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Friday, August 16, 2013

A Feast For Crows (A Song Of Ice And Fire #4) by George R. R. Martin

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.

Released:  November 2005          Pages: 1060
Publisher: Bantam                       Source: Library

Popular opinion seems to say that A Feast For Crows is to A Song Of Ice And Fire what Order of the Pheonix is to Harry Potter movies.  It's the one everyone likes least.  The forgotten, overlooked one.  The reason for this is fairly obvious.  This book is missing the point of view chapters of many people's favorite characters--Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion Lannister, and others. 

My three favorite characters.  Way to go, Martin.

And yet, my experience with A Feast For Crows wasn't bad at all.  In fact, despite the lack of my favorite characters, I enjoyed this installment as much as any of the others.  If nothing else, because my favorites weren't really in the story, they wouldn't be killed off.

You have no idea how much comfort this gave me. 

There was one major realization, though, that has revolutionized how I read this series.  Throughout the previous three books, I tried to like characters.  I picked out favorites, and rooted for them.  Well, picking favorites in this series is a terrible idea.  Because they die.  They always die. 

But a hundred pages into this book, I realized something.  I realized that, in fact, I can't stand most of the remaining characters.  Cersei is a scheming, cruel, ruthless person; I still can't like Jaime, even though everyone else seems to; Sansa just mopes and whines; Littlefinger is such a creeper that I can't even begin to cover how creepy he is; Sam's heart is in the right place, but I can't respect him since he has absolutely no backbone; Joffrey's dead but this list wouldn't be complete without him; and so on.  There are some people I like, but mostly, my favorites are either dead or absent.  And are we not going to talk about Rickon Stark?  Are we just supposed to forget he exists, or what?

Disliking everybody has given me a new perspective on this series.  If I dislike everyone, then I really don't care who wins.  But I want to know who comes out on top.  I desperately want to know.

It's the high fantasy Hunger Games in here.

I feel like an awful person saying this, but it's true.  All of Westeros is the arena, and I'm in this for the long haul.  Martin has taken a few hundred of the most cruel, ruthless, backstabbing, violent, disrespectful, unlikable people and thrown them all together into an enclosed space.  And then the game begins, and I can just sit back and watch it happen.

This is an odd way to read a series, but I'm going to go with it.  Because, let's face it, I enjoy the complexities of the game.  In my review of the first book, I talked about how complex it was.  Ha.  Ha.  I had no idea what was coming for me, did I?  Each book gets more complex, and in a few cases, the glossaries become necessary.

Everything about this world is compelling: the worldbuilding is phenomenal.  Martin has created a huge, intricate world that's entirely believable, and populated it with believable characters (even if I don't like them). 

I'm going to have to call Martin out for his continued ubiquitous use of the metaphor of "flowering" for periods.  It bugs me.  Girls are constantly referred to as "a maiden flowered", and sometimes it's said that "their flower is in bloom".  Um, what?  As someone who has gone through this experience, let me tell you, getting your period does not feel like flowers.  It does not evoke images of flowers in any way.  When I look at a flower, it does not remind me of painful cramps, hormonal weirdness, and a general sense of inconvenience.  When a girl's "flower is in bloom", one of her internal organs is, quite literally, ripping itself apart.  How about, instead of using this ill-fitting metaphor, we define a girl by her personality and actions rather than the state of her insides?

Anyway, though, apart from a few things, I enjoyed this book just as much as the others.  I can't say I didn't miss a character or too, though.  I'm eager to hear about them in the next book.  It'll be a reunion.

Feels.  Many feels, right here. 

Similar Books:  Eragon, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Possibly Dragons of Autum Twilight? aGoT is much more political than Eragon, and much less quest-y than LotR. Its only similarities to DoAT are that they're both high fantasy and they both have this gigantic epic tome feel to them.  It has a similar premise and feel to Falling Kingdomsand kind of The False Prince, though TFP is a million times tamer (and smaller).  It also reminds me of the Seven Realms series.

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