The review contains potential spoilers from previous books of the 'Song Of Ice and Fire' series.
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.
I recently finished George R.R. Martin's fourth book in the 'Song Of Ice and Fire' series and to be honest it wasn't an easy read. It has been nearly seven years since the book was published, so there are plenty of professional reviews out there. I am just going to elaborate on the points in the book which jumped out the most at me. Here goes:
- I love fat books and already knew about the infamous splitting of the POVs between this book and A Dance With Dragons but I was still frustrated with how slow the story was. Partly from being the middle book of a series, hence so no more exciting starts and still far enough from the climax to give any closure and partly due to the lack of reader favorite characters like Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion. Imagine a Jonathan Stroud book without Bartimaeus' viewpoint, a Wheel Of Time book without Mat or Rand's POV and you will get a rough idea. I missed the dragons, Tyrion's japes, Jon and Ghost skirmishes with the unknown.
- I have always loved GRRM's work for its strong female characters and this book certainly does lack that. Cersei, Arya, Sansa, Brienne, Catelyn/Stoneheart, Asha - the book does a good job of advancing their storylines. Especially Cersei, who after three books worth of maneuvering and planning, finally comes into power and we finally get to see how much she rocks/sucks at actually ruling the kingdom even if it gets tiring after a while. Also, I have finally begun to like Sansa, now that she becomes something more than a simpering coward. Good work, Mr.Martin.
- I have praised GRRM previously for initiating a turnaround in the readers' perception of Jaime Lannister and he continues to do so by showing us the world through his perspective after the loss of his pride, his swordsmanship and distancing himself from Cersei. What's remarkable is that he isn't an anti-hero whom you maintain a grudging respect for from the the start, nor is he a good character who lost his path and then became good. He was a proud prince, whom I hated from the moment he pushed Bran off the tower and then how he wormed his way back into my good graces by reforming himself. Though burdened with his past actions, if he continues with this upward trend in morality, he might be Ned Stark's successor.
- There are some obvious signs of how GRRM's series ballooned from a trilogy into a series. Brienne's quest to find the 'highborn lady of three-and-ten' could have been shortened. The Ironborn's story could have been condensed, the prologues and part of the Dorne story could have benefited from major editing.
Still, I would recommend this book to you. Why? GRRM's writing. The way Mr. Martin plays with the language is wonderful and even a low point for him is better than the peaks of others' writing talents. Also, there's the promise of return of the interesting characters returning in the next book.