Rating: 4/5 stars.
At this point I’ve learned that George R.R. Martin writes in waves. Even though this probably isn’t how real science works, I visualize his plot structure as a giant tsunami: he adds little oscillatory currents that contribute to a huge tidal wave, which eventually crashes down and drowns us all in the most beautiful and devastating way. Though this might sound like how all books function – with a rising action leading up to a climax – Martin spends so much time developing and honing the rising action of his story that the inevitable climax calls for a great deal of praise.
Like A Clash of Kings, A Feast for Crows serves as the buildup of the tsunami. We see the aftermath of the destruction and chaos in A Storm of Swords with about only half of the characters: Cersei and Jaime, Sansa and Arya, Brienne, Samwell, and a few more. Not only do the separated pieces from the last book start to coalesce, but new divisions form, ones that will take a lot to tie together.
Martin’s characters earn A Feast for Crows its acclaim. Besides the strenuous situations they find themselves in, their complexities still capture my attention with every page: how Jaime’s honor hurts him more than it heals him, how we derogate Cersei for her actions while detesting the patriarchal system that motivates so many of her actions, how Sansa and Arya both adapt new identities to shield themselves, and more. When these characters interact, all the nuances and twists come together in unexpected and ingenious ways.
Recommended for fans of the first three books of the series. Even though this one is a bit slow, it adds plenty to the characters, and I’m confident Martin will capitalize on this development in future installments.