By TESSA YANG
A Feast for Crows
by George R.R Martin
Way back in the Stone Age before the TV series existed, A Feast for Crows was subject to some nasty complaints from Martin’s fan base. It was regarded by many as a disappointment following the riveting events of A Storm of Swords (I mean, how are you supposed to top the Red Wedding?), and with season 4 about to air, I find myself worrying that many potential readers will shrug off this “inferior” installment in favor of the easy route: watching HBO’s rendition from the comfort of their living room sofas.
Bearing all that in mind, here are the top three most common complaints I’ve heard regarding A Feast for Crows, and why you should ignore them all and read it anyway.
1) QUIT TALKING AND START FIGHTING ALREADY
No one can deny that AFFC does not display combat or, for that matter, action of any kind on the scale of the previous three novels. The title itself should cue you in pretty quick: War on a grand scale is over (for now), and the crows are swooping in for their pickings. This might present a significant problem for you if you were reading this series purely for the riveting battle sequences. But if you are a true fan, this most likely is not the case: You weren’t reading just for blood and gore. You were reading to further immerse yourself in this incredibly real world that Martin has created. And the battles, by the way, have not ceased to exist. They’ve become less about trumpet-sounding and more about sneaking around in the dark with a knife, but the action is still there, as are its inevitable consequences. Just ask Brienne. Or Ser Arys Oakheart.
2) WE ARE NOT
CERSEI LANNISTER’S THERAPIST
Yes: Cersei Lannister has issues that you are forced to hear about on a regular basis, but these are not the problems of a hormonal teenage girl in love with a certain vampire. Cersei’s issues are gritty and real: A kingdom to run, a naïve boy king to manage, traitors to seek out, a terrifying prophecy to combat. Her paranoid ramblings are there, but so are the themes of betrayal and political intrigue that have woven together the plots of the previous novels. In fact, in Cersei’s sections, I see a return to “the old way” that many readers have accused Martin of abandoning in AFFC.
3) WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH DAENERYS, TYRION, AND JON SNOW???
This is, by far, the single most universal criticism of A Feast for Crows. It was a gutsy move, cutting out what are probably the three most-loved characters in the entire series and replacing them with strangers. I won’t lie and say I was immediately fond of this decision, yet I quickly realized how these new perspectives open refreshing and much-needed viewpoints on the corners of Westeros that were previously ignored. Meanwhile, if you find yourself longing terribly for Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon, know that your 1000-page wait will be rewarded in A Dance with Dragons.