George R. R. Martin

A Feast for Crows

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A Feast for Crows Summary

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A Feast for Crows (2005), an epic fantasy novel by George R.R. Martin, is the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The book is essentially one half of the planned fourth book after it grew too large and unwieldy for a single volume; Martin re-arranged the material to focus on one set of characters, reserving the rest for the next book in the series.

The novel begins with a prologue in which a novice of the Citadel in Oldtown steals a master key and meets with The Alchemist to sell it. Pate takes his payment and flees, but shortly afterward collapses.

In King’s Landing, Tywin Lannister, murdered by his son Tyrion in the previous book, is buried. With Tywin gone, Queen Cersei is the undisputed power behind the throne. Cersei names Harys Swift as Hand and creates a Small Council filled with sycophants and those loyal to her.

In the north, at the Wall, Samwell Tarly meets with Jon Snow, who has become the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon orders Samwell to escort Maester Aemon to Oldtown in order to research the Others. Sam and Aemon, accompanied by the Wilding woman Gilly and the singer Dareon, leave on a ship heading for Braavos. They hear of Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons; Aemon believes this fulfills the prophecy of the Prince that Was Promised. Aemon dies shortly afterward, just after ordering Sam to make certain the maesters at the Citadel align with Daenerys. Sam and Gilly make love.

In the Seven Kingdoms, Podrick, the former squire of Jamie Lannister, encounters Brienne of Tarth on her quest to rescue Sansa Stark. They meet the Elder Brother of a septry, who tells them Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, spoke of Arya Stark, Sansa’s sister, saying she fled toward the coast. Following this clue, Brienne and the others are captured by the Brotherhood with Banners, who bring Brienne to Lady Stoneheart, who is the resurrected Catelyn Stark. Angry with Brienne, Catelyn tells Brienne she must kill Jamie. Brienne refuses. Furious, Catelyn orders them all hung. As the noose tightens around Brienne’s neck, she screams out a single word.

While Mace Tyrell leads his forces to Storm’s End to battle the remnants of Stannis Baratheon’s forces, Cersei arranges for the High Septon to be assassinated, elevating a man to the post that she believes will be loyal to her. However, the new High Septon isn’t as easily controlled, and quickly gains the support of the mob. He offers a deal to Cersei: He will move quickly to crown Tommen if she agrees to restore the ancient Faith Militant, a violent and long-outlawed arm of the church. Cersei agrees, to the evident dismay of her advisers.

In the Eyrie, Littlefinger fends off a challenge to his usurpation of power. He is impressed by Sansa’s intelligence as she pretends to be his illegitimate daughter in order to hide from Cersei’s forces. Littlefinger suggests she marry a distant cousin in House Arryn, who is the next in line for the rule of the Eyrie, which would give her an army. Sansa is intrigued by the idea.

Jamie Lannister leaves King’s Landing to help at the siege of Riverrun. Jamie brings the captive Edmure Tully with him and promises Brynden “Blackfish” Tully that he will not be harmed and the people of Riverrun will be protected if he surrenders. When Brynden refuses, Jamie declares that Edmure is the legitimate lord of Riverrun. Brynden escapes. Jamie arrests Edmure again and Emmon Frey takes Riverrun for the Freys. Snow begins to fall, signaling the long-dreaded winter has arrived.

The Ironborn lead raids up and down the coast of the Reach, but Cersei refuses to send assistance until Dragonstone is taken. When Loras Tyrell is injured in the fighting at Dragonstone, his sister Margaery Tyrell complains, making Cersei think she is not fit to be Queen with Tommen; she begins to plot against her. Cersei’s attempt to frame Margaery for adultery backfires when the High Septon uses torture to discover the truth. He arrests both Cersei and Margaery, using the Faith Militant to enforce his order. Kevan Lannister returns to administer the kingdom, but Jamie Lannister does not respond to Cersei’s request for help. Chaos reigns and Aurane Waters takes possession of the newly-constructed royal fleet.

Sam arrives in Oldtown, but is intercepted by Maester Marwyn, who tells him the maesters will not help him. He tells Sam that the maesters helped kill the dragons centuries ago in order to purge magic from the world—but now magic is returning. He tells Sam to study in order to assist at the Wall. Sam is left with students, including Pate.

Arya is inducted into the Faceless Men in Braavos, and learns that they worship a god of death. Arya is told to leave her old identity behind but she cheats, hiding her sword Needle. She kills Dareon for betraying the Night’s Watch, and she is punished by being struck blind.

On the Iron Islands, a kingsmoot begins to name a new king. Euron Greyjoy is proclaimed king when he announces his intention to steal Danaerys’ dragons to use them to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Asha Greyjoy flees before Euron can murder her. Euron finds it difficult to keep control, though he does send a proposal of marriage to Danaerys.

In Dorne, Oberyn Martell’s death inspires his illegitimate daughters, the Sand Snakes, to plot revenge. Prince Doran has them imprisoned to avoid trouble. Disgusted, his daughter Arianne plots to use Myrcella Baratheon to claim the Iron Throne, but after Myrcella is injured as a result, Doran tells her that he is also plotting revenge.