Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book: A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) by George R.R. Martin

Two months have passed since my last review in the A Song of Ice and Fire Series, and now that I've finally finished the 4th book -- A FEAST FOR CROWS -- I'm gonna be writing another post again. Just like with my previous posts, I don't think I could write this without giving out a thing or two about the story, so just bear with me. You've been warned. :) So without further ado...

A Feast for Crows cover // Source
Plot:
After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated 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. ~ via Goodreads

The whole of A Feast for Crows (AFFC) was told in the eyes of 11 characters, which were: Aeron "Damphair" Greyjoy, Areo Hotah, Cersei Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Samwell "Sam" Tarly, Arya Stark, Ser Jaime Lannister, Sansa Stark, Asha Greyjoy, Ser Arys Oakheart, Victarion Greyjoy, and Arianne Martell; along with a one-off POV character for the prologue: Pate, a novice at Oldtown. That would total to 12 POV characters, all in all -- same as with the previous book, A Storm of Swords. This somehow deviates to the format of the three preceding books where each of the chapters were titled with character names to indicate whose POV is being used. In AFFC however, some chapters used mere 'titles'. The following titles were used:
  • The Prophet, The Drowned Man: Aeron Greyjoy
  • The Captain of the Guards: Areo Hotah
  • Cat of the Cannals: Arya Stark
  • Alayne: Sansa Stark (this, however, is an identity that Sansa assumed when she arrived at the Vale)
  • The Kraken's Daughter: Asha Greyjoy
  • The Soiled Knight: Ser Arys Oakheart
  • The Iron Captain, The Reaver: Victarion Greyjoy; and
  • The Queenmaker, The Princess in the Tower: Arianne Martell.

There was quite a handful of characters that were added in the already-long-list that the A Song of Ice and Fire Series had. And, as you can see, also a handful of new POVs at that. Characters which were proven to be pretty fascinating were introduced or given a deeper look. And several new places were also introduced which we haven't taken a peek into. And though I hate to say this, there are also existing characters that disappointed me.

It should be noted that fan favorites Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion's POV were absent during the course of the book. It was because GRRM cut the book in half, only presenting the events in Kings Landing in this one and the other half, in and beyond the Wall as well as in the Free Cities, is to be presented in the next installment which is A Dance with Dragons. I was kinda devastated at first to not see any Tyrion chapters, but in time, I kinda got used to it. Though I must admit, I miss him sorely.

Some of the more interesting characters in this book included Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy, Qyburn, Lady Stoneheart, The Sphinx, and of course (as interesting as ever), Littlefinger . Though the Crow's Eye as well as Qyburn kinda creeps me out, I definitely want to discover more about them. Same goes with Lady Stoneheart, though I won't be going deeper into her because that might spoil a lot of things for the lot of you especially those that haven't read the books up to ASOS yet. Another one is Alleras or better known as The Sphinx was also pretty interesting for me though he received very less exposure in the book. And alas, Littlefinger! He is a genius in his own right. I pretty much think he is the most skilled in this game of thrones that they are all playing. Absolutely brilliant, and more cunning than I originally thought he is. I swear I really like to delve into their heads so much as I've wanted to have a POV of Lord Tywin and Cersei Lanniester (the latter being satisfied in this very book).

The Greyjoys and the Iron Islands were put in the spotlight in this book as three of the twelve POVs were from them: Aeron, Asha, and Victarion Greyjoy. Euron and Victarion left such disturbing images in my mind. LOL. These are queer folks, I must say. And the process of making a Drowned God Priest somehow cracks me up. I have to give it to GRRM in infusing certain modern things in his writings considering that he is working with a medieval fantasy piece. I won't say how, but yeah, read it for yourself. :) GRRM's writing is so convincing that whenever I read a Greyjoy POV, I could almost taste and smell salt -- sea salt. That thing could also be said in the Dornish chapters, which I enjoyed thoroughly. If the Greyjoys chapters bathe in salt and crisp air, the Dornish ones were presented in their full sandy glory. XD I could almost see the desert, and feel the heat. I just love that place. And it was really a treat to finally be able to take a peek at Dorne as it has been mentioned many times during the course of the series. Three out of twelve POVs were told in Dorne: Areo Hotah, Ser Arys Oakheart, and Arianne Martell. I was quite surprised to see a Kingsguard except Jaime having his own POV, and that it is Arys. I used to shun him because I think pretty much everyone in the kingsguard is unimportant except Jaime and Ser Barristan, but I guess I was wrong. I must learn to look twice at the characters in this book as they sometimes have so much part in the whole turn of event than I have imagined. I liked Arianne Martell, I guess, as well as Areo Hotah. The first Dornish chapter was Hotah's and I must say that after reading that, I was quite intrigued. But nothing fascinates me more in Dorne than the Prince of Dorne himself, Doran Martell. I can say that he's a master of his own game, though some things have gone out of his control. I can still remember the goosebumps that the last three words he uttered in the last Dornish chapter have given me.

On the other hand, the Brienne chapters for me were pretty boring for the most part as it was almost like pure aimless wandering. The last part redeemed it though. Plus I also like the fact that I got to read some of her flashbacks which, for a girl's point of view, is really cruel. My heart really goes to her. And then there's Sam. I think one of the more emotional moments I've experienced in this book is when Sam is reminiscing or reflecting on his relationship with his father. I don't hate Randyll Tarly as a character, but I truly hate him as a father. The Sam chapters were pretty interesting, but I still find the words that Maester Aemon uttered in the last chapters quite intriguing. I hope those things would go clearer as the book progresses. Arya on the other hand had done wonders to me in this book. Though she is a fan favorite among the ASOIF community, she is not really in my top three faves. But in this book, she has seriously grown on me -- more. She got to explore the world beyond Westeros, and as I've gushed about in one of my recent posts, her emotional reflections. Her chapters were anything but boring and she certainly added action to this book.

It's no secret that I've been a Cersei fan ever since I first read AGOT and watched the HBO adaptation. She has so much potential, so much promise, and it really irks me off to witness her making stupid decisions after the other. As Littlefinger put it: "I always anticipated that she would beggar the realm and destroy herself, but I never expected she would do it quite so fast. It is quite vexing."It really sucks. It turns out that she just appeared very strong on the front, but in reality she is as damaged as everyone else. It is interesting to know that I liked her when she was with Tyrion, or when she was being seen through her little brother's eye, despite his best efforts hating her. And Jaime just brings the worst in her, or its just Cersei only showing her true self to Jaime. Margaery has mirrored my thoughts so well: "you vile, scheming, evil bitch". The disappointment is quite awful. Especially with what she did to Jaime all throughout the book.

And, must I forget, of course Ser Jaime Lannister -- which has taken Tyrion's place in his absence. I can now honestly say that Jaime is indeed my second favorite character in this whole series after Tyrion. I don't know if that may give off the vibe that I have a queer taste for characters, but I really really loved him. I must give my hat to GRRM for making me root for a character that I once despised. His POVs were full of reflections, and I like that in a character. With these series of POVs, he was humanized more to my taste. The wit, the sarcasm. Everything. I always looked forward in his chapters as I was reading the book.

"Dark wings, dark words..."
If truth be told, this is the weakest in the series so far. But when you love something so badly, you will find even the slightest pleasant thing in it. That is not to say that this book is bad. It's just that, for me, this failed as a continuity in a very intense series of happenings that took place in the three previous books of the series. Even typing the words 'fail' hurts, because I so enjoyed the ride that this series have taken me that describing it in that sense felt like betrayal. There is nothing wrong with the writing, as George R.R. Martin still maintained that distinct style and characterization that got me. It's like a basic plot line, in which Game of Thrones (#1) was the introduction, then it got to A Clash of Kings (#2) slowly building up until it reached its climax, which is clearly A Storm of Swords (#3), and as any conventional story telling would suggest, everything after the climax would just slide down until it reached the very end -- but A Feast for Crows is nowhere near the end. There are still 3 more books ahead, and there is still more of the story waiting to be told. The only problem with this one is that it followed ASOS, which (in my opinion) have an almost perfect plotting that even using the word 'action-packed' or 'intense' would feel like an understatement.

Despite setbacks, I still enjoyed it nonetheless -- though not like how I enjoyed the previous three. But having this is necessary for the continuity of everything in the ASOIAF series so I'm good with that. Though the previous ones were relatively better, this is still good literature in its own right. And can be said as far better than most fantasy novels that are marketed today. Last words? Alas, winter has finally come. :)

Quotable Quotes:
"All men lie when they are afraid. Some tell many lies, some but a few. Some have only one great lie they tell so often that they almost come to believe it...though some small part of them will always know that it is still a lie, and that will show upon their faces." ~ the kindly man in the House of Black and White 
"...we all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe." ~ Maester Aemon 
"It is being common-born that is dangerous when the great lords play their game of thrones." ~ Septon Meribald 
"In this world the weak are always the victims of the strong." ~ Cersei Lannister 
"Anger was better than tears, better than grief, better than guilt." ~ Arianne Martell 
"Sometimes it is best to study a game before you attempt to play it." ~ Doran Martell

xxxxx

This has been part of my 2012 Reading Challenge. Currently the 13th book I’ve read this year. And part of The Lit Bitch’s A Song of Ice and Fire Reading Challenge. This is the 4th book of the series.

6 comments:

  1. yeah, you do have a queer taste in characters. I hated Jaime as well, but after (reluctantly) reading from his POV he did seem more human and understanding his motives made me hate him less.

    You're so right about GRRM's writing being convincing. reading the chapters from the different locations, there described so well that you feel like you're there. I was disappointed when I met Doran for the first time, but slowly saw that you really shouldn't "mistake his endurance for meekness."

    Awesome review, I didn't now how to add the other chapters with the different titles into mine, good job.

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    1. hey..thanks for leaving a comment. i love Doran, too, as you've read. hehe...

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  2. I agree, I think this book is the weakest in the series so far....but then again how do you follow such an amazing book as Book #3 was right?! :)

    I also really hoped for more from the Brianne chapters...she is such a strong character that I expected more from her in this book.

    I really really missed the traditional POV characters, I hear ADOD goes back to the origional POV characters so hopefully we see more of Tyrion and Jon!

    Arya really came a live more in this book for me too....I feel like she's just so lost and searching for something, some part of her that she lost. I feel her pain acutely in this book inparticular.

    Jamie has quickly become one of my favorite characters in the series as well...so interesting to see him develop from this universally hated character in Book 1 to what he is now. I love it. This is one of the things about the ASOIAF series that I just LOVE....it always keeps you guessing and the characters are deeply flawed but that doesn't mean that you can't love them or like them.

    I am really curious to see what happens to the Hound...he could be an interesting character as well, I hope we hear more about him in the next book.

    When are you starting ADOD? I think I'm going to start it the second week or so of Dec. Can't wait to see what you think :)

    Winter is here! :)
    Cheers!

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    1. wow...thanks for such an insightful comment! :) i couldn't agree more. actually, i've already started Dance! I'm a slow reader so I know that you would keep up with me. It's pretty interesting so far (as always), i tell you. AND it keeps me up at night even in unexpected parts. i'm so excited to know what you think about it. looking forward to more conversations regarding ASOIAF. :)) i'm almost through with your reading challenge. :)

      love lots, R

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  3. Well, you describe everything so beautifully. :)
    This book was different than the others, but for some reason I read it faster. I liked that Martin tells us some part of history. Especially the ones when Cersei was younger. I loved those parts. I did miss the other characters. I am Tyrion's fan and Daenerys and it kind of sucked that they were absent, but I got past it pretty fast.
    For me, Brienne's chapters were better than the ones in Dorn or in Iron Islands. I just like Brienne and I'm mad!! (You know why!)I enjoyed Aria's chapters too and of course Sam's.
    I agree that the best book was A Storm of Swords and I expect the fifth to be even better.
    Winter has finally came and I can’t wait for the story to continue!:)

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  4. A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Four (Martin, George Rr) [Kindle Edition] , buy here online now: http://tinyurl.com/og3af39

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for dropping by! I'd love to hear from you -- so don't think twice, just comment below and let's talk! If you're feeling like it, you could also link up and I'll make sure to visit your site if you have one. Much love, ~ R. :)

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