George R.R. Martin juggles a lot of characters in this series, in much the same way Robert Jordon did in his Wheel of Time series. The difference was that Martin knew how to pull it off. Jordon would develop a very cool storyline with one of his viewpoint characters, really suck you in, and then you wouldn’t hear from that character for ages. I specifically remember being enthralled with Perrin’s storyline, and then he wasn’t mentioned for 1200 pages. Every time I finished a chapter I was hoping the next would follow him. so it made for a frustrating and disappointing read. By the time we got back to him, a year had passed and he was a completely different person.
Unfortunately, Martin went a bit Jordon with this one. Apparently when he was half finished this book, he realised it was just going to be too long, so rather than cutting it down to a manageable size, he decided to split the book in two. A feast for Crows features all the characters that no one cares about, and A Dance with Dragons will go back in time to the beginning of this book and follow all the fun characters through the same timeline.
I guess I can’t comment until I read A Dance with Dragons. Maybe it worked wonderfully and wasn’t just a case of an author becoming too big to listen to his editor, as it initially appears. And this book isn’t all lame characters. It does follow a couple of my favourites.
I’m just not a big fan of being introduced to a lot of new characters midway through a series, and this book had a lot of that. He’s just such a damn good writer, though, and he managed to hook me anyway. The first 80 pages of this book doesn’t have a single character or setting that we’ve seen before, but I still found it gripping. I am stubborn and have the attention span of a goldfish, so this is high praise indeed.
The book did slog along at times. I enjoy Cersei’s storyline for the most part, but there was just too much of her in this for me. And after watching the HBO series, I can’t get Lena Headey’s constipated face out of my mind while reading her, which really doesn’t help. Less Cersei and more Arya would have worked better for me.
Feast did have some great twists and horrific moments, though, and the long build up does add to the poignancy of those scenes. It is a very good book. I don’t mean to rag on it, this just happened to be the first of the series that I felt was stretched a little thin in parts.
I still recommend the whole series. I’m looking forward to reading A Dance with Dragons, but I’m going to hold off until next year for that.