I kind of did not fulfil my promise to myself to review the Song of Ice and Fire novels shortly after reading them, because now it’s been a good few months since I read its fourth instalment A Feast for Crows and I am already well into novel no. 5. Can’t help that now but can certainly help not having a review of AFFC yet by, well, posting this very one.
A Fest for Crows, of course also written by George R. R. Martin, is the fourth novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series and was published in 2005, after much delay and some shuffling of chapters, cause initially what is now book 5 (A Dance with Dragons) was set to be the title with the two volumes incorporated, which would have been way too long. As it stands, they are two separate books, with both of them covering some of the same in-story time, thus running parallel, although focusing on different characters in different locations.
I will stick to my drill of talking about the things that I really liked about this novel, about the things I didn’t like, about what left me going whatevs and provide some little why.
As usual, a SPOILER ALERT: I will be talking about everything that has happened until the end of this book no. 4, maybe even glimpse at events in book no. 5, so if you haven’t read them yet and intend to do so in the future I strongly recommend you to save the read of this review for later.
I was positively surprised with the Jaime POV in the last instalment and I am ever more so positively surprised by the Cersei POV we get in this one. Plus, I’m also really digging that we now have both kinda side-to-side that give us a perfect insight into what is the deterioration of the relationship of Jaime and Cersei because a) Jaime continues to become a better person and an ever more likeable character, and b) Cersei continues to suck and it even grows worse, now for all of Westeros to see. The demise of Cersei is inevitable, but my bet is, that the big bang has yet to arrive in that plotline. I wonder if in the end there will be some insight on her part, but as of now, it is like a horrible car-crash happening in slow-motion and you just can’t look away. Painful to watch, painful to read her making up arguments as to why her actions are justified and right, but also oddly fascinating at the same time.
What I am not a super-fan of though is that apparently all the female characters have to have their share of lesbian sex and female admirers while the same is not happening at all on the male side, leaving me wondering: what in-story social conventions justify these occurrences, my answer being none, thus my suspicion being that the author gets to write out some fantasy of his. But hey, I might be wrong.
Oh, Tommen, you poor boy. Having to have Cersei as a mother and being king while having no clue really, but let us all just admit it: Finally, rid of Joffrey, he is kinda awesome, because he is so cute and might just become an awesome king, if there wasn’t, umh, his mother. But still, his love of putting seals on documents, his friendship with Margaery and his budding defiance of his mother: all pluses.
Becoming all pious and shitting all over his Lordship? Sweet, actually. I can’t even really tell you why, because the whole pious/religiously-fanatic thing pisses me off story-telling wise a lot of times, but in his case it works to his favour as a character. And I respect him much more now.
Ok, I am obviously on a Lannister roll here, but hey, we clearly cannot ignore them. Jaime continues his journey to The Side Of Awesome and restores order where he can, sees how vile and stupid Cersei is in what she does and ends a siege that was set to be a bloodshed bloodlessly. I am just speculating here, but we probably will read about more kick-ass-ness from Jaime and the future and frankly, whoda thunk that after Game of Thrones?
Jaime leads us of course to Brienne who continues to rule and does what Arya did before: give us eager readers insights into what it is like to live in Westeros as one of the common folk due to all her meeting-ups with guys and gals all over the riverlands, tracing the false hound (who deserves honourable mentions for extra-creepiness and appalling levels of violence) and connecting to people she’d never thought she had to and would connect with, which is, I guess, an ongoing theme now in Ms. Tarth’s life, and for the better. She also meets up with Catelyn again and that obviously does not go so well, but I guess it’s safe to say that the final verdict on her POV has not been spoken and we are probably all right in suspecting that she will be the one to get Lady Stoneheart back on the right track again.
The Tyrell’s at court
Well, Loras kinda sucks, but let us all see how his near-fatal wound plays out. But my oh my, Margaery? Gurrl is finger-snapping in Cersei’s face with every move she makes and does so very cleverly and skilled. Obviously, she has had some good teaching from her grandmother, but I am really liking the direction this is going. Busting Cersei’s ass and having her imprisoned by the Faith? Oh no she didn’t!
Reminiscent of Jaquen H’qar Arya enters the House of Black and White and dude, does that place seem to be creepy. I’m not the biggest fan of her having-to-go-out-in-the-real world shenanigans and would rather read more about what actually happens in this temple, but I admit to liking the encounter of Arya with Sam (who of course also continues to rule, because he is fucking Samwell Tarly), even though both of them did not realize whom they have just met. I am intrigued to learn about which direction Arya’s stay there will take. Will she really lose herself and become thus – what? A better person? A better assassin? A better queen? Or will it help strengthen her without ultimately having to give up her identity as a Stark? This is actually one of the storylines really keeping me on edge.
The Faith Militant
And shit is going to hit the fan.
Wow, not that we needed more religious fanatics going all nuts over everyone else in Westeros, now the insitutionalized Faith of the Seven gets back its rights to organize militarily and boy is that going to get shitty in the near future. No fun there. And having Cersei’s plan backfiring on her leading to imprisonment in the Great Sept, kinda nice, but then again, this is going to go horrible for her and I already feel kinda bad. I see Lord of Light and Faith Militant groups slicing each other up all over the continents, and I am not liking it. Plus, I feel cheated. The Seven seemed to have so much more potential as something myserious pitched against the Old Gods, now they are just being instrumentalized for military purposes. It is a pity, says I.
I don’t know why, they still leave me supercold. I like to read about Asha, because she is fun, but everyone else in that family? Assholes left and right. And their struggling for leadership isn’t exactly what I’d call endearing, so no, no love from me for the Greyjoys and their storyline.
I still don’t know how I feel about Catelyn coming back as Lady Stoneheart, for several reasons. My major issue is that it diminishes the impact of her death-scene that hit me so unexpected and came as a real shock (probably the first real shock after Ned’s execution). My second issue lies with the leverage it gives R’hllor, that sick bastard of a God, cause we all know he’s being credited for her resurrection now. I like the idea of her being this corpse-like existence now (it’ll be fun to see that played out in the TV series), but I am not sure what I feel about her being only driven by vengeance. She was so before to a large extent, but with her humanity intact, and now that this is gone she is really just a hateful monster. Which diminishes the still-alive-Catelyn as a character IMHO. My guess for the wrap-up of that story-line is that she has to die for realz next time on the hands of somebody who loves her, my bets being on Brienne, but I also believe that we’re gonna see her wreak a lot more havoc on everyone’s asses until then.
The story of the Martells intra-family struggles to avenge the death of Oberyn Martell and seek vengeance for what happened to Elia Martell years past is a messy one. It is interesting, it is sad, cause the side we get to see does not succeed, but somehow I am not overly invested. I guess a lot of that has to do with the fact that these characters are just too new for me to care so much about them. I understand their rationale and their emotions, but I am just not very pro-Martell, wishing for them to get what they want, cause they all also seem like hot-tempered, scheming dicks, girls and boys alike. Nice to see them fight for gender equality, but it feels a little cosmetic to be honest.
The numbers reveal my stance, I guess, with seven points on the really good side against tow each on really bad and really undecided about. And yes, I loved it, but what do you expect. I would not go through the trouble of reviewing the fourth novel in a series if I didn’t like it (though wouldn’t that be fun? And masochistic?), so no real surprise that I am really invested in the story. Some strands of it make me fear that there’ll be events and plotlines little to my liking, but so far Martin has done an amazing job at subverting my expectations, especially my fears.
Maybe we should also start to speculate at this point, for there are several important questions that the series as a whole will have to answer.
Who is the three headed dragon to rule Westeros? Or rather, which three characters will be future kings/queens? I feel most people assume that Daenerys is a given, and so do I, but what if we are wrong? A lot of bets are placed upon Arya and let us be honest, it would kinda rule. And the third? Another stark? Jon seems like a candidate, especially with him potentially being the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, but as of now it seems more likely that he is set to defend the Wall. Bran maybe? Not unthinkable. Or someone totally else? Tyrion (though I doubt it)? Asha (though that would be a bit too much…but then again, an all female trio would be nice)? Or who knows, maybe even Brienne (which would be so freaking amazing, it hurts. Unlikely, though)? Who is your pick for future ruling trio?
Another major question is the Stark-kids business. How will they reconnect? Who will? Will Jon, Arya, Sansa, Bran and Rickon have a merry reunification at some point? Where the hell is Rickon, what is his role to play? Will Jon remain Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch til he dies? Will Bran become the messiah to some age-old religion? Will Arya become queen of Westeros? What will Sansa do? And how do their wolf-dreams play into this? They are obviously all Wargs (except for maybe Sansa), so what effect will that have and in how far will it ultimately be important to the story?
Well, I will it end it here. I know, I know. Questions over question over questions. And no answer in sight Maybe you would like to speculate in the comments?
Oh and you have to imagine a photo of me with one of the covers pictured above instead of this text here right now, because stupid me forgot to snap an effin’ picture before giving my copy away.