February 17 2014

A Feast For Crows — Prologue, Chapters 1,2,3,4

Rather than waiting until the end of the book and posting a giant mega-post like I’ve done for A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords I’m going to post my comments about the chapters in a more frequent fashion.
For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, I have been reading the various Game of Thrones novels for the first time and posting my thoughts over in the tor.com A Read of Ice and Fire.
This has been quite the interesting experience as it is a very odd way to read a book (or even odder a set of books). Since Google is awash with Game of Thrones spoilers, this limits my ease of look-up of details from earlier books. Funny how quickly the internet has become an external reference point/expanded memory. On the other hand, I have eBook editions and that helps balance things out as it is wildly easier to search them than paper monsters.
Since I am reading these for the first time, don’t post any comments about events later in the series, but also be warned that each chapters posts will contain all the details I find in the chapter or happen to think of as I am reading. I may even put in some extra material that I think I have figured out that I either don’t put in the tor read or white out there to not spoil others reads who may not have thought of such things.

A Feast of Crows–Prologue
Prologue: Amused at “Dragons” being the first word of the Crows book.
This was interesting in that it gives us a slice of life in a day of maester apprentices. They have to pass tests of knowledge to get their links and otherwise drink a lot. Not that different from college life everywhere.
Marwyn the Mage seems like someone we’ll be hearing more about. Marwyn has an interesting connotation with Merlin for me.
We also see that news of Dany is leaking back into Westros in bits and pieces.
The Alchemist appears and shows himself to Pate. The description:

He was just a man, and his face was just a face. A young man’s face, ordinary, with full cheeks and the shadow of a beard. A scar showed faintly on his right cheek. He had a hooked nose, and a mat of dense black hair that curled tightly around his ears. It was not a face Pate recognized. “I do not know you.”

is obviously important and does niggle at me a bit. A quick search in the eBooks gives me (see, eBooks help):

From Chapter 47 of A Clash of Kings:

“I do. My time is done.” Jaqen passed a hand down his face from forehead to chin, and where it went he changed. His cheeks grew fuller, his eyes closer; his nose hooked, a scar appeared on his right cheek where no scar had been before. And when he shook his head, his long straight hair, half red and half white, dissolved away to reveal a cap of tight black curls.

That certainly sounds similar and very interesting. It would seem like things are going to go down in the Citadel. In fact, it would seem that someone(s) going to die.

And, then Pate meets his expected end after giving up the stolen key. That seemed like an obvious end for his story.

A Feast of Crows–Chapter 1 & Chapter 2

Chapter 1–The Prophet:Interesting title. I think this will be the first POV from a character with a title rather than a name. The Prophet is Aeron Damphair (Greyjoy we learn) and is a priest of the Drowned God. He has just finished drowning Emmond who didn’t seem to particularly want to be drowned. Aeron had four of his “drowned men” help him out. Are the drowned men people like Emmond who are drowned and then brought back so now we also have water zombies or is it just a title? (Rhetorical) We’ll have to see.
Oh, they drown them and then do CPR to “bring them back”–a miracle! Well, that’s quite the X-games form of a baptism. And, we see the lords don’t want to participate and had their drowning in the form of a quick dunk.
He is informed that Balon Greyjoy the king (and his brother) is dead. We knew that already so either it has taken a while to get to Aeron or this is a bit back in the timeline.
Aeron isn’t thrilled to learn that Euron has named himself king as Euron is not “godly.” I’m not real clear yet on what godly means for the iron-born. I suspect it is a tad different from what we might think. Maybe it is just prideful although they all seem pretty full of themselves.

Damphair seems full of himself in that he fully believes that he is the prophet and voice of god and etc. And he may very well be here although gods seem to speak in mysterious voices in Westros. Fancy that.

I was thinking he was going to reveal that the god had chosen him, but he veered into what should be an interesting direction of a kingsmoot. I will predict many shenanigans will ensue as all parties will meet there and have tea and such. Or be all shouty and stabby.

Chapter 2–The Captain of Guards:Oh, so this title approach is a thing now and not just a one-off. I wonder what happens when he gets back to someone we know and love. Will Arya’s chapter be “The Girl With the Coin and Stabby Tendencies?” Areo Hotah is his name. It’s not an easy name to get a grip on.
Obara Sand–woman with a coiled whip. Ah, she must be the Viper’s daughter and the Prince would be the Viper’s brother I would guess.
These Sand Snake Dornes are a fairly bloodthirsty lot. Burn the city, assassinate a bunch and kill them as they are lured by setting up Myrcella. I like them but they are quite frightening. Actually, they remind me of my 7 year old grand-niece. Now I have a framework.
The general tone of these two chapters was a tad info dumpy and the voice seemed a tad off. Areo Hotah reminds me a bit of Dunk in that he seems quite loyal and straightforward.
Should be interesting when they hear that Tywin is dead.

A Feast of Crows–Chapter 3 & Chapter 4

Chapter 3 – Cersei:Well, that is interesting. I’m pretty sure this will be the first point of view from Cersei. Will GRRM now make us like her also or will we find out that she is just as messed up as we though and more? Well, only one way to find out, bat friends, on to the story.

OK, a dream of being on the throne and everyone is like mice below her. We’re starting off in the messed up side of things, but then it is just a dream. Ah, she seems to harbor some fear and resentment towards Tyrion–who’d ‘a thunk it?
This takes place right after Tyrion has offed Tywin–that very night, so we are back in the timeline at the end of ASoS. Since we are probably going back to the events in the Moot, that could get a bit odd time lines wise.

I didn’t know Valonqar and so I did a quick Google and saw it’s a ASoIaF word–close that page. So, speculation: Cersei is using it to refer to Tyrion and it starts with Val like valar morghulis so maybe something like “man who has something to do with me whom I don’t like”.

She is quite concerned with class re: Ser Loras. So far her thoughts are pretty much what we would expect from her actions in the rest of the story. She’s a hot mess. She seems to have quite a bit of underlying issues. Very concerned about being disregarded. Now, this isn’t entirely unwarranted but seems a piece of the puzzle. Hmm:

It is not fitting for Tywin Lannister to die alone. Such a man deserves a retinue to attend his needs in hell.

I don’t think we have heard a lot about afterlife beliefs so far. That seems like a rather Greek version where everyone goes to Hades.
Ooh:

My lord father had no use for whores, she thought. After our mother died he never touched a woman.

I think maybe Cersei had a blind spot here. And with “One man alone could not have killed her father.” it becomes very apparent that she has rather massive daddy issues.

With the ending, it looks as if her dislike of Tyrion is blooming into full-blown paranoia. So, she is set to become the out of touch with reality, cruel beyond reason, Queen Regent. That does not probably bode well for the Lannister rule. Also, so far not really liking Cersei in spite of seeing her point of view. Sometimes people are just that nasty. (We’ll see if that holds out.)

Chapter 4 – Brienne: I don’t think we’ve had a point of view from Brienne yet either although it kind of feels like we have. Maybe just because I rather like her. That would be an interesting methodology if GRRM would alternate Cersei and Brienne chapter. Here’s someone to get mad at, here’s someone to like.I recall that she had been sent off on a quest of some sort although I can’t recall just what it was at the moment. Let’s see what Brienne is up to:

Ah, that’s right. She has the quest of finding Sansa. Cool. Going from village to village and asking everyone if that had seen a pretty blond girl is maybe not the most efficient way to do things (especially since we know Sansa went by boat), but Brienne is demonstrating the classic detective methodology of knocking on doors and taking down names.

I wonder if that skinny boy on the piebald horse could have been Arya? I will guess that it was.

Heh,

She had to have gone elsewhere . . . but elsewhere is a big place.

and

As easy to find one leaf in the wind as one girl lost in Westeros.

I’m liking Brienne’s point of view–just as I expected. She has a good solid honesty about her. Quite the palate cleanser after Cersei’s disturbed thoughts.

The hedge knights seem well-intentioned although the story has conditioned me to expect them to turn into ravening honey badgers at any moment. Everyone is treating her about like I would expect a bunch of semi-ignorant guys to treat someone who doesn’t fit their preconceived notions. At least no one has tried to kill/rob her yet. So yay? I guess that is a clear win in ASoIaF.
So Varys has offered a reward for Sansa as well as everyone else. Interesting that he doesn’t know where she is at all.

Yes, Brienne is an real hero on a quest with a magic sword to rescue a damsel in distress. That is all kinds of coolness.

We are seeing, in these two chapters, the real start of two character arcs. Both have some history with us, but both are about to undertake literary journeys.
Cersei is about to get all the power she has wanted. She isn’t going to realize this and I predict that she isn’t going to do well with it either in practice our as a person. I don’t see her arc leading anywhere other than her doom. With luck, she won’t drag all of King’s Landing down with her.

Brienne, on the other hand, seems to be going off on a classic hero’s journey. She has a trusty stead, a magic sword, an assigned quest for a damsel in distress and even an unrequited (unrecognized even) love (Jaime) back at the start of the journey to whom she has made a promise and, even a promise to the (not so) dead. My suspicion is that she is going to have hardship and have to endure the scorn of others (we have seen the scorn so far) but that she is going to be successful. Now, exactly what success means is tempered by the very nature of the hero’s journey. Success for the quest does not necessarily mean a physically good ending for the hero. GRRM has shown his willingness to play with tropes and has somewhat set us up to expect her to die/fail in some fashion.
Death may, indeed, await her at the end, but if does die, it will be in some fashion that is glorious (to her, I’d prefer her not to die at all) as she returns/frees Sansa against all of the odds against her. That’s a possibility. Another is that she wins through and finds Sansa, but discovers she doesn’t need saving. Or, she saves her and returns her to Jaime only to find Jaime (as a result of or along with Cersei) dead. Lot’s of possible “success” scenarios here. Maybe she could even succeed and get a happy ending. That’s a trope we haven’t actually seen Martin play yet.
In any case, her current actions of wandering around and asking about Sansa have already yielded her some information. She now knows that others are looking and that there is at least one reward–so she already has opposition. Littlefinger was effective enough in his capture-rescue? of Sansa that there are very few clues for Brienne to find and so actually finding Sansa is going to be a hard thing to do. That is fine and she is actually going about it in a nice methodical (and realistic) way. As she expends boot leather and horse shoe iron in her search, I would guess she will start to get some puzzle pieces. Conversely, she may become very frustrated and find herself not going anywhere, questioning the nature of existence and all that. But, when things start to look bleak, she may happen across a nice prophecy or find someone else has found Sansa and give her the place to enact her rescue.
In any case, she will probably be overcoming a number of obstacles along the way. I will guess she will also kick some ass of some of the people who would otherwise mock her and in the end prove herself extremely capable, fairly intelligent and probably get some ballads about herself in the future.



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Posted February 17, 2014 by user in category "A Feast For Crows", "Book review

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