Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"A Feast For Crows" George R. R. Martin

Well here it is, the fourth book in Martin's epic fire and ice saga. In some ways this is a very frustrating book. Most of our favorite characters do not show up at all in this novel except by the shadows of the actions they have cast over Westro and beyond. It's a little disconcerting, it's like one of those dinner parties where you suddenly realize your friends have gone off for a smoke or something and now you are talking to someone you haven't really met. Once you get used to it, though, there are some neat characters. We've met Cersei the queen mother before, but we've never really gotten in her head as we do in this novel. Not that her head is a nice place, but it's interesting watching her self destruct. Actually, this novel could be subtitled "How not to rule." A few things I've learned from Cersei's term as leader...

  • Never piss off the money men
  • If you think someone is a fool, don't employ them to do something cunning
  • If you are only going to hire yes men you are going to limited your responses
  • There are reasons you don't arm religious zealots
The only Stark children we follow this time around are the girls.  They now have new identies and are learning some interesting life lessons.  Sansa is now with creepy Littlefinger and learning all about how to manipulate people.  As one of most misused pawns of the book I hope she might really learn something.  The younger sister, meanwhile, is now in learning maybe a little too much about death at the temple of the Many Faced One. 

Samwell, friend of John Snow, is also reluctantly seeking knowledge as he heads to Oldtown where the Maesters are trained.  We do get to see Oldtown for the first time, and get to know the Dornish who live in deserty south of the realm.  These are both interesting new players in the game, and thus far this part of the realm hasn't been touched by war.  But of course it is just a matter of time.

That's the thing about this novel, it's something of a very violent lull.  Some characters even think that the war is winding down.  Of course it isn't.  There are already new plots being put in place and new players joining.  If anything, things promise to be even bloodier in the future.   Also, Winter is here, and folks face a real chance of starvation now.  Things are going to get very desparate soon. 

All in all, I'm glad I read this book 2 weeks before the next volume comes out.  How you other people managed to stay sane after years of waiting I'll never known.

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