I don’t know if it’s because the book that preceded it was action-packed and full of intrigue or because George R.R. Martin was running out of ideas for his story, but A Feast For Crows is a far cry from the first 3 books in the series.
What sets this book apart from the rest of the books in the series are its narrators. Some of the major characters from the first 3 books are noticeably absent. Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Danaerys are just some of the characters that are silent in this book. Instead we hear from Brienne of Tarth, Samwell Tarly, and the Lannister twins, Jamie and Cersei.
In place of the usual character chapter names, some characters, both major and minor, add their voices to the story hidden behind cryptic chapter titles such as “The Captain of the Guards,” “The Queen Maker,” “Cat of the Canals,” etc.
A Feast for Crows centers mostly on King’s Landing and the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings, with side stories involving Brienne’s quest, Samwell Tarly’s journey, House Martell of Sunspear, Euron Crow’s Eye and the rise and fall of the Ironmen, and the maesters and novices of Oldtown.
After the War of the Five Kings, there is a lull in Westeros, and the Kingdom, as well as its people, must pick up the pieces of their broken lives and try to get back on their feet again.
One of the biggest disappointments of this book is that it does not directly follow the plot foreshadowed in the 3rd book. It veers drastically from the plight of the Starks to focus on other events and characters, who, until now, have only been alluded to.
Ironically, Cersei proved to be the saving grace of this novel. Her character provided the intrigue and controversy that the novel sadly lacked. Unfortunately, not even learning of Cersei’s deepest desires, fears and insecurities were enough to transform her into a likeable human being.
With the general lack of swordplay and battles, A Feast for Crows sets a slow, steady pace, which escalates only at the very end, teasing readers with what’s to come.
More than anything, A Feast for Crows is the calm before the storm. It sets the stage for what I’m hoping will be an explosive continuation of the series in the 5th and most recent novel, A Dance with Dragons.
Winter has finally arrived.