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After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, 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—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.
Please note: This is my review for book four in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and so may contain spoilers for the previous books, and also for the upcoming TV series (series four). I’ve tried to hide any spoilers behind tags but please read on at your own risk.
Kings Landing is reeling after the events at the end of A Storm of Swords. The war has more or less stalled for now, and with View Spoiler »Tywin Lannister dead, Tyrion and Sansa vanished, and « Hide Spoiler much of the lands north of Kings Landing terrorised by bandits and worse, Queen Cersei is left to pick up the pieces. Brienne has been sent north to try to locate Sansa, while Jaime heads towards the siege at Riverrun. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the Iron Islands. There’s no way to describe all the different story threads in this book without writing an enormous essay, so I won’t go any further with my description!
There are no great battles and few major plot twists in this book. There’s a good reason for that – the events of books four and five were originally in one larger book, but when GRRM realised it was going to be so huge, he decided to split in in two. Book four concerns events occurring in the Seven Kingdoms, mainly Kings Landing, The Vale of Arryn, Dorne and the Riverlands, with a bit of Braavos and the Iron Islands thrown in. Everything across the sea and north of the wall is apparently covered in book five! Since my main impetus for reading this book was to keep ahead of the TV series, I have a feeling I’m going to have to read book five sooner rather than later, to keep up with the story across the whole of Westeros.
Because of this split in the story, many of the major characters we know and love from previous books are barely mentioned or are completely missing from this one. It makes for a rather sparse feeling to the story, but does allow for deeper development in the characters who are actually in this one.
As you can imagine for a book of a thousand pages with character development for over ten points of view, the pace can be pedestrian at times. Each chapter contains a rather large chunk of story movement though, and usually ends on a tense moment so that you’re compelled to continue reading. Since most of the action is centered on Kings Landing, this book has a lot of Cersei in it. Her politicking really made the story drag for me at times. I’m sure the story developments in this book have an important part to play in the larger story though, and the events at the very end of this one have me itching to start the next book very soon.
As infamous as GRRM is for his evil characters and ability to kill off even the most loved ones, one of the things that truly make this series great is that the main characters are, for the most part, rather vulnerable and relatable people (as much as fantasy characters can be, anyway). Even Queen Cersei, evil hard-hearted bitch that she is, still loves her children and will protect them with everything she has. I love that I once hated Jaime and now he is one of my favourite characters, and I just can’t get enough of Brienne or Arya. The people in these stories is what is keeping me coming back to this series, even when very little happens action-wise, and will keep me reading until the bitter end.
– Not my favourite of the series but a solid development in the greater storyline. Yes, it was a hard slog but it’ll be worth it.
A Song of Ice and Fire
|6: The Winds of Winter
|7: A Dream of Spring
Expected… who knows?
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