I recently jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, and this is probably the only time I'll ever say this, but I'm glad that I watched the show before starting the book series. Otherwise, I don't believe that I would have enjoyed reading the series as much as I have. With that being said, all of the books kind of mush together after having read three before, so I won't waste my time by trying to review the previous books, I'll just start with the most currently read which is Book #4: A Feast for Crows.
In the end there is a little excerpt from the author explaining that the book was originally much longer and needed to be cut into two parts (part #2 being book #5: A Dance with Dragons), but the way that GRRM cut the book into two parts was a little different than just slicing the story in half. Instead, he decided to separate the books by having certain characters' story lines in one book and the rest in the next. I understand his way of thinking, but I don't agree with it. It made for a lot of repetition with characters (mostly Brienne and Jaime) because the story reached the characters' plots faster than it would have been if he had just cut the book in half. It also meant that most of the characters that we actually enjoy reading, such as Jon Snow, Daenerys, and Tyrion were not included at all in this installment which lead to almost a boring read. I just started reading ADwD and it also makes this book a little confusing, just because you have to think of the timeline (minor spoiler ahead) for instance, in the beginning of the book, Jon speaks to Samwell Tarly at the Wall, but we know from this book that Sam is no longer at the Wall, so we almost have to go back in time to think of what is happening in the beginning of the last book. Now on to the storyline:
*MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW*
Sansa/Alayne: This poor girl. She's been through hell and all she wants to do is go home, but she's forced to take on a new name in a new place with insufferable 'sweetrobin' and creepy Littlefinger asking her for a kiss pretty much every time he sees her. Sansa feels guilty, because even though she knew her Aunt Lysa was crazy after accusing her of trying to seduce Petyr, she knows that her Aunt was murdered and that makes more blood on her hands (although she didn't know that she had any part in Joffrey's death at the time of the wedding). She still feels responsible for all of these happenings, when in reality it seems like she is the only decent personleft in the realm. While everyone was off plotting and scheming against each other, Sansa was an innocent girl who believed in fairy tales. Now she's starting to take on a new personality to protect her identity. I don't particularly enjoy reading Sansa's chapters, just because there's less action and her mindset can be annoying and pretty ignorant of what's going on around her, but it was refreshing since the story was much different than where the show has been going with her. I was relieved (so far) that there were no scenes with her and Ramsay, but I believe that all of that happening in the show won't be in the book as Petyr told her in the end that he had a plot to marry her to a soon-to-be rich lord once Tyrion was found and killed. I also didn't like reading from Alayne because the Erie creeps me out, as the name would imply. After reading from Tyrion's POV in the sky tower and Catelyn's POV on the way up to the castle, it gave me chills to think about being up that high.
Jaime: As I mentioned above, Jaime's POV got a little repetitive, especially concerning his suspicions of Cersei and her disloyalty. I understand how upsetting it can be thinking that someone is sleeping with other people, but this was mentioned pretty much every day that Jaime was awake, and was the same sentence over and over again. With that being said, I really started to sympathize with Jaime in this book. People think so badly of him, and I get that he killed the king, but we also know why and how it haunts him in everything that he does. We also see how distraught he is about his love for Cersei, his father, and Tyrion while also longing for his talent with a sword now that he's missing his hand. I'm definitely starting to ship Jaime and Brienne more after this book, since they clearly can't stop thinking about each other. I really started to admire Jaime at the end when he decided to throw Cersei's letter unanswered into the fire.
Brienne: Brienne is easily a likeable character, even though we hear her ask the same question about 100 times in this book and have to listen to how ugly she is constantly. She may be the only 'true knight' left, and we get to see her take revenge against the bloody mummers and kill her first men. Although she clearly still mourns for Renly, you can tell that she's starting to become confused about her feelings for Jaime. She thinks about him often and longs to defend his honor by completing her quest in finding and protecting Sansa with her sword, Oathkeeper. Her story was a little confusing with the mummers, but the end where she is judged by Lady Stoneheart and Thoros' crew was really frustrating. You just want to yell at everyone to say 'she's a good person! she means what she says!' but we know it's hard to believe in these troubling times, especially since Catelyn didn't know anything about the troubles that Brienne and Jaime had gone through trying to get back to King's Landing to release her daughters that weren't even there. I'm very curious as to what the word she shouted was while she was about to be hanged, but I'm sure I won't know what it is until the 6th book is released (groan) I can wait, I guess.
Samwell: All I could think while I was reading Sam's perspective was: "Poor Gilly" and "Maester Aemon is the man". Sam is also pretty ignorant to what's going on around him. Gilly isn't weeping nonsensically, you can tell that something is wrong, you just have to use your head, or even ask her instead of trying to shut her up. For someone who grew up and feels more comfortable around women, you don't seem to be as sensitive as you would make yourself seem. I was pretty upset when Aemon died, you can tell that he knows so much and no one ever asked for his full story or what knowledge he might possess that no one else in the world would know, as he's the oldest (then) living person, not to mention a Targaryen and a maester. I was really happy that Sam grew angry enough to fight with the singer, because that guy really pissed me off, but other than that his story was pretty boring as well, often seasick and on a boat to Oldtown pretty much the whole time.
Arya/Salty/No one/Cat: It's difficult to see exactly how Arya's storyline meshes with every else's (other than running into Sam and the singer). After leaving the hound, she's granted passage onto a ship to Braavos and admitted to the house of black and white. I definitely think that Arya needs to be trained, because after everything she's been through, she's still just a little girl and often acts immature. I really wanted to scream at her because I knew she wouldn't be able to give up her identity, since the Starks are a very proud family and her identity is pretty much all
she has left in the world. That, and looking forward to revenge of her
list of names. I was happy to read, then, that she had killed the singer
because it was a very 'Stark' thing to do. She knew that deserters of the watch were sentenced to die, and as her father always carried out his own sentences, she must have felt the need to do the deed herself. I'm curious to see where the books will take her, especially now that she's blind.
Cersei: I'm glad we finally got to read from Cersei's perspective, but I just got so angry with her all the time. I wanted to be like "YEAAAA A WOMAN CAN RULE JUST AS WELL" but she really royally fucks things up for the Iron Throne (see what I did there). She won't listen to anyone and surrounds herself with her 'friends' who are incompetent, and she knows it which makes things even worse. Everyone is shocked that she allows the Faith to have weapons, because it's a really stupid idea and obviously backfires on her. Did she really think it would be that easy to rid herself of Margaery? Plus, Maggy the Frog said a younger and more beautiful queen, which could also more than likely be talking about Dany, but of course Cersei doesn't care about what's going on across the Narrow Sea and even said as much when Qyburn tried to tell her about the dragons. She's also so convinced that Tyrion is such a horrible person, which is understandable seeing as how he killed their father, but she doesn't realize that Jaime had a hand (HAHA) in letting Tyrion escape and how miserable Tywin acted towards his supposed son. *I say supposed because my sister and I believe the theory relating to Tywin's parentage of Joanna & Aerys*. Altogether, I got really tired of hearing from Cersei because not only is she an evil bitch, but she's a dumb one too.
Arianne/Oakheart/Hota/everything going on in Dorne: Arianne is a new character, even new to me since she isn't in the show at all, but there's only a few chapters from her perspective and they switch from Hota to Oakheart to Arianne for the story in Dorne. Hota's pretty badass, and we get a good idea of his protection over and love for Doran. Arys Oakheart was the kingsguardman who was assigned to protect Myrcella and he had apparently fallen for Doran's daughter, the princess Arianne, but he dies in a pretty stupid sacrifice with almost no reason. Princess Arianne seems like a spoiled brat and her motivation for crowning Myrcella appeared to be just to spite her father, who she sees as weak (maybe because he's ill, who would've thought?). But in the end, Doran reveals that everything he did was because of a secret pact in which Arianne was betrothed to Viserys (she really dodged a bullet on that one) and that her brother is going to bring Dany to Dorne or something along those lines to marry her. So basically, everyone wants to get to Dany or the dragons besides the people who should really consider her a threat, which are those in King's Landing.
Damphair/Victarion/Asha/everything going on in the Iron Islands: This was cool to read about because it seems like they'll be doing all of this storyline in the new season of the show. Damphair seems cool, he's a priest to the drowned god and called the kingsmoot because he didn't want his brother Euron Crow's Eye to be new king of the Iron Islands in place of Balon, because he is a godless man. We don't know Victarion very well, but he seems like a good character to me, all about battle and we sympathize with him for his brother putting a baby in his late wife's belly, to which he supposedly had to kill her for. I liked Asha up until now, it doesn't seem like she's being very aggressive but just trying to prove that she's one of the guys, as they are all quick to point out. I get that you're cool, but that doesn't mean that you should rule a kingdom. Euron seems totally creepy but I'm excited to see what they do with the dragon horn and Victarion's journey to make Dany his wife in an act of vengeance against Euron.
Overall, I think the book would've been better if GRRM just cut the storyline in half instead of splitting the characters between two books, but it also makes me very excited to read ADwD to see what's going on with everyone else. A Dance with Dragons is up next, but it'll probably take me at least a week to read since it's just as lengthy as the rest of the books.