CBR III Week 9: A Feast for Crows by George R R Martin

Fest for crows

Since I've already reviewed the Song of Ice and Fire books that preceded this one, I'm not going to rehash all the things I said about the series in general. Instead I'm going to ponder whether it was a mistake to release this book or not. A Feast for Crows is, qualitatively, on par with Martin's other writing, but it's gotten some very middling reviews, because it only follows some of the characters we've grown to know and love (if memory serves, they are: Cersei, Jaime, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa, Arya, some Greyjoys, some Martells, and Samwell). Basically, Martin's manuscript got too long for publication and so it got split up into two volumes, by geography, A Feast for Crows being the first. This would've made sense if the two volumes had actually been published together, or within a year of each other, but instead, Martin took the second of these two volumes and expanded it (?) into a whole new fifth volume bla bla bla, which he's still working on. 

I suppose it made commercial sense to do this, since Martin is a relatively slow writer (not that there's anything wrong with that), and Feast is a nice sop to fans. In the end though, it feels like exactly that: a half-baked attempt to maintain reader loyalty that doesn't necessarily make sense in terms of telling the story. Where is Tyrion, guys? Tyrion is like 95% of the reason I'm reading these books. In addition to the cranky-making absence of a dwarf, the format sacrifices a lot of the dramatic irony that makes the series so delightful. If you happen to be making your way through the series, I would advise you to stop at A Storm of Swords, and wait for the next book in the series to come out before reading Feast.

Of the published volumes, I think the first and third are the most effective because they each contain events that are major game changers. They read like Greek plays: their tragedies are on that scale. A Feast for Crows doesn't do much more than build up momentum. 

Can I get a slow clap for the Arya storyline, though? She gets more emotionally complex with every chapter. Martin has made her transition into adulthood painful and fascinating, and I love that there's this potential that she'll grow up to be somewhat of a monster (like "sociopath", not like "Godzilla"). Talk about high stakes.

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