In my obsessive reading of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I found that I had to keep restraining myself from going online and reading more about the books before I finished them. I was actually really proud of myself for not spoiling anything and because of this, I had absolutely no clue what Martin was doing in his fourth book, A Feast for Crows. It took me twelve days to read this 784 page novel, and probably because I read like a madwoman trying to figure out what was going on.
I, like I’m assuming a lot of other readers of this series, had developed strong attachments to certain characters. While I wouldn’t say that I disliked reading any of the individual characters’ narratives, I would say that there were those I liked more than others. For the most part, these characters were absent from A Feast for Crows. And I was angry. With all the crazy things that happened in the third book, I’m left wondering for hundreds and hundreds of pages what the heck they’re doing?! Martin, explain yourself! And he does at the end of the book. You see, Martin split books four and five by characters instead of chronologically. This means, in a Feast for Crows, we get the first person narratives of only half the characters, leaving the second half’s stories for A Dance with Dragons.
In all honesty, this is a pretty cool and interesting way to continue a series if you ask me. Kudos to you Martin, for being able to write two different novels that take place simultaneously. With that being said, I was still mad reading this book because I had no idea this was happening. This is one of the few times I’ll admit that it might have worked out better for my continued reading if I’d known this was taking place. Why, you may ask, is this the case? Well, as I read A Feast for Crows I kept waiting. Waiting for Tyrion to finally appear. Waiting for Daenerys and her dragons. Waiting for more information about new Nightwatch Captain Jon and his direwolf Ghost. And that never happened. This sort of anticipation made me question the entire time why these characters were missing instead of focusing on what was happening in what I was reading. I specifically remember reading at one point where one character mentioned hearing something about the Dragon Queen in the East and I thought “FINALLY. What a perfect segue into a Daenerys chapter. Took you long enough!” Except, I was wrong. It didn’t segue into one of her chapters. And I felt lost again. A Feast for Crows was good, don’t get me wrong. I think I would have enjoyed it more, though, being able to relax in knowing that this was strategically planned and I didn’t need to drive myself crazy.
This book added a large number of new narrators. I actually really enjoyed some of them, however some I was just “alright” with a few. Finally we got Cersei’s point of view and I was happy to learn that she really was just as much a bitch from her point of view as she was from everyone else’s. Happy because I really hated her and didn’t want Martin to give me some secret reason as to why I should actually pity her. Nope, she’s just a bitch of an evil queen. Again, I found myself not truly loving any action taking place on the Iron Islands. Dorne on the other hand, was a new land that I was quite interested in. In both the Iron Islands and Dorn though, I found myself getting confused because a few times, Martin used a different name as a chapter’s title than one he’d previously used.
All in all, I’d say this fourth installation was my least favorite book of the series but I will admit that this might be unfair. I really do think that if I had been able to relax while reading the book instead of questioning what was happening so much, I would have enjoyed it more. It’s not a bad book though, just my least favorite out of a seriously awesome series.
I did manage to laugh at Martin’s afterward though because he completely admits that his readers are probably really confused at this point. I like that he took the time to directly address the reader at the end. I would like to note though, that having read this book with A Dance of Dragons already out, if I had instead read Feast for Crows when it first was published, I would have been more than peeved. Martin said he hoped to have the next installment out in a year and instead, took six. I know, I know, great writing can’t be rushed, but don’t promise something you can’t deliver. It looks like Martin has learned his lesson and has since been mum about the release date for book six (much to my secret dismay. GIVE ME BOOK SIX NOW! ahem).