Sunday, August 5, 2012

REVIEW: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

I've been reading a lot on my Kindle recently, on which the only way to tell how far through the book you are is the percentage in the corner. Of course, I keep forgetting how freaking long the appendices are for A Song of Ice and Fire and every time the ending catches me totally unaware because I still have a good 8% to go. It's very unsettling.

Being quite a recent ASoIaF fan, it took me a while to cotton on that half the characters had been waylaid in this book, to appear later on A Dance with Dragons. About two thirds of the way through I was having Daenerys withdrawals and decided to Google it, where I learned that in fact a lot of fans had been resentful of this when reading A Feast for Crows, especially given the wait between books.

I think in that context I too would have been disappointed in this book, but as it stands, being my first reading, I thoroughly enjoyed it and hold no ill feelings at all. In fact, apart from it having a little less action, I would say that it was just as good as it's prequels - although A Storm of Swords was pretty epic. Having read it without any knowledge of it's history or the general consensus of the fans and knowing I could go straight onto the sequel made for a much better read for me I think.

Jaime and Cersei were the real highlights in this book for me. Jaime really begins to become a crowd favourite as he follows a path to restoring his honour and morals, ferrying him from the shores of contempt and scorn over to the sunnier bank of redemption. Having him as a viewpoint for the reader is obviously the key stroke in executing this - no one really believes they are evil after all - and seeing Jaime's sincere regrets and changes from his own thoughts helps win us to his cause.

Surprisingly this is not the case when we finally get a glimpse behind the mask of Cersei Lannister. This bitch trogg from hell is a piece of work. Yes she claims that her motivations are to protect her children (read also between to the lines as 'to protect her own sweet ass') which does in a way justify all her actions, but more than ever before we can see how messed up she actually is. In a way there is a strange sense of sympathy for her ... for all her foul deeds they really are just products of her life and upbringing. That aside however, she is still one twig short of a cuckoo's nest.

With the unfolding of events by the end of A Feast for Crows, I feel that I may be left hanging until The Winds of Winter to find out what happens ... and in that case, I'll be joining the fans with the pitchforks.

Now that I think about it, my Kindle really did trick me out of enjoying the ending for this book. Brienne, Arianne, Cersei, Samwell, Sansa, Arya ... all had cliffhanger moments that I thought would be resolved in the following chapters. In saying that though, I think some were a little bit washed out because they happened so far from the final pages, especially in the case of Arya.

Speaking of Brienne ... although her quest seemed a little dry to begin with, I started to enjoy it. Her battle at the crossroads was actually one of the few points of action and had me as excited as I had been since the Red Wedding. Prince Doran's revelation to Arianne was also extremely juicy!

The only small (very small) criticism I have of this book is the overwhelming amount of names that get introduced and bandied about. Some would pop up and I could not for the life of me tell you who they were. Most of the time this really wasn't important anyway and didn't affect the story, but still. Even when Littlefinger is explaining part of the history of the Arryn line to Sansa in very plain terms, I struggled to keep up. And spending most of the story within the court at King's Landing with more Sers than I care to count, it gets a little baffling. No wonder the appendices are so long.

All in all, I really enjoyed A Feast for Crows, probably just as much as A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings - I did manage to plow through it at a good speed which always says a lot.

I think I'll take a small break to read another book or three before moving onto A Dance with Dragons, especially as I'll then be joining the cue for the next book with everyone else!

Most entertaining excerpt from this book goes to the droll wit of Cersei Lannister. I apologise for the language. She does not.
"Cersei did not intend to squander Tommen's strength playing wet nurse to sparrows, or guarding the wrinkled cunts of of a thousand sour septas. Half of them are probably praying for a good raping." 

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