Kings are dead, kings are crowned, and there is no place for two queens in Westeros.
Blood stains swords and lies tip tongues. Trust is an uncertainty and nowhere is safe.
All men must die, and in the end we are all a feast for crows.
'Feast for Crows' sets itself apart from the previous three novels, in that it continues with the fewest established point of view characters. Those are Jaime, Sam, Arya and Sansa. The most prominent POV characters were Cersei, Jaime and Brienne. It was interesting that the previous most prominent POV character – Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys – were all absent.
That being said, I was far more invested in the story than I expected to be. Martin proved that his deft writing and excellent world building could exceed simply affection for established characters. Jaime and Brienne were two of the most prominent POV characters in the book, and had been one of my favourite aspects in the previous installment, so I always already engrossed in their individual character arcs. Yet I was also was consumed by the politics of King's Landing and the Iron Islands.
Cersei is still not a very sympathetic character. It was, however, interesting to have some insight into her thoughts. She is so plagued and paranoia, and extremely fearful for her children. Even so, she can't help but compare Tommen to his brother, and she is consumed by thoughts of what Joffrey would have done, or what her father would have wanted. Cersei is torn by her grief, but has also gained strength now that she is not so oppressed by men.
One thing I found particularly fascinating in 'A Feast for Crows' was the custom of the Drowned God. Many of the POV characters introduced in the novel were Greyjoys, and their morbid form of baptism is quite a jarring ritual. I like that Martin does not discredit any of the gods in favour of others. The characters may deny other deities, but Martin himself does not move to confirm any as true or false.
'A Feast for Crows' also shows how ignorant Cersei is of the situation in Westeros. She views the people as pests for revolting and calling for provisions, and cannot fathom that the church would not receive her in riches, but instead ops to feed the people. It is an excellent commentary on how removed she is from the realities of those who she is supposed to be ruling.
Jon Snow has become cold and stern from the very brief insight we get of him in this novel. It is unsurprising considering all he has lost but still disheartening. I look forward to seeing more of the change in him in 'A Dance with Dragons,' along with the return of Tyrion and Daenerys.
Listening to 'A Feast for Crows' on audio, some of the established accents were altered, along with the pronunciation of certain character names. This was probably due to the fact that the previous book, 'A Storm of Swords,' was recorded by Dotrice more than 7 years previously. It was disconcerting but understandable. Dotrice's performance was just as dynamic as ever though, and his range is magnificent.
Trigger Warning: Physical and sexual abuse.