Friday, March 15, 2013

A Feast for Crows

The fourth book in George R. R. Martin's saga A Song of Fire and Ice is entitled A Feast for Crows and picks up where the third book A Storm of Swords left off. We find a once mighty kingdom fractured and chaotic. Those who have survived the battles and assassinations are scrambling to consolidate their power and their holdings. Of the five lords who had named themselves king of Westeros, four have been killed under mysterious circumstances and the fifth has been driven from his stronghold with the last of his surviving men. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the majority of the population, wildlings and zombies have been amassing along the northern frontier of the kingdom and the last vestige of the old empire, Daenerys Targaryen, has awakened three dragons across the narrow sea and begun amassing an elite army to retake her birthright in Westeros.

In this fourth part of the tale, Martin changes his writing approach a bit to focus on just a subset of the story arcs developed in the previous three novels. We follow the intrigue, plotting, and drama surrounding the king's regent and mother, Cersei Lannister, as she rids herself of all who would oppose her. We also see the slow metamorphosis of Cersei's brother Jaime as he struggles within himself to find honor. Other more minor characters are followed as they play their parts to set up the narrative for the next novels in the series.

A number of online reviewers have griped that this fourth novel did not do too much to advance the main story. While that might or might not be the case, I really enjoyed this work and thought it was written at a high level that fit perfectly within the existing story arcs. Martin still has a long way to go to bring everything together, but I am very much enjoying the ride. Now, onto the fifth part of the series, A Dance with Dragons.