A Feast for Crows
Yup, itís that time of the year. Summertime! Time for me to take out a book just for me and take as long as I want to read it. Could be a book that someone already reviewed for the site or one thatís a thousand pages like my latest choice: A Feast for Crows.
The fourth novel in George R.R. Martinís A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows finds the Iron Men searching for a new king. Balon Greyjoy has mysteriously been killed. Some say it is the work of his elder brother and claimer of the crown, Euron Crow's Eye. Otherís believe that their Drowned God had decided that Balon was sailing the wrong path and that the Iron Men were in need of a new leader. Euron believes he is that leader, but many oppose him, including his niece, Asha, and his brother Victarion. The Damphair, Aeron, decides that there should be a kingsmoot, where all challengers have an opportunity to present their case for their right to become King of the Iron Men.
Meanwhile, Tyrionís treachery has been discovered and Lord Tywinís body is being laid to rest. Tyrion and his wife Sansa are nowhere to be found. Tommen is now King of Westeros, with his mother Cersei taking over as regent. She loves the power it gives her, but even her brother Jamie is beginning to question her decisions and actions, especially towards him. But not all believe that Tommen is the proper heir to the throne. There are those from the House Martell who believe that his older sister is the rightful heir and plan to make it happen.
Brienne of Tarth is still on her mission for Jaime, searching for Sansa Stark. Sansa is actually hiding out in the Eyrie, disguised as Petyr Littlefingerís bastard daughter. Littlefingerís position as Lord Protector is being challenged, as there are some who believe the story of his wife, Lysaís, demise is a bit far-fetched. The heir of the Eyrie is Robert, the sickly eight-year-old son of Robert and Lysa Arryn, both deceased. He has taken quite a liking to Sansa, making it easier for Littlefingerís machinations to come to fruition. Brienne believes she is on the trail of Sansa, but in fact she is actually following the trail of Arya Stark, long thought dead. Arya is actually on her way to Braavos to study the art of the Faceless God, hoping to become an assassin.
And all the while, Sam Tarly is on a journey for Jon Snow. He has been sent to Oldtown with Maester Aemon, Gilly and her son, and Daemon of the Night's Watch. According to Jon, Sam is being sent to Oldtown to become a Maester, but Sam isnít so sure. Maester Aemon is a descendant of the House Targaryen and Sam knows that the Red Priestess Malisandre might want to use his blood for her ceremonies. Kingís blood is very powerful and who better than a descendent of a king to feed her fire. Along the way, Sam learns that Gilly is not bringing her son along for the journey, but that of the Wildlingís king Mance Rayder Ė all a plan of Jonís to protect the baby from Malisandre. Traveling isnít something Sam does well, but traveling with a blind, sick, elderly man and a woman in despair for the loss of her own child promises to make for a disastrous journey.
Treachery abounds in this novel and more and more people find themselves on the chopping block. The feast for crows ends up being the thousands of bodies left over from this war of kings. The ending of the book leaves no end in sight for this war for the throne. Interesting is the predicament that Cersei Lannister finds herself in. We discover that Cersei is terrified of a prophecy made by an old crone, foretelling of death to those Cersei holds dear, the loss of her crown to a younger, more beautiful queen and death at the hands of her younger brother. Cerseiís conniving plots are meant to prevent the prophecy she believes is coming to fruition, but, however you feel about Cersei Lannister, if you have read any mythology at all, you have to know that her machinations will come to no good end.
Revelations are made about all of the main characters. We learn of Brienneís past and how she became a warrior rather than a maiden. We learn more about Sam and his relationship with his father. We discover that Jaime can be an honorable man after all. There are a couple of chance run-ins (Arya and Sam, though they donít know the significance of their chance meeting) and one revelation that shocked even me Ė I never saw that happening, though I wonít reveal it to you, it was quite surprising.
Most surprising of all was the omission of the storylines of Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow (who only appears very quickly in one chapter). George R.R. Martin explains this at the end of the novel. Apparently, writing everyone into this novel made it too longÖthis book is already almost a thousand pages, I shudder to think how long was too long even to Mr. Martin. Thus, he split the book he created into two books, deciding to leave out Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion and Stannis until A Dance with Dragons. (I wonít say they appear in the final novel as I am hoping that Martin writes one more tying together events that have taken place in the television series.)
Keep this in mind Ė the book is close to a thousand pages and it felt like nothing to me. I coasted through the brick of a book, every page making me more and more excitedÖmore and more engrossed. Such is the power of Martinís writing that you need to know what happens to each and every character, no matter how loathsome, and the pages simply fly by. So descriptive is his writing that you feel like you are right there in the thick of things. I generally save lengthy books like A Feast for Crows for vacation time, so I can read uninterrupted and for as long as I wish. Thus, the book only took a week or so to finish between ventures to the beach, etc., and I loved every minute of it. I canít wait until the next vacation so I can read the last book left to the regular series (seriously, Mr. Martin, you have to write another).