Kings are dead, kings are crowned, and there is no place for two queens in Westeros.
Blood stains swords and lies tip tongues. Trust is an uncertainty...moreKings are dead, kings are crowned, and there is no place for two queens in Westeros.
Blood stains swords and lies tip tongues. Trust is an uncertainty and nowhere is safe.
All men must die, and in the end we are all a feast for crows.
'Feast for Crows' sets itself apart from the previous three novels, in that it continues with the fewest established point of view characters. Those are Jaime, Sam, Arya and Sansa. The most prominent POV characters were Cersei, Jaime and Brienne. It was interesting that the previous most prominent POV character – Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys – were all absent.
That being said, I was far more invested in the story than I expected to be. Martin proved that his deft writing and excellent world building could exceed simply affection for established characters. Jaime and Brienne were two of the most prominent POV characters in the book, and had been one of my favourite aspects in the previous installment, so I always already engrossed in their individual character arcs. Yet I was also was consumed by the politics of King's Landing and the Iron Islands.
Cersei is still not a very sympathetic character. It was, however, interesting to have some insight into her thoughts. She is so plagued and paranoia, and extremely fearful for her children. Even so, she can't help but compare Tommen to his brother, and she is consumed by thoughts of what Joffrey would have done, or what her father would have wanted. Cersei is torn by her grief, but has also gained strength now that she is not so oppressed by men.
One thing I found particularly fascinating in 'A Feast for Crows' was the custom of the Drowned God. Many of the POV characters introduced in the novel were Greyjoys, and their morbid form of baptism is quite a jarring ritual. I like that Martin does not discredit any of the gods in favour of others. The characters may deny other deities, but Martin himself does not move to confirm any as true or false.
'A Feast for Crows' also shows how ignorant Cersei is of the situation in Westeros. She views the people as pests for revolting and calling for provisions, and cannot fathom that the church would not receive her in riches, but instead ops to feed the people. It is an excellent commentary on how removed she is from the realities of those who she is supposed to be ruling.
Jon Snow has become cold and stern from the very brief insight we get of him in this novel. It is unsurprising considering all he has lost but still disheartening. I look forward to seeing more of the change in him in 'A Dance with Dragons,' along with the return of Tyrion and Daenerys.
Listening to 'A Feast for Crows' on audio, some of the established accents were altered, along with the pronunciation of certain character names. This was probably due to the fact that the previous book, 'A Storm of Swords,' was recorded by Dotrice more than 7 years previously. It was disconcerting but understandable. Dotrice's performance was just as dynamic as ever though, and his range is magnificent.
Battles have been fought, lost, and won. Yet no king in Westeros' crown sits firmly on his brow, and there are enemies on all sides and traitors withi...moreBattles have been fought, lost, and won. Yet no king in Westeros' crown sits firmly on his brow, and there are enemies on all sides and traitors within. What means will conquer the Iron Throne? Will it be liberation, diplomacy, or a storm of swords?
The third installment in A Song of Ice and Fire is most definitely my favourite, and the quickest for me to get through, despite being the lengthiest thus far. The pace seemed to be quicker, perhaps because I was more engaged in the characters' story lines. The POV characters were the same as in 'A Clash of Kings' with the exception of Theon and the inclusion of Jaime and Sam.
Where 'A Clash of Kings' focused on the battlefield, 'A Storm of Stords' - despite its name - was more entangled with matrimony. Multiple characters tied the knot and none of the couplings were expected. I believe there were about five marriages in 'A Storm of Swords' and they held just as much tension and suspense as any well written battle scene.
The overall omniscient narrative of the novel, darting from one close third person perspective to another, showed the divide in information. Where the reader might know a certain character to be alive or dead, other characters were ignorant and it was interesting to see them act accordingly.
In relation to the new POV characters, I was immediately drawn to Jaime's character. He is surprisingly likable for a character whose first actions in the series were so despicable. His dynamic with Brienne was perhaps my favourite aspect of the novel. They both began with such distaste for one another but were well matched and formed a certain respect. It's a relationship I hope to see progress further into the series.
It would make sense that Sam would be the more sympathetic character of the two, but it actually took me a longer time to warm up to him. His first POV chapter consisted of him being too defeatist to be engaging. All he did was moan and wish for death. Yet eventually he proved himself to be a compelling and caring character.
When it comes to favourite characters, Tyrion and Arya still top them all. I like that they are both such flawed individuals and have dark sides which fester inside them. Tyrion has his lust and Arya has her rage. The most repugnant character in the novel is by far Gregor. Yes, the crown in this case does not go to Joffrey. Gregor makes my skin crawl and makes his brother, the Hound - whose character is also far more developed in this novel - look like an angel.
One thing I did note was that Robb reminded me of Ned in this book. He has that same double-edged honorable nature, which can be a strength and a weakness depending on how it is wielded. As he has never been a POV character I haven't given him as much thought as I have the other Starks, but seeing him in likeness to his father made me think on his characteristics more, both positive and negative.
What Martin is most adept at - and which is apparent in this novel - is his ability to humanise his characters. The focus is not on "good" or "evil" but rather the feelings and intentions which collide. Every POV character is a protagonist in turn, with their own antagonists, some of whom are also POV characters. It was interesting to see characters like Jaime or the Hound, who were previously less featured and harder to empathise with, become more developed and empathetic.
There were several instances in the plot where characters nearly brushed paths, barely missing one another. A character would come so close to the individual they sought, only to have the opportunity snatched away before they even knew it. It was altogether clever, frustrating, and tantalising.
The only real tragedy to having story lines so far removed from one another is that there are certain character dynamics which the reader doesn't get to see. It is particularly unfortunate if either character is killed, leaving the reader to only wonder at how the two characters might have interacted if they had met again or for the first time.
Like the previous two books, I listened to 'A Storm of Swords' on audio, read by Roy Dotrice. He is excellent at breathing life into the characters, but also at holding and heightening tension. Martin really raises the stakes and pens some of the most intense scenes thus far, and Dotrice delivered each one with riveting quality.
I look forward to continuing A Song of Ice and Fire with 'A Feast for Crows.'
When a blood red comet streaks the sky the kingdoms are divided.
Where once one king ruled over Westeros, now the Seven Kingdoms are splintered. Sword...moreWhen a blood red comet streaks the sky the kingdoms are divided.
Where once one king ruled over Westeros, now the Seven Kingdoms are splintered. Swords and sentiments clash over who is the rightful ruler.
The sequel to 'A Game of Thrones' took me longer to finish - and not just because of its greater length - but I left it just as eager for the next installment. Martin is a master at world building, and while his cast of characters is vast and I frequently struggled to keep some of the lesser characters' names and roles straight, I became invested in the journeys and conflicts of the book.
'A Clash of Kings' continues the same point of view characters as the first installment, minus that slain, with two new additions: Davos the Onion Knight, a member of Stannis' court, and Theon Greyjoy, an established secondary character. Despite finding Theon to be a repugnant character, I was more engaged in his story-line than Davos', despite the latter being a far more sympathetic and level-headed character.
It was interesting to have an introduction to Stannis' character, as he was only alluded to in 'A Game of Thrones.' He is the quintessential jaded middle child. While not likable, his bitterness is well rooted and understandable.
My favourite characters remain to be Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark. Arya's journey guised as a boy was a compelling and tense one. She definitely grew in such hostile and erratic surroundings. Tyrion is a fascinating character. He values intelligence over brute strength but also willing to face battle when the situation proves most dire. His is a peculiar character, as his allegiance is so tightly bound to his blood, even when several of his family members are so poisonous toward him.
Martin is skilled at raising the stakes, and always teases at several paths a character's journey may take, but never settling on the easy route. The novel ends at many turning points for the POV characters and I look forward to seeing where they lead in the next installment, 'A Storm of Swords.'
All Carson Phillips wants is to attend Northwestern University. It's his first step to becoming a renowned journalist and one-day editor of the New Yo...moreAll Carson Phillips wants is to attend Northwestern University. It's his first step to becoming a renowned journalist and one-day editor of the New Yorker. First he has to be accepted, graduate high school, and leave the mind-numbing small town of Clover behind forever.
When his acceptance to Northwestern doesn't look like a sure thing, Carson must boost his chances by constructing a literary magazine. Yet when the prospect of submissions looks bleak, he resorts to extreme measures to solidify his future: blackmail.
Carson has never held much love for his peers or the social constructs of high school, but is he willing to step on everyone around him to get what he wants?
'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which was originally written as a screenplay. I had already seen the film – starring Colfer himself – and was blown away. Despite being written solely from Carson's perspective, the novel expands on the narrative and delivers an even more humorous and heartfelt execution.
What drives 'Struck By Lightning' is Carson's character and narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, in the style of a journal. Carson has the unfiltered thoughts that resonate with any reader who has lived through the frustrations of high school. His snide attitude and wonderfully cynical humour is refreshing.
Carson's often cruel attitude might have set him up to be an unlikeable character, but his situation makes him sympathetic. He has one friend, a dejected mother, an absent father, and a treasured grandmother with Alzheimer's. Carson makes the reader mindful of the way we view and treat others, and boosts the importance of having a sense of conviction in your ambitions.
It was interesting the way in which Colfer used the stereotypical high school cliques to represent the student body at Clover High. Not only was it a clever commentary on the tropes, but Carson's perception also highlighted how we each have our own pigeon-holed prejudices. I liked that, while the insight into secondary characters was restricted, there was enough of a glimpse past the assumptions and clichéd façades, particularly in their contributions to the literary magazine.
'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which encourages readers to contemplate our attitudes to ourselves and the people around us. It is earnest and witty. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I look forward to reading more of Colfer's work in future.