A Feast For Crows: worth the wait

I finished up reading George R. R. Martin’s long-awaited fourth fantasy novel A Feast for Crows today. I’m dying to find out what happens next. The fifth book (A Dance of Dragons) in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series is due out sometime this year, and if it does drop (Martin is notorious for taking his time writing) I may have to break one of my New Year’s Resolutions and buy it.

Every review I’ve read criticizes the fact that this book was split in half; the next installment was originally planned as part of this book, and Martin reworked the story to separate out some storylines in order to tame an unwieldy volume. It was a wise decision; this half is large and complex and I can only imagine what a book twice this size would weigh, let alone how hard it would be to work through.

I mentioned when I picked up the book to read it that I had a hard time getting my bearings and recalling the “who, where and why” of the numerous story lines as they pick up from the first three books (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords). Wikipedia wasn’t quite enough to help me and I ended up re-reading sections of the previous book to refresh my memory.

That was a frustration, but worth the effort. The Song of Ice and Fire series follows hundreds of characters as they live in and fight over the fictional land of Westeros, and the intrigue and machinations of the various families fighting for control of the land is fascinating. Some character’s motives are pure, some are not; some visions and desires are far-seeing and some are not. The chapters move from one character to the next, and the villain you’re despising in one chapter is the narrator you identify with in another. Only you get a glimpse of the big picture, and even then Martin obscures much of it from view. But the part that you can see is pure poetry, and has made me one of Martin’s faithful if impatient fans.

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