There are a few chapters featuring Arya as she starts training to be one of the Faceless Men in Bravos, but her chapters were boring both in terms of plot and character development. Basically it’s just her sweeping the temple, and later her selling clams.
Samwell Tarly travels with Gilly to Oldtown, to the Citadel to begin training as a maester. Most of the chapters are him either crying or throwing up. I discovered that without Jon Snow and the other brothers of the Night’s Watch to provide a contrast to his constant whining he is a superbly irritating character.
We get to see Cersei’s descent into utter madness. She becomes more paranoid than the world’s worst conspiracy theorist and starts picking apart her son’s kingdom without even realising it. One would be forgiven for thinking she was going insane and wondering whether Lord Tywin and Lady Joanna hadn’t also been twins. On the plus side, by the end of the book she seems to have spun herself into her own web and might be getting what’s coming to her, though I’m not holding my breath. But plot? Character development? Nah. Let’s just supercharge the crazy that began during the battle of the Blackwater for a few hundred pages.
Brienne goes on a quest. Jaime has sent her to find Sansa Stark. She rides across Westeros the whole novel long just so she can get hanged by Catelyn Stark (who’s back from the dead and crazier than Cersei) before she can fulfill her quest. But she might still be alive, though. She shouts something we aren’t told at the moment she “dies”. That usually means something weird’s gonna happen.
Speaking of Sansa, there at least was a little character development. She’s becoming a bit more resourceful, but with Littlefinger as your mentor/protector, how can you not? But at the Eyrie we also just got more scheming with nothing really happening to progress the plot up to this point.
Jaime was the one character who almost managed to salvage the novel. Believe it or not, but he is actually growing as a character and, in defiance of first impressions, is turning out to be a nice guy. I guess losing a hand, son, father and brother and finding out your sister is cheating on you changes a guy. Plot-wise, though, not much happened with him either.
Two new storylines are also introduced. We get to know Prince Dorian of Dorne and along with him comes a whole slew of new conspiracies. Enough said. Lastly there’s Victarion Greyjoy (Theon’s uncle), who wants to rule the Iron Islands when Balon Greyjoy dies. This storyline at least seemed interesting, but then suddenly disappeared in the middle of the novel.
On Page 3, links to reviews on A Feast for Crows.