As the story picks up, Cersei is now essentially ruling the Seven Kingdoms while her son actually reigns, and like most who lust for power, she is completely inept once she attains it, leading the kingdom deeper into debt, destroying alliances, and approaching ruin.
More kings have died than even existed when the series began – and while it may seem that would make the war for the throne easier to decide, all it has done is open up an other series of claims. This one’s son, that one’s nephew, another one’s daughter.
What’s interesting about this episode is that in writing it, Martin found it was too long, and too complex (he can self edit? who knew?) and so split what was planned as one book into two. A Feast for Crows focuses on Westeros, King’s Landing, the riverlands, Dorne, and the Iron Islands, and the following novel, A Dance with Dragons, covers events in the east (Daenerys and the Night’s Watch) and north. Better for continuity, yes. But aside from the Jamie/Brienne plotline, and Arya (whose story just gets stranger here), he removed most of my favourite characters from the story.
Good points: Samwell Tarly comes into his own. Somewhat. And slowly. But I have high hopes for him. Interesting background details in Dorne will prove important in later developments.
Paperback: 784 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 30, 2007)