Viewers of the television series “Game of Thrones” might be surprised that as the books progress, the source material deviates further and further from the television series (or, rather, the television series deviates from the source material). Books four and five of A Song of Ice and Fire saga takes the viewers through most of the major points of parts of season five of the television series, which make the source material enjoyable to read and analyse for Thrones fans who have come from the television series.
A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons picks up during the aftermath of an event known as the Red Wedding, an event that almost decimated one contender for the coveted Iron Throne, the throne that rules the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the mainland of Martin’s fictional world. The three major storylines—that of Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark; the drama in and around King’s Landing involving House Lannister and House Stark; and the young teenage queen-in-waiting Daenerys Targaryen ruling a conquered city across the sea. With subplots involving the children of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully, the former “Ward” of Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy, and even a storyline involving the wife and extended family of one character in Dorne, another city in the story universe, there is something for all tastes.
Both books may be read separately, though much of A Feast for Crows happens in tandem with A Dance with Dragons. Events of Crows follows the drama in the mainland of Westeros involving the Lannister and Stark families and their associates while Dragons continues the story with the points of view of Jon Snow and his sworn brothers and Daenerys’ storyline. Each storyline impacts another before all of the viewpoints come together again towards the end of Dragons to prepare for the next installment of the series. For those who wish to read the books in tandem to ensure a chronological reading of the events happening in the universe, it is possible but by no means mandatory (an example of a suitable reading guide can be found here).
As always with the saga, Martin’s prose is richly detailed and has a gritty realism to it that made the series stand out upon its initial publication. Its nuances in characterisation make it a rich read and its different, highly biased points of view will keep the reader entertained. The two books are worthy successors to the book series and ought to be read slowly for their intrigue and also for more practical reasons: as of yet, the next two planned novels do not have set release date.