Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for A FEAST FOR CROWS & RUIN AND RISING

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for A FEAST FOR CROWS & RUIN AND RISINGA Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
Also by this author: A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)
three-half-stars
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, #4
Published by Bantam Books on October 17, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 1061
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.

After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.

Review:

I always feel like I have accomplished something monumental every time I finish one of George R.R. Martin’s books and A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is no exception.  Every book in the series is challenging and a major time investment because of the intricate plots, detailed worldbuilding, and all of the machinations of those who are jockeying for position to seize control of the Iron Throne.  These are not light reads by any stretch of the imagination.

What makes A Feast for Crows so much more of a challenging read, however, is that several of the major players from the first three books are suddenly missing and their absence, at least for me anyway, poses a huge distraction. With each chapter that I finished, I kept turning the page expecting to see a chapter from Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen.  I found their absence incredibly frustrating, especially since they are three of my favorite characters.  It was also frustrating because not only was I not getting three of my favorites, but now all of the sudden, four books into the series, I’m suddenly getting a whole slew of new narrators. While these new players are no doubt important to the overall series plot, they just weren’t who I wanted to read about, especially after the events of the third book.

A Feast for Crows also has a slightly different feel from the others in that there was a lot less action (i.e. favorite characters dying) and a lot more character development.  Brienne of Tarth’s chapters were probably my favorite because I’m just such a huge fan of her absolute determination to keep her oath to Catelyn Stark, even as her journey continues to take more and more dangerous turns and trying to fulfill that oath may end up costing Brienne her own life.  After Brienne, I’d have to say that Cersei Lannister’s chapters are a close second favorite. Even though she probably has the most uphill battle of all of those vying for the Iron Throne, she will stop at absolutely nothing to try to take it. Cersei possesses this unique combination where she comes across as utterly ruthless yet somehow still a bit vulnerable.  I love to hate her, but at the same time, I find myself cheering her on even as I ultimately want her to fail. Other favorites who appear in this book are Jaime Lannister, whose journey toward redemption continues, as well as the Stark sisters, Arya and Sansa, who each appear to be on journeys where they must give up their own identities, at least temporarily, in order to survive.

Even though A Feast for Crows is not my favorite book in the series, it’s still overall a solid read.  The brilliant character arcs of each of the characters I mentioned really does help to offset the frustration that the absence of Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys creates.  They better be in the next book though, and the dragons too! 3.5 STARS

 

 

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for A FEAST FOR CROWS & RUIN AND RISINGRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Also by this author: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
four-stars
Series: Shadow and Bone, #3
Published by Indigo on June 19, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 350
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Review:

I’m so excited to be able to say that, with my reading of Ruin and Rising, I have finally finished Leigh Bardugo’s  Grisha Trilogy!  The one thing I hate about trying to review series books is that it’s so hard to talk about the final book in a series without spoiling the entire rest of the series.  Because I really don’t want to spoil anything for those who have yet to visit the Grishaverse, I’m going to be both vague and brief in my remarks.

First and foremost, let me say that overall I found Ruin and Rising to be a very satisfying ending to the Grisha trilogy. Did I get everything I wanted?  No, not entirely, but I did get enough that I was content when I reached the last page and closed the book.  I think much of my contentment has to do with the fact that I was solely invested in Alina finding that third amplifier and defeating the Darkling to save Ravka.  I was not at all invested in any of the three romantic possibilities that presented themselves to her.  Since I usually loathe love triangles in any form, I actually consider it quite a testament to Bardugo’s storytelling abilities that I was able to fully enjoy the overall storyline without getting super annoyed by Alina’s attraction to Mal, the Darkling, and to Nikolai.  Normally something that like would have me wanting to fling the book across the room, lol.

I do have to admit that my love of the Darkling was completely obliterated in this final book.  He crossed enough lines this time around that there was just no redeeming himself in my mind.  The biggest draw for me in this third book, instead, was actually watching Alina, forever the underdog whether she’s a saint or not, regroup and come up with a new plan to take down the Darkling.  I loved watching her move so naturally into that leadership role, just as I also loved watching Alina and her team in their pursuit of that third amplifier, which was so desperately needed if she was going to have a chance of overpowering the Darkling.  And don’t even get me started on the huge plot twist involving the third amplifier. That totally blew my mind!

While I do wish that a few characters had gotten better endings (I’m looking at you, poor Nikolai), overall, I thought everything about the ending was quite fitting and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the series to anyone who enjoys reading fantasies and is looking for a quick and addictive read. 4 STARS

three-half-stars

About George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin’s first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: “The Hero,” sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin’s present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers’ Guild of America, West.

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her web site, and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.

22 replies
  1. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    I have stropped pretending I’m ever going to read GRRM 🙂 But I still plan to get to Leigh Bardugo — everything she writes gets such rave reviews!

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Lol, GRRM is definitely a major time investment. The audiobooks have helped me alot, making it so that I can squeeze in a few extra chapters here and there.

      Reply
  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    Tyrion is definitely my favorite character in the series, so I did miss him in this installment. However, each time I reread A Feast for Crows, I like it more and more. It is a lot of keep track of, though, and the continual addition of new characters isn’t my favorite.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yep, I think if I re-read this at some point, I’d find it a better read since I wouldn’t be spending so much time waiting for Tyrion, Dani, and Jon to appear.

      Reply
  3. Aj @ Read All The Things!
    Aj @ Read All The Things! says:

    Great reviews! I’m taking a break from George RR Martin’s books because I have to catch up on my Goodreads challenge. The ASoIaF books take me about a month each to read. I stopped after the third book because most of my favorite characters are missing from A Feast For Crows. Like you, I’d find that distracting. I’d want to know what my favorites are up to!

    Reply
  4. Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!
    Genni @ Ready, Set, Read! says:

    I haven’t started either of these series! Honestly, it will be a long time before I start to read A Song of Ice and Fire. The series is so intimidating, and I’m not the biggest fan of the TV show. I know that the book and show differ greatly, but I don’t have a great interest in the series. As for the Grishaverse, I’ll eventually get there! I’ve heard many people say that they didn’t care too much for the romantic plot or that it was disappointing. Once I finally start the series, I’ll keep it in mind. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Greg
    Greg says:

    Your thoughts about the missing POV’s are spot on, and I think it was a mistake for Martin and his editors to go that route. I know it’s water under the bridge, and I remember reading his rationale for it at the time, but no… it doesn’t really work. You’ll be happy to know though that they are back in the next one, and the dragons too! I think A Dance with Dragons is my favorite of the series, so you’re in for a treat, although not everyone agrees. It does continue the trend of introing new POV’s, but not quite as many, and they are pretty interesting. And stuff starts to really hit the fan. 🙂

    I really liked Brienne’s chapters too. She’s clearly the true knight that most of the other “knights” of Westerios are not. I loved the part where she realized she had no chance, but no choice- I loved her at that moment.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I actually wish he had given his rationale early on in the book rather than in the last couple of pages. Then at least I wouldn’t have spent hundreds of pages wondering why there was no Jon, Dani, or Tyrion. If I ever re-read it, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more knowing not to waste my time looking for them, lol.

      Brienne really is such a fantastic character. One of my favorites, in the books and in the TV show. Gwendolyn Christie just plays her so well.

      Reply
  6. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    It’s frustrating for me too when fave characters disappear for a book in a series, and it’s also frustrating sometimes to get new POVs later in a series. But that sounds good that you got some character development, and I’m glad you still enjoyed it.

    I like love triangles, but I usually draw the line at larger shapes lol. I’ve never really been interested in the Grisha Trilogy, but idk if I’ve actually read any reviews? Your review has me curious now though!

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Haha, yeah, I remember reading and cringing the first time I came across a ‘love square’. The Grisha Trilogy is really good, although I will definitely say that I thought the Six of Crows duology was even better.

      Reply
  7. imyril
    imyril says:

    I found Feast so frustrating – the good bits were very good, and then you had all the Ironborn chapters. I wanted to be interested, I really did – but I skipped them on a reread and enjoyed the book so much more 😉

    Reply
  8. sjhigbee
    sjhigbee says:

    No… not going there. I’ve tried A Song of Ice and Fire a couple of times, but I just HATE it when a much-loved character dies… That said, I am a fan of his writing and Fevre Dream is one of my alltime favourite novellas. Thank you for these mini review – I really enjoy reading them.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, that is a series where you definitely don’t want to get attached to any of the characters. GRRM is not afraid to kill them all off no matter how beloved they are, haha.

      Reply
  9. Di @ Book Reviews by Di
    Di @ Book Reviews by Di says:

    Ha ha. I totally agree that finishing a book in ASOIAF is a monumental occasion! I can’t really remember all the things about these books (hence the need I feel to reread and yet I’m too scared because I want to do this before the next book is published and… when will that be!?!?!) I found Cersei’s POV chapters to be a bit psychopathic for my tastes! Ha ha. But I do like seeing inside her head.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the Grishaverse books! Whooop!!! And yes, I totally get it about the love… whatever that was. Bardugo must be amazing to have pulled that one off. As for Nikolai… I cannot WAIT for King of Scars!!!!

    Awesome reviews!

    Reply

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