And it isn’t as if I hated Feast, because I didn’t. There’s a lot that I loved about it, actually. For instance, the further development of those characters we both adore and despise. Martin has always done this exceptionally well. With individuals such as Cersei, Jaime and Brienne (especially Cersei,) I gained much understanding into the events which helped mold them into who they are today. While I’ll probably never like the Queen Regent, I undoubtedly understand why she’s so vile and, to a limited extent, misunderstood. Her chapters were some of my favorite, and made for very fun reading.
I also greatly admire the path Jaime’s life has taken. But like pretty anything, there are drawbacks to that, as well. In a way, it limits the direction the overall story could have taken, seeing as how these are very much character-driven books.
The chapters set in Dorne and the Iron Islands were some of my favorites, too. They fascinated me, really. However,they are few and far between. Surprisingly, I desperately longed for much more of them, and less of those set in King’s Landing. The back-to-back Jaime, Cersei POV’s eventually become somewhat tedious.
By embracing the changes presented therein, I surprisingly didn’t miss my five most beloved characters: Tyrion, Dany, Bran, Jon Snow and Ghost. Not too much, anyway.
Most damning of all, I think, was the lack of shown details pertaining to the war, as opposed to “telling” what’s taken place. I don’t agree that this installment is stagnant, making virtually zero progress. Contrarily, GRRM does a decent job of describing the aftermath of this brutal, brutal war, and the utter chaos of the realm. Simply put, it’s a purely anarchic, no-holds-barred world.
My heart breaks just thinking about how low it’s devolved… and it can only get worse before it gets better..
In no way do I regret this re-read, either, for it contains my favorite GRRM quote so far:
“Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes..”
It’s unbelievably beautiful, breath taking and sad, conveyed in incredibly simplistic terms, IMO. Very telling, too.
Towards the end, I was very pleased (and somewhat shocked) by how it all came together, and particularly the direction it took. When you’re anticipating an epic battle, only to see the aftermath through a certain character’s eyes, it was pretty disappointing. Almost anticlimatic, in fact.
Last but not least, there were a lot of unanswered questions, like who is Pate, really? What roll will he play later on? What was the significance of the mysterious key?? Plus many more.. There’s also quite a bit of unconfirmed events..
Having said this, I think it’s important to recognize that this is only half of the story. In order to do it the justice it deserves, Martin had to divide it into two books, simply because it’s way too long and complicated. Essentially, he’s made the series all-encompassing, which I greatly commend him for.. To do it well, I think it was only inevitable.
Once again, my intent was never to criticize or bash the novel in any way whatsoever. I’m merely stating my personal, honest opinions. In all earnestness, it probably pains me more to admit such disappointment than for others to glimpse it.