A Feast for Crows

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A Feast for Crows
AFeastForCrows.jpg
US hardcover edition
Author George R. R. Martin
Country United States
Language English
Series A Song of Ice and Fire
Genre Fantasy
Published 2005 (Voyager Books/UK & Bantam Spectra/US)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 704 (UK Hardback), 753 (US Hardback), 852 (UK Paperback), 784 (US Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-00-224743-7 (UK hardback), ISBN 0-553-80150-3 (US hardback), ISBN 0-553-58202-X (US paperback)
OCLC 61261403
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 22
LC Class PS3563.A7239 F39 2005
Preceded by A Storm of Swords
Followed by A Dance with Dragons

A Feast for Crows is the fourth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin. The novel was first published on 17 October 2005 in the United Kingdom,[1] with a United States edition following on 8 November 2005.[2]

In May 2005 Martin announced that the "sheer size" of his still-unfinished manuscript for A Feast for Crows had led him and his publishers to split the narrative into two books.[3] Rather than divide the text in half chronologically, Martin opted to instead split the material by character and location, resulting in "two novels taking place simultaneously" with different casts of characters.[3] A Feast for Crows was published months later, and the concurrent novel A Dance with Dragons was released on July 12, 2011.[4] Martin also noted that the A Song of Ice and Fire series would now likely total seven novels.[3]

A Feast for Crows was the first novel in the sequence to debut at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list,[5] a feat among fantasy writers only previously achieved by Robert Jordan[6][7][8][9][10] and Neil Gaiman.[11] In 2006 the novel was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the British Fantasy Society Award.[12]

Plot summary[edit]

The War of the Five Kings is slowly coming to an end. Stannis Baratheon has gone to the aid of the Wall, where Jon Snow has become the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. King Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey's eight-year-old brother, now rules in King's Landing under the watchful eye of his mother, the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. With Tywin and Tyrion gone, as well as no longer having to deal with Joffrey, there are no more checks on Cersei and she is essentially Ruling Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in all but name. Now that Cersei finally stands at the height of power and her enemies are scattered to the winds, in a grim irony it quickly becomes clear that she is incapable of wielding the power she has killed and manipulated so many to acquire, and she spirals into self-destruction. Brienne, the Maid of Tarth, is on a mission to find Sansa Stark – falsely believed to have absconded after conspiring with her husband, Tyrion, to murder the late King Joffrey at his wedding. Brienne's mission is aided by Jaime Lannister, who sets her this task, honouring the oath he swore to Catelyn Stark, in an effort to redeem himself.

Meanwhile, Sansa Stark is still in hiding in the Vale, protected by Petyr Baelish, who has secretly murdered his wife Lysa Arryn and named himself Protector of the Vale and guardian of eight-year-old Lord Robert Arryn.

In the Seven Kingdoms[edit]

Prologue in Oldtown[edit]

Pate, a young apprentice at the Citadel in Oldtown, is studying to become a maester. He has stolen an important key to a depository of books and records at the request of a stranger in exchange for a reward. After delivering the key, the stranger double-crosses and kills Pate by poison.

King's Landing[edit]

It soon becomes apparent that while Cersei is skilled in the methods of intrigue needed to seize power, she is not very skilled in the actual day-to-day running of the kingdom. Cersei's reign is marked by rampant cronyism as she tries to solidify her rule by staffing her councils with incompetent loyalists. She also disregards well-meaning and accurate, if blunt, advice from her uncle Kevan Lannister and her brother Jaime, alienating them both. Making matters worse is Cersei's increasing distrust of the Tyrells, particularly Margaery, who wed the new boy king Tommen after his brother Joffrey died at their wedding. She becomes increasingly paranoid over a prophecy, told to her by a witch when she was a little girl, which states that she will see her children crowned, but all of them will die before her, that she will lose her crown to another queen, one younger and more beautiful before she dies at the hands of the Valonquar (little brother in High Valyrian, which Cersei has always taken to mean Tyrion). Her belief in this prophecy makes Cersei determined to somehow destroy Margaery Tyrell.

Her reign runs into problems from massive debt from before and during the war, compounded by her incompetent administrators' inability to resolve the situation. Most of the debt is owed to the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Faith of the Seven. Cersei flippantly brushes off representatives of the Iron Bank, needlessly antagonizing them by announcing that she is deferring their payment for the (indefinite) duration of the continuing rebellions. The Iron Bank retaliates by freezing all of the realm's assets, refusing to grant new loans while calling in all outstanding debts, which leads to a banking crisis that nearly cripples the economy of Westeros. To settle the crown's debts to the Faith of the Seven, Cersei agrees to the restoration of that religion's military order, the Faith Militant, ignoring the Faith Militant's history of causing trouble for the monarchy and the large number of zealots that are gathering both in the city and in Westeros, many of whom believe the accurate charges of adultery leveled against her. Cersei does not have the foresight to realize that this is only trading one problem for another, as once the Faith has armed soldiers at its command it feels less compelled to accept her authority.

Hoping to weaken the Tyrell influence over the court, the masses, and King Tommen, Cersei dispatches Ser Loras Tyrell to lead an army and force a quick (and she hopes foolhardy) end to the siege of Stannis Baratheon's forces on Dragonstone. The island fortress is taken, but at horrific cost; a thousand men are lost during the storming of Dragonstone's keep (not simply footmen, but many knights and squires), and Ser Loras himself is gravely injured by boiling oil and left clinging to life. Cersei tactlessly gloats about Loras's horrific injury to his sister Margaery. Rather than lessening the threat from the Tyrells, this action drives Margaery Tyrell to actively pursue destroying Cersei, causing the Tyrell-Lannister alliance to crumble. A scheme to have the Faith put Margaery on trial for mostly invented accusations of adultery backfires when the newly-powerful religious leadership arrests and imprisons Cersei herself on similar (and accurate) charges.

Riverlands[edit]

After a series of disagreements over several issues Cersei dispatches her twin brother, Jaime, to the Riverlands to re-establish order and royal control in the war-torn region. He has become somewhat estranged from his sister, seeing her slipping into paranoid megalomania all too reminiscent of the Mad King, and newly concerned with his own honor tarnished by past misdeeds. He is also deeply disturbed about the state of the Kingsguard, with Cersei raising unworthy knights to the elite group. After ending the siege of Riverrun bloodlessly, one of the last holdouts against his family's authority, he receives word that Cersei wants him to return and defend her in a trial by combat. However, Jaime learns that Tyrion's accusation that Lancel Lannister and Cersei were having an affair was true (Lancel had been King Robert's true killer, put up to it by Cersei). Jaime also receives news of her involvement in the disastrous siege of Dragonstone. This waste of loyal soldiers and betrayal of much-needed allies is the last straw for Jaime, who burns Cersei's letter and abandons his sister to her fate.

Brienne of Tarth's quest for Sansa leads her all over the Riverlands, where she observes the devastation and villainy that the war has wrought among the smallfolk. She notices a boy following her and confronts him, revealing Podrick Payne, former squire to Tyrion Lannister. Since he has had no real training, she agrees to teach him, promising to send him to bed with blisters and bruises every night. She also meets up with Ser Hyle, a knight from her past who was with her and King Renly before he was murdered. He believes that she did not kill Renly and he joins her on her quest, witnessing her battle prowess when she confronts three outlaws. She also meets up with Lord Randal Tarly (Samwell's father), who despises her and insults her despite Ser Hyle's praise of her courage and honor. Eventually she is captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners and sentenced to death by Lady Stoneheart, a reanimated Catelyn Stark, who wrongly believes Brienne has betrayed her. Brienne is told she will be allowed to live if she agrees to find and kill Jaime Lannister, giving her a choice between the noose (for her own neck) or the sword (for Jaime's). Refusing to decide, she and some of her companions are hanged, but as the nooses tighten she screams out one undisclosed word.

The Eyrie[edit]

In the Eyrie, Sansa poses as Petyr's bastard daughter Alayne, befriending young Robert Arryn, managing the household for her "father," and receiving from him informal training in royal politics. During this time, Petyr appears to be carefully manipulating his murdered wife's former bannermen, and his once precarious hold on the Protectorship of the Vale is beginning to seem less tenuous. He eventually reveals that he has betrothed Sansa to Harrold Hardyng, Robert's heir; when the sickly Robert dies, Sansa will reveal her true identity and reclaim her family stronghold of Winterfell, aligning it with the Vale in the process.

Iron Islands[edit]

On the Iron Islands, Aeron Damphair calls a Kingsmoot in order to decide who would succeed Balon Greyjoy as king of the Iron Islands. Hotly contested by Balon's brother Victarion Greyjoy and daughter Asha Greyjoy, eventually his brother, Euron Greyjoy, the exiled "Crow's Eye", is chosen as king due to his promise that he can control dragons with a recently acquired horn, which will help the islanders conquer all of Westeros. Asha wanted to make peace with the mainland while they were still ahead, and Victarion wanted to continue raiding, but Euron intends to conquer the entire continent outright. Asha and Victarion realize this is absurd, as the Ironborn do not have the numbers for this, nor are their forces skilled at land warfare. The fleet of the Iron Men attacks and captures the Shield Islands at the mouth of the river Mander, threatening House Tyrell's seat at Highgarden. Victarion considers this a mere show however, estimating that when the Redwyne fleet returns (from the siege at Dragonstone) it will retake the islands. However, Euron sends him east to woo Daenerys Targaryen on his behalf, seeking to wed her and thus gain a claim to the Iron Throne. But Victarion decides to woo her for himself and pay Euron back for having slept with his wife years earlier.

Dorne[edit]

In Dorne, Doran Martell is confronted by three of his brother Oberyn's eight bastard daughters—known collectively as the Sand Snakes—who all want justice for their father's death. They are not appeased by the prospect of receiving the head of Gregor Clegane, since it was Oberyn himself who killed him. They all want war, but in a different manner. They are inciting the commonfolk, so Doran has seven of the eight Sand Snakes confined to cells in the palace, even the very young ones, so that no one can use them against him.

A bold attempt by Doran's daughter Arianne Martell and her lover, Ser Arys Oakheart of the Kingsguard, to crown Doran's ward Myrcella Baratheon as queen of Westeros under Dornish law is thwarted by Doran. In the confusion, one of Arianne's co-conspirators, the knight Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne, attempts to kill Myrcella; she survives but her face is scarred and Ser Arys is killed in the attempt on her life. This strains the new alliance with House Lannister and the Iron Throne, even as another member of the Kingsguard is on his way to Dorne with the head of Gregor Clegane, the knight who raped and murdered Doran's sister Elia years before. Though angry with his daughter, Doran reveals to her that he has long had his own subtler plan for vengeance. Her brother Quentyn has gone east to bring back "Fire and Blood."

At the end of the novel, Samwell Tarly arrives at the Citadel to begin his training. He meets a fellow apprentice who introduces himself as Pate, finally connecting the prologue to the rest of the narrative.

In the East[edit]

Jon Snow has ordered Samwell Tarly to sail to the Citadel in Oldtown (via Braavos) where he can research the Others and study to become a Maester (this is revisited from Jon's point of view in the next book). Sam is accompanied by aging Maester Aemon, the wildling mother Gilly, her newborn babe, and sworn brother Dareon. The voyage across the Narrow Sea is underway before Sam realizes Jon swapped the sons of Gilly and Mance Rayder. The ruse was meant to protect the Wildling "prince" from Melisandre's fiery sacrifice but as a result Gilly's son is at risk, causing her much grief. Aemon gets very sick and they need to wait in Braavos for his health to improve, costing them their ride. Seeming to give up on his vows and companions, Dareon indulges in many harborside sins. After a Summer Islander tells Aemon about seeing the dragons firsthand, Aemon decides that Daenerys has come to fulfill a prophecy. Driven to help his niece fulfill her destiny, Aemon dies shortly after they leave Braavos. Brought together by their own grief, Sam and Gilly become intimate.

Arriving in Braavos, Arya Stark finds her way to the House of Black and White, a temple associated with the assassins known as the Faceless Men. As a novice there, Arya attempts to master their belief that Faceless Men have no true identity by both throwing all her treasures into the water (except her sword, Needle, which symbolizes all she has left behind) and posing as a girl called "Cat of the Canals". Once a month (on the night of the black moon) she must tell her mentor, the Kindly Man, three new words and three new things. However, her former identity continues to assert itself in the form of wolf dreams, and also when she kills Dareon, sworn brother of Samwell Tarly, for abandoning the Night's Watch. Sam and "Cat" meet briefly without knowing one another. The morning after Dareon's murder, she admits to the Kindly Man that it was "Arya" who committed it, and is given a glass of warm milk as punishment. She wakes up the following morning blind.

Characters[edit]

The story is narrated from the point of view of 12 characters and a one-off prologue point of view. Unlike its predecessors, the fourth novel follows numerous minor characters as well.

Editions[edit]

Foreign Language Editions

  • Bulgarian: Бард: "Пир за Врани"
  • Catalan: Alfaguara: "Festí de corbs" ("Feast of crows")
  • Chinese (Simplified): 重庆出版社(2008): "群鸦的盛宴" ("Feast for Crows").
  • Chinese (Traditional): 高寶國際(2006): "群鴉盛宴" ("Feast for Crows").
  • Croatian: "Gozba vrana" ("Crows' Feast")
  • Czech: Talpress; "Hostina pro vrány" ("Feast for Crows")
  • Danish: Kragernes rige ("The Kingdom of the Crows")
  • Dutch: Luitingh-Sijthoff: "Een feestmaal voor kraaien" ("A Feast for Crows")
  • Estonian: "Vareste pidusöök" ("Feast of Crows")
  • Finnish: "Korppien kestit" ("Feast for Crows")
  • French: Three Volumes, Hardcover: Pygmalion (2006-...): "Le chaos", "Les sables de Dorne", "Un Festin pour les Corbeaux" ("Chaos", "The Sands of Dorne", "A Feast For Crows").
  • German: Single volume, Fantasy Productions (2006): "Krähenfest" ("Crow's Feast", to be released). Two volumes, Blanvalet (2006): "Zeit der Krähen", "Die dunkle Königin" ("Time of the Crows", "The Dark Queen").
  • Greek: Anubis: "Βορά Ορνίων" ("Prey of Vultures")
  • Hebrew: "משתה לעורבים א\ב" ("Feast of Crows")
  • Hungarian: Alexandra Könyvkiadó: "Varjak lakomája" ("Feast of Crows")
  • Italian: Two volumes, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore (Hardcover 2006, 2007 - Paperback 2007, 2008): "Il dominio della regina", "L'ombra della profezia" ("The Rule of the Queen", "The Shadow of the Prophecy").
  • Japanese: Two volumes, hardcover : Hayakawa (2008), paperback : Hayakawa (2013): "乱鴉の饗宴" ("Feast of the War Crows") I and II
  • Korean: Eun Haeng Namu Publishing Co. :"까마귀의 향연" ("Feast for Crows")
  • Polish: Two Volumes, Zysk i S-ka: "Uczta dla wron: Cienie Śmierci", "Uczta dla wron: Sieć Spisków" ("A Feast for Crows: Shadows of Death", "A Feast for Crows: Web of Intrigues")
  • Brazilian Portuguese: Leya: "O Festim dos Corvos" ("The Crows Feast")
  • European Portuguese: Two Volumes, Saída de Emergência: "O Festim de Corvos" ("A Feast for Crows"), "O Mar de Ferro" ("The Iron Sea")
  • Romanian: Paperback 2009, Harcover 2011: "Festinul ciorilor" ("The Crows' Feast")
  • Russian: AST: "Пир стервятников" ("Vultures' Feast").
  • Serbian: Two Volumes, Лагуна: "Гозба за вране Део први", "Гозба за вране Део други" ("A Feast for Crows")
  • Spanish: Gigamesh (2007): "Festín de Cuervos" ("Feast for Crows").
  • Swedish: Forum bokförlag: "Kråkornas fest" ("The Crows' Feast")
  • Turkish: Two volumes, Epsilon Yayınevi: "Buz ve Ateşin Şarkısı IV: Kargaların Ziyafeti - Kısım I & Kargaların Ziyafeti - Kısım II" ("A Feast for Crows")

Publication[edit]

Martin released the first four "Iron Islands" chapters of A Feast for Crows as a novella called Arms of the Kraken, published in the August 2002 edition of Dragon magazine. Another chapbook featuring three Daenerys chapters was published for BookExpo 2005, although these chapters were subsequently moved into the forthcoming fifth volume in the series, A Dance with Dragons.

Martin originally planned for the fourth book to be called A Dance with Dragons with the story picking up five years after the events of A Storm of Swords (primarily to advance the ages of the younger characters). However, during the writing process it was discovered that this was leading to an overreliance on flashbacks to fill in the gap. After twelve months or so of working on the book, Martin decided to abandon much of what had previously been written and start again, this time picking up immediately after the end of A Storm of Swords. He announced this decision, along with the new title A Feast for Crows, at Worldcon in Philadelphia on September 1, 2001. He also announced that A Dance with Dragons would now be the fifth book in the sequence.[13]

In May 2005 Martin announced that his manuscript for A Feast for Crows had hit 1527 completed pages but still remained unfinished, with "another hundred or so pages of roughs and incomplete chapters, as well as other chapters sketched out but entirely unwritten."[3] As the size of the manuscript for 2000's A Storm of Swords, his previous novel, had been a problem for publishers around the world at 1521 pages, Martin and his publishers had decided to split the narrative planned for A Feast for Crows into two books.[3] Rather than divide the text in half chronologically, Martin opted to instead split the material by character and location:

It was my feeling ... that we were better off telling all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters. Cutting the novel in half would have produced two half-novels; our approach will produce two novels taking place simultaneously, but set hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, and involving different casts of characters (with some overlap).[3]

Martin noted that A Feast for Crows would focus on "Westeros, King's Landing, the riverlands, Dorne, and the Iron Islands," and that the next novel, A Dance with Dragons, would cover "events in the east and north."[3] Martin also added that the A Song of Ice and Fire series would now likely total seven novels.[3] A Feast for Crows was published months later on 17 October 2005,[1] over five years after the previous volume in the series, A Storm of Swords.[14] The parallel novel A Dance with Dragons was released on July 12, 2011.[4]

Release details[edit]

Reception[edit]

In comparison with the previous novels in the series, A Feast for Crows received more negative reviews. Martin's decision to halve the plot in terms of character and location was highly controversial; many critics felt that this novel consisted of characters that people were less interested in. Publishers Weekly said, "Long-awaited doesn't begin to describe this fourth installment in bestseller Martin's staggeringly epic Song of Ice and Fire. [...]. This is not Act I Scene 4 but Act II Scene 1, laying groundwork more than advancing the plot, and it sorely misses its other half. The slim pickings here are tasty, but in no way satisfying."[15] Salon.com's Andrew Leonard said in 2011, "I don't care how good a writer you are: If you subtract your three strongest characters from your tale, you severely undermine the basis for why readers fell under your spell in the first place. It didn't work. But there was also a sense in A Feast of Crows that Martin had lost his way. The characters whose stories he did tell wandered back and forth across a landscape devastated by war and oncoming winter, but didn't seem to be headed anywhere in particular."[16] Remy Verhoeve of The Huffington Post noted in their 2011 A Dance with Dragons review that the fifth volume had to "repair some of the damage done by A Feast for Crows, which frankly felt as if it was written by a ghost writer at times." Both books had "the same structural problems", being "sprawling and incoherent", and in her opinion Feast has the less interesting characters.[17] The Atlantic's Rachael Brown said in their A Dance With Dragons review that Feast was "bleak and plodding" and "sorely missed" Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow.[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "A Feast for Crows: Product Details (UK)". Amazon.com. October 17, 2005. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ "A Feast for Crows: Product Details (US)". Amazon.com. November 8, 2005. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Martin, George R. R. (May 29, 2005). "Done.". GeorgeRRMartin.com (Author's official website). Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Hibberd, James (March 3, 2011). "Huge Game of Thrones news: Dance With Dragons publication date revealed! -- EXCLUSIVE". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Best-Seller Lists: Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. November 27, 2005. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller list: November 8, 1998". Hawes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller list: November 26, 2000". Hawes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  8. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller list: January 26, 2003". Hawes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  9. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller list: October 30, 2005". Hawes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  10. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller list: November 15, 2009". Hawes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Best-Seller Lists: Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. October 9, 2005. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books: 2006 Award Winners & Nominees". WorldsWithoutEnd.com. Retrieved July 25, 2009. 
  13. ^ "The Citadel: So Spake Martin". Westeros.org. September 1, 2001. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  14. ^ Miller, Faren (November 2000). "Locu Online Reviews: A Storm of Swords (August 2000)". Locus. LocusMag.com. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Fiction review: A Feast for Crows: Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire". publishersweekly.com. October 3, 2005. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  16. ^ Leonard, Andrew (July 10, 2011). "Return of the new fantasy king: "A Dance With Dragons"". salon.com. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  17. ^ Verhoeve, Remy (July 7, 2011). "My Love/Hate Relationship with A Dance with Dragons". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  18. ^ Brown, Rachael (July 11, 2011). "George R.R. Martin on Sex, Fantasy, and A Dance With Dragons". theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  • Zimmerman, W. Frederick (December 15, 2005). Unauthorized A Feast for Crows Analysis (Paperback). Nimble Books. ISBN 0-9765406-1-4. 

External links[edit]