It didn’t take me quite as long to read A Feast for Crows, but my enjoyment level between it and A Storm of Swords can’t even be compared. Once I struggled through the first three hundred pages of A Storm of Swords, I reached the wonder that was simultaneous road trips and Jaime and Brienne BFFing all over the place. A Storm of Swords quickly became my favorite book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series thanks to the antics of Jaime, Tyrion, and Brienne so it came as a shock to find the next book such a trudge.
A Feast for Crows focuses on the stories of the Lannisters (sans Tyrion), the female Starks, the Grejoys, and the Martells. There’s a handful of other characters and families in the mix, but A Feast for Crows keeps it’s eyes on Cersei and her struggle to keep Tommen on the Iron Throne. There’s plots concerning Myrcella, Greyjoys restless for power, Littlefinger playing the long game, and discord in the Lannister House. The familiar characters plot and scheme while the rest struggle to stay alive.
It’s the same old game of thrones–expect nothing earth shattering happens until the last fifth of the book.
While A Storm of Swords was filled with character development, forward plot momentum, and lots of main character deaths (bye, Joffrey), A Feast for Crows seemed content to drag itself along like a half dead auroch. I struggled and struggled through chapters concerning the Greyjoys (Dear George, please kill these characters off forthwith), and nearly threw the book against the wall whenever Jaime and Cersei’s viewpoint chapters failed to move the plot along whatsoever (I love you, Jaime, but fulfill the prophecy and kill you sis already). It was ridiculous the level to which the plot kept being bogged down with endless characters giving endless history lessons and no one doing anything.
To me, Samwell Tarley’s storyline was the only one with proper character development, emotional stakes, and a plot period. Sam’s never been one of my favorite characters, but I found myself longing for his chapters in A Feast for Crows because I wanted to know what happened next to he and Gilly on their journey to Oldtown. I can’t say I looked forward to reading any other character in this entire book and that’s a shame.
What A Feast of Crows really needed was a heavy hand when it came to editing. So much of this book felt unnecessary and indulgent. I understand that some fantasy readers might love the breadth of his worldbuilding, but George R. R. Martin allowed backstory to bog down his actual story and it was problematic. If George R. R. Martin had cut a significant chunk of this book or simply consolidated chapters (which he absolutely could have done), it could have combined with A Dance of Dragons–which I can only assume has it’s fair share of filler too. I’ve always been of the opinion that splitting one book or movie into two leads to trouble (hello, The Hobbit films and Connie Willis’ All Clear series), and A Feast of Crows did not change that opinion.
Now, it might sound like I absolutely loathed A Feast for Crows, but I didn’t. I still fangirled over Jaime even when his story went nowhere and I worried about Sansa, wishing for her to be reunited with Tyrion. I even adored the last one hundred pages and whooped with joy when Cersei finally got some comeuppance. I love these characters and their stories so much that I would absolutely struggle through all manner of Greyjoy chapters for their sake. I just wish I didn’t have to.
Who is your favorite Game of Thrones character? Do you struggle through these books for their sake too?