**This Post is Dark and Full of Spoilers!**
After finding myself burned out upon finishing ASOS, I’d decided to take a few months off of my reread project. I’m so glad I did because I very much enjoyed jumping back into the drama that has enveloped Westeros when picking up A Feast for Crows. While A Feast for Crows lacked the POVs from fan favorites like Daenerys, Tyrion, and for the most part Jon, we did get many new POVs from characters in Dorne, the Iron Islands, as well as other popular characters such as Cersei. AFFCs definitely spends an increasing amount of time delving into the politics and cleaning up the messes that ASOS provided us with, however we also learn more about Westeros’ complicated history. Enjoy my many, many observations!
As when I reviewed The World of Ice and Fire, which was broken up into four components, Ancient History, Seven Kingdoms, Free Cities, and the world beyond the Free Cities and my in-depth analysis of AGOT, ACOK, and ASOS, I will be formatting the posts in bullets containing the topics that catch my interest during the reread. Of note, I’ve highlighted in RED several of my theories, as well as interesting insights garnered from the novel. Please let me know what you think! I’m really looking forward to hearing your theories, however you’d better be able to back them up with references to the text.
- The prologue of A Feast for Crows has often occupied my thoughts and curiosity since my first read. It harbors our first real glimpse of Oldtown and the Citadel, a city in Westeros that demands interest due to the ancient history associated with the location. Poor Pate, a love struck young man, stuck in a dead end route within the Citadel, decided to take a chance and trust a stranger to change his fortune. What did the key go to that he stole? Who’s crown was also in the box? Who killed Pate? Was it a faceless man, because he claims to be ‘no one’? During Pate’s interactions with his friends we learn that the rumors of Daenerys’ dragons have made their way to Westeros. We also learn about strange obsidian candles in the Citadel that have become lit for the first time since dragons had left the realm. What does it mean that the obsidian candles have started lighting again?
- The opening chapter is a new POV in A Song of Ice and Fire series, the Drowned God Priest, Aeron Greyjoy. It is a look first hand into the life of the ironborn, especially within the context of religion. After Balon’s death, the Iron Islands threatened to fall into civil war over the rightful Kingship, however it is Aeron’s insight that calls the first kingsmoot in over 2000 years.
- Westeros is expanding as we get our first perspective from inside Dorne from Doran Martell’s chief bodyguard and Captain, Areo Hotah. In Areo’s section, Oberyn’s fiery daughters, the Sand Snakes, with which there are 8 total are introduced, alongside the headaches the oldest three are causing for Doran. The first time I had read AFFC I had not realized that this Captain was actually from the Free City of Norvos, and trained by the strange bearded Priests. How fascinating! Here is what I took note of in A World of Ice and Fire within the section about Norvos:
- There are cavern systems near Norvos, specifically one is rumored to be an entrance to the underworld. This cave system is one of Lomas Longstrider’s Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
- A religious faction from Valyria founded Norvos. Their religion is incredibly secretive, with the name of their God revealed only to initiates. They are known as the bearded priests due to their rules forbidding them to shave or cut their hair.
- The Beards Priests still rule Novos, with three bells, Noom, Narrah, and Nyel being responsible for telling all residents when to eat, pray, sleep, work, and even have sex. Lomas Longstrider named these bells one of the Nine man-made Wonders of the World.
- We finally get to see how Cersei’s twisted mind works! The Queen Regent is paranoid of everyone and seemingly growing more so as she learns of her father’s death and her brother’s role in the patricide. We learn of the promises she made and subsequently failed to follow through with regarding Shae betraying Tyrion. In Cersei’s first POV, she mentions for the first time the old woman in the tent who foretold her future. Another fateful interaction was a second meeting with Qyburn.
- Brienne actually meets the future High Sparrow on the road with the beginning throngs of his followers! I can’t believe I missed this the first time reading.
- Samwell mentions the potential for dragon eggs at Castle Black! I just know we are going to find some more of these rare eggs in the next book to be released (Winds of Winter). Will it be at the Wall, Dragonstone or Winterfell? Even Euron claims to have had one but threw it in the ocean in a fit of rage.
- Samwell also mentions that there are no actual written accounts of the Age of Heroes. The stories were recorded 100s of years after the actual events. When talking about the Others he tells Jon Snow that they can be killed by Valyrian steel and he also makes mention of ice spiders! That sounds absolutely terrifying! How hasn’t’ the show or book made use of these terrifying creatures!
- Jon is starting the process of sending his friends away! Sam and Aemon are leaving to go to Oldtown. What was the passage that Aemon leaves for Jon to read?
- Arya made her way to Bravos and our first look at the Free City, through her eyes was world building at its finest. The Titan of Bravos is said to move when the city is in danger. I’m guessing this tale is just a fable but with magic returning to this literary world who knows. Also, visually intriguing is Arya’s description of the temple of the Many Faced God and her interaction with the skeleton man and the worm in his eye. It still shocks me that she unflinchingly kisses the skull and tries to eat the worm. What does it mean that the door is made half of weirwood?
- Cersei’s second chapter was jam packed with new information, for example we saw the excess flaunted by the High Septon and his closest followers. She also had a very cold exchange with her former lover, conspirator, and cousin Lancel, in which we saw how she truly used him for her purposes and did not even feel pity for him regarding the grievous wounds he had received during the Battle of the Blackwater.
- During an exchange with Qyburn, he reveals an ancient gold coin found in the missing Black Cell jailor’s room. What does this coin mean? Who was the jailor? Was it Varys?
- Cersei’s Uncle Kevin proved to be made of tougher stuff than previously believed as he stood up to the Queen Regent and gave her an ultimatum for his help. In this scene we see how truly paranoid Cersei is of everyone and anyone. She suspects everyone of opposing her and her children!
- In Jamie’s first chapter we see him struggling with his overwhelming guilt about releasing Tyrion, with the result being Tywin’s death. In both Cersei’s and Jamie’s chapters, the state of Tywin’s corpse is reiterated many, many times. From the smirk to the stink, Tywin’s legendary figure is eroded away one description at a time.
- In Jamie’s chapter we also see a flashback to his last words with Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar mentions changes he would make one he returned form battle and ones he should have done a long time ago. What are these changes? Were they simply to make sure Jamie wasn’t a ‘hostage’ anymore or perhaps to make more sweeping changes?
- We finally meet Princess of Dorne, Arianne Martell through the eyes of Ser Arys Oakheart. This poor knight is manipulated and seduced by Arianne, as we learn that the Princess has the same agenda as her cousins, the Sand Snakes. Shortly we get another new POV of Arianne where her plot is revealed as her and her closest friends steal Myrcella away with the help of Ser Arys. Unfortunately, the plot implodes as she is betrayed, resulting in Myrcella’s injury and Ser Arys death. Who betrayed her? Also, we are left pondering the location of Quentin. What are he and his father plotting?
- Sam and company endured a very rough journey to Braavos in which Aemon caught a cold. During one of his delirious ramblings he calls Sam, “Egg” as also tells Sam of his original voyage to the Wall in which his brother, Egg and his knight, Duncan accompanied him on the journey. When first reading, AFFC, I didn’t have the appreciate for these two characters I do now after reading A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.
- During Sam’s adventure we see our first glimpse of Skagos in the books. Below you’ll see what I wrote after reading about the aforementioned island when reading about it in A World of Ice and Fire.
When reading about the Skagosi people of the Skago Island I had an overwhelming wish for Martin to introduce these rough, potentially cannibalistic denizens to the world of Westeros. Plus, they ride unicorns! What fantasy series is not complete without unicorns?
- Bronn named his wife, Lollys Stokeworth’s bastard child Tyrion after Cersei refused have the child be named Tywin. I’m sure Tyrion would have been tickled by the honor, especially if he knew how much it irked his sister.
- Jamie takes note of Cersei’s excessive drinking, and makes the interesting comparison to her late husband Robert’s drinking. In the same chapter, Cersei demands that the Hand of the Tower is burned at Tommen’s wedding. During the burning, Jamie notices the joy and passion the act incites in his sister and makes another more startling comparison to similar feelings of ecstasy experienced by the former Mad King when he burned things/people.
- Cersei’s instability continues as she adds to her mounting feelings of paranoia. She fills her inner council with people that refuse to contradict her and wield little power to check her. It is telling that Maester Pycelle is the most outspoken person on the Small Council.
- Cersi actually slept with one of the Kettleblacks! Of course it had been rumored by Tyrion but we actually hear it from her own thoughts/lips.
- The Kingsmoot is one of my favorite events in the series! I realize the bold statement that I’m making but in all honestly, few other sequences in the series packs in the quality and quantity of details/characters as does this ancient ceremony reborn. The moot is takes place on Nagga’s Hill, which is the site of the Grey King’s Hall. You can read about the Grey King in my review of A World of Ice and Fire regarding the Iron Islands here. The Hall was said to have been made of a giant sea dragon named Nagga’s bones. The bones are the only thing that remains of the hall and most importantly, when will more sea dragons make their appearance?
- The first ironborn to make his claim in the moot was Gylbert Farwynd of the Lonely Light. The Farwynds are an interesting bunch because their islands are the furthest most point of Westeros, and eight days sail from the nearest Iron Island. The Farwynds are also rumored to be skin changers, and during Gylbert’s claim, Aeron claims to see his eyes changing color. What is most fascinating during his pitch to the ironmen is that he will lead them west, to a land where every man is a king and the sun always shines. What is west of the Lonely Light? Will we ever find out?
- There were several other individuals vying for the driftwood crown, however the title came down to Asha, Victarion, and Euron. Obviously, the mysterious Euron is byfar the most interesting, especially as he claims to have sailed to Asshai by the Sea. I really hope one of our POVs will eventually take us to this mysterious city. He has ripped out the tongues of all of his crew, and is reported to have priests/sorcerers trapped on his ship. Perhaps they are Red Priests? Regardless, he also has a horn that appears to possess magical properties as it burns the man blowing it, claiming he found it in Valyria and that the magical instrument will bind the will of any dragon that hears it. The man that blew the horn eventually dies from having his lungs ‘cooked’ from the inside. Who will be able to wield this horn? Will this horn actually work? It seems like something Daenerys could use, as she is immune to fire.
- Arya’s chapters are beyond fascinating as she becomes more acclimated in the ways of the Temple of the Many-Faced God. It was absolutely heartbreaking as she was shedding her belongings, especially those of Arya Stark. As she was getting ready to give up Needle, I found myself tearing up and crying at all that the poor girl has lost. I love that she hid away Needle for another day. After her cleansing, we learn the intriguing history of the Faceless Men and their origins in the mines of old Valyria.
- Of note: Sansa’s chapters now bear the name Alayne, which is the nomenclature that Littlefinger gave her as his bastard born child. Like Arya, she has to put on different names and personas to survive.
- Is Marillion actually dead? It was said that he jumped from the sky cells but Sansa makes note that she never actually saw the body.
- Retrospectively, in AFFC we learn more about Westeros’ recent past and inner workings through Cersei’s chapters. For example, we see the economic devastation wrought by the Iron Bank when Cersei refuses to make payments on the loan owed by the Iron Throne. Also, it is revealed that Tywin intended Cersei to be Rhaegar’s wife, but was spurned by the Mad King. It is interesting to see the diversity of the many paths that Martin could have taken the story.
- Cersei continues down her dark path as Taena Merryweather reveals that Sanelle, Cersei’s maid was one of Margaery’s spies. Cersei gives this poor maid to Qyburn for his dungeon experiments. Cersei uses Qyburn to dispose of other individuals that either disappointed or compromised her, for example Lady Falyse Stokeworth. After Bronn had name Lollys child after Tyrion, Cersei had wanted Falyse and her husband to help Bronn find an unfortunate ending, however instead of achieving this event in a subtle manner Falyse’s husband challenged Bronn to a duel. You can imagine how that fight ended. To cover up the Queen’s plan with Falyse, the new widow was sent to Qyburn. Unfortunately, when Cersei regretted her decision and wanted to recall the poor woman, it was too late.
- When Brienne was brought in front of Randyll Tarly we saw first hand how he must have treated Sam for being different than what his Father expected or wanted. He was so hurtful and dismissive that it make my heart hurt for Sam. Speaking of Sam, we finally get updates from his adventure to Oldtown as Maester Aemon begins to fail the further he gets from the Wall. He even makes a comment about “ice preserving” until he finally expires shortly after leaving Braavos. While in Braavos several interesting events take place for example, Dareon abandoning Sam, Aemon and the Black in general. Also, Sam runs into Arya even though he doesn’t realize it. He must have a Stark GPS. Sam also has in his possession from the Wall the broken horn that Jon gave him on the Fist of the First Men. By the time they make it to Oldtown it is one of the few possessions he has left with him. What will become of this horn? What secrets does it hold? They group also learns of Daenerys and her dragons, which causes Aemon to perk up and ramble on about the Prince that was Promised and how he had thought it was Rhaegar and then his son, but now he knows the error was in the translation and it must be Daenerys. Dragons are not male or female, therefore this prince doesn’t need to be a male.
- Remembering back to King’s Landing’s riot where the Hound saved Sansa, it was almost a minor detail that King Robert’s other squire Tyrek Lannister disappeared in the masses and was presumed dead, however his body was never recovered. I found it odd that his name resurfaced in A Feast for Crows. Is he still alive? Who kidnapped him? Where has he been hiding and what does he know?
- I thoroughly enjoy the scenes where Payne and Jamie spar. It was strange to see Payne in this new lighting away from King’s Landing. It is hard not to like him at least a little by the end of A Feast for Crows.
- The High Sparrow is now the High Septon and Cersei views him as another tool in which she can manipulate, almost more so because of his modest appearance. Cersei shows again her lack of historical knowledge as she gives the Faith back their ability to bear arms, e.g., Poor Fellows and the Warrior’s Sons. This proves to be a grievous mistake that gives the faith immense power. She should have learned lessons from the past regarding the pain that previous Kings had with regard to the Faith’s Army.
- Euron’s blue lips are mentioned several times as he starts his conquest of Westeros beginning with the Shield Islands. He then offers Victarion shade-of-the-evening to drink, which he found upon capturing a warlock galley, along with three other warlocks that he has in his ship the Silence. What will Euron do with the warlocks and what with the shade of evening do to him?
- Lancel’s regression into piety continues as Jamie visits him and his new wife. He admits several of his sins, especially regarding his role in killing King Robert before making the stunning confession that he was going back to King’s Landing to join the Warrior’s Sons.
- I was quite shocked, and happy I might add, when in the TV show when Sandor turned out to be alive. I had my doubts that this would come to fruition in the books, however upon my reread I really think that the Brothers of the Quiet Isle must have saved him. The Elder Brother tells Brienne that Sandor told him that it wasn’t Sansa with him but Arya. He says that the Hound is dead but when telling Brienne his history, he tells of the day he died, and was reborn as one of the Brothers. When Brienne asked him point blank if the Hound had died he dodged the question. Also, it was mentioned that on the Isle lives a very skilled healer that works wonders. So, did the hound die and Sandor survive as a reborn man? Also, who was this Elder Brother?
- Poor valiant, beautiful Loras. Cersei antagonizes the Tyrells with her lack of support in response to the Ironborn’s attacks, until the Knight offers to take Dragonstone for her thereby freeing up troops and ships. He does so by suffering grievous wounds and being burned with hot oil. If he survives, his legendary looks will be no more. Cersei was her typically horrible and terrible self, and went to Margaery to take enjoyment from telling her this terrible news.
- Genna Lannister is one of those minor characters that readers can instantly connect with, similar to feisty Olynna Tyrell. There is an exchange between Genna and Jamie that started one of my wild theories that Jamie and Cersei are actually the Mad King’s children. In the conversation, Genna says that Tywin only had one true son, Tyrion. Obviously the quote could be taken in jest as a metaphor, however it is fun to think about if Genna knew more than she was letting on and the quote is of a literal manner.
“Jaime,” she said, tugging on his ear, “sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna’s breast. You smile like Gerion and fight like Tyg, and there’s some of Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak… but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year. Men are such thundering great fools. Even the sort who come along once in a thousand years.”
- As much as Arya tries to shed her past self, she continues to dream of Nymeria. Arya makes another emergence when she kills Dareon for betraying his vows to the Night’s Watch. As punishment or perhaps advancement, the kindly old man then blinds Arya.
- Throughout A Feast for Crows, Cersei has been building up to telling the prophesy and story of her visiting Maggie the Frog. First let Cersei asked if she would wed the Prince (Rhaegar), where as Maggie countered that she would wed the King. Retrospectively, she didn’t marry Rhaegar as she thought, but she did marry the usurper, King Robert. Who is this Queen that will take all that Cersei holds dear? Personally, I’m hoping for Sansa but it will probably be Daenerys, although that seems too obvious. Perhaps it will actually be Jeyne? Wouldn’t that be a twist!
Cersei: When will I wed the prince?
Maggy: Never. You will wed the king.
Cersei: I will be queen, though?
Maggy: Aye. Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.
- Maggie predicts Robert and Cersei’s bastards, as well as the death of the latter children. How will the last two children die? Also valongar, is a High Valyrian term for little brother. Since Cersei is the oldest, one of her brothers is prophesied to strangle her. My guess is that it will be Jamie because Tyrion is a far to obvious choice.
Cersei: Will the king and I have children?
Maggy: Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds, she said. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
- Cersei’s friend Melara also got her fortune read that night. Cersie confirms to Taena that her friend did indeed die that night by being drowned in a well. We do not know the circumstance but I’m betting Cersei killed her.
Melara: Will I marry Jaime?
Maggy: Not Jaime, nor any other man, Worms will have your maidenhead. Your death is here tonight, little one. Can you smell her breath? She is very close.
- Brienne met Gendry and immediately recognized him as being a Baratheon. Soon a battle ensues with Rorge who portrays the Hound, and Biter. Brienne suffers terrible injuries that will forever scar her already scrutinized looks.
- Jamie struggles to keep his vow to not take up arms against Riverrun as well as stepping into Tywin’s shoes as a leader. He comes up with a clever resolution by making Edmure Tully surrender his own castle. The scene from the TV show was so emotion and stunning that very much added to my reread as you sympathize both with Jamie and more so with Edmure as he surrenders all that he has been groomed for since birth.
- Cersei is consumed with defeating Margaery, and comes up with a plot in which the young Queen is tried for treason for betraying Tommen. She and Qyburn torturer Margaery’s favorite singer to provide a ‘witnesses’ and lining up several ‘consenting individuals.’ Cersei is so blind by her hate that she can’t see the storm she is brewing.
- After being isolated for several weeks, Prince Doran finally consents to talk to Arianne. She learns that Prince Doran is actually playing the game of Thrones, despite his sedentary appearance. She had been so aghast at the marriage proposals her father had been trying to make, when if fact they were a farce because she had been secretly promised to Viserys. The only reason her brother was meant to rule Dorne was that she was to rule the Seven Kingdoms. The conversation made her view her father through new eyes. Interestingly, we also find out that Quentyn was being sent to petition Daenerys for marriage. With Dorne and the Iron Islands vying for Daenery’s hand, she will have some interesting choices ahead of her.
- Littlefinger has been working on his schemes again as he has betrothed Sansa to the Heir of the Vale of Arryn, Harrold Hardying. That way, ‘when’ little Robert dies, Stark will be wed to the Vale.
- We finally meet Lady Stoneheart, i.e., Catelyn Stark, as Brienne is put on trial. The bandits that we had first met under the direction of Beric Dondarrion are a grimmer bunch than initially, as is their new leader who has no mercy. Beric gave up his life so that Catelyn could rise again. During the trial Catelyn keeps hold of a crown, which must have been Rob’s. Poor Brienne, who has been nothing but honorable and doing everything to keep her vows is forced to choose between death for her and Podrick or kill Jamie. This emotional scene was horrible to read as she makes her choice.
- It was sweet revenge as Cersei’s carefully laid, wicked plans crumble to dust when she finds herself arrested for adultery and murder. Soon after she finds that her ‘friends’ have all scattered, and her head shipmaster has taken all of her fleet and fled for potential piracy. Moreover, the spineless council she had put together was imploding and drifting askew from her recently established policies, not that that is a bad thing.
- Edmure yielded Riverrun as Jamie had commanded, however he allowed the Blackfish to escape. Where will the Blackfish turn up again to cause problems?
- During a conversation about the wolf problem in the area around Riverrun, Jamie wonders if the head wolf that is described as a direwolf is actually Arya’s old pet that was run off. When will she and Arya be reunited?
- Jeyne Westerling makes another appearance as Riverrun is yielded. During the exchange with her mother and Jamie, a comment is made regarding the mother’s grandfather being a Spicer and her grandmother coming from the east. I had the thought, could Jeyne’s grandmother have been Maggie the Frog that has so vexed Cersei? How interesting, especially considering that Jeyne and her family are now Lords of Castamere? After doing come Googling about this theory I came up with the following conversation between Tyrion and his Uncle Kevin, which I had previously disregarded, however definitely add supports support to my thoughts. Particularly, the comment regarding her name, “Maegi” and the troubles pronouncing, which easily could have digressed into Maggie.
“The Westerlings always did have more honor than sense. Lady Sybell’s grandfather was a trader in saffron and pepper, almost as lowborn as that smuggler Stannis keeps. And the grandmother was some woman he’d brought back from the east. A frightening old crone, suppose to be a priestess, Maegi, they called her. No one could pronounce her real name. Half of Lannisport used to go to her for cures and love potions and the like.” He shrugged. “She’s long dead to be sure. And Jeyne seemed a sweet child I grant you, though I only saw her once. But with such doubtful blood…”
- In Brienne’s chapter, it was noticeable that Tom Sevenstrings was absent from our merry band of bandits. We find out that he has been in Riverrun, among the Freys, which explains why the bandits have been able to strike with such efficiency among the Freys and Lannisters. He hears Jamie’s conversation with Edmure and how he has tried to keep Catelyn’s oath. Perhaps his testimony will help save Jamie from Stoneheart? Doubtful, but I’ve been tortured with how Jamie and Brienne will escape their current situation unscathed at the end of ADWD.
- Jamie’s last POV ends with a dream, which has a woman who he vaguely recognizes, and in which she claims it isn’t a dream because he only has one hand, and in his dreams he always has two. With obsidian candles it is said that people can enter people’s dreams over log distances. Is someone using an obsidian candle to enter his dream? Or perhaps it is really a dream with special meaning? As to her identity, I’m guessing either Joanna (his mother) or Melara (Cersei’s childhood friend). I’m leaning toward Joanna, especially with her references to questioning if Jamie actually knew his ‘father.’ Note she does not use his father’s actual name. This woman continues on to say that ‘We dream of things we cannot have. Lord Tywin wanted his son to be a knight and his daughter to be the Queen.” Immediately followed by her bursting into tears. This exchange baffles Jamie because he and Cersei did live up to what Tywin had wanted. I’m excited to rediscover this exchange because it adds weight to my theory about A+J=J&C. After I finish my ADWD review I’ll have to compile the all of my evidence in an orderly manner.
- In Samwell’s last POV he finally makes it to the Citadel where he receives a very anticlimactic welcome, until he is summoned unexpectedly by a novice Alleras (The Sphinx) to Archmaester Marwyn who has seen his arrival in the obsidian flame in his office. Marwyn leaves almost immediately to travel to Daenerys, and warns Sam to be wary of the Citadel because there is no room here for prophesies, obsidian candles, or dragons, if Samwell wants to remain alive. This is very interesting insight into the Citadel, which is suppose to be a center of learning.
- I feel as though this Sphinx will turn out to be more than meets the eye. Many people speculate the he might actually be Sarella Sand (Oberyn Martell’s daughter).
- Also, Aemon tells Sam, ‘The sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler,’ and was repeated several times by Sam, indicating the importance of this statement. What does it mean?
- While Sam’s POV was jam packed full of important tidbits, one of the most shocking revelations was that “Pate the Pigboy” was still “alive”. While we know that he is actually dead, this probably means that a Faceless man is now posing as Pate. Perhaps he is Jaqen H’ghar?