Over the weekend I finished reading the forth book in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. A Feast for Crows was quite different from the other books in the series and if I had not been forewarned to one of those differences I would have been pretty upset. You see, this book only follows half of the characters that we have come to expect to see in each volume. Tyrion, Daenerys, Jon, Bran – none of these characters appear (well, Jon does in one chapter). Instead, this book focuses on the happenings within Westeros.
Once I got used to the idea that several of my favorite characters would not make an appearance I was able to get lost in the characters that were present, and there were several new ones. That was the other big change in this book. Martin took us into two new groups of people, but rather than picking one person to be the window into those groups he switched between about three people in each and named the chapters things like “The Drowned Man” as opposed to the person’s actual name. This didn’t effect the narrative in any way, but was an interesting change none the less. The only thing I will say about this new device was that it took me longer to care about these particular storylines than any of the others because I spent the first several pages of each chapter trying to get anchored into who was narrating.
I was very excited that the female warrior, Brienne, got her own chapters in this book. I have been very intrigued by her character ever since she was introduced in A Clash of Kings and it was nice to finally get some real insight into her head. I was also intrigued when I saw that Cersei had her own chapters in this book. I went into her chapters wondering if I would begin to sympathize with her like I did with Jamie in the previous book (who, as an aside, is now officially one of my favorite characters). Yeah, that did not happen with Cersei. Any shred of sympathy I had for her is now gone. I am glad that we were able to see the inner workings of her mind, but goodness, she is a terrible person. She is the Umbridge of this series for me. *shudders*
This book also saw a lot of growth and change for the two Stark girls. I have always loved Arya and that did not change here. Her story is at this weird crossroads right now, but I am still very invested in her and what she is going to do next. Sansa, on the other hand, is a character that has always annoyed me. I was always able to sympathize with her – the poor girl has been forced to endure some awful stuff – but I had difficulty getting past her silliness. This book changed all that. For the first time, I didn’t cringe every time I had to go inside her head. She is still the same Sansa, but she is more mature. She is growing. I can now see a wealth of potential within her and am excited to see how it develops.
A Feast for Crows is a book that is all about schemes. Unlike the other books, this one had no major battles or world shattering executions. This was very much a transition book. Several key events were set in motion, important information was learned, and carefully laid plans came to fruition for better or worse. But even though this book had less intense action it was no less riveting. As much as I want to know what was going on with the missing characters I am incredibly bummed that I am not going to find out what happens next with these characters when I pick up A Dance with Dragons.
Have you read A Feast for Crows? How did you feel about the narrative changes that Martin made? What about this book did you like? Not like? Let me know in the comments.