A Hundred Thousand Words Later…
I just finished A Feast For Crows last night. Now I’m considering whether to drop the extra money on A Dance With Dragons, but of course I know I’m going to. Still, I am taking a bit of time to consider it. Here’s why.
(Spoilers below the jump. If you don’t want the spoilers, don’t jump, don’t read the comments. I’ve built in an extra layer of security — white font, which you can read by selecting the whited-out text — to give you an extra layer of protection from yourself. If you’ve read it already, then I’m curious about your comments and thoughts.)
First of all, didn’t the whole book feel like the third season of The Sopranos? A lot of focus on secondary or even tertiary characters, a seeming lack of narrative propulsion on the story arc. Really, I didn’t care all that much about Samwell or Arianne. Or the static politics of the Vale (*yawn*). Even Littlefinger was boring. And I don’t care at all about Victarion Greyjoy. Asha Greyjoy, I’d be interested in, but in this book, Asha was a very minor character.
This was redeemed by my second big observation. By the end of the book, I find myself liking Jaime Lannister. He’s got steel and a willingness to use it — but he’s also committed to re-inventing himself as a good man, and his great challenge is balancing between the competing moral imperatives of ending a war, building an effective and legitimate government, and making good (or at least defensible) personal moral choices. What more could you ask of him?
Third, having Catelyn Stark come back as a vigilante zombie outlaw queen was all too predictable. Who didn’t see that coming the first time “that woman Stoneheart” got mentioned?
Fourth, and related to point three: Boo! for killing off Brienne. Never mind that she was a lousy detective, spending nearly the entire novel pursuing a blind lead, she was about the only knight of any real level of nobility. Unlike Ned Stark (whose foolishness we are apparently no longer allowed to comment on) her death is pathetic rather than tragic; she was not undone by a character flaw but rather because she took a realistic look at the world around her and tried to make the best alliances she could to fulfill her oaths.
Fifth, what does the Blackfish intend to do out on his own? After Riverrun falls into the hands of the Freys, I’d expect most of the Tully bannermen to slink back to their homes and try to reach terms with the Iron Throne. Which, given point six below, it seems they will be able to do nicely.
Sixth, is King’s Landing about to descend into a theocratic dictatorship with no strong hand at the helm? That would make an interesting point to explore as the plot moves forward.
Seventh, I was just plain not buying Cersei fooling around with another woman as a means of self-actualizing prior episodes of marital rape. I could buy into the idea that she’d fall in love with one of her ladies-in-waiting, but it would be easier for me to understand her doing it because she was lonely — but that wasn’t how it was presented.
Eighth, why in the Stranger’s name is Qyburn still at his own liberty?
Ninth, why can’t I make myself care about the politics of the Iron Islanders? Why can’t I make myself believe that they have a reasonable shot at capturing the Iron Throne?
Tenth and finally, I didn’t see Arya’s blinding coming. That may tend to make her an even more interesting character in future books.
I was hoping for more. And I guess I still am, which is why I’m likely to keep on moving on with book five despite being somewhat disappointed right now.