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THE BOOK BEHIND THE FOURTH SEASON OF THE ACCLAIMED HBO SERIES GAME OF THRONES

Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace . . . only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction.

A FEAST FOR CROWS

It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears. . . . With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist—or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.

But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes . . . and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Nov 8, 2005
ISBN: 9780553900323
List price: $9.99
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My least favorite book in the series, it was a fight just to get through it. The sparse chapters focusing on Arya are what got me through this book. That and a LOT of skimming. I had read that Martin had written the last book, but decided to break it in two as it would have been too long. As a fan of this series, I would like for him to keep on writing, especially since Arya and Bran and even Sansa are so young (Oh please don't let Arya die!!!) and I would have happily read a book that was too long if it meant all those boring chapters about characters I don't care about were broken up with chapters on Bran, Arya and not Brienne or any of the ironborn, gawd those were murder!Anyway, I love the series, so I had to finish it, it just took me twice as long as the other books.read more
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This being the fourth book in a series, there may be unintentional spoilers. I’ve done my best to keep it neutral, but you’ve been warned. I’ve loved everything about the Song of Fire and Ice series I’ve read so far. I repeat, everything. Until I got to book four, A Feast for Crows, and my love sort of cooled. I didn’t dislike anything about this book; in fact, you’ll notice I rated it a 4 out of 5 so obviously I didn’t have any negative feelings toward it either. What I found was that I missed many of the characters which weren’t in this book and I started to feel like I wanted to push Cersei out a moon door of her own. The Lannisters are still ruling King’s Landing but with Tyrion’s escape and Tywin’s death, their once golden grasp is now hanging by threadbare ropes. Cersei’s son Tommen is now king and married to Margarey Tyrell, and Cersei is having a hard time dealing with the fact that’s she being run out of her own palace. Jaime, now a one-handed man, is falling into a strange despair wondering how he will retain anyone’s respect and hating his once-loved sister for her cruel words. The Iron Islands are preparing a war run, the Riverlands are war-torn, devastated, and full of outlaws, and the Eyrie is now under the rule of a sick boy. Sansa Stark, now Alayne, is still in fear for her life, but Brienne --- the maid of Barth --- is hoping to fulfill a promise to Lady Catleyn Stark to find her daughters. Arya Stark is learning to be no one to her own detriment, and Samwell Tarley, a rather soft and scared man of the Night’s Watch, is the only man of the Black to still act like one, terrified as he is of the prospects. As readers of this series know, each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character. Many of the characters I adored perished in A Storm of Swords and I felt slightly disconnected to the ones that were left, namely Cersei. She’s spiraling at full speed fueled by alcohol, desperation, and denial. It’s interesting but she’s never been a character I related to so I find her drama filled days just that boring. Jaime on the other hand (no pun intended) is on his own road to an epiphany and seems to be realizing just what a crazy witch his sister is. It’s interesting to see him show feelings for and refer to Tommen as his son, even if it is only to himself and a man with no tongue and no writing abilities. Jon Snowe is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and I wanted very much to know what was going on there, especially with Stannis sequestered at the Wall with him, but we hear none of it. The most interesting story line, in my opinion, is Daenerys and we don’t see her at all. Being the type of reader that is more attached to characters than plot, it normally doesn’t bother me when something rambles, as long as I feel it’s rambling toward some close. What A Feast for Crows rambles toward is A Dance with Dragons. This series is a sweeping epic so there will need to be filler like this --- and by filler I mean stories other than the ones I want to hear will need to be told for the whole thing to come together. While there is nothing wrong with this installment --- Martin still frustrates, overwhelms, and makes you wonder --- it was a slow book for me. There is plotting and scheming to be had in abundance and no quiet moments. I know my favorites return in A Dance with Dragons which I’m looking forward to very much. I will be giving it time before I take on the fifth book though. It’s the last one for a long while.read more
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I had a like/hate relationship with this book. There were some interesting tidbits (mostly coming from Cersei's POV) but for the most part this is the worst book in the series by far. Filled with uninteresting characters and plots (even the couple of well-known characters were lackluster,) the book seemed like a never-ending wave of "oh COME ON! Something has to happen eventually!" This book filled me with anticipation in wanting to carry on the cliffhangers that a Storm of Swords left us on, as I was skipping pages of humdrum conversations and repetition. I must say that I am glad that this book contained Cersei and Jaime because now we have more insight of what may come, and I'm quite looking forward as to how their stories pan out. Thank goodness for GRRM's little note at the end, because now I can't wait to put this book behind me and get cracking on a Dance with Dragons.read more
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Book four in the series 'A Song of Fire and Ice'. There were way too many characters in this book that I just didn't care about which meant I skipped through pages of dreary paragraphs. Two of the series most interesting characters, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, are totally absent whilst Jon Snow is hardly mentioned.Brienne of Tarth is searching for Lady Catelyn's daughters; Lord Tywin Lannister has been murded on his privy; his daughter Cersei Lannister, is paranoid about finding her fugitive brother, the dwarf Tyrion whilst pulling herself together after her son Joffrey's murder and plotting to rule King's Landing as Queen Regent until her next son Tommen is old enough; Arya Stark is training with the Faceless Men of Braavos. Such a shame this wasn't more heavily edited and it became more and more tiresome and disappointing.read more
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It's difficult to write a review of A Feast for Crows because of one drastic thing - the empty promise at the end of the book. I read this book several years ago and hung my hopes on that promise, that in a year A Dance with Dragons would be released - and it was just released this year. So when I reach the end of A Feast for Crows, it reminds me of the agony of waiting (although I certainly filled my time with other books). This fourth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire is interesting and infuriating. It only deals with certain characters and leaves others out. I long for updates of Jon, Dany, Tyrion and one other - but get very, very few bits of information on them. Rather, we're stuck with the "King's Landing" version of events. Granted, those events are thrilling. Between the struggle of the Queens (Margaery and Cercei), the search of Brienne "A highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair?", the fumbling heroics of Samwell (finally, the boy shows his backbone... of sorts), the re-emergence of Asha (I love that chick) and.. Sansa, now Alayne and Arya, now Cat. So. much. information. And I feel like I'm just being set up for something huge and the bigger it gets the more I fear for it to fail and for me to come away feeling disappointed. I know that Martin has cautioned us to not get too attached to characters - but I got attached to Brienne, dangit (And she and Jaime better.. you know!), I even enjoyed Cercei's own spectacular brand of wickedness. But now, religion is playing even more prominently into the political mess. The emergence of a new "Holy Guard" to battle against Stannis' "Red Woman" brings a whole new level of tension to the stories and one that, I hope, A Dance with Dragons will shed a little more light on.read more
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I originally read "A Game of Thrones" several years ago but now I'm not sure if I've read "A Clash of Kings" and "A Storm of Swords" since, during my read of this book, it seems like I've missed (or forgot?) quite a few events mentioned in "...Crows". I found that a slow, careful reading method renewed my interest in the earlier books. I developed an appreciation of Jaime's and Cersei's characters with this reading but there are other books that I want to read before restarting this series. I'm afraid that I may have glossed over my first exposure to "G/T" due to the difficulty of separating all of the characters - it's my fault not Mr. Martin's.read more
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now just waiting on Dances with dragonsread more
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A Feast for Crows is the fourth book in George R.R. Martin's epic high-fantasy series. The book is really a collection of simultaneous stories taking place in the aftermath of the civil war. Unlike previous books, Martin took the decision to tell complete tales of only half the series characters in this book. This means having to wait for Tyrion, Dany, Bran, Jon and Stannis until the next book. This still leaves stories about Queen Regent Cersei, her twin Jaime, Arya, Sansa, Brienne and Samwell 'the Slayer' to which Martin adds other stories around the royal succession in the Iron Islands and intrigue in Dorne. Like the other books magic is largely absent, but is slowly becoming more pronounced as the series progresses. Realpolitik, violence, death, religion, lust and betrayal remain to the fore. That’s what makes this series so different from other epic fantasies. However, although the characterisation remain strong, dialogue and plotting is more variable than in earlier books. The tone remains gratifyingly bleak but loses something from the lack of humour that Tyrion's tongue would have brought to the proceedings. There is too much of Queen Cersei although her story does have the most satisfying ending. The Brienne storyline is also strong, if incredibly bleak. The Samwell story peters out in the end, but the Sansa tale continues to increase in interest partly thanks to the machinations of her 'father' Littlefinger. As with all the books in the series, Martin over-describes and he could really have done with a more brutal editor throughout. Overall, it is the weakest book in the series, but still fascinating. Let's hope we don't have to wait another five years for the next one.read more
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George Martin must have some exceptional gifts to induce readers to stick with this story through 4 books. He writes well. Indeed, his descriptions of battles are frequently gripping, and he imagines beautiful intrigues with complex characters who frequently surprise you.But this book is simply not a very good story. The whole series is heavily overwritten, and it seems that this caused a problem for the author in writing this book - such that he then simply jettisoned the points of view of half the characters. Unfortunately it was largely the most interesting storylines that were jettisoned, and we were thus treated with hundred upon hundreds of pages of ... nothing very much. At the end of this book I cannot think what intrigue has really been advanced, nor what stories have been concluded. It feels like one of those American TV shows that spans 10 series and here is series 7 which does nothing but sow confusion and fill air time.The faults of this series remain. It is set in a faux medieval world with all the derivative elements such as knights and jousts and carousing and such like. Terms like "Ser" instead of "sir" and "your grace" instead of "your majesty" don't create a sense of difference as they are so close to the classical terms. The one innovation - the seasons that span many years - is entirely irrelevent in this book, and having read this deep into the series, there really is nothing particularly magical about the land. What is more, the characters all seem to speak with the same voice - and I am peculiarly fed up with "half a hundred" and all the other "half a ..." that are charactersitic of the author's idiolect. Don't the people of Westeros have a word for "fifty" (although that admittedly would require just one word rather than three)?This is the weakest book of the series thus far, and the most heavily overwritten. It is not entirely without merit (see my opening paragraph), but it is becoming increasingly difficult to recommend this series.read more
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The best series ever.read more
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Ah, the ugly stepdaughter of Martin's ongoing magnum opus. I disagree with the general notion that this installment represents an alarming dip in quality. What it definitely lacks, though, is any sort of resolution whatsoever. Brienne's tale appears to be nothing more than a shaggydog, starting in thin air and ending up in the same place. Jaime appears to have severed ties with his sister, but it's hard to tell what's coming for him. We have no idea what awaits Sam in the Citadel, and other than trusting that GRRM will deliver, it's hard to get excited about that. The plotting of the ironmen and Dornishmen right now appear to be such red herrings that the net effect of these chapters is to make us impatient to get to Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys, who we assume are really at the heart of this thing. In spite of these complaints, I found the stories interesting on their own terms. Brienne's chapters, especially, are masterpieces of atmosphere and action; Martin creates a slow build of creeping dread, then pays off with two awesome fight scenes. Other characters' journeys are just as compelling; I just hope that all this actually means something.read more
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Good but not my favorite of the Song of Ice and Fire books. I'm really looking forward to A Dance With Dragons (which I hope is still an eventuality) because some of my favorite characters were absent in A Feast for Crows and I would like to know what they are up to.read more
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This was definitely the worst book in the series so far, although it still wasn't "bad". GRRM's tendency to get too verbose got away from him here and it really shows. I found myself skimming what probably ended up amounting to at least a third of the book. By the time I got to the end, I didn't really feel like the story or the characters had really developed all that much, especially not for the amount of time it took to get through the book. I really hope the next one will be better.read more
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After five years of waiting, this book was bound to be a bit of a letdown after the superb A Storm of Swords. And it is indeed a letdown. Which is not to say that it is bad: Martin continues to deliver interesting characters and storytelling. But after almost 700 pages, it felt like the overall story for the series had not moved forward much (which sounds fighteningly similar to what happened to Robert Jordan when he hit book 6 of WoT), and we had seen neither hide not hair of my favorite characters in the series (again, this brings to mind Jordan's mid-series meanderings). Indeed, the author has admitted that this is only half a book--though not surprisingly, it still costs as much as a whole book. Instead we get lots of pages of moderately interesting Iron Islands and Dorne storylines, more than we really needed of an increasingly ludicrous Cersei, Brienne's search for Sansa (I very much want to like Brienne, but her story here is fairly tedious), Sam getting sick on boats, Jaime's search for purpose and perhaps redemption (the most compelling storyline in this book, imo), and a bit of an update on Arya (who is doing interesting things) and Sansa (who is not). After three books this felt like a candidate to be the BEST FANTASY SERIES EVER. After A Feast of Crows, it feels more like a series stuck in neutral. But I have no doubts I'll be lined up to get book 5 when it hits bookshelves.read more
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George RR Martin's "Feast for Crows" is a bridge between Martin's "A Storm of Swords" and "A Dance With Dragons". Martin acknowledges that "Feast" doesn't have the conclusive endings of his earlier books, admitting in an epilogue that the book was becoming too long and unreadable with the direction it was taking, so he simply broke it into multiple components. But let's face it, while each chapter in Martin's series is constructed to end in its own micro-cliffhanger, each book "concludes" with numerous larger scale cliffhangers as well. So what's new?"Feast" is as formidable as each of its predecessors. The characters are big, bold and surprising, as they orbit each other in Martin's vast landscape. While Brienne, Jaime, Sam, Cersei, and Arya return as points of focus, new characters and lands are introduced. Some series-long mysteries are revealed but, as always, many new mysteries are introduced.I've just recently picked up "A Song of Ice and Fire". Fortunately for me, the fifth book in the series, "A Dance with Dragons" will be released only a few weeks after I've completed "Feast". I can't imagine the tormented wait by Martin's fans who've been keeping their cool since "Feast" was released in 2005. I saw the mixed reviews of this book and hesitated before I purchased. There's no reason to wait...jump in with both feet and immerse yourself in Martin's world. The read is well worth it.read more
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I love this series, especially #1 and #3, but I had to work to plod through this one. Like the author said himself, "This one is a b!#ch." So much information to share about characters who are truly vile for the most part.read more
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Awesome---Intriguing, well written and engagingIntriguing, well written and engagingread more
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4th in the series A song of Fire and Ice.Keeping true to the reviews on this series, the 4th book is nowhere so fast paced. Partly that’s due to the structure of the book; while Martin has kept the multiple narrators, each segment is much longer than in the previous 3 books, reducing the sense of cliff-hanging suspense that so dominated the earlier books. There’s more going on now, as the dangers from the north intensify, and the war turns even uglier with guerrilla tactics on the part of a band of partisans loyal to Robert. Martin just needs more time to develop the action.But this book is also something of a transition book, as now Martin starts to move his players across the board in order to get them where he needs them for the final confrontation. Certain threads are starting to come together.But there is still no end of surprises, twists and turns to the plot. The end of the book leaves the reader in almost as much suspense as in the previous three books.While not as good as the first three, the fourth is still outstanding, suffering only in comparison with its siblings. Highly recommended—but be sure to read the other three first.read more
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I guess it's a little bit silly to declare in a review of Book 4A that I'm a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire. After all, why else would one have waded through 3,000+ pages? In fact, I felt Book 3 was perhaps the best installment to date. Perhaps it was for this reason that I was so bitterly disappointed with A Feast For Crows. Having read many of the other reviews, I can only repeat what many others have already cited as its most glaring deficiencies. Most obvious, how can an author pen 1,000 pages of prose that fail to advance the already 3,000 page storyline even a little bit (with the possible exception of the Iron born). Two of the most intriguing threads, Tyrion and Daenerys, do not even make an appearance. It is only at the conclusion of the book that this is explained and very poorly so. "The more I thought about that, however, the more I felt that the readers would be better served by a book that told ALL THE STORY FOR HALF THE CHARACTERS, RATHER THAN HALF THE STORY FOR ALL THE CHARACTERS". Martin ALL THE STORY? Did anyone else get all the story? Instead, he arbitrarily ends the story for these characters no further along than when he started. And we must wait for another partial installment featuring the characters of most interest. And what choice do we have? We've already invested in over 4,000 pages of reading. Even more troubling is that Book 4B will not even address the numerous cliffhangers left from Book 4A, most specifically Arya and Brienne. Book 5 will not likely be published until after 2010. How many will remember the background for these characters at that time (or will Martin spend 250 pages bringing us back up to speed). I can distinctly recall thinking that with writing as good as Martin's, storyline resolution was not even necessary. Book 4A has proven me wrong. Excellent writing that leads nowhere soon becomes frustrating. Martin has disrespected his readers with this obvious cash grab. But again, I feel trapped after putting in the effort to read the first four installments.read more
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As should be obvious from the title, this is the bleakest book in the series so far. Proof that sometimes there is truth in advertising, it picks up shortly after the deaths of a large percentage of the rulers (some crowned, some not). Apparently "middle of the trilogy syndrome" can also affect the middle entries in series that are designed to have seven parts- at least, I think the six-part-estimate that I once read predated the split of this portion of the story between this book and Dance with Dragons.There are a few things to nitpick. I would be happier if GRRM used the character's name at the beginning of every chapter, rather than identifying some with an epithet, and if he would use given names consistantly rather than sometimes using the pseudonym a character has taken. Of course some of my favorite characters, notably Jon Snow, were not viewpoint characters in this book, but on the other hand I am happy to know that means I will see them in Dance with Dragons (some day). Though that also means I can't help but be frustrated to know that I will have to wait until book six (however long that might be) to see the rest of Cersei's self-destruction.GRRM wrote in 2005 that Dance with Dragons would be out "next year." Obviously that didn't happen, and given that the book is not yet finished, I would be surprised to see it in less than a year from now. But look at the release dates of the paperbacks. 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006... a 2008 release with paperback a year later would be the same as the rest of the series. In any case, it's a good thing that I like these books so much, because I will almost certainly get back to rereading them again before Dance with Dragons is in my library.read more
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This is my second time reading this book: once several years ago in hardcopy and a second digitally checked out from my library using Overdrive. It was even better the second time. These books make use of POV to devastating effect. It is impossible to figure out who the hero is - when you think you have, Martin kills the character off - which means the suspense is ridiculously intense. Martin starts to lose control of the series in this book. The story has gotten so big that he's only telling half his characters' story in this book - the rest will be told in the next book. Of course, we've been waiting for the next book for going on 6 years now, and that's a little painful in a series this suspenseful. Martin is old and not in good health, which makes me worry he will not finish before he drops dead. That is the only reason I don't recommend these excellent books to my friends: I refuse to do so until the series is finished. If he dies without finishing, I will be most wroth, and I don't want to inflict that on others.read more
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As an aged, experienced and incurable reader, I buy books in great numbers. Sometimes I will buy a book that I have already read and I know that this is a title I want to have in my library forever to re-read it any time I want to. Most of the time, like many other readers, I buy books based on opinions of others or reviews I read or even just a brief synopsis of what the book is about, usually written at the back cover. During my bright career in a mighty bookstore as an ….inventory supervisor (hmmm) I would buy books that were being bought by customers most often. I also would buy an unreasonable amount of them then. One of the titles that caught my attention was a fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin. It comprised four books and yesterday I finally finished book number four: ‘A Feast For Crows’ and I will not be buying an upcoming part five.I struggled with writing this review for the whole time while I was reading ‘A Feast For Crows’. I wanted to write an ok review simply because it is a part of a true epic and any writer who is capable of writing nearly four thousand pages without boring the reader to death deserves to have some praises written about them. Mr. Martin did manage to write a true epic and I know that he has hundreds of thousands of fans. One has to have one heck of an imagination to create all the complicated characters, all plots of revenge, raging wars and keep track of it all.However, ‘A Feast For Crows’ made me immensely upset and frustrated. I really wanted to like it, I love reading fantasy, it is a genre I have read since my teenage years and I had hoped this book to be what I expect a fantasy fiction to be. I wanted hardcore magic (both black and white), supernatural beings and animals with great powers. I found only small instances of feeble magic, there was a mention of sinister supernatural beings that were threatening to overtake and destroy the human population and of big vicious direwolfs. But all that never really came to fruition, I thought that after reading the three previous books I would finally be rewarded for my patience in the fourth one and see these characters play a major role but I was disappointed. All I got was more killings, more fighting and some scheming. A lot of times I felt I was reading some poor replica of Bible’s ‘Exodus’ with descriptions of clans, this man was a son of that one and a cousin of another one and great-great-grandson of this one and married to the girl that came from yet another family of highborns, etc. I skipped many pages because of that, I didn’t see the point in reading something I couldn’t keep track of anyway.All and all, even though there are supposed to be two more parts to this series I will not be buying them. And going back to the reasons for buying new books I mentioned at the beginning, maybe reading the praises at the back covers that convinced me to buy this one in the first place also created great expectations towards the series. One of them praised Mr. Martin as an American Tolkien and believe me Tolkien he is not.read more
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After reading some other reviews I have to agree that this book has been my least favourite of the series, the reason being I want to read about all the characters that I know about but the beginning of this book introduces more characters which I understand moves the story along but I want to know what is happening to the others. The only other thing that I disliked is the ever expanding list of minor characters, half the time I can't remember who most of the knights being mentioned are.Overall though it is still a good book, which is well written and still thoroughly enjoyable.read more
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This is more a review of the whole "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Started with a bang. Loved "A Game of Thrones" when I read it as a preview of the upcoming HBO series. Liked "A Clash of Kings" and "A Storm of Swords." And, I was looking forward to "A Feast for Crows." First, I can imagine how readers waiting for the next volume of the series felt; the ending of "A Feast for Crows" was akin to being put into suspended animation for the past five years. But, that's not my real problem. During "A Feast for Crows," I just got bored. It's sometimes like a medieval fantasy "Perils of Pauline" for the major characters; and a lot of clutter with the many new minor characters in each succeeding book. Still looking forward to the HBO series (love watching Sean Bean act); but, if it ever comes out, I might take a pass on Martin's next book.read more
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This is one of those books that is a bit difficult to review. It is a terrific book, though it isn't as good as the other books in the series. But any standards, it's terrific, but by the standards Martin has set with the first three books in the series, it doesn't quite make it. Of course, the explanation for that is simple: This is really half of a much, much larger volume and three of the most interesting characters are completely (or almost completely) absent. Thus, we see lots of new viewpoints and new plot elements, but we lose some of the familiar. I can't imagine how people managed their impatience from the publication of this volume in 2005 until puplication of the 5th book in July 2011. I think I would have gone crazy. read more
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The fourth installment in the ever-growing Westeros saga did not quite live up to the level of intrigue and ingenuity I have come to expect from Martin. Albeit FFC is a good solid novel just not on the same playing field with the other three. Perhaps this is due to all the secondary, tertiary even quaternary characters making appearances. The novel suffers from a definite dearth of primary characters. I personally wish it had been a bit more edited or included more principal characters. Nonetheless, if you enjoyed the previous three books, you will enjoy this one. There are secrets revealed which heretofore were unknown and most probably must be known before delving further.read more
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I was fully prepared to be disappointed by this book, for several reasons. First of all, the last book, A Storm Of Swords, ended with a very large cliffhanger and I knew that it was a cliffhanger that wasn't going to be fully explained/explored in this volume.Additionally, I knew that in general the story was not going to feature the characters that I was most interested in (namely Daenerys, Theon, Tyrion, and especially the whole issue of Jon and the Night Watch). That being said, the volume was surprisely enjoyable, and helped to better explore the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms. There was tons of action in the first three volumes - I was actually a little set back by the amount of violence that was featured in the series altogether. This volume takes a somewhat quieter approach - characters die, but most of the death takes place off-page. Perhaps this means that A Dance With Dragons is going to feature much higher levels of action.Plot-wise, only certain amounts of progress are made of advancing the plot. We learn nothing more about the advancement of the Others, and no word is made of Daenerys' flight towards the west. Instead we get political maneuverings in King's Landing, and Sam's travel from The Wall to Oldtown. What we do get is quality material, though - I was on the bus when I got to the part of the story that featured Cersei's downfall, and I almost started cackling with joy to see her get her final comeuppance. Also of interest was the expanding story of the Seven Kingdoms, as we learn more about the cultures of both the Iron Islands and of Dorne. Interesting material, definitely, but material that feels much like it is build-up for the eventual landfall of Dany from the east, rather than material in its own right.One of the benefits of the multiple-POV perspective that Martin employs is that it allows the reader to learn about characters not only from how they see themselves, but how they are viewed by those around them. Cersei Lannister, the most prominent character in AFFC, is the most obvious example of this - when she was presented mostly as a scheming mastermind, but in her POV chapters, she's seen as someone almost paralyzed by paranoia. Similarly, we see Jaime as either a sterling knight (from Brienne's perspective) or a craven weakling (from Cersei's perspective). When we see Jaime's one POV, though, we see that he thinks he is how Cersei sees him, but he hopes to become what Brienne believes him to be. It's a very effective literary technique, and easily builds suspense and complexity to a story of this size.read more
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The only reason this one got 4 stars instead of the 5 I gave to GRRM's others is because I didn't find out til his little blurb at the end that this is "half" of a book--book 5 will be the same time period as this one, just with different characters. Bastard.read more
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It took me a little time to get back into the swing of Martin’s world, but once I did, I really enjoyed digging back into it. This book only dealt with one half of the characters: Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Sam, Arya, Sansa, Dorne, and the Ironmen. The rest will come in the next installment. I really enjoyed reading this bisected version. There was a lot to keep up with and only focusing on a handful of stories made it easier, even if some of the favorites weren’t included in this installment. I really enjoyed the sections about the Ironmen, and it was great fun watching Cersei spiral down. The on-going relationship between Sansa and Littlefinger is really creepy, and that damn boy needs to be whipped into shape. I’m really enjoying the trials of Brienne, and watching Jaime’s character evolution. The next installment should be a whopper though. I can't wait!read more
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Like many, many Martin fans before me I found this book something of a disappointment -- not as much forward plot momentum as we're used to and so much focus on side characters, ie people we may not care much about. Still looking forward to reading Dance with Dragons, tho, and hoping I don't then become one of those Martin fanemies who gets mad at him for not writing quickly enough.read more
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My least favorite book in the series, it was a fight just to get through it. The sparse chapters focusing on Arya are what got me through this book. That and a LOT of skimming. I had read that Martin had written the last book, but decided to break it in two as it would have been too long. As a fan of this series, I would like for him to keep on writing, especially since Arya and Bran and even Sansa are so young (Oh please don't let Arya die!!!) and I would have happily read a book that was too long if it meant all those boring chapters about characters I don't care about were broken up with chapters on Bran, Arya and not Brienne or any of the ironborn, gawd those were murder!Anyway, I love the series, so I had to finish it, it just took me twice as long as the other books.
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This being the fourth book in a series, there may be unintentional spoilers. I’ve done my best to keep it neutral, but you’ve been warned. I’ve loved everything about the Song of Fire and Ice series I’ve read so far. I repeat, everything. Until I got to book four, A Feast for Crows, and my love sort of cooled. I didn’t dislike anything about this book; in fact, you’ll notice I rated it a 4 out of 5 so obviously I didn’t have any negative feelings toward it either. What I found was that I missed many of the characters which weren’t in this book and I started to feel like I wanted to push Cersei out a moon door of her own. The Lannisters are still ruling King’s Landing but with Tyrion’s escape and Tywin’s death, their once golden grasp is now hanging by threadbare ropes. Cersei’s son Tommen is now king and married to Margarey Tyrell, and Cersei is having a hard time dealing with the fact that’s she being run out of her own palace. Jaime, now a one-handed man, is falling into a strange despair wondering how he will retain anyone’s respect and hating his once-loved sister for her cruel words. The Iron Islands are preparing a war run, the Riverlands are war-torn, devastated, and full of outlaws, and the Eyrie is now under the rule of a sick boy. Sansa Stark, now Alayne, is still in fear for her life, but Brienne --- the maid of Barth --- is hoping to fulfill a promise to Lady Catleyn Stark to find her daughters. Arya Stark is learning to be no one to her own detriment, and Samwell Tarley, a rather soft and scared man of the Night’s Watch, is the only man of the Black to still act like one, terrified as he is of the prospects. As readers of this series know, each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character. Many of the characters I adored perished in A Storm of Swords and I felt slightly disconnected to the ones that were left, namely Cersei. She’s spiraling at full speed fueled by alcohol, desperation, and denial. It’s interesting but she’s never been a character I related to so I find her drama filled days just that boring. Jaime on the other hand (no pun intended) is on his own road to an epiphany and seems to be realizing just what a crazy witch his sister is. It’s interesting to see him show feelings for and refer to Tommen as his son, even if it is only to himself and a man with no tongue and no writing abilities. Jon Snowe is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and I wanted very much to know what was going on there, especially with Stannis sequestered at the Wall with him, but we hear none of it. The most interesting story line, in my opinion, is Daenerys and we don’t see her at all. Being the type of reader that is more attached to characters than plot, it normally doesn’t bother me when something rambles, as long as I feel it’s rambling toward some close. What A Feast for Crows rambles toward is A Dance with Dragons. This series is a sweeping epic so there will need to be filler like this --- and by filler I mean stories other than the ones I want to hear will need to be told for the whole thing to come together. While there is nothing wrong with this installment --- Martin still frustrates, overwhelms, and makes you wonder --- it was a slow book for me. There is plotting and scheming to be had in abundance and no quiet moments. I know my favorites return in A Dance with Dragons which I’m looking forward to very much. I will be giving it time before I take on the fifth book though. It’s the last one for a long while.
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I had a like/hate relationship with this book. There were some interesting tidbits (mostly coming from Cersei's POV) but for the most part this is the worst book in the series by far. Filled with uninteresting characters and plots (even the couple of well-known characters were lackluster,) the book seemed like a never-ending wave of "oh COME ON! Something has to happen eventually!" This book filled me with anticipation in wanting to carry on the cliffhangers that a Storm of Swords left us on, as I was skipping pages of humdrum conversations and repetition. I must say that I am glad that this book contained Cersei and Jaime because now we have more insight of what may come, and I'm quite looking forward as to how their stories pan out. Thank goodness for GRRM's little note at the end, because now I can't wait to put this book behind me and get cracking on a Dance with Dragons.
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Book four in the series 'A Song of Fire and Ice'. There were way too many characters in this book that I just didn't care about which meant I skipped through pages of dreary paragraphs. Two of the series most interesting characters, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, are totally absent whilst Jon Snow is hardly mentioned.Brienne of Tarth is searching for Lady Catelyn's daughters; Lord Tywin Lannister has been murded on his privy; his daughter Cersei Lannister, is paranoid about finding her fugitive brother, the dwarf Tyrion whilst pulling herself together after her son Joffrey's murder and plotting to rule King's Landing as Queen Regent until her next son Tommen is old enough; Arya Stark is training with the Faceless Men of Braavos. Such a shame this wasn't more heavily edited and it became more and more tiresome and disappointing.
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It's difficult to write a review of A Feast for Crows because of one drastic thing - the empty promise at the end of the book. I read this book several years ago and hung my hopes on that promise, that in a year A Dance with Dragons would be released - and it was just released this year. So when I reach the end of A Feast for Crows, it reminds me of the agony of waiting (although I certainly filled my time with other books). This fourth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire is interesting and infuriating. It only deals with certain characters and leaves others out. I long for updates of Jon, Dany, Tyrion and one other - but get very, very few bits of information on them. Rather, we're stuck with the "King's Landing" version of events. Granted, those events are thrilling. Between the struggle of the Queens (Margaery and Cercei), the search of Brienne "A highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair?", the fumbling heroics of Samwell (finally, the boy shows his backbone... of sorts), the re-emergence of Asha (I love that chick) and.. Sansa, now Alayne and Arya, now Cat. So. much. information. And I feel like I'm just being set up for something huge and the bigger it gets the more I fear for it to fail and for me to come away feeling disappointed. I know that Martin has cautioned us to not get too attached to characters - but I got attached to Brienne, dangit (And she and Jaime better.. you know!), I even enjoyed Cercei's own spectacular brand of wickedness. But now, religion is playing even more prominently into the political mess. The emergence of a new "Holy Guard" to battle against Stannis' "Red Woman" brings a whole new level of tension to the stories and one that, I hope, A Dance with Dragons will shed a little more light on.
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I originally read "A Game of Thrones" several years ago but now I'm not sure if I've read "A Clash of Kings" and "A Storm of Swords" since, during my read of this book, it seems like I've missed (or forgot?) quite a few events mentioned in "...Crows". I found that a slow, careful reading method renewed my interest in the earlier books. I developed an appreciation of Jaime's and Cersei's characters with this reading but there are other books that I want to read before restarting this series. I'm afraid that I may have glossed over my first exposure to "G/T" due to the difficulty of separating all of the characters - it's my fault not Mr. Martin's.
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now just waiting on Dances with dragons
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A Feast for Crows is the fourth book in George R.R. Martin's epic high-fantasy series. The book is really a collection of simultaneous stories taking place in the aftermath of the civil war. Unlike previous books, Martin took the decision to tell complete tales of only half the series characters in this book. This means having to wait for Tyrion, Dany, Bran, Jon and Stannis until the next book. This still leaves stories about Queen Regent Cersei, her twin Jaime, Arya, Sansa, Brienne and Samwell 'the Slayer' to which Martin adds other stories around the royal succession in the Iron Islands and intrigue in Dorne. Like the other books magic is largely absent, but is slowly becoming more pronounced as the series progresses. Realpolitik, violence, death, religion, lust and betrayal remain to the fore. That’s what makes this series so different from other epic fantasies. However, although the characterisation remain strong, dialogue and plotting is more variable than in earlier books. The tone remains gratifyingly bleak but loses something from the lack of humour that Tyrion's tongue would have brought to the proceedings. There is too much of Queen Cersei although her story does have the most satisfying ending. The Brienne storyline is also strong, if incredibly bleak. The Samwell story peters out in the end, but the Sansa tale continues to increase in interest partly thanks to the machinations of her 'father' Littlefinger. As with all the books in the series, Martin over-describes and he could really have done with a more brutal editor throughout. Overall, it is the weakest book in the series, but still fascinating. Let's hope we don't have to wait another five years for the next one.
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George Martin must have some exceptional gifts to induce readers to stick with this story through 4 books. He writes well. Indeed, his descriptions of battles are frequently gripping, and he imagines beautiful intrigues with complex characters who frequently surprise you.But this book is simply not a very good story. The whole series is heavily overwritten, and it seems that this caused a problem for the author in writing this book - such that he then simply jettisoned the points of view of half the characters. Unfortunately it was largely the most interesting storylines that were jettisoned, and we were thus treated with hundred upon hundreds of pages of ... nothing very much. At the end of this book I cannot think what intrigue has really been advanced, nor what stories have been concluded. It feels like one of those American TV shows that spans 10 series and here is series 7 which does nothing but sow confusion and fill air time.The faults of this series remain. It is set in a faux medieval world with all the derivative elements such as knights and jousts and carousing and such like. Terms like "Ser" instead of "sir" and "your grace" instead of "your majesty" don't create a sense of difference as they are so close to the classical terms. The one innovation - the seasons that span many years - is entirely irrelevent in this book, and having read this deep into the series, there really is nothing particularly magical about the land. What is more, the characters all seem to speak with the same voice - and I am peculiarly fed up with "half a hundred" and all the other "half a ..." that are charactersitic of the author's idiolect. Don't the people of Westeros have a word for "fifty" (although that admittedly would require just one word rather than three)?This is the weakest book of the series thus far, and the most heavily overwritten. It is not entirely without merit (see my opening paragraph), but it is becoming increasingly difficult to recommend this series.
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The best series ever.
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Ah, the ugly stepdaughter of Martin's ongoing magnum opus. I disagree with the general notion that this installment represents an alarming dip in quality. What it definitely lacks, though, is any sort of resolution whatsoever. Brienne's tale appears to be nothing more than a shaggydog, starting in thin air and ending up in the same place. Jaime appears to have severed ties with his sister, but it's hard to tell what's coming for him. We have no idea what awaits Sam in the Citadel, and other than trusting that GRRM will deliver, it's hard to get excited about that. The plotting of the ironmen and Dornishmen right now appear to be such red herrings that the net effect of these chapters is to make us impatient to get to Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys, who we assume are really at the heart of this thing. In spite of these complaints, I found the stories interesting on their own terms. Brienne's chapters, especially, are masterpieces of atmosphere and action; Martin creates a slow build of creeping dread, then pays off with two awesome fight scenes. Other characters' journeys are just as compelling; I just hope that all this actually means something.
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Good but not my favorite of the Song of Ice and Fire books. I'm really looking forward to A Dance With Dragons (which I hope is still an eventuality) because some of my favorite characters were absent in A Feast for Crows and I would like to know what they are up to.
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This was definitely the worst book in the series so far, although it still wasn't "bad". GRRM's tendency to get too verbose got away from him here and it really shows. I found myself skimming what probably ended up amounting to at least a third of the book. By the time I got to the end, I didn't really feel like the story or the characters had really developed all that much, especially not for the amount of time it took to get through the book. I really hope the next one will be better.
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After five years of waiting, this book was bound to be a bit of a letdown after the superb A Storm of Swords. And it is indeed a letdown. Which is not to say that it is bad: Martin continues to deliver interesting characters and storytelling. But after almost 700 pages, it felt like the overall story for the series had not moved forward much (which sounds fighteningly similar to what happened to Robert Jordan when he hit book 6 of WoT), and we had seen neither hide not hair of my favorite characters in the series (again, this brings to mind Jordan's mid-series meanderings). Indeed, the author has admitted that this is only half a book--though not surprisingly, it still costs as much as a whole book. Instead we get lots of pages of moderately interesting Iron Islands and Dorne storylines, more than we really needed of an increasingly ludicrous Cersei, Brienne's search for Sansa (I very much want to like Brienne, but her story here is fairly tedious), Sam getting sick on boats, Jaime's search for purpose and perhaps redemption (the most compelling storyline in this book, imo), and a bit of an update on Arya (who is doing interesting things) and Sansa (who is not). After three books this felt like a candidate to be the BEST FANTASY SERIES EVER. After A Feast of Crows, it feels more like a series stuck in neutral. But I have no doubts I'll be lined up to get book 5 when it hits bookshelves.
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George RR Martin's "Feast for Crows" is a bridge between Martin's "A Storm of Swords" and "A Dance With Dragons". Martin acknowledges that "Feast" doesn't have the conclusive endings of his earlier books, admitting in an epilogue that the book was becoming too long and unreadable with the direction it was taking, so he simply broke it into multiple components. But let's face it, while each chapter in Martin's series is constructed to end in its own micro-cliffhanger, each book "concludes" with numerous larger scale cliffhangers as well. So what's new?"Feast" is as formidable as each of its predecessors. The characters are big, bold and surprising, as they orbit each other in Martin's vast landscape. While Brienne, Jaime, Sam, Cersei, and Arya return as points of focus, new characters and lands are introduced. Some series-long mysteries are revealed but, as always, many new mysteries are introduced.I've just recently picked up "A Song of Ice and Fire". Fortunately for me, the fifth book in the series, "A Dance with Dragons" will be released only a few weeks after I've completed "Feast". I can't imagine the tormented wait by Martin's fans who've been keeping their cool since "Feast" was released in 2005. I saw the mixed reviews of this book and hesitated before I purchased. There's no reason to wait...jump in with both feet and immerse yourself in Martin's world. The read is well worth it.
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I love this series, especially #1 and #3, but I had to work to plod through this one. Like the author said himself, "This one is a b!#ch." So much information to share about characters who are truly vile for the most part.
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Awesome---Intriguing, well written and engagingIntriguing, well written and engaging
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4th in the series A song of Fire and Ice.Keeping true to the reviews on this series, the 4th book is nowhere so fast paced. Partly that’s due to the structure of the book; while Martin has kept the multiple narrators, each segment is much longer than in the previous 3 books, reducing the sense of cliff-hanging suspense that so dominated the earlier books. There’s more going on now, as the dangers from the north intensify, and the war turns even uglier with guerrilla tactics on the part of a band of partisans loyal to Robert. Martin just needs more time to develop the action.But this book is also something of a transition book, as now Martin starts to move his players across the board in order to get them where he needs them for the final confrontation. Certain threads are starting to come together.But there is still no end of surprises, twists and turns to the plot. The end of the book leaves the reader in almost as much suspense as in the previous three books.While not as good as the first three, the fourth is still outstanding, suffering only in comparison with its siblings. Highly recommended—but be sure to read the other three first.
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I guess it's a little bit silly to declare in a review of Book 4A that I'm a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire. After all, why else would one have waded through 3,000+ pages? In fact, I felt Book 3 was perhaps the best installment to date. Perhaps it was for this reason that I was so bitterly disappointed with A Feast For Crows. Having read many of the other reviews, I can only repeat what many others have already cited as its most glaring deficiencies. Most obvious, how can an author pen 1,000 pages of prose that fail to advance the already 3,000 page storyline even a little bit (with the possible exception of the Iron born). Two of the most intriguing threads, Tyrion and Daenerys, do not even make an appearance. It is only at the conclusion of the book that this is explained and very poorly so. "The more I thought about that, however, the more I felt that the readers would be better served by a book that told ALL THE STORY FOR HALF THE CHARACTERS, RATHER THAN HALF THE STORY FOR ALL THE CHARACTERS". Martin ALL THE STORY? Did anyone else get all the story? Instead, he arbitrarily ends the story for these characters no further along than when he started. And we must wait for another partial installment featuring the characters of most interest. And what choice do we have? We've already invested in over 4,000 pages of reading. Even more troubling is that Book 4B will not even address the numerous cliffhangers left from Book 4A, most specifically Arya and Brienne. Book 5 will not likely be published until after 2010. How many will remember the background for these characters at that time (or will Martin spend 250 pages bringing us back up to speed). I can distinctly recall thinking that with writing as good as Martin's, storyline resolution was not even necessary. Book 4A has proven me wrong. Excellent writing that leads nowhere soon becomes frustrating. Martin has disrespected his readers with this obvious cash grab. But again, I feel trapped after putting in the effort to read the first four installments.
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As should be obvious from the title, this is the bleakest book in the series so far. Proof that sometimes there is truth in advertising, it picks up shortly after the deaths of a large percentage of the rulers (some crowned, some not). Apparently "middle of the trilogy syndrome" can also affect the middle entries in series that are designed to have seven parts- at least, I think the six-part-estimate that I once read predated the split of this portion of the story between this book and Dance with Dragons.There are a few things to nitpick. I would be happier if GRRM used the character's name at the beginning of every chapter, rather than identifying some with an epithet, and if he would use given names consistantly rather than sometimes using the pseudonym a character has taken. Of course some of my favorite characters, notably Jon Snow, were not viewpoint characters in this book, but on the other hand I am happy to know that means I will see them in Dance with Dragons (some day). Though that also means I can't help but be frustrated to know that I will have to wait until book six (however long that might be) to see the rest of Cersei's self-destruction.GRRM wrote in 2005 that Dance with Dragons would be out "next year." Obviously that didn't happen, and given that the book is not yet finished, I would be surprised to see it in less than a year from now. But look at the release dates of the paperbacks. 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006... a 2008 release with paperback a year later would be the same as the rest of the series. In any case, it's a good thing that I like these books so much, because I will almost certainly get back to rereading them again before Dance with Dragons is in my library.
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This is my second time reading this book: once several years ago in hardcopy and a second digitally checked out from my library using Overdrive. It was even better the second time. These books make use of POV to devastating effect. It is impossible to figure out who the hero is - when you think you have, Martin kills the character off - which means the suspense is ridiculously intense. Martin starts to lose control of the series in this book. The story has gotten so big that he's only telling half his characters' story in this book - the rest will be told in the next book. Of course, we've been waiting for the next book for going on 6 years now, and that's a little painful in a series this suspenseful. Martin is old and not in good health, which makes me worry he will not finish before he drops dead. That is the only reason I don't recommend these excellent books to my friends: I refuse to do so until the series is finished. If he dies without finishing, I will be most wroth, and I don't want to inflict that on others.
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As an aged, experienced and incurable reader, I buy books in great numbers. Sometimes I will buy a book that I have already read and I know that this is a title I want to have in my library forever to re-read it any time I want to. Most of the time, like many other readers, I buy books based on opinions of others or reviews I read or even just a brief synopsis of what the book is about, usually written at the back cover. During my bright career in a mighty bookstore as an ….inventory supervisor (hmmm) I would buy books that were being bought by customers most often. I also would buy an unreasonable amount of them then. One of the titles that caught my attention was a fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin. It comprised four books and yesterday I finally finished book number four: ‘A Feast For Crows’ and I will not be buying an upcoming part five.I struggled with writing this review for the whole time while I was reading ‘A Feast For Crows’. I wanted to write an ok review simply because it is a part of a true epic and any writer who is capable of writing nearly four thousand pages without boring the reader to death deserves to have some praises written about them. Mr. Martin did manage to write a true epic and I know that he has hundreds of thousands of fans. One has to have one heck of an imagination to create all the complicated characters, all plots of revenge, raging wars and keep track of it all.However, ‘A Feast For Crows’ made me immensely upset and frustrated. I really wanted to like it, I love reading fantasy, it is a genre I have read since my teenage years and I had hoped this book to be what I expect a fantasy fiction to be. I wanted hardcore magic (both black and white), supernatural beings and animals with great powers. I found only small instances of feeble magic, there was a mention of sinister supernatural beings that were threatening to overtake and destroy the human population and of big vicious direwolfs. But all that never really came to fruition, I thought that after reading the three previous books I would finally be rewarded for my patience in the fourth one and see these characters play a major role but I was disappointed. All I got was more killings, more fighting and some scheming. A lot of times I felt I was reading some poor replica of Bible’s ‘Exodus’ with descriptions of clans, this man was a son of that one and a cousin of another one and great-great-grandson of this one and married to the girl that came from yet another family of highborns, etc. I skipped many pages because of that, I didn’t see the point in reading something I couldn’t keep track of anyway.All and all, even though there are supposed to be two more parts to this series I will not be buying them. And going back to the reasons for buying new books I mentioned at the beginning, maybe reading the praises at the back covers that convinced me to buy this one in the first place also created great expectations towards the series. One of them praised Mr. Martin as an American Tolkien and believe me Tolkien he is not.
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After reading some other reviews I have to agree that this book has been my least favourite of the series, the reason being I want to read about all the characters that I know about but the beginning of this book introduces more characters which I understand moves the story along but I want to know what is happening to the others. The only other thing that I disliked is the ever expanding list of minor characters, half the time I can't remember who most of the knights being mentioned are.Overall though it is still a good book, which is well written and still thoroughly enjoyable.
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This is more a review of the whole "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Started with a bang. Loved "A Game of Thrones" when I read it as a preview of the upcoming HBO series. Liked "A Clash of Kings" and "A Storm of Swords." And, I was looking forward to "A Feast for Crows." First, I can imagine how readers waiting for the next volume of the series felt; the ending of "A Feast for Crows" was akin to being put into suspended animation for the past five years. But, that's not my real problem. During "A Feast for Crows," I just got bored. It's sometimes like a medieval fantasy "Perils of Pauline" for the major characters; and a lot of clutter with the many new minor characters in each succeeding book. Still looking forward to the HBO series (love watching Sean Bean act); but, if it ever comes out, I might take a pass on Martin's next book.
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This is one of those books that is a bit difficult to review. It is a terrific book, though it isn't as good as the other books in the series. But any standards, it's terrific, but by the standards Martin has set with the first three books in the series, it doesn't quite make it. Of course, the explanation for that is simple: This is really half of a much, much larger volume and three of the most interesting characters are completely (or almost completely) absent. Thus, we see lots of new viewpoints and new plot elements, but we lose some of the familiar. I can't imagine how people managed their impatience from the publication of this volume in 2005 until puplication of the 5th book in July 2011. I think I would have gone crazy. 
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The fourth installment in the ever-growing Westeros saga did not quite live up to the level of intrigue and ingenuity I have come to expect from Martin. Albeit FFC is a good solid novel just not on the same playing field with the other three. Perhaps this is due to all the secondary, tertiary even quaternary characters making appearances. The novel suffers from a definite dearth of primary characters. I personally wish it had been a bit more edited or included more principal characters. Nonetheless, if you enjoyed the previous three books, you will enjoy this one. There are secrets revealed which heretofore were unknown and most probably must be known before delving further.
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I was fully prepared to be disappointed by this book, for several reasons. First of all, the last book, A Storm Of Swords, ended with a very large cliffhanger and I knew that it was a cliffhanger that wasn't going to be fully explained/explored in this volume.Additionally, I knew that in general the story was not going to feature the characters that I was most interested in (namely Daenerys, Theon, Tyrion, and especially the whole issue of Jon and the Night Watch). That being said, the volume was surprisely enjoyable, and helped to better explore the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms. There was tons of action in the first three volumes - I was actually a little set back by the amount of violence that was featured in the series altogether. This volume takes a somewhat quieter approach - characters die, but most of the death takes place off-page. Perhaps this means that A Dance With Dragons is going to feature much higher levels of action.Plot-wise, only certain amounts of progress are made of advancing the plot. We learn nothing more about the advancement of the Others, and no word is made of Daenerys' flight towards the west. Instead we get political maneuverings in King's Landing, and Sam's travel from The Wall to Oldtown. What we do get is quality material, though - I was on the bus when I got to the part of the story that featured Cersei's downfall, and I almost started cackling with joy to see her get her final comeuppance. Also of interest was the expanding story of the Seven Kingdoms, as we learn more about the cultures of both the Iron Islands and of Dorne. Interesting material, definitely, but material that feels much like it is build-up for the eventual landfall of Dany from the east, rather than material in its own right.One of the benefits of the multiple-POV perspective that Martin employs is that it allows the reader to learn about characters not only from how they see themselves, but how they are viewed by those around them. Cersei Lannister, the most prominent character in AFFC, is the most obvious example of this - when she was presented mostly as a scheming mastermind, but in her POV chapters, she's seen as someone almost paralyzed by paranoia. Similarly, we see Jaime as either a sterling knight (from Brienne's perspective) or a craven weakling (from Cersei's perspective). When we see Jaime's one POV, though, we see that he thinks he is how Cersei sees him, but he hopes to become what Brienne believes him to be. It's a very effective literary technique, and easily builds suspense and complexity to a story of this size.
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The only reason this one got 4 stars instead of the 5 I gave to GRRM's others is because I didn't find out til his little blurb at the end that this is "half" of a book--book 5 will be the same time period as this one, just with different characters. Bastard.
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It took me a little time to get back into the swing of Martin’s world, but once I did, I really enjoyed digging back into it. This book only dealt with one half of the characters: Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Sam, Arya, Sansa, Dorne, and the Ironmen. The rest will come in the next installment. I really enjoyed reading this bisected version. There was a lot to keep up with and only focusing on a handful of stories made it easier, even if some of the favorites weren’t included in this installment. I really enjoyed the sections about the Ironmen, and it was great fun watching Cersei spiral down. The on-going relationship between Sansa and Littlefinger is really creepy, and that damn boy needs to be whipped into shape. I’m really enjoying the trials of Brienne, and watching Jaime’s character evolution. The next installment should be a whopper though. I can't wait!
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Like many, many Martin fans before me I found this book something of a disappointment -- not as much forward plot momentum as we're used to and so much focus on side characters, ie people we may not care much about. Still looking forward to reading Dance with Dragons, tho, and hoping I don't then become one of those Martin fanemies who gets mad at him for not writing quickly enough.
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