When I was re-reading A Feast For Crows, I began to notice the variety of ways that the main characters wielded power. Cersei Lannister has become obsessed with her power and does not want to lose it. In the game of thrones, everyone is your enemy. George R.R. Martin has created a character more complicated than your average villain. In Cersei’s chapters, one gets an insight into how Cersei views other people.
Cersei is not a likeable character because she seems to care little for anyone, but herself and her children. The incestuous relationship with her brother, Jaime, adds another layer to the desires that drive Cersei’s motivations.
A Feast For Crows focuses on powerful women, and how they seek to break down the gender framework that empowers men. Cersei Lannister was to be carted off to Casterly Rock by order of her father, and Asha Greyjoy was discouraged from making a claim to become the Queen of the Iron Islands. Brienne of Tarth is different from the two would-be queens because she wants to fight in battles and not to be married off to a lord.
Power is everywhere in the land of Westeros, and the war of the Five Kings has led to more men and women attempting to acquire more power themselves. The Tyrells made a deal with the Lannisters because the Tyrells saw an opportunity to gain more influence at court. Renly only had the support of the Tyrells, as long as he married Margaery Tyrell and made Mace Tyrell his Hand.
The title of this book very much describes the general plot. The war of the Five Kings is over, and the Crows have come to feast on the entrails. Tywin Lannister’s death changes everything, as Cersei Lannister does not want to make friends with her enemies. Cersei does not trust the Tyrells because she knows what they want. Margaery wanted to become the Queen, displacing Cersei Lannister. Fear of losing Tommen has led to Cersei making irrational decisions. For example, she will not allow Loras Tyrell to train Tommen how to use a lance. Cersei knows that it was Margaery Tyrell, who suggested that Tommen should start to use his power as King, despite only being a boy.
The power of religion also is a theme explored in a Feast For Crows. Ayra has made the voyage to Bravos to seek out the faceless men. She joins them, after being warned that she would have to give up her identity, to serve the god of many faces. Ayra is taught to become more observant when other people are talking. By focusing on other people, Ayra is supposed to focus less on herself and her desires to kill the people on her list. Self-discipline is what is being drilled into Ayra, which is hard for an individual who has lost her home and her family. Ayra is unaware that Bran, Rickon and Sansa, are all still alive.
The rise of the Sparrows is another example of the power of religion. War has caused devastation in Westeros. People have seen their villages destroyed and the wealthy lords, playing their game of thrones, have forgotten them. Servants of the faith are willing to help the people affected by the war in the Riverlands, but in return they desire people to give their life to the faith. The end of the war did not signal the end of misery for most people. Cersei is still concerned about holding onto power, ignoring the warning of a future crisis. The scene where Cersei meets the new High Septon is pure gold because Cersei is stunned that he would dare to stand up to her. Religious authority was challenging the authority of the crown, both given their power by the seven.
Feast For Crows may not be the most exciting reads, but the book does focus a lot on court intrigue. Moreover, it shows that Cersei Lannister is oblivious to the White Walkers beyond the Wall and clueless about the threat that Daenerys and her dragons pose. George R.R. Martin also puts into context the impact war had on people. Children lost their parents and farmers have lost their livelihoods. This book and A Dance With Dragons provide the backstory required to set up the latter stages of A Song of Ice and Fire.