At last I have gotten around to doing this review, which I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to. A Feast for Crows received some controversy after its release due to a number of design choices. Most notably it follows the cast surrounding King’s Landing and around the Seven Kingdoms, with the rest of the characters appearing in Dance of Dragons, which focuses on characters in the North and across the sea. It follows mostly the events around King’s Landing, where Joffrey’s younger brother Tommen now rules under the advice of his mother Cersei Lannister, who is beginning to see enemies wherever she goes after the death of Joffrey. Meanwhile Brienne of Tarth is in search of Sansa Stark who, unbeknownst to all, is actually under the protection of Petyr Baelish by posing as his daughter Alayne. Elsewhere Arya Stark reaches the House of Black and White, where she is trained by the Faceless Men to become assassin, and Samwell Tarly ventures south to become a minister, where he is accompanied by wildling girl Gilly and the ageing Master Aemon.
I’ll admit I thought this book to be weaker than the others, primarily because it focuses on a lot of people whom I would consider to be side characters, such as Brienne of Tarth. Jaime Lannister is probably the most interesting character in the whole book but he does very little in the book except deal with the aftermath of the last one, the exception being for one bit at the end where he chooses not to come to Cersei’s aid. The only series mainstays in the book, Sansa and Arya both have rather boring stories which don’t really go anywhere. I’ll admit Arya’s story was slightly more interesting but by the end of the book there’s still no clear direction as to where the story is going, which bugged me a bit.
Yet the story did one good thing, it introduced Cersei Lannister as a point of view character something which I had desired to see for the past three books. Her plotline was a bit bland in places but I liked to see her gradual mental decline as her paranoia gradually causes her to create her own downfall in the form of the Faith Militant. It was satisfying to see the ordinary in plain Faith Militant, whom she put into power in the first place, turn on her and put her on trial for adultery charges. As mentioned before, her pleas for help fall on deaf ears after Jaime finally decides that she isn’t worth saving. Ultimately it isn’t a dramatic battle, but her own deeds which do the job. The biggest miracle is that throughout all this you can’t help but feel sorry for her, finally understanding her motives in a way similar to Jaime Lannister in the previous book.
Ironically enough though the most interesting part of the book was Brienne of Tarth’s storyline, despite the fact that I feel she is a bit bland and boring as a character, being a heroic person in a world where everyone else is trying to backstab each other. This is because of a certain character encountered during her point of view segments, the new leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, Lady Stoneheart. Stoneheart, it turns out, is a resurrected Catelyn Stark who is hell bent on revenge on the Lannisters and is not happy that Brienne has allied herself with Jaime Lannister. The clever part is that it isn’t one hundred percent clear if it is Catelyn Stark as we know her since she does a lot of things which aren’t in character, such as the fact that she is willing to sentence Brienne to death. Since Brienne was someone whom she previously looked upon with respect this made me question if it was really her, and if so, did the resurrection perhaps have some side effects on her personality?
I felt like A Feast for Crows, was lacking something as I read it. If anything it felt like more of an extended epilogue for A Storm of Swords more than anything else, with a handful of interesting moments thrown in from time to time. It didn’t really seem to have a plot of its own, and with the conflict petering out the unifying plotlines connecting most of the characters seem to be weaker in this book than in any other. It also lacked any big conflicts, which was a slight disappointment for me. Overall this probably the weakest instalment so far in the A Song of the Ice and Fire series. It’s still decent and shows promise in a lot of places, but at the same time it feels slightly flawed.
IN A WORD: UNINTERESTING