The drama of Westeros continues! This time with a particular focus on Westeros-based characters in the wake of A Storm of Swords. Particularly getting their story told are Jaime, Cersei, Samwell, and Brienne with a splash of Arya and Sansa and some others. We’re also treated to seeing Braavos and Dorne for the first time.
When you get into A Song of Ice and Fire, you’re bound to see people talking about their favorite and least favorite books in the series. A Storm of Swords rightly holds the top spot for many readers, and I’m one of them. A lot of people then see A Feast for Crows as a weak follow-up. Strangely, I didn’t feel that way. I realize publication dates and long waits have something to do with some people’s gripes, and I’m not saying that’s not valid. But that wasn’t my situation.
I finally picked this series up after the show started airing. I’d been hounded by a friend of mine for years to just read it, and now that I have, I find myself screaming, “all the wasted years!” By the same token, if waiting for a book long enough can make fans hate it, maybe I was smart to wait. Because this book isn’t as weak as I hear people say. In particular, the arcs for Jaime and Cersei is some of the strongest, character-driven writing I’ve ever seen. Cersei especially. She slowly but surely plummets into a pit she dug for herself and can’t get out of, and it’s a delight. While Jaime slowly climbs out of his pit, which is also a delight.
Here’s where I think people who love this series get irked. A Storm of Swords was plot driven in a huge way. A Feast for Crows is more focused on character development and personal stories. Some don’t impact the greater story and some do, but everyone gets some kind of journey, even if it’s only within themselves. Some people don’t find that riveting, but I do. I find following characters and watching their progress a lot more interesting than trying to remember the names of houses and their banners and who is loyal to what king and who the hell is this guy again?
I like how this book felt like the quiet devastation after a storm, pun somewhat intended. After everything came crashing down in the previous book, now we have people just trying to get by, trying to survive, trying to figure out where their place is in this mess. Brienne’s journey exemplified this really well, in that everything they passed was a landscape full of mud and blood and death. Dead bodies hung from trees and choked rivers. That is the world that ASOS left these characters, and the way it’s dealt with is somewhat solemn and gray. I thought it was fitting and proof that Martin is a master at setting a tone for a book.