George R.R. Martin






Fourth Book of A Song Of Ice And Fire
Bantam, Nov 2005
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

A FEAST FOR CROWS is the fourth book in one huge, cinematic fantasy novel. If you havenít read the previous books, opening with A GAME OF THRONES, go back and start where it all begins, where a breakdown in feudal government plunges a small group of people into the scramble for power. As the original characters travel out across the known world, the story lines spread like ripples.

In A FEAST FOR CROWS, the intense contest for the throne of the Seven Kingdoms is being carried on mostly by political maneuver. There is no lack of aspirants to power now that Tywin Lannisterís steel grip is gone. Jaime Lannister manages to find himself a small war out of the way of his sister Cerceiís belligerent regency.

Littlefinger, clever schemer, has found a safe place for himself and Sansa Stark to wait out the storms. Littlefinger has patience, and his long view has glory at the end of it. He is carefully nourishing his ties with Sansa. But is he truly capable of unselfishness? To complicate his plans, the female knight Brienne is on a quest to find and protect Sansa. If she finds her, she will unintentionally pull Sansaís life down around her ears.

The aging Prince Doran of Dorne has a daughter, Arianne; and Arianne has many cousins, all as restless as she is under Doranís seemingly spineless rule. What couldnít they achieve, now that they have Regent Cerceiís daughter in their grasp? They think Prince Doran should retire to his orange trees and let the energetic younger generation take over.

The Iron Islands have an ambitious new king. They have returned to their piratical old ways with a grand new goal Ė but their king has brothers. Aeron leads a fanatical cult of men risen from the dead. Victarion leads the Iron Fleet, and the king has handed him an irresistible opportunity.

Samwell, modest and scholarly, is called Sam the Slayer Ė a true but ironic nickname. He is sent by the Commander of the Black Watch to lead a small group south to safety. Among Samwellís group is Aemon, once heir to a throne, the oldest and wisest man in the Seven Kingdoms. To Aemon, the future is his great-niece Daenerys and her dragons, seals of rulership. Prophecy is chancy even in the wisest hands. A young princess needs advisers, and now clever men from all over the continent are converging on her, to guide and possibly rule the next ruler.

All these plots and more, bursting with life and suspensefully intertwined, are only half the story during this time period. When author George R.R. Martin found that his next book was going to be too long, he didnít pick a point halfway along the timeline and cut it there, like a normal person would. He pulled out half the viewpoint characters from his weaving and made another book. The story lines in A FEAST FOR CROWS are those focused around the capitol of the Seven Kingdoms, leaving the concurrent story lines from the North Wall and Daenerysí advancing power to be covered in A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

It seems most readersí favorite characters are Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow. You wonít see them here, or at least barely. Donít worry, it works. A FEAST FOR CROWS is fascinating and offers promise of much more. The worst thing about separating the story lines into two books is that we wonít get the answers to these cliffhangers in the next book. Remember, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is happening at the same time as these stories are. We will have to wait for the book after that to see what Brienne cried out and what the result was; whether Arya is being raised up or punished; and who will have authority in Kingís Landing once the dust clears.

A FEAST FOR CROWS was a nominee for the Hugo Award. As usual in this brilliant series, there is no projected date for the sequel.

Sep 2006


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