15 May 2006

Book Banter -- A Feast for Crows

Title: A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, book 4)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Length: 684 pages
Genre: fantasy

SPOILER WARNING -- Plot of this book (and some previous volumes) will be revealed.

Plot Basics: After the death of her father, Tywin Lannister, the self-proclaimed Queen Regent Cersei tries to keep the kingdom together for her 8-year-old son, Tommen. Her now one-handed twin brother, Jaime, Lord Commander of the famous Kingsguard, is dispatched to Riverrun to deal with the siege of that castle. Farther to the north, the death of Balon Greyjoy prompts the choosing of a new king of the Iron Isles, one bent on conquest. Arya Stark finds her way to Braavos. Sansa Stark is little better than a prisoner of Petyr Baelish in the Vale, and Brienne of Tarth, the lady-knight, continues her quest to find the Stark girls. And Samwell Tarly sets sail south from the Wall with desperate news that could change the course of civil conflicts in the south... if the right people get the message. And for all of Cersei's scheming... well, holding a kingdom together is hard work.

Banter Points: Wow. Um. First. Word Nerd is likely stronger than she was before hauling this tome around for the three weeks it took to read it.
Bummer Points: This book has no Davos, no Dany, no Tyrion and no Jon Snow! Let Word Nerd explain... Martin's series is told through limited third-person POVs of at least a dozen characters. Martin admits that as he was writing FfC, things were getting very long. So he lopped the book in half. Not half like directly in the middle, but he split the characters he was using so FfC told the events going on mostly in the south of the kingdom and the next book will tell all the events in the North and across the sea. Since none of Word Nerd's most favorite characters were in this half of the book, it really plodded along in plot and pacing.

Word Nerd suspects that the book was really divided into the good half and the boring half, Feast for Crows being the latter.

The other big drawback for FfC was the timing. Originally, the book was supposed to come out in 2004. So, fan that she was of the first three books, Word Nerd reread them all (at 600+ pages a pop, that's no small undertaking). She was excited, ready, remembering who the heck all these characters were. And then the release is delayed. For a whole year. And even then, Word Nerd doesn't get her hands on the book for 6 months after it hits the shelves. (To help better explain the timing, there were no less than 9 years in between the release of the first book and the release of the fourth book.) Word Nerd's recollection of all these characters is somewhat sketchy -- the main ones she remembers, of course -- but... the rest... kind of fuzzy. Likewise, Word Nerd's recollection of plot and who's dead and who killed them (save for the really unexpected deaths in earlier books) was also a bit foggy.

Word Nerd recommendation: It's a shame that this one is not as exciting because the first three were so good. And the next one, since the good characters will be back, also has the possibility of being good. So Word Nerd isn't sure what to recommend at this point. She used to be a big fan and would encourage people to read this series. Now though, the verdict may be out until the fifth book comes out and she can see if Martin returns to his usual flair or if his is bogged down in his own plot.

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