A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)by George R. R. Martin, Roy Dotrice (Read by)
Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy that began with A Game of Thrones. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin/i>/i>/b>/b>/i>
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THE BOOK BEHIND THE FOURTH SEASON OF THE ACCLAIMED HBO SERIES GAME OF THRONES
Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy that began with A Game of Thrones. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace . . . only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction.
A Feast for Crows
It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears. . . . With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist—or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.
But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.
It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes . . . and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Feast for Crows, the long-awaited fourth installment of George R. R. Martin's shelf-splitting A Song of Ice and Fire saga, continues the bloody drama of the war-torn Seven Kingdoms and the battle for the Iron Throne. With the king dead and a child on the throne, Cersei -- the Queen Regent -- must protect her son from myriad enemies vying for control of the realm. As the novel's title implies, although the War of the Five Kings is over, death and destruction are still rampant.
Fans of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords) may find this installment a bit unusual -- half the epic's previous plot threads are not even touched upon. Because of the unwieldy size of the finished manuscript (1,500-plus pages), Martin explains his and his publisher's decision to split the book into two volumes: "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."
Cliffhangers abound in this fourth volume of Martin's spectacularly grandiose narrative -- an epic comparable to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time cycle and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth saga that features literally hundreds of major characters. (The appendix of dramatis personae is more than 60 pages long!) After finishing A Feast for Crows, fans will be (justifiably) ravenous for the next installment (tentatively titled A Dance with Dragons) to find out what is happening with popular characters not mentioned: namely, Tyrion Lannister, Davos Seaworth, and the enigmatic Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Stormborn. Paul Goat Allen
"The only fantast series I'd put on a level with J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings…. It's a fantasy series for hip, smart people, even those who don't read fantasy…. If you're new to the series, you must begin with Book 1, A Game of Thrones. Once you're hooked…. you'll be like the rest of us fans, gnawing your knuckles until book 5”—Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press
“THE MOST impressive modern fantasy, both in terms of conception and execution, is George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.… A masterpiece that will be mentioned with the great works of fantasy.”—Contra Costa Times
"Long-awaited doesn’t begin to describe this fourth installment in bestseller Martin's staggeringly epic Song of Ice and Fire."—Publishers Weekly
"Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant."—Robert Jordan
"Such a splendid tale and such a fantistorical! I read my eyes out."—Anne McCaffrey
"Fantasy fans will feast!"—Associated Press
Read an Excerpt
She dreamt she sat the Iron Throne, high above them all.
The courtiers were brightly colored mice below. Great lords and proud ladies knelt before her. Bold young knights laid their swords at her feet and pleaded for her favors, and the queen smiled down at them. Until the dwarf appeared as if from nowhere, pointing at her and howling with laughter. The lords and ladies began to chuckle too, hiding their smiles behind their hands. Only then did the queen realize she was naked.
Horrified, she tried to cover herself with her hands. The barbs and blades of the Iron Throne bit into her flesh as she crouched to hide her shame. Blood ran red down her legs, as steel teeth gnawed at her buttocks. When she tried to stand, her foot slipped through a gap in the twisted metal. The more she struggled the more the throne engulfed her, tearing chunks of flesh from her breasts and belly, slicing at her arms and legs until they were slick and red, glistening.
And all the while her brother capered below, laughing. His merriment still echoed in her ears when she felt a light touch on her shoulder, and woke suddenly. For half a heartbeat the hand seemed part of the nightmare, and Cersei cried out, but it was only Senelle. The maid’s face was white and frightened.
We are not alone, the queen realized. Shadows loomed around her bed, tall shapes with chainmail glimmering beneath their cloaks. Armed men had no business here.
Where are my guards? Her bedchamber was dark, but for the lantern one of the intruders held on high. I must show no fear. Cersei pushed back sleep-tousled hair, and said, “What do you want of me?” A man stepped into the lantern light, and she saw his cloak was white. “Jaime?” I dreamt of one brother, but the other has come to wake me.
“Your Grace.” The voice was not her brother’s. “The Lord Commander said come get you.” His hair curled, as Jaime’s did, but her brother’s hair was beaten gold, like hers, where this man’s was black and oily. She stared at him, confused, as he muttered about a privy and a crossbow, and said her father’s name. I am dreaming still, Cersei thought. I have not woken, nor has my nightmare ended. Tyrion will creep out from under the bed soon and begin to laugh at me.
But that was folly. Her dwarf brother was down in the black cells, condemned to die this very day. She looked down at her hands, turning them over to make certain all her fingers were still there. When she ran a hand down her arm the skin was covered with gooseprickles, but unbroken. There were no cuts on her legs, no gashes on the soles of her feet. A dream, that’s all it was, a dream. I drank too much last night, these fears are only humors born of wine. I will be the one laughing, come dusk. My children will be safe, Tommen’s throne will be secure, and my twisted little valonqar will be short a head and rotting.
Jocelyn Swyft was at her elbow, pressing a cup on her. Cersei took a sip: water, mixed with lemon squeezings, so tart she spit it out. She could hear the night wind rattling the shutters, and she saw with a strange sharp clarity. Jocelyn was trembling like a leaf, as frightened as Senelle. Ser Osmund Kettleblack loomed over her. Behind him stood Ser Boros Blount, with a lantern. At the door were Lannister guardsmen with gilded lions shining on the crests of their helmets. They looked afraid as well. Can it be? the queen wondered. Can it be true?
She rose, and let Senelle slip a bedrobe over her shoulders to hide her nakedness. Cersei belted it herself, her fingers stiff and clumsy. “My lord father keeps guards about him, night and day,” she said. Her tongue felt thick. She took another swallow of lemon water and sloshed it round her mouth to freshen her breath. A moth had gotten into the lantern Ser Boros was holding; she could hear it buzzing and see the shadow of its wings as it beat against the glass.
“The guards were at their posts, Your Grace,” said Osmund Kettleblack. “We found a hidden door behind the hearth. A secret passage. The Lord Commander’s gone down to see where it goes.”
“Jaime?” Terror seized her, sudden as a storm. “Jaime should be with the king . . .”
“The lad’s not been harmed. Ser Jaime sent a dozen men to look in on him. His Grace is sleeping peaceful.” Let him have a sweeter dream than mine, and a kinder waking. “Who is with the king?”
“Ser Loras has that honor, if it please you.”
It did not please her. The Tyrells were only stewards that the dragon-kings had upjumped far above their station. Their vanity was exceeded only by their ambition.
Ser Loras might be as pretty as a maiden’s dream, but underneath his white cloak he was Tyrell to the bone. For all she knew, this night’s foul fruit had been planted and nurtured in Highgarden.
But that was a suspicion she dare not speak aloud.
“Allow me a moment to dress. Ser Osmund, you shall accompany me to the Tower of the Hand. Ser Boros, roust the gaolers and make certain the dwarf is still in his cell.” She would not say his name. He would never have found the courage to lift a hand against Father, she told herself, but she had to be certain.
“As Your Grace commands.” Blount surrendered the lantern to Ser Osmund. Cersei was not displeased to see the back of him. Father should never have restored him to the white. The man had proved himself a craven. By the time they left Maegor’s Holdfast, the sky had turned a deep cobalt blue, though the stars still shone. All but one, Cersei thought. The bright star of the west has fallen, and the nights will be darker now. She paused upon the drawbridge that spanned the dry moat, gazing down at the spikes below. They would not dare lie to me about such a thing. “Who found him?”
“One of his guards,” said Ser Osmund. “Lum. He felt a call of nature, and found his lordship in the privy.”
No, that cannot be. That is not the way a lion dies. The queen felt strangely calm. She remembered the first time she had lost a tooth, when she was just a little girl. It hadn’t hurt, but the hole in her mouth felt so odd she could not stop touching it with her tongue. Now there is a hole in the world where Father stood, and holes want filling.
If Tywin Lannister was truly dead, no one was safe . . . least of all her son upon his throne. When the lion falls the lesser beasts move in: the jackals and the vultures and the feral dogs. They would try to push her aside, as they always had. She would need to move quickly, as she had when Robert died. This might be the work of Stannis Baratheon, through some catspaw. It could well be the prelude to another attack upon the city. She hoped it was. Let him come. I will smash him, just as Father did, and this time he will die. Stannis did not frighten her, no more than Mace Tyrell did. No one frightened her. She was a daughter of the Rock, a lion. There will be no more talk of forcing me to wed again. Casterly Rock was hers now, and all the power of House Lannister. No one would ever disregard her again. Even when Tommen had no further need of a regent, the Lady of Casterly Rock would remain a power in the land.
The rising sun had painted the tower tops a vivid red, but beneath the walls the night still huddled. The outer castle was so hushed that she could have believed all its people dead. They should be. It is not fitting for Tywin Lannister to die alone. Such a man deserves a retinue to attend his needs in hell.
Four spearmen in red cloaks and lion-crested helms were posted at the door of the Tower of the Hand. “No one is to enter or leave without my permission,” she told them. The command came easily to her. My father had steel in his voice as well.
Within the tower, the smoke from the torches irritated her eyes, but Cersei did not weep, no more than her father would have. I am the only true son he ever had. Her heels scraped against the stone as she climbed, and she could still hear the moth fluttering wildly inside Ser Osmund’s lantern. Die, the queen thought at it, in irritation, fly into the flame and be done with it.
Two more red-cloaked guardsmen stood atop the steps. Red Lester muttered a condolence as she passed. The queen’s breath was coming fast and short, and she could feel her heart fluttering in her chest. The steps, she told herself, this cursed tower has too many steps. She had half a mind to tear it down.
The hall was full of fools speaking in whispers, as if Lord Tywin were asleep and they were afraid to wake him. Guards and servants alike shrank back before her, mouths flapping. She saw their pink gums and waggling tongues, but their words made no more sense than the buzzing of the moth. What are they doing here? How did they know? By rights they should have called her first. She was the Queen Regent, had they forgotten that?
Before the Hand’s bedchamber stood Ser Meryn Trant in his white armor and cloak. The visor of his helm was open, and the bags beneath his eyes made him look still half-asleep. “Clear these people away,” Cersei told him.
“Is my father in the privy?”
“They carried him back to his bed, m’lady.” Ser Meryn pushed the door open for her to enter.
Morning light slashed through the shutters to paint golden bars upon the rushes strewn across the floor of the bedchamber. Her uncle Kevan was on his knees beside the bed, trying to pray, but he could scarcely get the words out. Guardsmen clustered near the hearth. The secret door that Ser Osmund had spoken of gaped open behind the ashes, no bigger than an oven. A man would need to crawl. But Tyrion is only half a man. The thought made her angry. No, the dwarf is locked in a black cell. This could not be his work. Stannis, she told herself, Stannis was behind it. He still has adherents in the city. Him, or the Tyrells . . . There had always been talk of secret passages within the Red Keep. Maegor the Cruel was supposed to have killed the men who built the castle to keep the knowledge of them secret. How many other bedchambers have hidden doors? Cersei had a sudden vision of the dwarf crawling out from behind a tapestry in Tommen’s bedchamber with blade in hand. Tommen is well guarded, she told herself. But Lord Tywin had been well guarded too.
For a moment she did not recognize the dead man. He had hair like her father, yes, but this was some other man, surely, a smaller man, and much older. His bedrobe was hiked up around his chest, leaving him naked below the waist. The quarrel had taken him in his groin between his navel and his manhood, and was sunk so deep that only the fletching showed. His pubic hair was stiff with dried blood. More was congealing in his navel.
The smell of him made her wrinkle her nose. “Take the quarrel out of him,” she commanded. “This is the King’s Hand!” And my father. My lord father. Should I scream and tear my hair? They said Catelyn Stark had clawed her own face to bloody ribbons when the Freys slew her precious Robb. Would you like that, Father? she wanted to ask him. Or would you want me to be strong? Did you weep for your own father? Her grandfather had died when she was only a year old, but she knew the story. Lord Tytos had grown very fat, and his heart burst one day when he was climbing the steps to his mistress. Her father was off in King’s Landing when it happened, serving as the Mad King’s Hand. Lord Tywin was often away in King’s Landing when she and Jaime were young. If he wept when they brought him word of his father’s death, he did it where no one could see the tears.
The queen could feel her nails digging into her palms.
“How could you leave him like this? My father was Hand to three kings, as great a man as ever strode the Seven Kingdoms. The bells must ring for him, as they rang for Robert. He must be bathed and dressed as befits his stature, in ermine and cloth-of-gold and crimson silk. Where is Pycelle? Where is Pycelle?” She turned to the guardsmen. “Puckens, bring Grand Maester Pycelle. He must see to Lord Tywin.”
“He’s seen him, Your Grace,” said Puckens. “He came and saw and went, to summon the silent sisters.”
They sent for me last. The realization made her almost too angry for words. And Pycelle runs off to send a message rather than soil his soft, wrinkled hands. The man is useless. “Find Maester Ballabar,” she commanded. “Find Maester Frenken. Any of them.” Puckens and Shortear ran to obey. “Where is my brother?”
“Down the tunnel. There’s a shaft, with iron rungs set in the stone. Ser Jaime went to see how deep it goes.”
He has only one hand, she wanted to shout at them. One of you should have gone. He has no business climbing ladders. The men who murdered Father might be down there, waiting for him. Her twin had always been too rash, and it would seem that even losing a hand had not taught him caution. She was about to command the guards to go down after him and bring him back when Puckens and Shortear returned with a grey-haired man between them.
“Your Grace,” said Shortear, “this here claims he was a maester.”
The man bowed low. “How may I serve Your Grace?”
His face was vaguely familiar, though Cersei could not place him. Old, but not so old as Pycelle. This one has some strength in him still. He was tall, though slightly stooped, with crinkles around his bold blue eyes. His throat is naked. “You wear no maester’s chain.”
“It was taken from me. My name is Qyburn, if it please Your Grace. I treated your brother’s hand.”
“His stump, you mean.” She remembered him now. He had come with Jaime from Harrenhal.
“I could not save Ser Jaime’s hand, it is true. My arts saved his arm, however, mayhaps his very life. The Citadel took my chain, but they could not take my knowledge.”
“You may suffice,” she decided. “If you fail me you will lose more than a chain, I promise you. Remove the quarrel from my father’s belly and make him ready for the silent sisters.”
“As my queen commands.” Qyburn went to the bedside, paused, looked back. “And how shall I deal with the girl, Your Grace?”
“Girl?” Cersei had overlooked the second body. She strode to the bed, flung aside the heap of bloody coverlets, and there she was, naked, cold, and pink . . . save for her face, which had turned as black as Joff ’s had at his wedding feast. A chain of linked golden hands was half-buried in the flesh of her throat, twisted so tight that it had broken the skin. Cersei hissed like an angry cat. “What is she doing here?”
“We found her there, Your Grace,” said Shortear. “It’s the Imp’s whore.” As if that explained why she was here. My lord father had no use for whores, she thought.
After our mother died he never touched a woman. She gave the guardsman a chilly look. “This is not . . . when Lord Tywin’s father died he returned to Casterly Rock to find a . . . a woman of this sort . . . bedecked in his lady mother’s jewels, wearing one of her gowns. He stripped them off her, and all else as well. For a fortnight she was paraded naked through the streets of Lannisport, to confess to every man she met that she was a thief and a harlot. That was how Lord Tywin Lannister dealt with whores. He never . . . this woman was here for some other purpose, not for . . .”
“Perhaps his lordship was questioning the girl about her mistress,” Qyburn suggested. “Sansa Stark vanished the night the king was murdered, I have heard.”
“That’s so.” Cersei seized on the suggestion eagerly.
“He was questioning her, to be sure. There can be no doubt.” She could see Tyrion leering, his mouth twisted into a monkey’s grin beneath the ruin of his nose. And what better way to question her than naked, with her legs well spread? the dwarf whispered. That’s how I like to question her too.
The queen turned away. I will not look at her. Suddenly it was too much even to be in the same room as the dead woman. She pushed past Qyburn, out into the hall.
Ser Osmund had been joined by his brothers Osney and Osfryd. “There is a dead woman in the Hand’s bedchamber,” Cersei told the three Kettleblacks. “No one is ever to know that she was here.”
“Aye, m’lady.” Ser Osney had faint scratches on his cheek where another of Tyrion’s whores had clawed him.
“And what shall we do with her?”
“Feed her to your dogs. Keep her for a bedmate. What do I care? She was never here. I’ll have the tongue of any man who dares to say she was. Do you understand me?”
Osney and Osfryd exchanged a look. “Aye, Your Grace.”
She followed them back inside and watched as they bundled the girl up in her father’s bloody blankets. Shae, her name was Shae. They had last spoken the night before the dwarf ’s trial by combat, after that smiling Dornish snake offered to champion him. Shae had been asking about some jewels Tyrion had given her, and certain promises Cersei might have made, a manse in the city and a knight to marry her. The queen made it plain that the whore would have nothing of her until she told them where Sansa Stark had gone. “You were her maid. Do you expect me to believe that you knew nothing of her plans?” she had said. Shae left in tears.
Ser Osfryd slung the bundled corpse up over his shoulder.
“I want that chain,” Cersei said. “See that you do not scratch the gold.” Osfryd nodded and started toward the door. “No, not through the yard.” She gestured toward the secret passage. “There’s a shaft down to the dungeons. That way.” As Ser Osfryd went down on one knee before thehearth, the light brightened within, and the queen heard noises. Jaime emerged bent over like an old woman, his boots kicking up puffs of soot from Lord Tywin’s last fire.
“Get out of my way,” he told the Kettleblacks.
Cersei rushed toward him. “Did you find them? Did you find the killers? How many were there?” Surely there had been more than one. One man alone could not have killed her father.
Her twin’s face had a haggard look. “The shaft goes down to a chamber where half a dozen tunnels meet. They’re closed off by iron gates, chained and locked. I need to find keys.” He glanced around the bedchamber.
“Whoever did this might still be lurking in the walls. It’s a maze back there, and dark.”
She imagined Tyrion creeping between the walls like some monstrous rat. No. You are being silly. The dwarf is in his cell. “Take hammers to the walls. Knock this tower down, if you must. I want them found. Whoever did this. I want them killed.”
Jaime hugged her, his good hand pressing against the small of her back. He smelled of ash, but the morning sun was in his hair, giving it a golden glow. She wanted to draw his face to hers for a kiss. Later, she told herself, later he will come to me, for comfort. “We are his heirs, Jaime,” she whispered. “It will be up to us to finish his work. You must take Father’s place as Hand. You see that now, surely. Tommen will need you . . .”
He pushed away from her and raised his arm, forcing his stump into her face. “A Hand without a hand? A bad jape, sister. Don’t ask me to rule.”
Their uncle heard the rebuff. Qyburn as well, and the Kettleblacks, wrestling their bundle through the ashes. Even the guardsmen heard, Puckens and Hoke the Horseleg and Shortear. It will be all over the castle by nightfall. Cersei felt the heat rising up her cheeks. “Rule? I said naught of ruling. I shall rule until my son comes of age.”
“I don’t know who I pity more,” her brother said.
“Tommen, or the Seven Kingdoms.”
She slapped him. Jaime’s arm rose to catch the blow, cat-quick . . . but this cat had a cripple’s stump in place of a right hand. Her fingers left red marks on his cheek. The sound brought their uncle to his feet. “Your father lies here dead. Have the decency to take your quarrel outside.”
Jaime inclined his head in apology. “Forgive us, Uncle. My sister is sick with grief. She forgets herself.”
She wanted to slap him again for that. I must have been mad to think he could be Hand. She would sooner abolish the office. When had a Hand ever brought her anything but grief? Jon Arryn put Robert Baratheon in her bed, and before he died he’d begun sniffing about her and Jaime as well. Eddard Stark took up right where Arryn had left off; his meddling had forced her to rid herself of Robert sooner than she would have liked, before she could deal with his pestilential brothers. Tyrion sold Myrcella to the Dornishmen, made one of her sons his hostage, and murdered the other. And when Lord Tywin returned to King’s Landing . . .
The next Hand will know his place, she promised her-self. It would have to be Ser Kevan. Her uncle was tireless, prudent, unfailingly obedient. She could rely on him, as her father had. The hand does not argue with the head. She had a realm to rule, but she would need new men to help her rule it. Pycelle was a doddering lickspittle, Jaime had lost his courage with his sword hand, and Mace Tyrell and his cronies Redwyne and Rowan could not be trusted. For all she knew they might have had a part in this. Lord Tyrell had to know that he would never rule the Seven Kingdoms so long as Tywin Lannister lived.
I will need to move carefully with that one. The city was full of his men, and he’d even managed to plant one of his sons in the Kingsguard, and meant to plant his daughter in Tommen’s bed. It still made her furious to think that Father had agreed to betroth Tommen to Margaery Tyrell. The girl is twice his age and twice widowed. Mace Tyrell claimed his daughter was still virgin, but Cersei had her doubts. Joffrey had been murdered before he could bed the girl, but she had been wed to Renly first . . . A man may prefer the taste of hippocras, yet if you set a tankard of ale before him, he will quaff it quick enough. She must command Lord Varys to find out what he could.
That stopped her where she stood. She had forgotten about Varys. He should be here. He is always here. Whenever anything of import happened in the Red Keep, the eunuch appeared as if from nowhere. Jaime is here, and Uncle Kevan, and Pycelle has come and gone, but not Varys. A cold finger touched her spine. He was part of this. He must have feared that Father meant to have his head, so he struck first. Lord Tywin had never had any love for the simpering master of whisperers. And if any man knew the Red Keep’s secrets, it was surely the master of whisperers. He must have made common cause with Lord Stannis. They served together on Robert’s council, after all . . .
Cersei strode to the door of the bedchamber, to Ser Meryn Trant. “Trant, bring me Lord Varys. Squealing and squirming if need be, but unharmed.”
“As Your Grace commands.”
But no sooner had one Kingsguard departed than another one returned. Ser Boros Blount was red-faced and puffing from his headlong rush up the steps. “Gone,” he panted, when he saw the queen. He sank to one knee. “The Imp . . . his cell’s open, Your Grace . . . no sign of him anywhere . . .”
The dream was true. “I gave orders,” she said. “He was to be kept under guard, night and day . . .”
Blount’s chest was heaving. “One of the gaolers has gone missing too. Rugen, his name was. Two other men we found asleep.”
It was all she could do not to scream. “I hope you did not wake them, Ser Boros. Let them sleep.”
“Sleep?” He looked up, jowly and confused. “Aye, Your Grace. How long shall–”
“Forever. See that they sleep forever, ser. I will not suffer guards to sleep on watch.” He is in the walls. He killed Father as he killed Mother, as he killed Joff. The dwarf would come for her as well, the queen knew, just as the old woman had promised her in the dimness of that tent. I laughed in her face, but she had powers. I saw my future in a drop of blood. My doom. Her legs were weak as water. Ser Boros tried to take her by the arm, but the queen recoiled from his touch. For all she knew he might be one of Tyrion’s creatures. “Get away from me,” she said. “Get away!” She staggered to a settle.
“Your Grace?” said Blount. “Shall I fetch a cup of water?”
It is blood I need, not water. Tyrion’s blood, the blood of the valonqar. The torches spun around her. Cersei closed her eyes, and saw the dwarf grinning at her. No, she thought, no, I was almost rid of you. But his fingers had closed around her neck, and she could feel them beginning to tighten.
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Meet the Author
George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. As a writer-producer, he has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- Santa Fe, NM
- Date of Birth:
- September 20, 1948
- Place of Birth:
- Bayonne, NJ
- B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971
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Closing my nook late last night as I had FINALLY finished A Feast for Crows, a strange feeling came over me that I haven't felt with any other installment of this brilliant series: I can't decide though if that feeling was emptiness or mere boredom. It took me almost a month and a half to finish this book, which is very odd to me because I devoured the other three within days of each other. A Feast for Crows had epic promise but it sadly fell flat for me. I didn't care (unlike so many others) that the story centered around the "lesser" of the key characters, actually two of my personal favorites took center stage in this work and I enjoyed their chapters the most. Something was just lacking with the rest of the story sadly, and to be brutally honest the chapters involving side-tracked quests/ takeovers, mini battles revolving around religion, and sub-plots of conquest of the sea became utterly confusing and tedious. I forced myself not to flip past anything though (and I encourage any new reader to do the same), in case I would happen to miss any interesting turn of the growing plot(s) or the non-stop introductions to fresh characters/locations. Unfortunately I still found myself hopelessly muddled and distracted, researching the houses and characters at the back of the book (several times within one chapter), trying to keep some kind of mental tally with the growing alliances and betrayals. I'm still confused to be honest. One more thing I must confess to any potential readers: The action and development of new plots to continue the rest of the series didn't appear until almost the last hundred pages (which was extremely irritating to me). Night after night, I found myself just nibbling at this feast and I hope A Dance with Dragons, followed by "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring", once again has me singing the praises this series justly deserves. July 12th is coming!
This was definitely a departure from the first three books of the series. There is not nearly as much action as their is in A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords. If you come wanting something like its chair-gripping predecessors you will be disappointed. However, if you put aside your ideas of what you think it should be and accept it on its own merits you will be treated to a soul-touchingly beautiful novel. Because Martin chose to split this and A Dance With Dragons geographically rather than chronologically, 3 characters that are often people' favorites are left out: Tyrion, Jon, and Dany. You may dislike not reading about them, but the new viewpoint characters step up to the plate admirably and smash the ball out of the park. Brienne's quest for Sansa is fascinating. Her interactions with her travel companions are very thought-provoking and give you good insight into some people who belong to social circles we haven't seen before; the people she interacts with range from a shady former soldier who is a descendant of a once-great house to a wandering septon to the "smallfolk." She gives you an excellent look at a wider variety of people than we usually get to see in Westeros. Cersei's chapters are also incredible. Her subtle struggle for power with the Tyrells in King's Landing is gripping. Sansa's interactions with Littlefinger are the catalysts for change in her character, and I loved reading her chapters as you see her really wake to the realities of the world. The other new storylines are great as well. The power grab in the Iron Islands, Arya in Braavos, and the Dorne plot are all fantastic reads. The ending to the Dorne storyline sent chills down my spine. Overall, A Feast For Crows is meandering and not very action packed. However, the loss of action is repaid in full by a more comprehensive look at the world Martin has created. You will meet entirely different types of people than in previous books. Immerse yourself in the world and join the characters on their travels and trials. You will not be disappointed.
Please ignore the negative reviews, which are solely based on the length of time between sequels, and has very little to do with the actual work itself. I can understand the desperation fans feel, these books just draw you in and you don't want it to end, but then it does, most of the time leaving some parts of the story just hanging. Then comes the waiting game. The next book in the series did finally come out this year and it was wonderful... and ALSO NOT FINISHED!! I really hope it doesn't take 6 years for the next (and maybe final) book, but can wait it out as there are many, many books out there to fill the years. So you can get hooked now and wait with the rest of us, or wait until the series is 100% finished to start reading it, but whatever you do, I highly recommend this series!
The first 3 books in this series are very engaging, but this one ... not so much. Way too many words are wasted on lesser characters and confusing plot lines leading in pointless directions. Each chapter seems to end with it's own "mini-cliffhanger", but by the time you get around to the resolution you DON'T CARE. Few of the big cliffhangers from book 3 are even addressed, and none of the ones you really care about. This whole story line could have been covered in about 200 pages. I'm looking forward to some clarity in book 5, but if the reviews are accurate it will be more of the same.
I don't even LIKE this genre, people! But I'm addicted to this series. I don't know if it's the power politics, the shameless slaughter of favorite characters, the fact that the good guys hardly ever come out ahead. But this was book four, and I couldn't put any of the preceding three down, either. I'm not going to quibble with Mr. Martin about whether the decision to split up the story the way he did was appropriate or not. I haven't seen book 5, so who am I to judge. He's done a great job so far, so I trust him. If you read the first three books and enjoyed them, then dive in and enjoy this one, it won't disappoint you, and you probably will be suprised by some of the developments. If you haven't read the first three books, it makes absolutely no sense to start with this one -- get Game of Thrones and start at the beginning. Why skip over the first three when they are great stories?
Loved the first 3 books. Book 4 was a big disappointment. The majority of the book was filled with useless new characters and places that just made the book confusing. The book lost me a quarter into it.
Ignore the bad reviews, they are ignorant reviews based on what they wanted the book to be. This book is excellent...yes there isnt as much action as the one before but it is building up the whole landscape of the world being portrayed...i love reading about other characters view points and also Briennes quest to find Sansa. Set your expectations to the side and open your mind...emerse yourself in the world of Westoros and you wont be dissappointed
What a god awful drudgery. the writing itself was good but it just dragged on and on waiting for something to happen. I won't even buy the last book since a lot of the reviews say its similar. It took me forever to read this book cause i kept falling asleep. The first 3 were so good what a disappointment.
I loved reading this book though my favourite one is the second book. As a fan of the series, I can only recommend it.
but I have been waiting soooo patiently for the last book! really, this is something everyone should read...
I have followed this series with relish. The characters are addictive, the story is very well written. I did find this particular book frustrating because of the split with half of the characters in one book and half in the next. What I find most frustrating is that the author not only has not completed the next book in the series (nearly 4 years now), but blatantly critisizes and ignores his fans. One would question why the author offers a website or any opportunity for potential exposure to communication with fans. Great story from a very eccentric, unreliable, and tempermental author. Reconsider starting the series if you have not. Reading it only leads to frustration.
A Feast for Crows definitely did not live up to expectations. Never have I ever felt the need to kick an author in the crotch while reading a book. The plots centered around Dorne and the Iron Islands are confusing and almost pointless. They were very much short stories just thrown into the book just for the hell of it. In now way do they affect any of the other components of the story. The most frustrating part of these chapters was the fact that G.R.R refused to call these characters by their actual names. I was 6 pages into one called "The Kraken's Daughter" before I realized that it was about Asha Greyjoy. These haphazard titles leave you confused and draw focus from any potentially relevant details. Secondly, every other chapter was about Brienne. She was the only character that I wanted to see die aside from Joffery. Each chapter revolves around her finding some person, them calling her a man, her feeling insecure about her physical appearance, contemplating her own insecurities, asking herself the question "What if I don't find Sansa?", and then going to sleep. Often times I opted to go to sleep, rather than read her chapters. Aside from the plot twist in the last hundred pages her story line is insufferable! With all of that being said, the other characters are make the story worth while. It is amazing how far apart Jamie and Cersei drift in this book. Jaime comes close to filling the absent role of Jon Snow. Granted it misses much of the action of other points in the series, but it is indeed a captivating plot element. The maturing of Sansa and Arya in this book was also a great element. Overall, this book will not live up to expectations ,but the novels "In a Song of Ice and Fire" are much like pizza. Even the bad ones are still pretty good.
The slow train to nowhere applied the brakes this book. I like the underlying story but do we really need paragraphs long details about every meal every character ate? I swear the series would be 500 pages shorter if he removed those details. I've come to dread "Seeing such and such reminded so and so about this time" Martin uses it constantly it always proceeds paragraphs or pages of pointless back story about some minor character. I found myself skimming over quite a bit of it just to get through it.
I have to agree with others who feel that Martin is dragging out what was a good thing. Though there were moments when I enjoyed myself, I found myself reading only to pray I would eventually know what happens to the characters I loved in the first three books. Shame on you George.
Whereas A Clash of Kings improved on A Game of Thrones, and A Storm of Swords blew both completely out of the water, A Feast for Crows fell short. It is an excellent book and maintains Martin's reputation for strong fantasy drama played out amongst political schemers, warriors, and outlaws. It just wasn't up to par with its predecessors. Storm is probably one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read, so I was expecting this fourth book in the series to be just as spectacular if not - dare I have hoped?! - even better. It's sad to call it a let-down since it really is well-written and full of everything that makes Martin's novels as epic as they are. It suffered from the painful re-writing that Martin felt was needed, though. I missed the characters who were cut out and couldn't really take as much of an interest in the new POV characters this time around. And Sansa and Arya, who have been two of the most vital main characters until now, were given only a few opportunities to give us an idea of what is happening to them and how they feel about it all. (I'll admit to being a die-hard SanSan fan by this point, so I was heartbroken to read so little of Sansa herself, knowing that she will not have a POV in A Dance with Dragons) I greatly approved of the deeper exploration of Brienne and Jaime's personalities that we get in this book, as well as the inclusion of Cersei's perspective. The first is a character who I bleed and cry for in a similar way to Tyrion, and it is fascinating to see how the greatest swordsman in Westeros deals with his maiming. As for the golden queen we all love to loathe, she provides us with an insider's look at a woman struggling to assert herself in a male-dominated society - something which would normally appeal to modern readers if the character wasn't such a ... well ... witch with a CAPITAL B. I know that some readers find the repetition of certain phrases annoying, but I find it intriguing. Martin is big into providing clues about his characters in place of having them explain themselves at times. He's used objects in the past such as the Hound's bloodied white cloak which Sansa wraps herself in, or symbolic names such as The Viper to give us a hint about Oberyn's fighting style. These repetitive phrases are, I believe, being used in the same way. Brienne is searching for Sansa and the description provided by Catelyn is all she has to go by. It comes not only to symbolize her quest, but also her need to prove herself, repay a debt, and restore the honor of the Kingslayer. Likewise, the mantra of the Imp's parting shot regarding Cersei's faithlessness comes to dominate Jaime's thinking. He learns to mistrust her and the bond they have shared all of their lives - the bond which defined his very existence. As with the previous books we see the evolution of certain key characters, following their trials and tragedies as they progress through the world and the story. No, it wasn't as good as the previous three books, but A Feast for Crows is still an example of the fantasy genre at its best. Bravo!
I was really disappointed. All of the sub plots and main characters are ignored, maimed or killed. After reading thousands of pages in four books, i refuse to spend another minute on this series. A good author could have written this in three books and satisfied readers instead of satisfying his publisher and bank account.
This was not so much a story but a lengthy and boring history. This book is merely background for what will come next. I grow tired of a million pointless tales which distract from the main plot and merely confuses readers. After reading 3200 pages at this point i can hardly remember why i started this series in the first place. My advice: skip this book entirely. Reading this series has been like taking a road trip from LA to San Diego and then deciding to make it a scenic route by looping through Kansas. Well off course and boring as dirt.
Forget all the good characters from the first 3 books...they're not here. Get ready for lots of new characters and subplots. Slow, slow, slow, and very little action. And, the reviews on the next book say it's even worse. I think the author has decided to spend his retirement years by dragging this series out until he dies and leave it to his heirs to build their retirement with this neverending story about a cast of millions. He'll not get anymore of my time and money, and I wish I could get a refund on this waste of time.
I still really enjoy this series but this book was a little slower than others and also it was frustrating not having certain characters pov in this book and having to wait until the next
A Feast for Crows is a very enigmatic and promising title for the fourth book in the Song of Fire and Ice series wrote by Mr. George R. R. Martin. While it is the shortest of the series as of yet, it was ended with a word from the author that it was not done intentionally. His grand goal of including all the many characters the readers have grown to love about was not necessarily shortened due to lack of care, only spread out between two novels to give the proper attention to them. The novel is set in a landscape reminiscent of medieval Europe and Britain. Where Royalty sit safely in their castles and keeps. Where Knights in shiny armor are leading the charges mounted on spirited horses and the foot soldiers and archers are formed up in ranks. As this novel comes in, the warfare has started to change. Due to the number of knights and properly trained soldiers dying on the battlefield, or later from their wounds, the lords are forced to start relying on the farmers to man their walls instead of the burnt fields. As more of the leaders are killed or left in the field unsupported by their dead or no caring lords, we see a turn to a guerilla style warfare and the a rise in the number of outlaws who are doing anything they can to survive. While one group of characters are colloquially known as ‘Crows’ due to their clothing and sometimes dishonorable beginnings, the reader is drawn to believe that they will have a large share of the novels pages, that they will be able to start reclaiming their honorable image for defending the country from then native peoples. Another would think the title would be for the winged variety of crows who are multiplying and feasting on the corpses left behind from the warring between the various factions as they try to enforce their claim for rule of the lands. Due to the change in warfare, fewer corpses are being shown the proper courtesies of a burial and are left scattered around the countryside to feed the wild animals. A shrewder look would actually show that the ‘Crows’ are the noble lords and ladies, kings and queens, and those trying to rise in rank who are feasting on the lands, titles and positions left open due to the warring. While the novel fills in the storyline and backgrounds of some of the newer and lesser characters that have been introduced in the previous novels, it leaves the reader hungry to not just hear about the main characters from the first novels, but have now added other favorites to their list of interest as the new characters have jockeyed for a position in their interest. While some readers are worried that the author is losing interest in the complex world he has created over the years, I for one am interested in how the rest of the series plays out.
I loved how this book was told only by a specific view point by characters that we had not heard from before. Not much more to say, but you will not be dissappointed. Always emotionally gripping, and creative. Can wait till July 12th for the 3th installment!
Honestly I dont really know what to say anymore besides just repeating the fact that I love this series!! This book continues the story but sticks mainly to the areas and happenings in Kings Landing. If you like the previous three you definitely wont be disappointed.
Very slow not as engaging as the other books in the series took awhile to finish concepts and plot twists were unexpected but overall eh
I started late on this series, they were all out by the time i read the first bok... But, I have to say, this book took me more than a few months to read. The other 3 I read all one after the other in one month..this one dragged on. At times it felt like a filler..filling up the space until...whenever.. Nonetheless I will read the next book.