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A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4) Hardcover – 17 Oct 2005
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'Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias’ Guardian
'Truly epic … with its magnificent action-filled climax, it provides a banquet for fantasy lovers with large appetites.' Publishers Weekly
'I always expect the best from George R.R. Martin and he always delivers A Game of Thrones grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant.' Robert Jordan
‘George R.R. Martin is one of our very best writers, and this is one of his very best books.’ Raymond E. Feist
‘Colossal, staggering … Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome in his imaginary world … The writing is always powerful …' SFX
This is the long awaited fourth installment of George R R Martin's classic "A Song of Ice and Fire", continuing the most ambitious and imaginative epic fantasy since "The Lord of the Rings". "A Feast for Crows" brings to life dark magic, intrigue, and terrible bloodshed as the war-torn landscape of the Seven Kingdoms is threatened by destruction as vast as any in its violent past. The War of the Five Kings has ripped Westeros apart. The bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning Lannisters occupy the Iron Throne, with allies as ruthless as themselves. Lord Frey was host at the Red Wedding, so called for the massacre of the guests, their screams unheard above the music of the feast. Euron Crow's Eye is as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, sworn to deliver the whole of Westeros to the ironborn. No less to be feared are their enemies. The Starks of Winterfell and the Martells of Dorne seek vengeance for their dead. And the last of the Targaryens, Daenerys Stormborn, will bring fire and blood to King's Landing when her young dragons reach their terrifying maturity.The last war fought with dragons was a cataclysm powerful enough to shatter the Valyrian peninsula, now a smoking, demon-haunted ruin half drowned by the sea. Against a backdrop of alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel! and the coldest hearts. See all Product description
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As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros,
victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel
and the coldest hearts..."
Jesus, A Feast for Crows is massive! I am exhausted... (Which is why I'll probably keep this review short. That and I'm lazy...)
For the fourth entry in A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin pulls back the pace and ups the scale. We're definitely more contemplative as Westeros tries to manage the consequences of the war for the Iron Throne, a war that threatens to reignite at every turn. It's both a good and bad thing. It's good because A Feast of Crows returns to its harrowing focus on politics and paranoia as some try to ensure their claims and others try to extend theirs, and bad because a lot of immediacy and accuracy are lost.
Overall, however, Martin brings another epic entry to the table, spinning webs with countless spiders, and all of them are ravenous...
SPOILER WARNING (Should only be for the synopsis, and they won't be too surprising.)
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
The Lannisters reign supreme, for the most part.
War has been reduced to embers and the Iron Throne has its king, but for how long?
From the ashes arise new contentions, new plots and new enemies.
Battles have moved from the field back to the shadows and whispers.
Cersei fights to remain Queen; Jaime hunts for his purpose; Brienne searches for the lost; the Iron Isles elect a new and terrifying king; Sansa remains hidden; and Arya continues her training under the Many-Faced God.
But not all of them can have their happy endings.
Some will have to watch their nightmares come to life and devour them piece by bloody piece...
Plot - 4/5 Stars
There are a lot of aspects to A Feast for Crows, but I'll try to keep things succinct. With the war dying down, our distinctive characters are far from safe. A shadow war is waged and fought in whispers. Shady politics rule as everyone tries to get ahead of one another. It's probably the most engaging part of the plot, and reminds me of this series' first entry: A Game of Thrones.
In most ways that's what we're back to. The story sets up mostly new threads as the old ones burn. A consequence of having A Storm of Swords as a predecessor is that this entry comes across less focused and unsure of itself. The previous novel is sharp and shocking, with huge events capitalising on a lot of plots. A Feast for Crows, while exciting, is a little scattered. There is an abundance of repetition, and sometimes I started a chapter almost identical to the last.
In saying that, there are so many wonderful things that it's worth it. Suspense and tension are phenomenal bedfellows as you adventure through the story. The land is tenuous and rife with danger, ensuring every corner leaves your heart in your throat.
Pace - 4/5 Stars
Slow and steady, even when we come to some chilling cliffhangers the pace never picks up from its wander. It's rarely a hardship, due in large part to Martin's beguiling writing and lovable cast, but I recommend taking A Feast for Crows sparingly.
Try to fly through it and it'll consume you.
Characters - 4/5 Stars
We meet a plethora of new cast members this time around, and for the majority they're fantastic. The author has a way with backgrounds and personalities that make every character feel like the most important one in the entire series. We also focus on some familiar faces we haven't seen much insight to. They've been prevalent in previous novels, but A Feast for Crows gives us a better look at their mindsets and plans.
There are notable viewpoints missing: Jon Snow, Tyrion and Daenerys. I definitely missed them, but I'm content enough with what we're given. Of those we are, the progression and development are, as always, sensational. A Feast for Crows might not blow your socks off with its epic-ness, but it will satisfy you with its enthralling character studies.
Writing - 4.5/5 Stars
Apart from some sayings you'll find used over and over again, Martin shines as the wordsmith that he undeniably is. His attention to detail, the story's continuity, the characters' development, are all staggering. You can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of information you're handed, but it gives you something to mull over in your quieter moments.
Overall - 4/5 Stars
Not my most favourite entry, but a slouch it is not. For medieval fantasy full of magic, politics and palpable paranoia, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
The plot is less action-packed and seems to focus more on distinct scenes that develop the characters and politics, as those who have power make attempts to solidify their grip on the people and lands they rule. After the first half I stopped reading for about two weeks, and was surprised when I picked the book back up that I'd started to fall for some of the characters I hadn't loved before.
The usual twists and turns fill Martin's narrative, and he manages to surprise and entertain easily with a world that's remarkably deep and realistic. It's really interesting to read a series that is truly based around an ensemble cast and not the typical chosen-one on a quest trope that appears again and again in fantasy novels.
The novel is deft in narrating from differing viewpoints and the characters' own thoughts and back stories shift the reader's sympathies very cleverly. It was a surprise, for example, to find oneself warming to the 'Kingslayer' though his twin remains predictably hateful.
There is some brilliant and involving description of the author's contained world to the point where the novel reads like a retelling of history. One can, for instance, almost see and feel the environments of Westeros.
Martin is especially involving and to be admired in his depiction of strong female characters who often manage to more than match the brute force and even brutality of the male figures. In this, the women are believable and well rounded. Yet the women are also truthfully drawn as having to contend with the difficulties of their lower status and the traditional expectations of their society - marriage and children. Brienne is a complex and intelligent female warrior and a very modern woman.
I would recommend the novel as escapist reading - it's like going down a magical rabbit hole to a different yet parallel world. If you are longing to hear of Tyrion and the Dragon Queen, though, you'll have to read the subsequent volume as Martin spreads his material widely.
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