George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Feast for Crows’ Review

A Must Read 300Since the show just wrapped up its season 4 finale, I figure it is time to review George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 4). As usual for my gradual review of this series, there will be incredibly heavy spoilers for the past entries, including one that the season 4 finale didn’t show. In short, if you haven’t seen/read up until this point, skip to the next paragraph. When we last left Westeros, the Stark family had been all but destroyed. Only four Starks are really in play (Jon, Arya, Bran, and Sansa), with the youngest, Rickon, having been pulled to the sideline for now. To top it off, three of those surviving children have their hands full just trying to survive, let alone contribute to the ongoing conflict. Tyrion has fled King’s Landing after the assassination of King Joffrey, Sansa is taking refuge in the Veil, and the Lannister family is without strong leadership. With so many of the political powerhouses out of play, Westeros is ready for some new faces. Now, with some new characters moving in to stake their claim, our battered roster of “old faithfuls” have to rebuild before they fall victim to G. R. R. M.’s notorious guillotine. If this sounds like a book primarily about setup, that’s because it is.

One thing to keep in mind regarding this book is that it and A Dance with Dragons (Book 5) are actually one massive book. A Feast for Crows focuses on a lot of new characters, as well as many of the ones in Essos (primarily), the eastern continent. Of course, this means A Dance with Dragons follows characters on the western half of the world: in other words, most of our favorite established characters. Martin’s writing continues to grow more and more polished as he writes, and the Persian-styled locales are a very interesting change of pace. From a technical standpoint, including pacing, this is Martin’s best work yet (and pacing can often be an issue in such a large series). Unfortunately, I still found this the hardest book so far to finish quickly. Since they are new, many of the characters that chapters focus on seem like filler for the first quarter of the book or so. You keep thinking, “Ok, ok, when do I get to the next Jon chapter?” …which is right about the time you remember he isn’t in this book. If you can muscle through the first quarter or third of the book then the characters start to grow on you. By that point, you will also see some familiar faces. Ultimately, A Feast for Crows is Martin’s smoothest read yet, though it suffers from the same elements that make it a fresh divergence from the series. If you can handle the rocky start, A Feast for Crows is a fantastic read that excels at character development, offering some fascinating themes and locales that readers deserve to experience.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor