Tag: Tolkien

George R. R. Martin – A Feast for Crows | Review

Title: A Feast for Crows

Author: George R. R. Martin

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 852

Rating: 8/10


George R. R. Martin - A Feast for Crows

George R. R. Martin – A Feast for Crows


A Feast for Crows is the fourth book in George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, the series which was adapted for television as Game of Thrones. I’ve powered through the first four books in a couple of months, and I’m really enjoying them so far, although A Feast for Crows is arguably my least favourite one so far. That said, there’s still a lot of cool stuff to talk about.

I think the main reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as any of the other ones is that it doesn’t feature much about Daenerys Stormborn or Jon Snow. I find it pretty difficult to choose a favourite character from the books, but those two are two of my favourites, and they’re barely even mentioned here. Still, I’m of the understanding that they’ll be back in force in the next book, which is winging its way to me as we speak.

In this book, Tommen Baratheon is on the iron throne, but Joffrey’s little brother isn’t really old enough to know much about kinging. That said, he does learn a lot from his new wife, Margaery Tyrell – I don’t like her, but I don’t like Cersei Lannister either, and in this book the two of them start to engage in a polite form of warfare. There’s a twist towards the end of the book, but I’m not going to tell you what that is.


George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin


You also learn a little more of Samwell Tarly, who’s an underrated character in my opinion. He’s one of my favourites of the men of the Night’s Watch, mainly because he’s a cowardly hero, an antihero of sorts – he wants to be like Jon Snow, and he can’t be. But that doesn’t stop him from being awesome, especially when it comes to him protecting Gilly (Craster’s daughter) and the infant that she’s suckling.

I could go on and on about the people of the books, and the relationships that link them all together, but I’m not going to – I don’t want to spoil it for you when you read it, like I’m sure you’re going to. The thing about the Game of Thrones books is that they really need to be read in chronological order for their maximum effect to be felt, and so I’d encourage you not to make a start on this one until you’ve read the others. That said, once you read the first one, it’s pretty hard for you to put the books down, and you’ll find yourself ploughing through them in no time.

As always, George R. R. Martin’s characterisation is top notch, and so is his world-building – Westeros feels like a real place, but whereas Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books tend to feel like a history textbook, Martin’s books feel much more like a piece of entertainment. That can only be a good thing – it makes it easy to read, even though it’s over eight hundred pages long, and I’m a particular fan of how Martin tees himself up in one book to knock it out of the park in a later one.


George R. R. Martin and Peter Dinklage

George R. R. Martin and Peter Dinklage


Here, we see a whole bunch of loose ends being tied up, but we’re also given a glimpse of all sorts of possibilities and potential story lines. I’m even half-interested in Sansa Stark, for the first time since I started reading the books – she’s posing as Littlefinger’s bastard daughter, and the two of them make for an interesting combination of characters.

Now, we’re getting to the point where new characters are a necessity, because half of the original characters are dead, dying or missing. Martin introduces us to a few new major characters in this book, but none of them were particularly memorable for me – I’m mainly interested in what’s happening in the north, and so as soon as we go anywhere else, I feel my interest starting to wane. I’m also impatient for Daenerys to meet up with the rest of the characters, and to see what they make of her.

Still, you do get some interesting cross-pollination here, and one of the things that’s always interested me about these books is that the characters cross over and meet each other from time to time, like Littlefinger and Sansa, or like Arya and Samwell Tarly, who meet, briefly, here. One of Martin’s strengths is how strong his characters are, and so when two interesting characters come into contact, you never know what to expect.

Overall, then, I gave A Feast for Crows the lowest score I’ve given to any of George R. R. Martin’s books, but I’ve still given it an 8/10. I can’t get enough of the epic fantasy series, and I’ve already ordered the next book, which is his most recent at the time of publication. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after I finish reading it – I guess I’ll watch the TV series, which I’ve already made  start on.


George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin


Click here to buy A Feast for Crows.

Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass | Review

Title: Leaves of Grass

Author: Walt Whitman

Type: Poetry

Page Count/Review Word Count: 482

Rating: 6/10


Walt Whitman - Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass


Leaves of Grass is supposed to be a masterpiece, a lifelong project by one of America’s earliest famous poets – Walt Whitman. Whitman was a huge influence for loads of the poets that I’m into, notably for Allen Ginsberg, but I just couldn’t get into his work. It was too wordy, and too bland, and too unemotional – I like poetry to relate back to my life, and Leaves of Grass doesn’t do that.

It does have an interesting story behind it, though – its first edition was published relatively early on in Whitman’s life, but he continued to revise it and to add material throughout the majority of his life, which resulted in there being multiple different versions of the manuscript. My copy is published by Oxford Classics, and theoretically, the editor ensured that the version in my hands was as close to Whitman’s vision as possible. One gets the feeling that, like Tolkien, he was never truly satisfied with his work, and that his poems and the book itself could have continued to have evolved indefinitely if Whitman had lived forever.

Really, it’s hard to recommend this unless you’re a serious student of poetry – it’s not exactly an easy read, and I can’t imagine most of the people I know, for example, ever wanting to read it. For me, I read it to satisfy my personal curiosity about Walt Whitman, and whilst I am glad that I’ve read this, I definitely wouldn’t read it again. Whitman’s work is just too traditional for me, but more than that – it’s also difficult to relate to. At least with traditional love poetry, I know what the author is talking about.


Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman


One interesting thing to note is that, like Allen Ginsberg scores of years later, Whitman came under fire for his representations of sexuality and the human body. Whilst this was scandalous at the time, it seems kind of tame compared to some of the stuff that I’ve read, and it wasn’t worth getting excited about. In fact, it’s worth noting that Whitman weaves it into his work like it’s no big deal, which it isn’t, but it was at the time.

Like almost all of the disappointing ‘classics‘ that I’ve read, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass deserves a spot on your bookcase not because it’s a lot of fun to read, but because of its influence, and its place in history. In fact, you could write a whole essay just on the effects that its publication had, but I’m starting to run out of words and so I’m not going to do that. Suffice to say that I only read this because I’m a poet – if you’re not a poet, it’s probably not worth reading it, unless you’re seriously studying it. Or maybe that’s just me.


Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman


Click here to buy Leaves of Grass.