In the previous installment of the Song of Ice and Fire epic, set in a war-torn medieval land called Westeros, the death of an evil king sparked The War of the Five Kings in the Seven Kingdoms. In this fourth volume, the beautiful but scheming child-queen Cersei, the dead king’s widow, rules the House of Lannister, but she seems to be losing her mind as competitors vie for her position. With entire kingdoms in question, Brienne of Tarth searches for two contenders for the crown: 11-year-old Arya, training with the Faceless Men of Braavos, and her sister. No one is safe as the struggles for power over the Iron Throne continue.
Spectra. 784 pages. $28. ISBN: 0553801503
Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel
"If one is looking for a succinct summation of Martin’s medieval fantasy series, imagine a mix of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Braveheart, and the sort of intricate character development found in a TV series like Lost. … Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is that rare, once-in-a-generation work of fiction that manages to entertain readers while elevating an entire genre to fine literature." Dorman T. Shindler
"This is as good a time as any to proclaim [Martin] the American Tolkien. … What really distinguishes Martin, and what marks him as a major force for evolution in fantasy, is his refusal to embrace a vision of the world as a Manichaean struggle between Good and Evil." Lev Grossman
"It’s not the magic that engrosses Martin’s audience, though, so much as the figures with which he peoples his vast stage. … A test subject unfamiliar with the series’ previous installments concluded after reading a few pages of Feast of Crows that he’d want to finish this latest novel—with or without having the first three under his belt." Nisi Shawl
"The plots and subplots are too tangled to try and unravel here; the intrigue is thick, the action brutal and the sex and violence worthy of at least an ‘R’ rating. This is a series for adults, not children, and readers expecting clean-cut Harry Potter will find themselves less than comfortable in Martin’s world." Steve Perry
Martin’s manuscript for Feast of Crows was so long that his publisher relegated half the chapters to a fifth book due out in 2008, A Dance with Dragons. With only half the storylines and characters present from A Storm of Swords (2000), Feast of Crows should seem thin—but it’s so rich with characters, plot twists, and settings that a few critics thought the novel one of the best in the fantasy genre. Martin renders his characters—would-be queens, outlaws, priests, squires, ladies, and fools—with unusual depth and moral complexity, while placing their personal dramas within the epic sweep of lands lost and won. Though the book stands alone, readers will reap greater rewards by starting with the first of the series, A Game of Thrones.