A Feast for Crows is the fourth of seven planned novels in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American author George R. R. Martin. The novel was first published on October 17, 2005, in the United Kingdom, with a United States edition following on 8 November 2005.
In May 2005, Martin announced that the "sheer size" of his still-unfinished manuscript for A Feast for Crows had led him and his publishers to split the narrative into two books. Rather than divide the text in half chronologically, Martin opted to instead split the material by character and location, resulting in "two novels taking place simultaneously" with different casts of characters. A Feast for Crows was published months later, and the concurrent novel A Dance with Dragons was released on July 12, 2011. Martin also noted that the A Song of Ice and Fire series would now likely total seven novels.
A Feast for Crows was the first novel in the series to debut at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, a feat among fantasy writers only previously achieved by Robert Jordan and Neil Gaiman. In 2006 the novel was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the British Fantasy Society Award. It has since been adapted, along with A Dance With Dragons, for television as the fifth season of Game of Thrones, though elements of the novel appeared in the series' fourth and sixth seasons.
The War of the Five Kings is slowly coming to its end. Stannis Baratheon has gone to the aid of the Wall, where Jon Snow has become the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. King Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey's eight-year-old brother, now rules in King's Landing under his mother, Cersei Lannister. Brienne, the Maid of Tarth, is on a mission to find Sansa Stark, aided by Jaime Lannister. Sansa Stark is hiding in the Vale, protected by Petyr Baelish, who has murdered his wife Lysa Arryn and named himself Protector of the Vale and guardian of eight-year-old Lord Robert Arryn.
Pate, a young apprentice at the Citadel in Oldtown, is studying to become a maester. He has stolen an important key to a depository of books and records at the request of a stranger in exchange for a reward; after turning over the key and receiving the reward, he dies abruptly from poison.
Following the death and funeral of Tywin Lannister, Cersei's reign is marked by rampant cronyism, and her councils staffed with incompetent loyalists. She also disregards accurate advice by her uncle Kevan Lannister and her brother Jaime, alienating them both. Making matters worse is Cersei's increasing distrust of the Tyrells, particularly Margaery, whom Cersei implicates in a prophecy that Cersei herself will see her children crowned but all of them will die before her.
Her incompetent management raises the kingdom's debts to the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Faith of the Seven. When Cersei dismisses its representatives, the Iron Bank refuses to grant new loans and demands immediate repayment, nearly crippling the economy of Westeros. To settle the crown's debts to the Faith of the Seven, Cersei permits the restoration of that religion's military order, the Faith Militant, ignoring the danger to her own power. Hoping to weaken the Tyrells, Cersei dispatches Ser Loras Tyrell to besiege Stannis Baratheon's forces on Dragonstone; as a result, almost a thousand loyalists are killed, and Ser Loras is gravely injured. A scheme to falsely have the Faith put Margaery on trial for adultery backfires when the religious leadership imprisons Cersei herself on similar (correct) charges.
After a series of disagreements, Cersei dispatches Jaime to the Riverlands to re-establish control. He negotiates with Brynden "the Blackfish" Tully to surrender Riverrun in exchange for Edmure Tully's life, Riverrun having been granted to Walder Frey's second son Emmon, who is married to Tywin's sister Genna Lannister. Though the siege ends bloodlessly, Brynden escapes, to Jaime's fury. Jaime also finds that Walder Frey's grandson and heir, Ryman Frey, was hanged by the Brotherhood without Banners. He then receives word that Cersei, who has been imprisoned, wants him to defend her in a trial by combat; but learns that Tyrion's accusation of Lancel Lannister and Cersei was true (Lancel having been King Robert's true killer). Disgusted by the excessive loss of life and Cersei's paranoia, Jaime abandons her to her fate.
Brienne of Tarth's quest for Sansa leads her all over the Riverlands, where she observes the destruction caused by the war, and acquires Podrick Payne, former squire to Tyrion Lannister. She meets Ser Hyle, a knight whom she has met before, and Lord Randyll Tarly (Samwell's father), who insults her despite Ser Hyle's praise of her. Eventually she is captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners and sentenced to death by Catelyn Stark, who was resurrected three days after death by Beric Dondarrion, though at the cost of Dondarrion's life, and who has now assumed the name Lady Stoneheart. Catelyn offers to let her live if she agrees to kill Jaime Lannister (whom she believes played a role in Robb's death). When Brienne refuses to decide, she and some of her companions are sentenced to be hanged, at which she screams an undisclosed word. The author later revealed that the word was "sword", in response to Catelyn's ultimatum of "Sword or noose", which offered either Brienne's continued service to Catelyn herself, or hanging.
In the Eyrie, Sansa poses as Petyr's daughter Alayne: befriending young Robert Arryn, managing the household, and receiving informal training in royal politics. During this time, Petyr appears to be carefully manipulating his murdered wife's former bannermen and securing control of the Protectorship of the Vale. He eventually reveals that he has betrothed Sansa to Harrold Hardyng, the next in line to Robert's title; when the sickly Robert dies, Petyr intends to reveal Sansa's identity and claim her family stronghold of Winterfell in her name.
On the Iron Islands, Aeron Damphair hears of Balon's death and that Balon's eldest surviving brother, Euron Greyjoy, has returned from exile and claimed the Seastone Chair. To prevent this Aeron calls a Kingsmoot to identify Balon Greyjoy's successor as king of the Iron Islands. Hotly contested by Balon's brother Victarion Greyjoy and daughter Asha Greyjoy, eventually Euron is chosen as king for his promise to control dragons with an enchanted horn he possesses. The fleet of the Iron Men captures the Shield Islands at the mouth of the river Mander, threatening House Tyrell's seat at Highgarden. Victarion estimates that when the Redwyne fleet returns from the siege at Dragonstone it will retake the islands; and when Euron sends him east to woo Daenerys Targaryen on his behalf, to thus gain a claim to the Iron Throne, Victarion decides to woo her for himself instead.
In Dorne, Doran Martell is confronted by three of his brother Oberyn's bastard daughters, who want vengeance for their father's death. Because they are inciting the commonfolk, Doran has them imprisoned in the palace.
A bold attempt by Doran's daughter Arianne Martell and her lover, Ser Arys Oakheart of the Kingsguard, to crown Doran's ward Myrcella Baratheon as queen of Westeros under Dornish law, by which the eldest child succeeds regardless of gender, is thwarted by Doran. In the confusion, one of Arianne's co-conspirators, the knight Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne, attempts to kill Myrcella; she survives but her face is scarred, and Ser Arys is killed. This strains the new Dornish alliance with House Lannister and the Iron Throne. To his daughter, Doran reveals that her brother Quentyn has gone east to bring back "Fire and Blood".
Arriving in Braavos, Arya Stark finds her way to the House of Black and White, a temple associated with the assassins known as the Faceless Men. As a novice there, Arya attempts to master their belief that Faceless Men have no true identity by throwing all her treasures into the water (secretly keeping her sword, Needle) and posing as a girl called "Cat of the Canals". Her former identity asserts itself in the form of wolf dreams, and also when she kills Dareon, sworn brother of Samwell Tarly, for abandoning the Night's Watch. Having confessed this death, she is given a glass of warm milk as punishment. She wakes up the following morning blind.
Jon Snow has ordered Samwell Tarly to sail to the Citadel in Oldtown (via Braavos), to research the Others and become a Maester. Sam is accompanied by aging Maester Aemon, the wildling mother Gilly, her newborn baby, and sworn brother Dareon. The voyage across the Narrow Sea is underway before Sam realizes Jon swapped the sons of Gilly and Mance Rayder, to protect the Wildling "prince" from sacrifice by the priestess Melisandre. Aemon becomes sick and the party wait in Braavos for his health to improve. After a Summer Islander tells Aemon about the Targaryen dragons, Aemon decides that Daenerys has come to fulfill a prophecy. He dies at the age of 102 shortly after they leave Braavos.
At the end of the novel, Samwell arrives at the Citadel to begin his training. He meets the archmaester Marwyn, who tells him the Citadel have a plan against magic, and leaves to find Daenerys. Samwell also encounters a fellow apprentice who introduces himself as Pate, connecting the prologue to the narrative.
The story is narrated from the point of view of 12 characters and a one-off prologue point of view. Unlike its predecessors, the fourth novel follows numerous minor characters as well.Prologue: Pate, a novice of the Citadel in Oldtown
Cersei Lannister, The Queen Regent
Ser Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
Brienne, Maid of Tarth, a young warrior woman searching for Sansa and Arya Stark
Sansa Stark, pretending to be Petyr Baelish's daughter "Alayne Stone" (her later chapters are titled as such)
Arya Stark, later referred to as "Cat of the Canals", beginning her training at the Temple of Him of Many Faces in the free city of Braavos
Samwell Tarly, a sworn brother of the Night's Watch
In the Iron Islands:
The Prophet, The Drowned Man: Aeron "Damphair" Greyjoy, Self-proclaimed servant of the Drowned god, youngest of Late King Balon's three surviving brothers
The Kraken's Daughter: Princess Asha Greyjoy, daughter of Late King Balon of the Iron Islands
The Iron Captain, The Reaver: Prince Victarion Greyjoy, Captain of the Iron fleet, one of Late King Balon's three surviving brothers
The Captain of Guards: Areo Hotah, Captain of the Guards to Prince Doran Martell of Dorne
The Soiled Knight: Ser Arys Oakheart of the Kingsguard
The Queenmaker, The Princess in the Tower: Arianne Martell, daughter of Prince Doran and heir to Dorne
Foreign-language editionsBulgarian: Бард: "Пир за Врани"
Catalan: Alfaguara: "Festí de corbs" ("Feast of crows")
Chinese (Simplified): 重庆出版社(2008): "群鸦的盛宴" ("Feast for Crows").
Chinese (Traditional): 高寶國際(2006): "群鴉盛宴" ("Feast for Crows").
Croatian: "Gozba vrana" ("Crows' Feast")
Czech: Talpress; "Hostina pro vrány" ("Feast for Crows")
Danish: Kragernes rige ("The Kingdom of the Crows")
Dutch: Luitingh-Sijthoff: "Een feestmaal voor kraaien" ("A Feast for Crows")
Estonian: "Vareste pidusöök" ("Feast of Crows")
Finnish: "Korppien kestit" ("Feast of Crows")
French: Three Volumes, Hardcover: Pygmalion (2006-...): "Le chaos", "Les sables de Dorne", "Un Festin pour les Corbeaux" ("Chaos", "The Sands of Dorne", "A Feast For Crows").
German: Single volume, Fantasy Productions (2006): "Krähenfest" ("Crow's Feast", to be released). Two volumes, Blanvalet (2006): "Zeit der Krähen", "Die dunkle Königin" ("Time of the Crows", "The Dark Queen").
Greek: Anubis: "Βορά Ορνίων" ("Prey of Vultures")
Hebrew: "משתה לעורבים אב" ("Feast for Crows pts. A/B")
Hungarian: Alexandra Könyvkiadó: "Varjak lakomája" ("Feast of Crows")
Italian: Two volumes, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore (Hardcover 2006, 2007 - Paperback 2007, 2008): "Il dominio della regina", "L'ombra della profezia" ("The Rule of the Queen", "The Shadow of the Prophecy").
Japanese: Two volumes, hardcover : Hayakawa (2008), paperback : Hayakawa (2013): "乱鴉の饗宴" ("Feast of the War Crows") I and II
Korean: Eun Haeng Namu Publishing Co. :"까마귀의 향연" ("Feast for Crows")
Lithuanian: Alma Littera "Varnų puota" ("Crows' Feast")
Norwegian: Two volumes, "Kråkenes gilde" (The Crows' Feast), "Jern og sand" (Iron and Sand)
Polish: Two volumes, Zysk i S-ka: "Uczta dla wron: Cienie Śmierci", "Uczta dla wron: Sieć Spisków" ("A Feast for Crows: Shadows of Death", "A Feast for Crows: Web of Intrigues")
Brazilian Portuguese: Leya: "O Festim dos Corvos" ("The Crows Feast")
European Portuguese: Two volumes, Saída de Emergência: "O Festim de Corvos" ("A Feast of Crows"), "O Mar de Ferro" ("The Iron Sea")
Romanian: Paperback 2009, Harcover 2011: "Festinul ciorilor" ("The Crows' Feast")
Russian: AST: "Пир стервятников" ("Vultures' Feast").
Serbian: Two Volumes, Лагуна: "Гозба за вране Део први", "Гозба за вране Део други" ("A Feast for Crows")
Slovenian: Vranja gostija ("A Feast for Crows")
Spanish: Gigamesh (2007): "Festín de Cuervos" ("Feast of Crows")
Swedish: Forum bokförlag: "Kråkornas fest" ("The Crows' Feast")
Turkish: Two volumes, Epsilon Yayınevi: "Buz ve Ateşin Şarkısı IV: Kargaların Ziyafeti - Kısım I & Kargaların Ziyafeti - Kısım II" ("A Feast for Crows")
Ukrainian: KM Publishing (2016): "Бенкет круків" ("The Feast of Crows")
Vietnamese: Two Volumes: "Trò Chơi Vương Quyền 4A: Tiệc Quạ đen", "Trò Chơi Vương Quyền 4B: Lời Tiền tri". ("Game of Thrones 4A: A Feast of Crows", "Game of Thrones 4B: The Prophecy")
Martin released the first four "Iron Islands" chapters of A Feast for Crows as a novella called Arms of the Kraken, published in the 305th edition of Dragon magazine, published in May 2003. Another chapbook featuring three Daenerys chapters was published for BookExpo 2005 although, following the geographical division of the book, these chapters were subsequently moved into the fifth volume in the series, A Dance with Dragons.
Martin originally planned for the fourth book to be called A Dance with Dragons with the story picking up five years after the events of A Storm of Swords (primarily to advance the ages of the younger characters). However, during the writing process it was discovered that this was leading to an overreliance on flashbacks to fill in the gap. After twelve months or so of working on the book, Martin decided to abandon much of what had previously been written and start again, this time picking up immediately after the end of A Storm of Swords. He announced this decision, along with the new title A Feast for Crows, at Worldcon in Philadelphia on September 1, 2001. He also announced that A Dance with Dragons would now be the fifth book in the sequence.
In May 2005 Martin announced that his manuscript for A Feast for Crows had hit 1527 completed pages but still remained unfinished, with "another hundred or so pages of roughs and incomplete chapters, as well as other chapters sketched out but entirely unwritten." As the size of the manuscript for 2000's A Storm of Swords, his previous novel, had been a problem for publishers around the world at 1521 pages, Martin and his publishers had decided to split the narrative planned for A Feast for Crows into two books. Rather than divide the text in half chronologically, Martin opted to instead split the material by character and location:
It was my feeling ... that we were better off telling all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters. Cutting the novel in half would have produced two half-novels; our approach will produce two novels taking place simultaneously, but set hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, and involving different casts of characters (with some overlap).
Martin noted that A Feast for Crows would focus on "Westeros, King's Landing, the riverlands, Dorne, and the Iron Islands," and that the next novel, A Dance with Dragons, would cover "events in the east and north." Martin also added that the A Song of Ice and Fire series would now likely total seven novels. A Feast for Crows was published months later on October 17, 2005, over five years after the previous volume in the series, A Storm of Swords. The parallel novel A Dance with Dragons was released on July 12, 2011.2005, UK, Voyager ISBN 0-00-224743-7, Pub date 17 October 2005, hardback
2005, UK, Voyager ISBN 0-00-722463-X, Pub date ? ? 2005, hardback (presentation edition)
2005, US, Spectra Books ISBN 0-553-80150-3, Pub date 8 November 2005, hardback
2006, UK, Voyager ISBN 0-00-224742-9, Pub date 25 April 2006, paperback
Though A Feast for Crows was the first novel in the sequence to debut at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, it received more negative reviews in comparison with the previous novels in the series. Martin's decision to halve the plot in terms of character and location was highly controversial; many critics felt that this novel consisted of characters that people were less interested in. Publishers Weekly said, "Long-awaited doesn't begin to describe this fourth installment in bestseller Martin's staggeringly epic Song of Ice and Fire. [...]. This is not Act I Scene 4 but Act II Scene 1, laying groundwork more than advancing the plot, and it sorely misses its other half. The slim pickings here are tasty, but in no way satisfying." Salon.com's Andrew Leonard said in 2011, "I don't care how good a writer you are: If you subtract your three strongest characters from your tale, you severely undermine the basis for why readers fell under your spell in the first place. It didn't work. But there was also a sense in A Feast of Crows that Martin had lost his way. The characters whose stories he did tell wandered back and forth across a landscape devastated by war and oncoming winter, but didn't seem to be headed anywhere in particular." Remy Verhoeve of The Huffington Post noted in their 2011 A Dance with Dragons review that the fifth volume had to "repair some of the damage done by A Feast for Crows, which frankly felt as if it was written by a ghost writer at times." Both books had "the same structural problems", being "sprawling and incoherent", and in her opinion Feast has the less interesting characters. The Atlantic's Rachael Brown said in their A Dance With Dragons review that Feast was "bleak and plodding" and "sorely missed" Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow.Hugo Award – Best Novel (nominated) – (2006)
Locus Award for Fantasy – Best Novel (nominated) – (2006)
British Fantasy Award – Best Novel (nominated) – (2006)
Quill Award – Best Novel (Science Fiction & Fantasy) (nominated) – (2006)