It’s easy to see why A Feast for Crows is a bit polarizing; it was published five years after A Storm of Swords, and is not nearly as long as the prior volume. This is actually half of one book, the other half being A Dance with Dragons, split for convenience. The story is split primarily by location, with a heavy focus on events with Cersei and Jaime in King’s Landing. As a result, many main characters, including Tyrion and Daenerys, don’t make an appearance here. As a result the story feels somewhat incomplete and rather anticlimactic, with a lot of setup for future volumes.
Cersei becomes a major POV character, with a large chunk following her attempts to rule as regent in the aftermath of Swords. While Cersei is not really a sympathetic character, it is fascinating to see her motivations, insecurities, and descent into paranoia. We also see Jaime moving away from her, as he becomes a comparatively more noble character.
There are a bunch of new characters introduced to the already expansive cast. There are three new Greyjoy POV characters caught in the dispute over succession in the Iron Islands; Theon’s sister Asha, and their uncles Aeron and Victarion. The region of Dorne is seen for the first time, along with a plot to crown Princess Myrcella.
Arya, Sansa, and Brienne continue their storylines here, with Arya in Braavos, Sansa with Littlefinger in the Eyrie, and Brienne seeking to find both and fulfill her oath. Sam Tarly gets a new story thread, as he is set from the Wall by Jon Snow (in a brief appearance) to study in Oldtown.
This is still a solid read, and as well written as first three. The problem is that it feels like half a book, mostly set up rather than pure story. The geographic split may be partly to blame, and it may have been better to include all the major characters. The combined volume with A Dance with Dragons, may be a more accurate assessment as a volume of the overall story.