A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)

The aftermath of the war of the 5 kings leaves Westeros in decay and despair, with Cersei the scheming queen and her twin brother the Kingslayer watching all they dreamed of shatter into pieces.

So I totally boycotted the audiobook for A Feast for Crows because the good folks at Random House didn’t think we’d care that they couldn’t make it work with Roy Dotrice. I couldn’t stand to listen to anyone else voice Jaime’s distinctive Lannister lilt, or Samwell Tarly and Brienne of Tarth’s harsh consonants. Good thing Tyrion the Imp is lost somewhere in the Free Cities or beyond because imagining some other actor try to do justice to his acid turns of phrase just gets me mad.

I remember we all felt disappointed when this first came out, mainly because it didn’t have any of the stars. No Jon Snow, no Daenarys Targaryen, no Tyrion Lannister. Instead we were disappointed to find POV chapters from Brienne, the Maid of Tarth, a hideous horse-faced woman who wants to be a knight, and Samwell Tarly, the fat and craven man of the Night’s Watch who cowers and whines. Arya and Sansa appear but don’t do much except move from place to place. And then there were the new POV chapters with random characters who haven’t played into things until now, whose stories felt like filler, like so many pieces being shuffled into place for the real story.

But having reread (via Audible and the incomparable Roy Dotrice) the first 3 books, knowing that the 4th was going to go in a different direction, I paid attention to Brienne and Samwell and the Greyjoys and the Martells. And so in rereading this book 4 I discovered that there was way more story there than I’d given it credit for. I noticed for the first time the depth of the connection between Brienne and Jaime Lannister, and my curiosity about the differentness of the Greyjoys was whetted. And a lot of the Beric Dondarrion stuff went over my head the first time so all of that was much more satisfying this time around.

Perhaps having a better map in my mind of the characters helped. Listening to the audiobook forced me to pay attention to the character names in way that is hard to do when you’re engrossed in a story. Everything stuck more completely. I tracked the Freys and Lord Roose Bolton, could tell the Kettleblacks apart, and fully appreciated the meaning of valar morghulis and valar dohaeris. I’m beyond ready for the next book.

And hey! George RR Martin announced that A Dance With Dragons will definitely be on the shelves in July! As soon as they post the Kindle format I’m pre-ordering it so I can have it same day.

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