The fourth book had just released when I started this series. After the highs of A Storm of Swords. my momentum continued into A Feast for Crows. I had an idea of what I was getting into beforehand. Martin realized his next book would be to large to produce in one volume. Instead, he opted to split the next by characters, rather than directly in half. This would provide complete arcs for those present while others were absent. Northern characters like Jon, Tyrion, and Dany were held until the next book, A Dance with Dragons. Instead, we were given Brienne, Cersei, and a bunch of other characters that I can’t remember.
I hated this book, somewhat retroactively. I didn’t care for it after finishing, but kept an apologist outlook. Everything that came before was so good, and the promise of what’s to come even greater. I wrote this off as a bump in the road. The machine had become too large, with too many moving pieces. They all can’t be interesting. Sadly, nearly every story here wasn’t.
Most of the chapters were arduous reads. While they ultimately ended with some interesting moments, the time in between is a bore. The worst offender was the Iron Islands. Aeron, Asha, and Victarian Greyjoy were all given perspectives. I’ve commented on how I typically don’t enjoy Davos’ chapters. I would rather read an entire book about him then anything from these three. I completely abhorred these chapters. It was boring, slow, and pointless. I didn’t care about these characters before. Having their nonsense shoved down my throat did little to change my opinion.
Exactly one peg above them was the material from Dorne. Often mentioned but never seen, we’ve finally got an insight to the desert kingdom. Areo Hotah, Arys Oakheart, and Arianne Martell were are windows. This was only slightly more interesting. There was some action with Arianne trying to crown Myrcella, and the end reveal of how prince of Dorne, Doran Martell had been scheming revenge for years was great. But this was roughly a quarter of their story, requiring readers to wade through more slow drivel. Not as bad as the Iron Islands, but still low quality.
Brienne was pointless until her end as well. She wandered the country side, looking for Arya and Sansa. Again, her end finally became interesting, with a reanimated Cat looking for vengeance. Considering we saw no payout for this and wasted pages with her, it did little to offset.
Sansa was seen briefly, now in hiding in the Eyrie. Her part fared well, but was very short, only really serving as a window. Arya was descent, if not slow. Her path was set for a long time, with her becoming hardened surviving in the world. She finally started receiving training. Like any new student, it was slow and boring at first. Again, her part ended before paying off.
Arguable, the characters that fared best this volume were the Lannisters, Cersei and Jamie. Jamie continued evolving, starting to repent and change his ways. True to his word from his time with Brienne, he began to change the Kingsguard and to influence his sister. Cercei on the other hand plummeted. Her inability to run the king became evident. Nepotism ran rampant through her council as she surrounded herself with incompetence. She continued making mistakes, destroying the allegiance with Tyrell and allowing the church to reinstate a militia. Her punishment was wonderful.
Though there were some small highlights, this book was an overwhelming chore to read. Just as most of the stories became interesting, they ended. There was little to no payoff. Cat’s alive? Barest of mention. Doran’s been courting Dany? No follow up. I held my opinion in check as the next book promised the return of the missing, fan favorite characters. That turned out poorly. Oh ya, Sam got laid.
So let down.