A Feast for Crows

by George R. R. Martin

Paperback, 2006

Call number

SPEC FICT MAR

Publication

Bantam (2006), 1104 pages

Description

Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace ... only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction. It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears ... With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King's Landing. Robb Stark's demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist--or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out. But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces--some familiar, others only just appearing--are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead. It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes ... and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests--but only a few are the survivors.… (more)

Media reviews

In the wrong hands, a big ensemble like this can be deadly, but Martin is a tense, surging, insomnia-inflicting plotter and a deft and inexhaustible sketcher of personalities... this is as good a time as any to proclaim him the American Tolkien.

Library's review

Somewhat disappointing in the end, mitigated by Martin's apology and explanation that this was one very long book that he decided to break into two ("the full story of half the characters" in each)...

User reviews

LibraryThing member questbird
George RR Martin is starting to suffer from the large number of characters and plot threads in this installment of 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Forced by his publisher to split this one, he made the sensible decision to split the narrative by geography and character. He still maintains his overview by
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incorporating a few chapters set in the Iron Islands, Dorne and Oldtown. I didn't have a problem with not knowing of the exploits of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister during this book (except indirectly). However the focus of the book seemed a bit off. A main thread is Brienne's search for the Stark girls, which requires her to return through the war-ravaged riverlands. But no one's story was really 'finished' in the book.

For me though, the least successful element of the book was the Cersei Lannister narrative. Cersei has been a bitch-queen since the first book, but seeing the world through her eyes doesn't make her less hateful, as it did for her twin Jaime. In fact, she comes across as a rather pathetic egomaniac and bully. Also *stupid*, surrounding herself as queen with fools and flatterers and generally running the kingdom even more poorly than Robert Baratheon did. The Maggy Frog prophecy seems to have been rather hastily bolted on for this book too. I thought there was too much of her and that a King's Landing perspective could better have been provided by someone close to, but still fearful of Cersei (like the viewpoints of Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister in the earlier novels).

I liked the descriptions of the ruined and ravaged landscapes of the Riverlands, the hangman trees, Dorne and the ironborn chapters with their Drowned God. One thing which annoyed me (and did so in Storm of Swords too) was that wretched inn at the crossroads. Everyone seems to coincidentally meet there, and the place doesn't even have a name (the Old Inn, maybe?). Is there only one inn in the Riverlands in Westeros? If everyone has to pass it by, why is it never fortified or held by some lordling? It seems to be constantly being taken over or at least frequented by outlaws of every persuasion.
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LibraryThing member clong
After five years of waiting, this book was bound to be a bit of a letdown after the superb A Storm of Swords. And it is indeed a letdown. Which is not to say that it is bad: Martin continues to deliver interesting characters and storytelling. But after almost 700 pages, it felt like the overall
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story for the series had not moved forward much (which sounds fighteningly similar to what happened to Robert Jordan when he hit book 6 of WoT), and we had seen neither hide not hair of my favorite characters in the series (again, this brings to mind Jordan's mid-series meanderings). Indeed, the author has admitted that this is only half a book--though not surprisingly, it still costs as much as a whole book.

Instead we get lots of pages of moderately interesting Iron Islands and Dorne storylines, more than we really needed of an increasingly ludicrous Cersei, Brienne's search for Sansa (I very much want to like Brienne, but her story here is fairly tedious), Sam getting sick on boats, Jaime's search for purpose and perhaps redemption (the most compelling storyline in this book, imo), and a bit of an update on Arya (who is doing interesting things) and Sansa (who is not).

After three books this felt like a candidate to be the BEST FANTASY SERIES EVER. After A Feast of Crows, it feels more like a series stuck in neutral. But I have no doubts I'll be lined up to get book 5 when it hits bookshelves.
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LibraryThing member EJAYS17
Of all the 4 released books of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire none is more hotly debated amongst fans than the 4th instalment. The first 3 seem to be universally acknowledged as a quality product. Opinion is widely varied on the merits of A Feast for Crows. To fully understand this and
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even my own view of the book a history lesson is required.

A Game of Thrones came out in 1996, A Clash of Kings in 1998 and A Storm of Swords in 2000. A Feast for Crows in 2005. Why the long break between books 3 and 4? Even this is argued. As I understand it the author had initially intended that there be a 5 year gap between the end of A Storm of Swords and the start of A Feast for Crows (which at the time was still called A Dance with Dragons), Martin had never been totally comfortable with the relative youth of some of his principals and he now acknowledges that he made them too young to begin with, however hindsight is a wonderful thing, and Martin’s preferred style of working with a rough outline lends itself to this type of problem. To solve the problem he introduced the now infamous 5 year gap, he was going to fill in the blanks with ‘flashbacks. Around 18 months into the process he realised it wasn’t working, scrapped what he’d done and went back to the drawing board. This approach was not without it’s own set of problems and seriously altered how the author viewed his own work.

4 years after the release of A Storm of Swords the natives were getting restless, and Martin decided that half a book was better than no book at all and released A Feast for Crows. Not necessarily a bad idea and may have worked, except that he decided to leave out Jon Snow, Dany and Tyrion, 3 of the series most popular characters. (Note: Jon does appear in the book. It’s briefly early on and it isn’t in his own PoV chapter). To make up for their absence he introduced 2 new PoV (Point of View) characters; Brienne and Cersei. There were also a whole bunch of ‘one-shot’ PoV’s.

Feast isn’t actually a bad book, well not in my opinion. However compared to the 3 that came before it, it doesn’t stack up that well. There’s far too much filler. Did we really need Brienne’s travelogue? It’s been said this was to illustrate the state of the country and the small folk from the wars that had been raging. I seem to remember much of Arya’s storyline in A Clash of Kings doing this. I personally like Brienne, but a lot of other readers don’t seem to, and giving her a PoV may have been stretching the friendship a bit too far. It didn’t help that the readers were aware that she was on a fool’s errand. Readers knew that Sansa was in the Eyrie, masquerading as Littlefinger’s ‘natural’ daughter; Alayne, and that Arya was in Braavos training as a Faceless Man. The Cersei chapters didn’t really work either. Readers knew that she was a poor ruler and had been crazy and paranoid ever since Joffrey’s death, the loss of her father was only going to make her leadership worse and make her loonier. It didn’t need to be spelled out and seeing her lurch from one mistake to the next became rather tedious.

The one-shot PoV’s were odd, filled with unlikeable characters about whom readers didn’t really seem to care. They could have easily been condensed into two chapters; one for Dorne and the other for the Iron Islands. They reeked off filler to me. Feast was definitely in need of a ruthless editor, it reads like it was author edited.

It does have good points and it’s better on a reread. By this stage you know it’s not the full story, you can skip over Brienne asking about a maiden of 3 and 10 every time she encounters a new person, you can gloss over Cersei’s nuttiness.
I also liked two of the returning PoV’s. One was Arya. George has sometimes said that he has difficulty writing the juvenile PoV’s. I believe this mostly refers to Bran, but as Arya is only 11 years old at the end of A Feast for Crows it must also apply to her. Bran’s chapters sometimes lag, but Arya’s never do. Her chapters always hit me hardest and this is no exception. One of them in this book has made me cry every single time I’ve read it. Arya also has the advantage of operating in Braavos and this lets the author introduce a fascinating new Venicesque city to his readers, something he does brilliantly.

Then there’s Sansa (I can hear the groans from here). I like Sansa, I’ve never understood the dislike to hatred for her. I enjoy her chapters in A Feast for Crows, as she slowly starts to learn the ‘game’ from Littlefinger and her love hate relationship with young Robert 'Sweetrobin' Arryn. Many people say that the Sansa chapters are deadly boring (in fact I’ve seen someone refer to them as ‘Sansa’s Adventures in Babysitting), I’ve never seen them that way. The Vale is like a country all on it’s own and I find it interesting to explore that society, plus I loved Lady Myranda (call me ‘Randa) and hope that readers get to see more of her in The Winds of Winter, when Sansa will return (her chapters were moved from A Dance with Dragons for reasons of length and the fact that she didn’t have any real cliffhanger endings to resolve).

In conclusion A Feast for Crows is definitely a flawed entry, but it’s not as bad as many make it out to be. I’d suggest reading it as part of the ongoing series to see the stories through, but reread it when you have time in order to fully appreciate it and it’s place in the series as a whole.
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LibraryThing member TheLostEntwife
It's difficult to write a review of A Feast for Crows because of one drastic thing - the empty promise at the end of the book. I read this book several years ago and hung my hopes on that promise, that in a year A Dance with Dragons would be released - and it was just released this year. So when I
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reach the end of A Feast for Crows, it reminds me of the agony of waiting (although I certainly filled my time with other books).

This fourth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire is interesting and infuriating. It only deals with certain characters and leaves others out. I long for updates of Jon, Dany, Tyrion and one other - but get very, very few bits of information on them. Rather, we're stuck with the "King's Landing" version of events.

Granted, those events are thrilling. Between the struggle of the Queens (Margaery and Cercei), the search of Brienne "A highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair?", the fumbling heroics of Samwell (finally, the boy shows his backbone... of sorts), the re-emergence of Asha (I love that chick) and.. Sansa, now Alayne and Arya, now Cat.

So. much. information.

And I feel like I'm just being set up for something huge and the bigger it gets the more I fear for it to fail and for me to come away feeling disappointed. I know that Martin has cautioned us to not get too attached to characters - but I got attached to Brienne, dangit (And she and Jaime better.. you know!), I even enjoyed Cercei's own spectacular brand of wickedness.

But now, religion is playing even more prominently into the political mess. The emergence of a new "Holy Guard" to battle against Stannis' "Red Woman" brings a whole new level of tension to the stories and one that, I hope, A Dance with Dragons will shed a little more light on.
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LibraryThing member justabookreader
This being the fourth book in a series, there may be unintentional spoilers. I’ve done my best to keep it neutral, but you’ve been warned.

I’ve loved everything about the Song of Fire and Ice series I’ve read so far. I repeat, everything. Until I got to book four, A Feast for Crows, and my
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love sort of cooled. I didn’t dislike anything about this book; in fact, you’ll notice I rated it a 4 out of 5 so obviously I didn’t have any negative feelings toward it either. What I found was that I missed many of the characters which weren’t in this book and I started to feel like I wanted to push Cersei out a moon door of her own.

The Lannisters are still ruling King’s Landing but with Tyrion’s escape and Tywin’s death, their once golden grasp is now hanging by threadbare ropes. Cersei’s son Tommen is now king and married to Margarey Tyrell, and Cersei is having a hard time dealing with the fact that’s she being run out of her own palace. Jaime, now a one-handed man, is falling into a strange despair wondering how he will retain anyone’s respect and hating his once-loved sister for her cruel words. The Iron Islands are preparing a war run, the Riverlands are war-torn, devastated, and full of outlaws, and the Eyrie is now under the rule of a sick boy. Sansa Stark, now Alayne, is still in fear for her life, but Brienne --- the maid of Barth --- is hoping to fulfill a promise to Lady Catleyn Stark to find her daughters. Arya Stark is learning to be no one to her own detriment, and Samwell Tarley, a rather soft and scared man of the Night’s Watch, is the only man of the Black to still act like one, terrified as he is of the prospects.

As readers of this series know, each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character. Many of the characters I adored perished in A Storm of Swords and I felt slightly disconnected to the ones that were left, namely Cersei. She’s spiraling at full speed fueled by alcohol, desperation, and denial. It’s interesting but she’s never been a character I related to so I find her drama filled days just that boring. Jaime on the other hand (no pun intended) is on his own road to an epiphany and seems to be realizing just what a crazy witch his sister is. It’s interesting to see him show feelings for and refer to Tommen as his son, even if it is only to himself and a man with no tongue and no writing abilities. Jon Snowe is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and I wanted very much to know what was going on there, especially with Stannis sequestered at the Wall with him, but we hear none of it. The most interesting story line, in my opinion, is Daenerys and we don’t see her at all.

Being the type of reader that is more attached to characters than plot, it normally doesn’t bother me when something rambles, as long as I feel it’s rambling toward some close. What A Feast for Crows rambles toward is A Dance with Dragons. This series is a sweeping epic so there will need to be filler like this --- and by filler I mean stories other than the ones I want to hear will need to be told for the whole thing to come together.

While there is nothing wrong with this installment --- Martin still frustrates, overwhelms, and makes you wonder --- it was a slow book for me. There is plotting and scheming to be had in abundance and no quiet moments. I know my favorites return in A Dance with Dragons which I’m looking forward to very much. I will be giving it time before I take on the fifth book though. It’s the last one for a long while.
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LibraryThing member soliloquies
Oh dear, this book didn't work for me. Books 3a and 3b were so enjoyable and reading this was akin to wading through treacle. More viewpoints and no real sign that we are heading towards any sort of conclusion. I found myself thinking 'Get on with it!' at several times, as this book seemed to drag.
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Have to admit that this needed a good editing to cull some of the unnecessary parts.
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LibraryThing member macha
structurally, this one's a bit of a mess; haven't read the next one yet, but i'm doubting it was such a good idea to keep Danaerys and Tyrion and Jon Crow and all that side of things for the next book. because it rather reads like Martin said to himself: right, let's grab the axe, do all this lot
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in, and see where the housecleaning leaves things, and then move the main story forward next time. the trouble with that approach being: 1) things don't move forward in this book, and 2) it's unrelentingly dark.

don't get me wrong, i'm fine with dark, and darker. and i know war is nasty, brutish, and none too short (though that's certainly graphically portrayed in this series), so i'm not looking to have it come across all noble and empowering. but this time round all the characters, good and evil, just lose their purchase on solid ground, in slow motion or blindingly fast, and then they slide into the oubliette the writer has helpfully opened up for them. so by the end, everyone's individual decisions are shown to have been disastrous, often through no fault of their own. no friends, no sword, no hope, whatcha got left? and the answer's more often 'death' than, you know, ' me'.

on the bright side there are some signs not everything (especially including humanity) is lost. Jaime the Maimed King, banished to the provinces, manages to make the right decisions throughout, and even ace the big choice he's offered at the end. oh, and Asha Greyjoy makes the right move and still loses her bid to ally the Iron clans with the North and build a peace out of that, but it's only one gambit failed and even the loss may profit her in the end. while in the prophecies the Powers that Be wish to supress, Daenerys waits. so i look forward to the next book in the series, which will hopefully take the series beyond this central nadir of blood and despair, and lead us into some more concrete prospects of resolution.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
How George R.R. Martin must rue the afterword he wrote for this book, which includes the line:

All the rest of the characters you love or love to hate will be along next year (I devoutly hope) in A Dance With Dragons.

In fact, A Dance With Dragons was only released this years, six years behind
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schedule, and Martin became a figure of bizarre, obsessive hate by many fans.

A Feast For Crows and Dance With Dragons were originally meant to be one book, but it grew so long that he was forced to make it two. Rather than chopping it in the middle, he opted to focus A Feast For Crows on some characters, and reserve A Dance With Dragons for the others. The two books take place chronologically at the same time.

The problem is that he left all the best characters for the follow-up. A Feast For Crows contains no Jon, no Davos, no Daenerys, no Bran and – worst of all – no Tyrion. Arya and Sansa are here, but have only a handful of chapters each. The vast majority of the book is devoted to Cersei and Jaime, with Brienne and Sam also getting a slice. There are also, unfortunately, a number of newly introduced characters in the Iron Islands and Dorne, who seemed to exist mostly to lay the groundwork for future plot lines and were always terribly uninteresting to read about. In retrospect these chapters were probably less than 10% of the book, but they felt like a lot more. I finished the book a few days ago and I’m honestly hard-pressed to remember any of the characters, power struggles and plot developments in either of these story threads.

Overall, the best option for Martin – rather than splitting the book in two – would have been to heavily trim and edit this one. In my review of A Game of Thrones I said that it was one of the best-paced 1000+ page books I’d ever read. Those days, sadly, are long gone. A Feast For Crows groans under the weight of unnecessary characters and meandering storylines.

It’s still a good book, but I doubt there’s a single reader of the series anywhere in the world that would call it their favourite. I’m particularly impressed with how Martin has managed to make Jaime – initially a villain that I utterly loathed and wanted to see brutally killed – into a relatively likeable hero, and the conclusion of events in King’s Landing is quite satisfying. Nonetheless, A Feast For Crows is a classic example of a mediocre book that serves merely as an iteration in a series, and hopefully A Dance With Dragons will be much better.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous three novels in A Song of Fire and Ice as well as HBO’s Game of Thrones, I was thoroughly looking forward to reading this, and was also disappointed when I was finished. Whereas Martin’s previous novels were tight, and loaded with drama and intrigue, this
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one was horribly long-winded and overwritten. There were pages and pages of useless information about characters that are irrelevant. The whole saga of the Greyjoys and the men of the Iron Islands was not terribly interesting and could have been entirely cut. Even among the characters that I enjoy, the storylines involving Brienne and Jaimie Lannister seemed pointless.

Martin at this point is a victim of his own success. His series is so wildly popular that he is at the point that he can write whatever he wants and people will buy it. However, what he really needed in this book was an editor who was willing to hack and slash all of the irrelevant stuff, which was about a third of a book. This book wasn’t terrible. The writing is still good and some of the story lines are interesting, this was clearly the worst of the books I’ve read in the series. I can only hope that in future novels, stronger editing will be employed. For the first time, I can say that the television show is superior to the book.

Carl Alves – author of Two For Eternity
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LibraryThing member elbakerone
A Feast For Crows is the fourth book in George R.R. Martin's ever-growing Song of Ice and Fire series but it is perhaps more appropriate to call it the fist part of the fourth installment in the series. Known by fans as "The Great Book Split", this novel continues the story of about half of the
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heroes (and villains) of Westeros portrayed so dynamically in the first three books in the series. For that reason alone, Feast has little to no chance of maintaining the avalanche of action that begun the epic series.

That's not to say that this is not a great book. Despite the nagging question of what's going on with some fan favorites, for those characters featured within the book's many, many pages suspense, action, drama, and intrigue collide, tumble together, and explode. The politics and geography of the saga expand to encompass Dorne, the southern realm of Westeros, populated by the Martell family and the dangerous women known as the Sand Snakes. Religion also takes a more heated role in the power struggles across the land and Martin's signature surprises are as present here as in previous books. More than one lead character is left in peril at the close, making the long-promised and recently-released book A Dance with Dragons a welcome addition to the saga.
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LibraryThing member pmtracy
If a one word book review was acceptable, a simple "Wow" would suffice!

A Feast for Crows is the 4th installment in George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. This was by far the best to date. While the entire novel was engaging, the last 50 pages of the 976 total leaves the
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reader feeling physically and mentally abused. It's impossible to provide a decent synopsis without spoiling the story for others (and going on for 100's of pages since the plot is so rich in detail) but in a nutshell: Cersei finally gets what she deserves, Brienne doesn't, Sam is on track to become the hero of the entire series and a character we thought was dead reappears as Lady Stoneheart.

I have to admit that this book sat on my shelf for quite a while. I need to be in the "mood" for Martin. Now I really want to continue the series. Like many of his fans, I'm concerned that it may never come to conclusion. This book was published in 2005 and the "Back at the Wall" states that the next installment will be available "next year.” (2006) There's even a preview of the next book stating A Dance with Dragons is "coming soon." However, here we are at the end of 2009 and the book still has not been published. The release is now scheduled for September 2010. For Epic Fantasy genre fans, visions of Robert Jordan may be coming to mind. George isn't a young man and with the series being unfinished at this time, we may be having a different author decide the outcome of the Seven Kingdoms for us.
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LibraryThing member whitebalcony
Snore fest (especially compared to the third book which was probably the best so far). Brienne is the only honorable character left. It's boring when everyone is the villain. And this shit about GRRM splitting the story by location all of a sudden made me cringe. We lost half the plot, literally!
LibraryThing member arielfl
I finally got around to reading this because I was coming off the high of having watched season 3 on DVD. I believe season 4 covers this book and the next. So at long last I have finished. I feel that I have been reading it as long as Brienne has been wandering around looking for Sansa Stark. What
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do I have to show for it? Not too much. A lot of nothing happened until the very end. Hello Lady Stoneheart! Part of the fault lies in Martin's decision to only tell half the characters stories in this book and half in the next. To put a finer point on it the more popular characters are the ones in the next book. This book has a lot of characters in the booooring Iron Islands. To make matters worse there are POV characters like The Soiled Knight and The Iron Captain. Soiled Knight, I don't know who you are and I don't care. Give me Tyrion! On top of these minor POV characters you need to remember that at this point both Sansa and Arya Stark have had name changes. Add in Martin's special vernacular like nucle for uncle and at times I was ready to throw in the towel. Wikipedia really comes in handy for this book. I hoping that Dance With Dragons contains more of Red Wedding type moments and less paragraphs detailing how this person is related to this person. The end of the book was thirty pages long of family trees listing everyone down to the names of Tommens cats! At times I felt that the world building got away from Martin at the expense of the plot. Now that the HBO deal is on it will be interesting to see if the show has an influence on the books. I would have given to be a fly on the wall when martin told the HBO producers how this all ends.
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LibraryThing member littlegeek
I hate to say this, but old George is starting to suffer from "my editor has no balls left" disease. It afflicts verbose writers who are very successful. See JK Rowling.

Why did they let him write this book with almost all the really interesting characters shelved until the next volume? He brings in
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a bunch of people we've never heard of that aren't really that interesting and doesn't do much with them. And instead of Petyr's sharp wit, I get a whiney child and 20 pages of riding a donkey down a staircase. And again with the endless pages of travelling from one village to another. I was fed up with that in Storm of Swords. Please, get this man an editor!
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LibraryThing member sbloom42
This volume of "A Song of Ice and Fire" is set almost entirely in Westeros, south of the Wall, and largely focuses on Cersei and Brienne. There are some brief glimpses of the happenings in Bravos, but largely we stay in King Tommen's territory. Cersei is on a journey to madness, Brienne is still on
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a journey to find the Stark girls, Jamie is on a journey to settle relations with the Freys and Tullys, Sam is on a journey to Oldtown, and Sansa is trying to avoid journeys. There are a couple extra kings and queens that sprout up, but they are largely peripheral to the story. Every story is left hanging with what feels like would be another paragraph to tie things up. I imagine all these threads will be picked up in the next volume, but I really liked the earlier volumes better where the stories had more definite endings and yet the political situation was still left unbalanced. Those seemed to be written with a defter hand for storytelling than this volume.
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LibraryThing member mjmorrison1971
Long - too long and good editing job could have improved the book - this one I felt lacked the flow present in the first two books, in particular, and got bogged down in to much detail at the expense of moving the story along.

Darker then the earlier books - it gives you even more reasons to dislike
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many of the characters but you also miss many of those not in this book.
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LibraryThing member JGolomb
George RR Martin's "Feast for Crows" is a bridge between Martin's "A Storm of Swords" and "A Dance With Dragons". Martin acknowledges that "Feast" doesn't have the conclusive endings of his earlier books, admitting in an epilogue that the book was becoming too long and unreadable with the direction
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it was taking, so he simply broke it into multiple components.

But let's face it, while each chapter in Martin's series is constructed to end in its own micro-cliffhanger, each book "concludes" with numerous larger scale cliffhangers as well. So what's new?

"Feast" is as formidable as each of its predecessors. The characters are big, bold and surprising, as they orbit each other in Martin's vast landscape. While Brienne, Jaime, Sam, Cersei, and Arya return as points of focus, new characters and lands are introduced. Some series-long mysteries are revealed but, as always, many new mysteries are introduced.

I've just recently picked up "A Song of Ice and Fire". Fortunately for me, the fifth book in the series, "A Dance with Dragons" will be released only a few weeks after I've completed "Feast". I can't imagine the tormented wait by Martin's fans who've been keeping their cool since "Feast" was released in 2005.

I saw the mixed reviews of this book and hesitated before I purchased. There's no reason to wait...jump in with both feet and immerse yourself in Martin's world. The read is well worth it.
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LibraryThing member Algybama
A downgrade from 3, mainly because of those dreadful parts to do with Dorne. The beginning is so god-awful I almost gave up reading.

The nasty stuff with Cersei and Qyburn comes to the plot's rescue, and saves Cersei's character from being the total disappointing drag that it had previously been.

The
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refreshingly linear sideplot with Brienne is perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the series so far. Martin writes in a classically romantic style in a very believable and earnest way.

No Tyrion, unfortunately, but that dullard Davos was nowhere to be found. I was happy with the trade.

Martin is getting painfully lazy with his descriptions of sunlight slanting through windows, etc. Hope he adds a little more panache for the 5th.
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LibraryThing member LauraLulu
The only reason this one got 4 stars instead of the 5 I gave to GRRM's others is because I didn't find out til his little blurb at the end that this is "half" of a book--book 5 will be the same time period as this one, just with different characters. Bastard.
LibraryThing member john.cooper
Every writer, I’m sure, hits a rough patch, but few in my experience have collapsed so spectacularly as has George R. R. Martin in the fourth book of the Song of Ice and Fire series. Simply put, the book is no fun. Most of our favorite characters — Tyrion, Daenerys, Jon Snow, among others —
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are absent for the entire book. Instead, we get several chapters inside Cersei’s head as, for the first time unchecked in her power, she descends into paranoia and makes one utterly foolish decision after another; and we spend chapter after chapter after long chapter with the Vikings — excuse me, the Ironborn — whose only interesting character, Theon’s sister Asha, departs very quickly, leaving as the most sympathetic figure one Victarion, who is sad because he beat his pregnant wife to death. (She was with child by his brother. Whether she was actually unfaithful, or the victim of rape like 90% of Martin’s minor female characters, is never explained.) We are introduced to a potentially interesting storyline set in Dorne, but the characters are never fully drawn, and when the climax of that subplot arrives, it arrives 300 pages after the previous chapter in the same setting, leaving the reader to desperately wrack his brain for the details explaining why the main character is in trouble. (The Dorne storyline is one of several that could just as well have been explained in a few paragraphs.) But mostly we have chapter after chapter of the Vikings, I mean Ironborn, behaving like meaner Hell’s Angels, and several chapters of passive Sam Tarly on a boat, and many, many point-of-view chapters assigned not to major characters, but to minor characters, most not even introduced by name in the chapter heading: “The Prophet,” “The Captain of the Guards,” “The Soiled [sic] Knight,” “The Iron Captain,” “The Drowned Man,” and so on.

At times the writing descends to eighth-grade level. “Kettledrums began to beat as well, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom. A warhorn bellowed, then another. AAAAAAoooooooooooooooooooooooo.” This is an exact quote; I counted the letters. Aieeeeeeeeee!

We are given a significant amount of Arya and Brienne, which is something. But terrible things happen to them both, and one reaches the end of the book not knowing in what condition we will find them next, if we do.

The book drags on. The previous books in the series built to a steadily exciting climax followed by an epilogue that hints at the story of the next book. This books simply stops, apparently at random. As you turn the page, hoping that the final chapter might contain some exciting surprise, you’re suddenly greeted with a chapter headed MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE WALL...; It’s George R. R. Martin, breaking the fourth wall and sheepishly addressing his readers. “‘Hey, wait a minute!’ some of you may be saying about now. ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute! Where’s Dany and the dragons? Where’s Tyrion? We hardly saw Jon Snow. That can’t be all of it....’ Well, no. There’s more to come. Another book as big as this one.” Well, that’s a relief! Martin explains that he did not forget to write about these characters. “I wrote lots about them. Pages and pages and pages. Chapters and more chapters.” Fortunately, the author drops the Dr. Seuss schtick after a couple of paragraphs and attempts to talk to us like adults. He explains that the book he was writing had become too big to publish in a single volume, but instead of simply splitting it in half, he “felt the readers would be better served by a book that told all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters.” He was wrong.

Martin has given us half a story with half the characters. He’s written chapter after chapter of back story and intrigue involving characters who are either uninteresting or downright unpleasant to read about. The resulting mess has no structure and ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily, with a tacked-on apology rather than an epilogue. Having come this far, I’ll read the next book in the series; and until I have, I don’t know whether to recommend simply skipping this one. But I can definitely say that in a perfect world, I never would have read it.
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LibraryThing member Claire.Warner
I was lent Game of Thrones by a friend and avidly read it, cried at the death of Ned and cheered at the fate of Dany's brother and was gripped by Dany's discovery of dragons. I finished the book in less than three days and returned it to my friend, I then borrowed the rest of the series. I sped
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through books two and three and finally settled down to read this one.

I was brought up short. The pace had disappeared, most of the characters had disappeared and instead I was treated to yet another batch of characters and situations, all of which were recognisable from the prior books. The Iron Islands invading.. Well how dull.. 'A woman can't rule! Your place is in bed!' YAWN. And numerous nasty characters plotting to 'rob, rape, murder' etc other characters who are also planning to rob, rape, murder them.

Brienne's trek through the wasteland was dull and the only bit of time she got to fight was ruined because Martin shortchanged her in order to 'capture her'. Far from the 'strong girl' described earlier in the books, she is easily knocked to the ground when charged. I would have accepted her being mobbed, but knocked down in a head on rush by Biter seemed forced. In that situation she would have been trained to lower her sword and allow him to rush onto the blade, but instead she was bowled over and bitten.

Cersei went from being the intelligent manipulator seen in book 1 to a vapid paranoid idiot and all of her chapters could have been chopped down to one.

Dorne.. It was the first visit and completely unnecessary. We knew about the situation from talk in prior books why did we have to go there purely to watch a knight shag some bird and fail to place Mrycella in power. Again it was pointless.

The Iron Islands... felt like a 'been there..done that'. Oh someone knows how to take Dany's dragons after a long period of 'I want to be queen!... You can't be queen because a woman must squeeze out babies.. I want to be king.. No I want to be king...I'm King and I killed my wife' YAWN.. Seen it in the rest of the series, felt just the same.

Arya... why wasn't there more of you?

Sam.. WHY OH WHY? Why was Sam here? There was a some nonsense about Gilly and babies and Master Aemon, but once again any point of those chapters is lost in Sam feels sick, Gilly cries, Sam cries and wets himself ad nauseum.

Sansa.. Interesting but again the chapters got lost amongst the dross.

Jaime.. Was he even doing anything in this book apart from whining and lusting futilely after his sister.

It was filler.. Pointless unnecessary filler. I believe that Martin has completely forgotten how he wants to finish this series. This move onto other characters smacks of a complete loss of control with the text. He doesn't know what to do with the characters now he's put them in these positions, he doesn't know how to tie the threads anymore so he's rambling about other places in order to continue the gravy train.

I was loving this series but this book has completely disappointed me.
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LibraryThing member jeff.maynes
I've put off writing this review for awhile, and it probably would be a lot more negative if I was not already most of the way through A Dance with Dragons, the substantively superior follow-up to A Fest for Crows. I'll have a bit to say about where this particular volume falls short, but the scope
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of those failings can only be understood in light of the more general issues with the series.

Martin made a decision in this novel which is probably the right one. As the plot has expanded, the number of characters we need to follow has increased significantly. Following all of these plots would really fragment the narrative and we would either skip too quickly through them, or not get very far. The decision was probably the right one, and it pays off in the next volume which picks up the stories of Daenerys, Jon, Bran, Tyrion and others.

The problem in this work, however, is that the plots we follow are simply much less interesting than in either A Storm of Swords or A Dance with Dragons. Cersei is finally made a POV character, and this simply affirms that she is as awful as we have long suspected. We do see her motivations, which are two fold. First, she is driven (like Catelyn) to protect her children at all costs, and second, to succeed as a powerful woman in a world of men. The first is dull, and reductive in the same way it was with Catelyn (reducing her identity to her motherhood). Her ambitions are more interesting, and are the germ of an interesting plot. However, it is consistently overwhelmed by her cruelty and ignorance.

Brienne is the most interesting character to be a main POV in this novel, but her plot is repetitive, moving from one danger on her quest for Sansa to another with only marginal growth of her character (which is also repeated over and over again). Other than a few bits here and there (the plot in Dorne gets interesting eventually and Arya's story is intriguing), it simply lacks the excitement and driving narrative to keep the reader engaged.

In some cases, this might be more easily forgiven. Martin is constructing a massive tale, and there are bound to be some slower portions. The trouble I had with this novel, however, is that when it slows down, it merely casts more light on the deeper problems. The work is brutal - violent and deeply misogynstic. This does not necessarily imply that Martin is misogynstic, whether implicitly or not. He clearly aims at a brutal world, and in this he is quite successful.

It forces us, however, to reflect on the difference between realism and voyeurism. Just about every chapter involves actual sexual assault, fantasies about sexual assault, or threats of sexual assault. One might, with some plausibility, simply say that Martin is accurately reflecting how sex is used as a weapon in patriarchical societies. The novels are frequently praised for their `realism' in that they refuse to show a world of virtue and a tale of heroic conquest. This might simply be an example of that. The world, as Martin sees it, is bleak and unrelenting, and so too is the world of Westeros.

I have trouble, however, telling the difference between realistic portrayals of sexual assualt and a reveling in it. Is the aim for us to be consistently horrified by almost every character in the novels? Or is the novel simply asking us to take a secretive thrill in it? It is unclear to me that having sexual violence occur so pervasively, and so frequently, adds to the realism of the novel. While reading, I could not but take the feeling that the novel expects us to take some pleasure in the sexual humiliation of Cersei (whom we have been passing moral judgment on for three books), or to be titillated by the frequent (and frequently abusive) sex scenes.

This underbelly of the novel (which has been present in every single volume) is more easily ellided over when you are caught up in the plot. When the plot slows down, and you are forced to focus more clearly on the true ugliness of this story, the novel becomes a much harder one to enjoy.
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LibraryThing member kitzelh
More of the same from this author. If you enjoyed the first three books of this series, then you will enjoy this one too. If you've grown frustrated with the author, like me, because there seems to be no attempt to complete a single story line or even move one more than a couple of scenes, then I
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recommend you stay away. The descriptions are sweeping, the dialogue gripping, and the intrigue is complex and mesmerizing. In short, Martin is an excellent writer. However, he is a terrible story teller. As far as I can tell, there is no plot here, just a large number of characters stumbling around with no rhyme or reason. In fact, he's created so many characters in so many different places and situations, he couldn't fit them all into one book. This one only cover's half of his characters, the other half are supposed to be covered in the next book. Worse yet, he's added several more characters, schemes, and twists. I find it difficult to care about any of them, old or new.
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LibraryThing member vlorand
now just waiting on Dances with dragons
LibraryThing member Othemts
The fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire is a departure from the style of the earlier books, as it focuses on stories of only some of the major characters, while characters like Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Davos are not featured at all. This leaves room to explore the Greyjoy/Iron Island and
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Martell/Dorne story lines in greater depth than ever before. More familiar characters appearing in this book include:

* Cersei, using the deaths of Joffrey and Tywin, and absence of Tyrion to consolidate power as Queen Regent.
* Brienne and Podrick, continuing their search for Sansa and Arya in the lawless lands of Westeros.
* Samwell, Gilly, Maester Aemon, and Dareon travel to Oldtown so that Samwell can train to be a maester.
* Arya takes on a new identity in Braavos.
* Jaime grows distant from his sister/lover and tries to reestablish himself as a military leader despite his missing hand.
* Sansa adjusts to her new life in the Vale disguised as Littlefinger's daughter.

In some ways, this book seems to restarting the story. It also seems to be dragging its heels at points. But mostly it continues to tell a complex and epic tell in interesting ways.
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Awards

Hugo Award (Nominee — Novel — 2006)
Locus Award (Finalist — Fantasy Novel — 2006)
British Fantasy Award (Nominee — August Derleth Fantasy Award — 2006)

Pages

1104

ISBN

055358202X / 9780553582024

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