With HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s epic fantasy series almost finished, even if the series itself certainly isn’t, I will be revisiting my original reviews from 2011 of the five books in the series completed by Martin. I have already posted reviews of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords. My review of the latest book, A Dance with Dragons, is now posted as well.
As A Feast for Crows opens, the War of Five Kings at the center of the last two books has largely ended, with three of the five kings dead. The series is now moving onto its next stage. The part of the story focusing on Westeros and, in particular, King’s Landing is winding down, and the part of the story focusing on the continent across the Narrow Sea and Daenerys is heating up. Unfortunately, the sheer scale of the transition material Martin is trying to wade through led him to the decision to shift Daenerys and John’s stories back to A Dance with Dragons.
This results in the weakest of the first four books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Martin continues the habit of describing relatively unimportant events in excruciating detail while leaving other, major events to happen off-screen but without providing the level of payoff that made it an enhancement in A Storm of Swords. Several new storylines are introduced, but they merely serve as foreshadowing, fail to resonate, or both. Martin continues to play around with his style, for example, changing up his POV-chapter title conventions, sometimes using informal titles that sometimes change over the course of the book rather than names. That being said, the book is still very good and moves the story forward, if perhaps too slowly.
A Feast for Crows is marked by the introduction of Cersei and Jaime Lannister as POV characters. In their POV debut, they get the first and third most POVs in the book (Brienne gets the second most) to mixed results. I appreciate them more in an almost-post-show world. Martin at least begins to construct a more effective redemption arc than the show was willing to give him, and Martin makes Cersei both more sympathetic and complex a character. She is also much more incompetent than in the show, which makes the show’s failure to do the work to explain her success even more grating. There are also five chapters from an Iron Islands POV and four chapters set in Dorne. Much maligned, they can’t help but feel ancillary to the main story. Many of the new storylines were interesting in theory but are marred by the show’s decision to casually dispense with them.
3.5 of 5 Stars.
Imyril on A Feast for Crows at There’s Always Room For One More . . .