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on 17 February 2013
After having read the first three volumes of the series, I was afraid that A Feast for Crows was going to leave me disappointed, after having seen some negative scores on Amazon. And I have to admit, for the first few chapters, I felt annoyed. All the burning questions I had from the end of A Storm of Swords were completely unanswered because the chapters themselves were following completely new characters that I didn't really care about.

However, Martin soon reintegrates most of the characters we know and love from the first three books. The plot might not advance an awful lot, as others pointed out, but I still found myself interested by almost all of what was going on. Not my favourite book thus far in the series, but still a damned good one.
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on 29 July 2011
Aftering watching a few episodes of GOT on the TV I went out and purchased the books and could barely put down the first 3, the pace was good the stories twisted and turned and the world came to life.
Then I picked up Crows and for the first time found myself putting down the book to do something more interesting. This seemed to move at such a slow pace, and nothing happened...
It reminded me of other books at this type of stage they have alot of pages alot of dialogue and small stories but when it came down to it 90% could have been ditched and the 10% left would have been a better book.
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I’m not really that big a reader of fantasy type novels but this series I find highly engrossing. Probably the main reason for this is that although these books do have fantasy elements the story revolves around people and their actions, and in ways read more like historical novels where you can see elements of real historical events from the decline and fall of the Roman Empire onto later centuries of European history.

Carrying on the story from the last book we find here that some of the characters are not in this particular book which in effect gives us the sense of events happening on the periphery that we are not yet privy to. Of course though, with what we have here a lot does happen. As people go on playing the game of thrones it has to be admitted that the title for this book is particularly apt as crows certainly won’t be going hungry with all the corpses to feed on.

For Cersei she is about to learn something quite important, that prophecies are apt to turn and bite you on the bum. As she is haunted by a prophecy from her childhood she thinks she knows how to prevent it from happening, but has she read the prophecy correctly, or is she heading for a mistake of a more catastrophic nature?

These books appeal because there is so much in them that are true and relevant in the way that people vie for power and fortunes. As we can see here some play the game of thrones in a more impulsive and immediate manner, whilst others use cunning, and patience, biding until the right time for them. As with the other books in this series this makes for some great reading.
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The more I read of this wordy behemoth of a series, the more I find myself focussing on specific characters. A Feast For Crows has Greyjoys, Lannisters and Martells by the bucketload, but the chapters that really interested me were the ones featuring either Samwell Tarly, Arya Stark or Brienne of Tarth.

I find Sam’s journey particularly fascinating. Martin appears to be using this character to explore the nature of heroism and what is means to face your fears. There is a palpable sense of evolution occurring every time Sam appears in a chapter. Sam is all too fallible; every potential decision pains him with almost crippling anxiety. Yet somehow, erstwhile Sam manages to carry on. He manages to function and slowly but surely meet the challenges he is forced to face. That strikes me as pretty damned heroic.

Elsewhere, Arya Stark also faces some tough choices. She finds herself entirely alone and she has to continually reinvent herself to stay alive. She sheds each of her old existences like a costume to ensure she can remain hidden until she can wreak her revenge against the ever-growing list of those who have done her wrong.

Finally, there is Brienne of Tarth. Driven by duty and honour she is compelled to complete any task that is assigned to her, irrespective of the personal consequences. She is quite unusual for a female character in fantasy. There are many strong female characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei Lannister springs to mind with her devilish cunning, but Brienne exhibits a physical strength which is rare. She is a more than a match for the male knights of the realm. I love that she never backs down from a fight.

Of course it’s not all about the individual characters, is it? There is also the political wheeling and dealing on a grand, world changing scale. This isn’t just family against family, or even army facing army. The course of events unfolding in this series is shaping entire nations. Martin does a stellar job of counterpointing all the tiny, intimate moments in his story against huge mind-boggling scale elsewhere. It’s a genuine treat, being able to watch all the ruling families scrabbling around for anything that resembles power. Greed, corruption, money, religion always brings out the worst in people and Martin just loves letting us know it.

I’m not sure what other readers think about the fact that A Feast For Crows is essentially half a book, but I don’t really have much of an issue with it. The cast has grown so large now that in order to follow them all effectively it was only a matter of time before a move like that was going to happen. I certainly wouldn’t want the situation where characters were left out entirely just because of space constraints. The only sensible option is exactly what has happened, two books in the series running with tandem narratives. Even with that split, there are still a heck of a lot of characters in A Feast For Crows. A swift glance at the back of the book reveals pages and pages of appendices just listing characters names. I do endeavour to try and pay attention to them all (I figure Martin might try to sneak some important nugget of key information passed us all using one of them) but sometimes it can be hard going. So very many bloomin’ knights and what have you.

There is little denying that A Song of Ice and Fire is a huge, life sapping commitment on any reader’s part, but it can be so extremely satisfying when Mr Martin is bringing his “A” game. I’ll admit that perhaps I don’t necessarily need to know every little thing that is going on. Is my appreciation of the book enriched any by knowing that young Robert Arryn is a huge fan of lemon cakes, and will happily eat one hundred? Probably not, but I’m willing to live with if it means I also get more insight into Littlefinger’s latest evil scheme.

So now that I am all caught up with Sam, Arya, Jamie, Brienne and Cersei, I think I might just need to discover what has happened to everyone else. So next up, in attempt to keep pace with the television adaptation, it is going to have to be A Dance With Dragons isn’t it? I think I am going to have to admit defeat and just accept that I am completely in thrall to this series of books. Damn you Martin! You made me care. DAMN YOU!
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on 24 September 2012
If you've reached this point you are an avid Song of Ice and Fire fan.

As previously said and it's well documented, this book only features a few of the characters you will know ( the rest wait for you in the next book ). Like it or not, that's how it is. Go into this book open minded ready to meet new characters and only follow the stories of a few others.
Some of these points of view do get boring. It's hard to get behind the Dornish and the particular Iron Islanders as we don't know them. We've built up attachments to the Starks, to Dany and Tyrionn but they don't really feature.

The book is about 750 pages of actual storyline. The first 500 of these do go on a bit and I found I slowed right down reading this book. Like many other readers, after the amazing Storm of Swords, this just seemed slow and meandering. However, STICK WITH IT. The last 250 pages or so are classic Song of Ice and Fire, which bring together lots of what you have just read. Infact it builds and builds nicely and the last few chapters drop some real bombshells.

It's important to also grasp ( if you havn't already ) that the point of view style of narrative is exactly that. Wheras previously it might have been a point of view from how someone witnessed the events, it becomes more political in this book in that it also represents how they interpret the different events or if they are even aware of the events going on. If you havn't read it yet, remember this.

By the time you finish the book you will feel a lot better about it. Yes it goes on at times but the end is rewarding and the cherry on the cake is you then get to start A Dance With Dragons.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 May 2012
The fourth part of the series is different in following only some of the characters, the rest having been split off and their story brought back in A Song of Ice and Fire (5) - A Dance With Dragons: Part 1 Dreams and Dust. While it is understandable that the author ran out of space to include them all, this treatment is doubtfully successful at best - especially since the characters chosen here - Jaime and Cersei, Brianne of Tarth, Samwell Tarly, etc. are not of the most vibrant or happening variety.

Most of them have quests to fulfill, with mixed success - and the majority of the book is reading more like a background story, rather than pointing towards some key event. A more ruthless editing may well have shortened the whole to the extent, where one could merge books 4 and 5 into a coherent whole. One now knows more about the feelings of duty and motherly instincts of some of the characters but little else that is likely to change the course of events in later books.

This time the ~900 tightly typed pages are a chore for the first time. I really had the urge to skim through section on several occassions, as there was simply too little happening.

One can only hope that the author gets back to form with A Song of Ice and Fire (5) - A Dance With Dragons: Part 1 Dreams and Dust - not saying that the series is turning into a waste of time but it is getting a bit harder to justify reading thousands of pages, if they are to be filled in this way, especially since the author has successfully demonstrated so far that he can do a lot better.
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on 11 December 2011
Unfortunately every series has to have a low point, this book is probably the lowest point of 'A song of fire and ice'. It isn't all bad but it certainly isn't as strong as the previous book (Storm of swords). I'm guessing that if you've made it this far then you are probably an avid fan of the series, given that you'd have to have read the three previous books which is quite a feat.

After the third book you are quite excited for what will follow, you are expecting fast paced action and a lot more secrets to be revealed. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to happen. The characters wander somewhat aimlessly and never seem to achieve any goal, from memory I can only think of one particular on Essos that made any progress in terms of character development. In terms of secrets I somehow expected more about the Wall and the Others to have been revealed in this book, there is some but I was expecting more. Fortunately there is more revealed in the fifth book but I still feel a bit in the dark about the Others north of the wall. Which is interesting given that they feature in the prologue to the first book in the series. Seems like quite a long build up to reveal what they are, and even by the end of the fifth book I wasn't entirely convinced that I understood what they were or what their goals were.

The fourth book has some plot lines that are concurrent with the fifth book. The fifth book starts before the end of the fourth book but it eventually continues past it. The books were written this as both span a vast number of words. Many characters that you know and love from the first three books have been omitted in the fourth book and only appear in the fifth book. It is my opinion that the fourth book follows some of the more boring characters, or the ones I liked least. Again it was a reason why I was anticipating the fifth book, which is a stronger point of the series.
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on 9 October 2011
After reading some of the reviews on here I thought I would literally be falling asleep reading this book. I was genuinely worried that this book was going to let the entire series down so I started reading expecting it to be awful. However, I actually quite enjoyed the book. I felt it kept up the pace of the previous three books and i particularly enjoyed reading from the points of view of Cerci and Jamie. People have said there wasn't any character development but I really think there was. I think you can see more of the changes in Jamie that you began to see in the last book. Samwell changes and I think Sansa begins to grow up. The only character that I thought stayed the same throughout was Brienne.

At times the story did drag a little and I flicked through the pages wondering how much of the chapter was left. But this was generally during the Chapters that didn't focus on the main characters - I think this was the main flaw of the book. Because Martin has written from lots of characters perspectives there came times when he needed to write about events that weren't happening to these characters. In these cases he wrote one off chapters from random characters that were based either in Dorne or the Iron Islands. I felt this broke the story up a bit and often I didn't really care for the characters and so became bored.

The only other real negative is that the booked ended with quite a lot of cliff hangers and because these characters won't be revisited until the book after next it's going to be ages until we find out their fate.

Despite this, I still want to know what happens in the next book. Arya and Jon were mentioned only a few times and Daenerys not at all so I really interested to read about them. I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait to read the next.
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on 23 September 2011
I must confess, I only started reading A Song Of Ice and Fire, AFTER seeing the HBO series. A Game Of Thrones was epic, exciting and powerful; I finished it in a month. So too was Clash Of Kings, closely followed of course by A Storm Of Swords. My expectations were high, so I pressed on with A Feast For Crows. And then it happened...

Almost at once, the quick pace of the series ran head long into a swamp of unnecessary and some-what irrelevant background detail, where characters appeared from nowhere and contribute little at first, and not enough by the end, and where the general mind set just crashed. For instance, the story of Brienne of Tarth. Without spoiling, she embarks on a "quest" to find Sansa Stark. The detail we are given makes her journey agonisingly slow, and at times you toy with the idea of skipping her next chapter, just to prove to yourself that you won't miss much. A shame.

However, I'm being a wee bit too negative. I believe that credit should be given where credit is due. Martin wrote a monster of a book; no wonder it took him 5 years! And one must remember, he prefers to write drama and dialogue as opposed to action and battles, though of course when he does write such scenes then we are rewarded with the same analytical detail that goes into the rest of his writing. In short, the story is a precursor. That is, a precursor to some ultimate climax, which one must assume will happen in his later books. All I can say is hang in there, and wait for the (assumed) ultimate showdown.

I give this book only 3 stars for three reasons. The first, as mentioned, that frankly it is a tough old read which could have done with more editing to keep the momentum flowing. Secondly, after having wadded through 1000 pages of fore-play, you fail to feel satisfied with too many open ends and no apparent way of tying them all together. Finally, on a positive note, the little sideshows he throws in, though they contribute little to the overall story line, can be quite interesting and at the end, shocking and surprising. Overall, however, this book will for me only fall into the "good" category, not the "great" shared by it predecessors.
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on 30 May 2007
First, let me say that I will be sticking with the series and I have not written off forthcoming instalments based on my opinion of this book.

A Feast for Crows is an extremely frustrating book. Martin has taken the very dubious step of ditching half of the characters and leaving their stories for A Dance With Dragons. This results in a constant, nagging feeling that you really are missing out on half of the plot and that the story would benefit enormously from the perspectives of those characters that have been put on the back burner.

The plot is supposed to be charting the mess left after the various conflicts of the previous books but instead is itself just a tangled mess as the author, trapped in his character per chapter format, is forced to chop backwards and forwards too often between a silly number of threads and in doing so loses the overall continuity of the story.

Sadly, there is the real possibility that Martin has overreached himself and is struggling badly to stay on top of the various sub-plots he has created. I really hope that he quickly consolidates the multitudinous threads in the next book so that the climax has the time to play out properly in the final two volumes. It does not bode well that Martin admits that the writing for A Dance With Dragons is not proceeding quite as he had hoped!

One more thing to get off my chest - I am becoming extremely weary of Martin's love of inflicting cruelty on his key characters. Occasionally it is good for the story (Jaime's hand for instance) but the rest of the time is pretty pointless. Still, it seems Martin will not be happy unless he has killed or horribly maimed all his characters by the conclusion of the series.

Overall this book puts me in mind of a car stuck in a muddy field, frantically spinning it's wheels and beeping it's horn but not actually getting anywhere. I can only hope that Martin rediscovers some of the direction that made the first few books of the series enjoyable.
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