I finished the fourth installment of Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire last week, and have since began the next volume in the series, A Dance with Dragons. I was really looking forward to this book, as this has been one of my favorite series to read. However, I’m sad to say that I was thoroughly disappointed with A Feast for Crows.
It’s by no means a bad book. The issue I had was largely based on the way Martin wrote the book. In his message to the readers, Martin explains how he wrote the fourth and fifth volumes of the series. He was initially writing one book, but it became so long that he had to split it into two books. Martin writes A Song of Ice and Fire in a third-person perspective, where each chapter is told from the eyes of one character, and the chapters switch through the characters. Rather than cutting his large novel in the middle, Martin divided the work by making one copy focus on some characters, and the other book the rest. He hoped that this would help the series flow better than making a book with two parts.
It was a mistake. By seperating the content by way of characters, A Feast for Crows feels like half a book. By putting aside half the character cast, the book feels strangely empty. It might feel that way because of the loss of a few important characters, but nonetheless, the book just feels like it’s lacking something. That something may very well be the action that the previous three books in the series were stuffed with. A Feast for Crows missed out on the pace in the past novels that defined the series so well, and in doing so is by far the poorest showing in this series thus far.
In this book, the Seven Kingdoms rest uneasily after the majority of the fighting in the War of Five Kings. Only one of the five proclaimed kings remain alive, but others quickly fill in their place. Political alliances and unease run deep as trusts are formed and broken. In this book Martin largely depicts a world reacting to the end of fighting in a war- the calm before the the storm, the eye of the hurricane. A couple new point-of-view characters are introduced, and they serve well to show the perspective of most parties involved in the book, as well as developing the characters themselves and making the relatable to the reader. As I mentioned, the action that was so great in the past volumes of this series is missing, and it really makes this book feel poor after the masterpieces that were the first three books in the series.
The pros and cons of this book are just about the same as the past books in the series, with the huge absence of action that made the series so great. The writing is still detailed and rich, and the plot and character development still hints to big things coming soon. Still, I couldn’t get over the missing action, and the missing characters. Martin removed three fan-favorites from this book (Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Jon Snow), and that really affected the read for me. I still enjoyed it, but the absence of those characters really leaves an empty feeling in the book, a feeling that is only emphasized by the lack of action in the book.
All in all, this is not Martin’s best work. It is by far the worst showing in series of A Song of Ice and Fire so far. The last book was (so far) the very best, so I can see how increased expectations may lead to the perception of this book being poorer than they should be; still, the fact remains that this book just won’t satisfy fans of this series. You still have to read it if you wish to continue with the series (I know I am), but it won’t be the experience that was A Storm of Swords. I don’t think the tv shows Game of Thrones will suffer the problems of this book, as the producers will probably continue to show all characters at the same time (taking out fan-favorites for a season would have a much more dire result on the show than it would on a book). On a sidenote I just need to mention: I’m still not watching the show yet, but right now the show is about three quarters through the third book, and the fourth season coming this April is going to have some absoultely massive action go down soon, so I might tune in for that.
In conclusion, I’m giving A Feast for Crows an 8.3/10, a big drop from the last volume of the series. I really hope this is the worst Martin puts out in the series, and so far that holds true as I’m halfway through the next book, A Dance with Dragons. This book was a disappointment, but I sincerely hope and feel that the rest of the series won’t be, a feeling I’m sure fans share.