever. Arya continues on her quest to find home and to discover who she is along the way. Sansa has finally escaped from the clutches of the Lannisters, but finds herself once again playing a role forced upon her. Cersei is recovering from her grief and dealing with the young Tyrell queen. Jamie is trying to make a name for himself again, and Brienne is on a mission to find the two Stark girls and follow through with her promise to Lady Catelyn.
NEW CHARACTERS, NEW VOICES
One of the most interesting thing about A Feast for Crows is the new point of views we get. Every book offers a new voice or two, but Feast takes off with not only new characters, but also new point-of-view chapters for characters we already thought we knew, namely Sam and Cersei (who proves to be as crazy as you probably thought). My favourite new character to get to know was Arianne, a princess of Dorne. She offers a look at what the south has been going through and gives more insight into the Dornish and yet another way of life in Westeros. We also get a look at the culture and belief system of the people of the Iron Islands. With the characters in A Feast for Crows, Martin shows us a wide variety of motivations–even more so than usual–that explain the events and interactions going on throughout the seven kingdoms. From family to honor, religion to power, the new point-of-views turn the series in a whole new direction and illuminate new forces at work.
A Feast for Crows is not my favourite book so far in A Song of Ice and Fire, but it has an entirely new feel to it. I think it’s similar to A Clash of Kings in that both are the lulls between explosive events. A Game of Thrones introduces us to the world and the people currently sucked up in the conspiracies of Westeros and ends with an eruption of crazy that spurs a whole train of events that play out in the second book, which like Feast, serves as more of a calming-down and setting-up novel. And after A Storm of Swords, a more calm, slow-starting novel is exactly what is needed. Even the characters are taking it slow, reflecting on the events that have recently shaken up their lives. So, while not my favourite book in the series, I appreciate the change of pace and change of scene that A Feast for Crows provides. It offers more explanation about what is happening and what events, even decades before, are still affecting the present.
Overall, A Feast for Crows is still a wonderful piece of fiction. The beloved series would not be complete without it. Martin’s clear ability to write human emotion and motivation is proven again and again throughout this novel. It’s chock full of crucial details so I highly recommend taking your time with this one.
4 AutumRaindrops (out of 5)