On why I hated A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

This is not a review.  A review, in my mind, seeks to make a balanced evaluation of a (in this case) book, highlighting both strong and weak points and, while it does make a judgement about said book, it leaves the reader to make a choice whether they want to read the book.  This is not that.  This is a rant about a book that I hate and that I’m probably going to hate for the rest of my life.  It doesn’t help that the book is smack-bang in the middle of a series that, up until now, I’ve really enjoyed.

A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin
Cover illustration by Larry Rostant
Publisher: http://www.harpervoyagerbooks.com

Here’s what happened.  Nothing.  Seriously.  Nothing happens for more than seven-hundred pages (which actually makes a spoiler-warning a bit superfluous, but be warned this post contains significant spoilers regarding the third and fourth books in the Song of Ice and Fire franchise (or the coming fourth season of Game of Thrones for those barbarians among you who only watch the TV show).  To skip spoilers, go straight to the last page when you reach the end of this one.)

I’d been taking a break from the books since I finished A Storm of Swords in April last year (the plan was to finish my reading for my Master’s…yeah, that worked out well), but with the fourth season of the TV series looming I reckoned I’d better read the next book so I can stay ahead.  (I know the fourth season is still primarily based on book three, but they’ve been weaving in snippets of later books since season three already, as flashbacks don’t work so well on the telly.)  I wish I hadn’t.

To start with, over half of the main characters are not even in the book.  Mr Martin wrote a nice little note in the back that the book had grown too long and he decided to split it, having one bunch of characters in the one book and the rest of the characters in the next.  But he didn’t put any of the interesting characters in this book.  Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion and Bran never make an appearance (except the very first chapter from Samwell Tarly’s perspective where Jon Snow makes a quick cameo).  And those characters that are there spend most of the book going nowhere and doing nothing.

Continued on Page 2.  To avoid spoilers, skip straight to Page 3.  Also on Page 3, links to actual reviews on A Feast for Crows.

8 thoughts on “On why I hated A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

  1. Well, I’m going to keep reading the books just to see if he CAN pull it all back together, or if he doesn’t, why. I keep thinking that one of the themes GRRM is playing with is that conflict spares no one and does not wrap up neatly because of the power of good intentions. So, I almost expect him to make an epic mess of the story to explore how each character deals with said mess.

    But, I will agree that there are just way too many characters and plot lines at this point to keep up with. I wish he would focus it back in a bit, but I am willing to see where he goes with it.

    1. I admire how “real-life” his story is so far. No happy endings. Good people die or their plans are thwarted. Innocent people suffer. Bad people succeed thanks to money and power. All that is excellent and the mess is an integral part of it.

      But for the first three books he had managed to do all this without losing pace for a moment and while drawing us into the lives of the characters. In this book there is no pace and he jumps around so much between characters that we can’t effectively into any one’s head.

      A messy story is one thing, a messy book quite another.

      1. That’s very true. I wasn’t really trying to defend him, necessarily, just stating that I where still curious enough to see where he goes from a learning perspective on writing if nothing else.

      2. It’s a bit too “real life” for real life, actually.
        In the middle ages, there were things called Prisoners Exchanges.
        They happened, there weren’t generally bloodfeuds (borderlanders excepted,
        and they were always a bit crazypants).

      3. Well, his story isn’t set in the middle ages, but in an imaginary world with its own history, mythology and socio-political structures, so I think we can cut Mr Martin some slack in that regard.

    2. Oh, it’s dead. Totally dead. He can’t finish it, isn’t smart enough.
      Go play Shadow World instead. Then you can make your OWN
      insanely complicated story. And give it a good ending.

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