Warning: The following contains spoilers for the book and series of Game of Thrones.
Yes, I am one of the 12 people that still cares about Game of Thrones and enjoys talking about it in spite of its dumpster fire ending.
So today I was wanting to discuss my thoughts and feelings about one of the least popular books in the series.
I know I haven’t written about what I thought about books two and three, but…..
Also, I know I should be judging it solely on its own merits and not compare it to the TV show….but I’m gonna compare it to the TV show. It’s impossible for me to be purely objective here so I won’t even bother.
First off, I don’t think this book deserves the hate it gets.
No, it’s not as actiony as the other books, but it is rife with world-building goodness.
Martin had fun with this one, I can tell.
Did we need to learn about all the gods of Bravos, or all about the whores that live there? Probably not. Did we need to know all about the sailors, or about which family rules what land and how they were killed? Probably not. Was it interesting?
I mean, to me it was.
Yes, I have made the complaint before that there are way too many damn people to keep track of in these books, but it does help make the world feel more lived in. It wouldn’t make sense for there to only be three prominent families but….yes it is annoying to have to remember the names of all the hedge knights, the handmaids, the tavern-owners, the sellswords, the singers, the outlaws, the butcher, the baker, the damn candlestick-maker, etc.
There were several chapters where a character that was introduced in one POV re-entered in another POV and I thought–
I just…I can’t. I know, I’m a bad fan.
Speaking of characters, let’s talk about one that did not feature in the show, Taena of Myr. After reading a Feast for Crows, it makes me wonder why they didn’t include her in the show.
The show in itself is kind of weird in its choice of handling gay characters. It’s not that I find what they did distasteful, just confusing.
In the books (at least that I have read thus far) it’s never conclusively proven that Renly Baratheon was gay. Yes, he had the “rainbow guard” and there was an awkward scene where Loras Tyrell said that at the night of the king’s murder they were “uh..praying together” but that was the only hint that he was, as The Queen of Thorns would put it–
In the books, however, Taena Merryweather is shown to be gay (or at least bi) and they cut her out entirely of the show.
I think her exclusion from the show is a shame, not only because it added more diversity to the story, but because she acts as a foil to Cersei’s lust for power. There is a scene where Cersei pleasures Taena, but not because she desires her. It’s because Cersei so desperately wants to be a man, or rather, she desperately wants the power that comes with being a highborn man. Taena is a good conduit for her to act out her desires and so reveals an interesting aspect to Cersei’s character.
Then there is Genna Lannister, Jamie and Cersei’s aunt, whom I love dearly. She’s such a boss that I’m sad we didn’t see her counterpart in the show. Her conversation with Jamie about Tyrion being “the true son of Tywin” was particularly fascinating to me because it adds another layer to Tywin and Tyrion’s relationship. Tywin hated Tyrion for his dwarfism and for “killing” his wife. However, there’s more to it than that. Tywin hates Tyrion because he perceives him as a combinations of all his flaws into a single person.
This conversation managed to help develop Tywin’s character as well. Turns out he was the only brother that spoke out against their father Tytos betrothing her, Genna, to a Frey. It adds a layer of warmth to Tywin that we hadn’t seen before.
As for the Dornish….while the characters in this subplot didn’t stand out to me nearly as much as the others, I still liked the world-building aspect to them. You get a real feel of the atmosphere and the political tensions rising as the public demands retribution for their slain prince. Again, maybe the books go without this subplot but…
Moving on, I also think the books handled the whole “Sparrow” situation a lot better than the TV show. For one thing, in the books it makes more sense for Cersei to seek them out. Tommen’s grasp of the throne is a tenuous one because the Lannisters are so unpopular so she needs the backing of the faith in order to secure his position. More importantly, unlike in the TV show, it’s not common knowledge at this point that Cersei and Jaimie are….err……
I know that in both the TV show and books Cersei isn’t nearly as smart as she thinks she is but damn is she stupid in the show. In the show it is at least mostly accepted by the general populous that she…likes to keep it in the family, and so her recruiting a bunch of religious folk just because she doesn’t like her daughter-in-law makes her look like an absolute brainlet.
The Sparrows are such a great inclusion to the story itself because it reminds you that in Martin’s universe everything has consequences, especially unintentional ones. For every domino that falls, another is knocked down. The reason there are so many “sparrows” is because so many in The Faith were displaced by the war. The war caused by the feud between the Starks and the Lannisters and so on. So, in a way, it’s Cersei’s chickens (sparrows) coming home to roost.
On the topic of Cersei, it’s awesome watching Jamie wake up to what a crappy person she is. I (like many fans) was so pissed when he went back to Cersei for no reason, so it’s wonderful to see him develop such a spiteful attitude towards her. Martin handled (no pun intended) Jamie’s character development in an incredibly believable way. He’s still arrogant, but not nearly as much without ‘ol righty to back him up in a sword fight.
I have no idea what is in store for the next installation, but I hope he keeps Jamie on an upward trajectory.
To be fair, he can’t fail us anymore than HBO did on that score.
Personally, I enjoyed this book in spite of the fact there was a great deal less action.
Thanks for reading!