A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

After hours in the chair Sam’s back was stiff as a board, and his legs were half asleep. He knew he was not quick enough to catch the mouse, but it might be he could squash it. By his elbow rested a massive leather-bound copy of Annals of the Black Centaur, Septon Jorquen’s exhaustively detailed account of the nine years that Orbert Caswell had served as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. There was a page for each day of his term, every one of which seemed to begin, “Lord Orbert rose at dawn and moved his bowels,” except for the last, which said, “Lord Orbert was found to have died during the night.”

There are spoilers as usual.

So I’ve learnt by now if you’re in the prologue you won’t live long enough to make it into the actual book, say hello and goodbye to Pate.
After the clearing of the decks we have new perspectives for book five. The prophet, Aeron Greyjoy as he deals with Euron Crows Eye claim the iron Isles, while Hotah is the captain of the guard for the Dornish prince, who is being pressed to go to war with the Lannisters following his brothers death.
Meanwhile Cersei strives to fill the vacuum following her fathers death while going slightly mad and imagining Tyrion behind every corner. Jaime disentangles himself from her while er, well nothing much happens really for half the book. The Dornish rebellion is extremely short lived, Euron sends his brother across the sea to capture the Dragon princess (we all know who that is) while Brienne is on a task to find Sansa Stark, although Arya will do, but she’s in Braavos and pops up now and again as she trains in the house of black and white.

Samwell has been packed from the wall to go to old town to train as a Maester and he has Gilly in tow with a baby, in a nice touch, he runs across Arya in Braavos. Although these characters have no knowledge of each other, it was a rare moment of interaction between two people who we follow throughout.

Jaime escapes Kings Landing as he seeks to cleanse himself of his twin, and he eventually ends up at Riverrun where he manages to avoid breaking his promise to Catelyn about taking up arms against the Tullys. Speaking of Catelyn, she has taken the life from the dead Dondarrion and is now leading the outlaws, eventually condemning Brienne to death because she had roamed across half of Westeros trying to find a girl that only 2 people know the whereabouts of (one of which is the girl herself) and because she had a nice sword. The girl is of course Sansa, although she is now Alayne, and helping Littlefinger rule the Vale.

Most of the action centres around Cersei though, as she drinks and plots to try and get rid of Margaery yet keep the loyalty of her father. By the end of the book she has revealed a destiny told her by a fortune teller, but more importantly, closed the noose around the queen’s neck, only to find herself entangled in the rope as well.

Martin puts a note in at the end of this book, and explains that book five will pick up on what’s been going on elsewhere while he has focused on Kings Landing. While I can’t say A Feast For Crows captivated me in the same was as the previous books, it seems almost bare plot wise compared to the previous books, it easily relies on Martin’s sumptuous and intricately detailed prose, that makes the pages drift by.

Jaime read it in the window seat, bathed in the light of that cold white morning. Qyburn’s words were terse and to the point, Cersei’s fevered and fervent. Come at once, she said. Help me. Save me. I need you now as I have never needed you before. I love you. I love you. I love you. Come at once.
Vyman was hovering by the door, waiting, and Jaime sensed that Peck was watching too. “Does my lord wish to answer?” the maester asked, after a long silence.
A snowflake landed on the letter. As it melted, the ink began to blur. Jaime rolled the parchment up again, as tight as one hand would allow, and handed it to Peck. “No,” he said. “Put this in the fire.”

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5 thoughts on “A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

  1. By the time I read this, I already went south with Martin. It was better than I thought. It’s the best novel after the first one, but in the end Martin is a terrible writer and his plot is out of control. His format for this kind of story is bad. He should’ve wrote individual books about the characters, and let people piece the story.

    1. Hmmmmmm. I understand where you’re coming from, but I disagree. I think that A Clash of Kings was probably better than A Game of Thrones, because I love politics and all, but I have to disagree with Martin’s terrible writing. I personally like his writing. I also think his format works pretty well, as it allows different perspectives on an event in a single book.
      The plot isn’t a plot in a traditional sense (it doesn’t have a main character, there’s no real main plot, and there’s fifteen points of view), but I think it works well with what Martin’s going for. If you have a main character, and a well constructed, solid plot, and a good focus, it wouldn’t exactly be ‘A Game of Thrones’ (pardon the pun). Because Martin’s trying to not do your traditional fantasy; he’s trying to make a history. And in history, there isn’t a plot. There’s just a lot of compelling characters.
      The points you make are completely valid, but I do have to disagree. 🙂
      cheers,
      Rizlatnar

      1. I remember enjoying ACOK at first, but somewhere it lost control and it never recovered. I can’t recall that moment though.

        There’s no spark, personality, or poetry to his writing. It has the general pop-fiction writing where everything is described, including character’s inner thoughts and a lot of words try to cover up a lack of style. Martin isn’t one who can write nonsense and still make it readable, which is the sign of any good prose stylist.

        The problem with Martin’s format is that he follows a lot of characters whose stories aren’t close enough to be in a single book. They all occur in the same world, but as the series goes on they drift further and further apart.

        Martin is actually far more traditional. His style of ‘no main character’ is not uncommon in fiction (As I Lay Dying, The Corrections, Generation A, Haunted. Ensemble cast is a fairly common, and always welcome). There is a main plot thread – all of the events lead up to who exactly will win the throne, and what exactly is going to happen with the Others. His setting also contains very little weirdness that defines real life or quality fantasy. Human beings are weird. Great fantasy video games like Planescape know that. While Martin tries to make the story character-driven (He deserves credit here. That’s also why I think he should’ve written a novel for each character) he can’t really bring them alive. That gets especially worse in the fifth book.

      2. The only time I can remember where I was really pissed off at Martin’s writing was when he described Braavos. He just went on and on and on. His voice is sometimes bland, but I don’t mind it so much.
        In some ways, Martin’s swapping of perspective makes his works less strong. They lack the voice and personality of a first person work (which is why I think Prince of Thorns and The Name of the Wind are better books). His works do lack the same type of personality, but I do like a lot of the characters in them.
        In terms of weirdness……. I’d say Eddard Stark’s political suicide is rather weird in my opinion. I mean, he calls up Cersei and tells her that her children are toast. That was pretty surreal.
        And Arya just forgetting to use the Faceless Man to kill Joffrey or Tywin. That was also pretty stupid and surreal.
        But in terms of things just not adding up….. I mean there’s Cersei’s prophecy, and the fact that Dragons= Magic and others.

  2. Firstly thanks for the comments, much appreciated. I think Martin’s writing is fairly formulaic, in that he relies on descriptions of everything to make the bulk of the prose, and this makes it a fairly ‘easy’ read, if you like descriptive writing then you can submerge yourself in the books, barely coming up for air.
    The problem I’m finding as I reach the (current) ending of the series is that he seems to really focus on fewer and fewer characters, and continues with others because he started with them. Brienne, for example, allowed us to see that Catelyn had returned from the dead, but it took almost the whole book and before he killed her off, her quest was absolutely hopeless, and I couldn’t see where he was going to go with it. He intricately works through Cersei’s story arc right to the end, and the same seems to follow in A Dance with Dragons, where the more interesting stories / characters of Tyrion and Jon Snow come in.

    While it is a weakness of the series I do think it’s a strength, there seems to be almost no limits to what Martin wants to write about plot wise, it is an epic, and there is no reason why if he keeps writing in the same style, he could go on for ages, going down generations. As I mentioned earlier, if you get on with the style and descriptive prose (which I personally enjoy, as I pretty much switch my brain off and float along on it) you know that there is a whole world that he could easily write about.

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