The first of Martin’s novels NOT to win the Locus award and I can see why. To much was just not there. I understand the uniqueness of trying to split the story geographically, but it definitely left a lot to be desired. I can’t imagine reading this and having to wait nearly 6 years to read the ‘other half’ of the novel. Checking in as the second shortest novel of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (only the first novel, A Game of Thrones is shorter) this novel still qualifies for the Tea and Books Reading Challenge and I am counting it for the Mount TBR Challenge as well.
The more of these novels I read, the more I realize Martin is incredibly intelligent and his writing is phenomenal. The series is summed up by one line in this novel (as in the last novel), “Old powers waken. Shadows stir. An age of wonder and terror will soon be upon us, an age for gods and heroes.” This not only supports my earlier discussions about his ability to write about magic but not include it in the world, but highlights that these novels take place at one of those moments in a history which are write history and re-write history.
Overall I enjoyed the novel, but I did have to keep reminding myself that this is only half the story. Occasionally I stopped and was like wait, what about so-and-so, or whos-a-ma-whats-it and then I realized that oh wait this is only half the story. This is probably why the book was only nominated for awards (or the award committees are getting tired of awarding Martin awards).
The story itself was interesting enough and there were a few good ‘shockers’ but nothing as shocking as what occurred throughout the first three novels. The only thing that left me truly speechless was the end with what happens to the Maid of Tarth 😦 I’m not sure how it will work out or if it works out, but it is definitely spurring me on to read A Dance with Dragons that much faster.
Honestly, now that I’m 200 pages into A Dance with Dragons I don’t like the decision to separate the story by geography. I’m hoping it will somehow turn out better, but it just doesn’t work as much as I wanted it to. Not only did I spend a large portion of A Feast for Crows wondering what was going on with the other characters, I’m now spending portions of this book thinking I’ve read about this portion already, just from someone else’s point of view. It is unique to see some scenes from differing perspectives, but it’s more of a ‘oh that’s nice’ than anything else.
As for the title, there were plenty more opportunities for the crows to feast, but Martin introduced an entirely expanded story line which I’m not sure he needed to add, but to flesh out the world I can understand why he did. Focusing on the Iron Isles and the King of the Sea Chair is interesting and adds another perspective to the world, but only serves to complicate things and create even more convoluted story lines.
Recommendation: If you’ve slogged through the first three you should definitely read this one. I still recommend the series, but definitely be wary as you approach the last few novels as they become more and more convoluted and only seem to raise more questions than are answered. But regardless, I felt this quote about the series is incredibly apt:
George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series has taken fantasy out of the two-dimensional, black and white realm where it once happily existed and dragged it kicking and screaming into a land of believable characters, ambiguous situations, and bloody, sometimes uncertain denouements.” —Denver Post
Opening Line: ‘”Dragons,” saild Mollander. He snatched a withered apple off the ground and tossed it hand to hand.’
Closing Line: ‘”My thanks.” There was something about the pale, soft youth that he misliked, but he did not want to seem discourteous, so he added, “My name’s not Slayer, truly. I’m Sam. Samwell Tarly.” “I’m Pate,” the other said, “like the pig boy.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers.)