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It’s been a while since I enjoyed reading a series as much as George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Taking my time with it because what’s the rush? The final installment, Winds of Winter, is still simmering in the pot. My onward push to book four, A Feast for Crows, was equal parts trying to stay ahead of the television series and its filthy viewers who love to spoil, and the simple fact that I am a pleasure-seeker and these are painfully pleasurable books.

Spoilers under yonder.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

I was warned by many who’ve read before me that this is their least favorite of the series, but I didn’t see how that could possibly be. The same author wrote this one as the three others before it. How could it be disappointing? Other than the fact that the characters in the North are mostly absent, it’s not.

Martin leaves a note at the end explaining that the book had gotten too long so he broke it into two books. The story lines in Dance of Dragons (book five) run parallel to those in book four rather than sequential. If only that note were placed at the beginning, I wouldn’t have spent more than half the book wondering where Dany, Snow, Bran, Stannis and others in the North and beyond were. Though familiar faces were missed, here Martin digs deeper into what it means to live in this violent world he built where nobody’s safe, where power is always sought and never held for very long and love is this thing that only exists in songs.

The beginning requires some patience as we meet a number of new characters in the Iron Islands and Dorne. The drowned men need a new Iron King and the Dornish are hungry to avenge the Red Viper’s death, but his sick brother isn’t interested in angering Tywin.

Speaking of Tywin (remember what happened???) tension is high in King’s Landing and power is shifting once again. Passive aggressive actions grow bolder, lots of paranoia and losing of the cool on Cersei’s end, which was satisfying, though her younger, prettier rival is even more annoying. Throughout the kingdom political cronies scramble to claim their dubiously earned titles. Everywhere the poor are trying to re-build since winter is still coming and the warring destroyed the homes and harvest.

As always, the title of the book is apt; bodies rot everywhere. There’s way less action, but that’s because a number of plot lines climaxed in Storm of Swords and now the survivors are either feeling their way through darkness or plotting their next move. Prophecies and the notion of history repeating itself come into play repeatedly, giving more breadth to this already epic epic.

Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wanders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend… – Master Aemon

I enjoyed A Feast for Crows as much if not more than the other books. The main characters make stronger choices and the dark moments linger longer, or maybe I’m just more emotionally invested now. If you’re still not reading this series I must know why.

Here are my reviews of the first three books:

Song of Ice and Fire book 1: Game of Thrones 

Song of Ice and Fire book 2: Clash of Kings 

Song of Ice and Fire book 3: Storm of Swords