Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for A FEAST FOR CROWS & RUIN AND RISING
Also by this author: A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire,
Published by Bantam Books on October 17, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
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.
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
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Also by this author: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1), Crooked Kingdom
Series: Shadow and Bone,
Published by Indigo on June 19, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
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.
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