Feb 29, 08
Read in October, 2006
I feel like giving this book 3 stars is being harsh to my man, George Martin, but I'm trying to separate the truly great books in this series from the merely good ones.
Bottom line: fans of the series waited too long for this and therefore were in a position of being impossible to please once this finally came out. This coupled with the facts that numerous spoiler chapters had been available online for years and that George cut his original manuscript in 2 to produce this and the subsequent (as of now, published) volume serves to diminish the stature of "A Feast For Crows" in the context of the whole series.
Still, as its been said elsewhere, Bad George is still better than Excellent Crap. Since I am a completist I was going to love this book no matter what, and I do, but to the more casual fan this will definitely seem like a weak effort, and I think there's justice to this point of view.
The writing here feels uneven to me -- so much time in the real world has passed that I feel like George's writing style has actually changed here. His characters begin using terms that they never used before in the preceeding books ("nuncle" and "coz", in particular). There's also an egregious amount of "not giving a groat" here. I'd hate to be a groat merchant in Westeros at this point. What the hell IS a groat?
The interesting point of view structure of the previous books has been salted with an overabundance of "prologue" chapters that break with the structural traditions that George has already established. Enough with the Prologues! We're under siege here! Just give us one and hold on to some of that story telling goodness -- we already know you rule.
For fans, I think the Brienne chapters feel like wasted time, though Martin tells us that there were stories that needed to be told in "Feast" lest the whole tale would suffer (and I can only presume he includes the 'Brienne' bits in that proclamation). I will reserve judgment here and wait to see.
Also, the fact that only half the POVs (points of view) are represented in "Feast" leaves many fans cold. For myself, I needed me some more Tyrion and I didn't get it here.
I believe once the remaining books are published, the profile of this book may improve. But this is clearly well-seasoned asparagus next to "A Storm of Swords'" filet mignon.