It's about here, or the book before where the series starts really going down the gurgler. Far, far too much padding.
A Feast for Crows
Danerys sets out across the Red Waste, we get the story of the terrible journey. Fair enough for one description. But wait, there's more, the Rangers head off into the north - it seems every blasted snowflake is described. Samwell Tarly sets sail south from the Wall - a miserable trip with sea sickness and a wailing woman who keeps weeping just that much too long to be tolerable.
And let's not forget Bran's interminable travels through rain and snow, Arya going nowhere fast. Far too many pages describing the privations of these junkets. I do not believe a wall feet high - is more like it. And who built the Eyrie? You can hardly reach it. How was it built?
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Too many wargs, wildlings, inn denizens, outlaws, skinchangers etc whose parts in the story seem non-existent except to fill a couple of pages. Dany conquers not one but three slave cities, two of them are excess to requirements and are copies of each other.
A FEAST FOR CROWS MAPS
Where does she get the money? Martin is not very clear about that. Cersei is probably the most interesting character, after Arya, Petyr Baelish and the "Onion Knight" perhaps but she's as mad as a meat axe. Some of the other female characters are just a little too like her - Arianne Martell and her half-sisters, Asha Greyjoy, Dany and it looks like Margaery is heading the same way.
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
On the other hand it looks as if Sansa is starting to actually grow up, not before time. That cider at Oldtown has been feasomely strong for a very long time if the old maester from the Wall is to be believed. But we have read the phrase four or five times too many. I get the idea of magic re-entering the world after the dragons hatch but there is too much of it.
There is good stuff in these books but they would have benefited hugely from a lot of cutting. I guess I've become a fanatic. I love this book, I love reading all about the other side.
Sure it's not the best or the most interesting, but it's great fill in material for a huge world the huge fantasy world GRRM created. If you are going to read the whole series then this book is much needed to give depth to old grudges and give threat and a fear factor to the other factions. In a story this deep, I guess I appreciated the other side and now I miss more than ever the characters left out. Many have said this is the weakest book in the series.
Indeed, this book is not as engrossing. But I feel those who dislike this book misunderstand its purpose. The book summary explains that paraphrasing : The war of the 5 kings is over, and the survivors have beaten each other into an uneasy truce. This is not a book of war or grand conspiracies.
This is book covers a time in which the characters must regroup and rebuild. It's a very different atmosphere Spoilers This book only covers about half the characters, and suffers for it. As Martin explains, A Dance with Dragons will cover those characters who were ignored in this book. Unfortunately, those characters include Tyrion, Jon and Daeneries, whose chapters tend to be better. So this book suffers from following characters who, while important to the story, lack the charisma for the reader.
This book is less fun the read.
This book also introduces some characters with only titles. There are some characters who have multiple chapters, but their chapters are "Queenmaker" or "Captain of the Guards. Brienne's search is slow and trying, Cersei's decline into madess is gratifying yet drawn out. Sansa's newest adventure is slow and also feels minor to the world. Cersei's paranoia makes her believe Tyrion lives in King's Landing, waiting to strike.
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I wish he was. Samwell's chapters are great, as are Jaime's. Arya's are so strange the only word I can use to describe them is "detached. Also, the prologue of the book is bizarre, and the end of the book does nothing to explain it. This is a different kind of book than the others. I trust Martin will make it worth our while. I also trust that this book is poorer for a reason. Rather than change the whole story arc to make another block-buster book, he ploughs through the book, making it as interesting as possible, but unwilling to compromise his whole series.
I'm especially certain that Samwell's story will be crucial in later books. Overall a disappointing work for George RR Martin. Few legitimate claims to the Iron Throne still exist, and the war that has turned the world into little more than a wasteland has finally burned itself out. Or so it appears. For it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather.
Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes.
For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors. Chart the development of the Starks, first as kings in the North then as kingmakers under their popular lord, Eddard Stark. Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry's eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
An incredible adventure is about to begin! A young pretender raises an army to take the throne. Sound familiar? It may read like the plot of Game of Thrones. Yet that was also the story of the bloodiest battle in British history, fought at the culmination of the War of the Roses. Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination.