Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review - A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

Goodreads description: With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.

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.

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After the jaw-dropping A Storm of Swords, it was always going to be tough for George R. R. Martin to beat the third instalment of his epic fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire. The project is so vast that Martin chose to split the action geographically, meaning that we only get the viewpoints of the characters around King’s Landing and the mainland during A Feast for Crows. These include Arya and Sansa Stark, who are now living under different identities. Sansa is masquerading as Petyr’s daughter Alayne at the Eyrie, where Lady Lysa fell to her death in the previous book, whilst Arya moves from one location and identity to another. Meanwhile Samwell Tarly travels to his family’s home to face a past he’d rather forget. Plans abound as various individuals plot to seize power, and rumours of dragons come in from the sea.

A Feast for Crows is as well-written and gripping as the previous books, but due to the constant switching perspectives to minor characters, I found myself getting frustrated that none of the cliffhangers left at the end of the previous book were answered. It was interesting to get Cersei’s perspective, however, I suspect that was due to Martin’s technique of allowing you to get to know a character, then springing their inevitable fall from grace on us. As before, there’s plenty of political intrigue, warring families, murder and betrayal, and shocking fates for characters we have come to like (though less so than in A Storm of Swords!). The complexity of the tale deepens, and the anticipation of what’s to come helped my impatience with some of the slower parts. I’m looking forward to revisiting some of my favourite characters in A Dance with Dragons!

Rating: ****

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