Early Thoughts on George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows (by Bethany)

feast_for_crows

Pages read: 218 out of 976

I never wrote official final thoughts on A Storm of Swords, so for the tiny percentage of the population that doesn’t already know what happens, here goes: five major or semi-major characters die vicious, terrible deaths. Two others go into hiding under secret identities. One appears to be coming back from the dead as an “Other.” There is blood and gore and destruction everywhere, and I can’t stop thinking about all the therapy the four remaining Stark children are going to need once this saga is over. Shouldn’t someone start a GoFundMe campaign for them or something?

And also, there are mammoths. Full-blown Snuffleupagi, dying long painful deaths at the foot of the Wall.

Like its three predecessors, A Feast of Crows begins in a way that seems intended to be confusing. We’re thrust into a scene containing such characters as Pate and Mollander and Roone and Alleras the Sphinx, none of whom we have met before. Gradually, we realize that these people are studying to become maesters. Maesters have been a regular presence in this series from the beginning. They do various things involving healing and telling people that it would not be a good idea to go to war, and they always seem to be on hand with an endless supply of “milk of the poppy” whenever anyone has been impaled with a poisoned spear or something similar. Which is to say, often. But none of the maesters have been developed much as characters, so I was surprised to find the prologue of this novel set at “the Citadel,” which is the place where maesters are trained, and which you’ll be sorry to know is not much like the Citadel of PAT CONROY!!!! fame. There’s talk in this prologue of alchemy and gold and dragons and obsidian and Valyrian steel, and then a stranger shows up and the maester-in-training named Pate dies in a mysterious fashion, as the characters in George R.R. Martin’s prologues are wont to do.

After the prologue, the first real chapter of the book presents the point of view of someone named “the Prophet.” This is new – all chapters in the previous books name the specific character the chapter will be about. There are none of these mysterious sobriquets like “the Prophet” – or “the Kraken’s daughter” or “the Soiled Knight,” all of which provide the points of view of future chapters. I had trouble taking “the Prophet” seriously, however, because the religion he espouses seemed to be based on CPR.

Yes, CPR. Clearly this religion is supposed to be modeled after Christianity, which claims to offer its adherents life after death. In this somewhat more literal version, priests literally drown people and then resuscitate them via breathing into their mouths and restarting their hearts via chest compressions. The only thing missing is “You! Call 911, now!” This chapter is a little hard to take seriously, I’m afraid (Jump the shark much, R.R.?), but at least as it progressed I was able to figure out how “the Prophet” of this chapter fits into the larger cast of characters. The Prophet is Aeron Greyjoy, brother to Balon (who is now deceased) and uncle to Theon, who is nowhere to be found in this book or in A Storm of Swords, though in season 3 of the TV series he is being slowly tortured in a dungeon somewhere by one of Robert Baratheon’s many “bastards.” Having flipped ahead a little, I get the sense that most of the unnamed narrators in this novel (“the Kraken’s daughter, etc.) are members of the Greyjoy family. I’m not sure where R.R. is going with this, but I’m intrigued.

I’m also getting used to the fact that A Feast for Crows does not check in with all of our usual key characters. A Feast for Crows only concerns itself with events in and around King’s Landing, so the Lannisters get a lot of stage time, as do Sansa – who is living under an assumed name and pretending to be Petyr Baelish’s “bastard” daughter (You! Call Child Protective Services, now!) – and Arya, who is about to board a ship for Braavos, and Brienne, who is hunting for Sansa, and Sam Tarly, who is being sent to “the Citadel” himself to become a maester on the orders of Jon Snow, who is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon himself gets only a little bit of page time at the beginning, and Daenerys, Tyrion, Bran and Hodor (what will we do without Hodor?), and others are barely mentioned. We’ll catch up with them in the next book, I’m told.

Overall, I’m appreciating the somewhat enhanced sense of focus in this novel. I’m still enjoying Jaime Lannister’s chapters, though Brienne and Cersei, who are both new as point-of-view characters in this book, fail to interest me. I miss Tyrion, but I’m glad to take a break from the snow and bleakness and violence and mammoths of the Jon Snow chapters. I’m intrigued by all this focus on maesters and the Citadel. Where is R.R. going with all this? I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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This entry was posted in Authors, Fiction - Fantasy, Fiction - general, George R.R. Martin, Reviews by Bethany and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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