Finished A Feast for Crows on the 18th and the Appendixes on the 19th. This is often considered the weakest and I can understand why. The other books had climatic moments, deaths of major characters. This doesn't. There is a feeling of incompleteness. I liked the Ironborn storyline, which feels like it is building up to be really important. Euron has set his Crows Eye (his sigil reminds me of Sauron, and in The World of Ice and Fire an Ironborn Priest called Sauron Salt-Tongue is mentioned) on the Iron Throne and plans to conquer all Westeros with dragons. It's delightful to see those incestuous lions and false flowers have another foe to deal with.
This book seems to show the fallout of the war, the realm, especially the Riverlands, is in chaos. As Rodrik Harlaw says, crows are now squabbling over the corpse of Westeros. I wonder if that title could also refer to the Crow's Eye, who is feasting on Westeros. Other crows are the Bloody Mummers. Their fights with Brienne were climatic, but in the grand scheme not particularly important. I am interested in knowing what Brienne will do next with the Brotherhood.
TBWB may have harsh methods, but they have the sympathy of much of the Riverlands as they hang Freys and other villains. Delighted the Blackfish got away and wonder if he will join TBWB or if he went to Greywater Watch, where Stark loyalists and Frey foes lurk. Perhaps he will attack Riverrun, now held by the Freys, or the Twins. It says a lot about Brynden Tully that he is well past the prime of his life, yet the Freys and Lannisters are really worried about him escaping. There is the groundwork for an attack on the Freys. Also, Tom O'Sevens of TBWB is in Riverrun and was left alone with Edmure, who convinced his uncle to yield. There is something going on there.
Also good to see trouble for the Lannisters and those treacherous Tyrells. Cersei shows herself a terrible ruler, ruining her own cause, filling her Small Council with people she thinks she can control rather then those who are competent, while thinking she will show herself greater then her father. Love her uncle Kevan telling her she is a terrible mother and ruler. She can't even abide a little bit of satire, as shown by the puppet show. I have heard Varys may have been behind this. It is quite sinister not knowing where he is, considering how well he knows the passages in the Red Keep. Sending people of to Qyburn is not endearing people to Cersei.
Then there is Cersei dealing with the faith, getting rid of a huge debt, but creating a bigger problem.The two Queens, Cersei and Margaery, are now imprisoned. I have a liking for the High Sparrow/Septon, as he seems to be somebody who genuinely wants to do good rather then use dubious means to gain power. Selling the crown and jewels for money for the poor demonstrates this. Delightful to see him outwit Cersei. I love how after she gets imprisoned Aurane Waters leaves with the ships she spent a fortune building. Then there is the matter of the prophecy with the Valonqar. Suspect it will come true but there will be a twist. Jaime was born after Cersei, so is her little brother, however the prophecy describes them using their hands to strangle her. It might refer to a little brother, who is not Cersei's, or it could be a gender-neutral term that means little sibling. Cersei has upset a lot of younger siblings. The Starks, Baratheons, Daenerys hates the family...
Aemon has died, but it is very interesting what he says about Azor Ahai. I don't think Daenerys will be AA, as it is too neat for ASOIAF. Delightful irony in Sam meeting another of the Starks, though this time not knowing it. Very interesting in how Arya is losing her identity, taking so many names. Killing Dareon shows how far she has come, especially in how she refers to Arya killing him.
However the attack on Dragonstone is an example of this book having the feeling of exciting things happening off-page. There is a feel we have been left out, like when Davos' death is described. I know ADWD will fill these in, but it still feels unsatisfying. Will Loras die in the next book, or were rumors of his demise greatly exaggerated, to trick Cersei? The book seems to be building up to exciting events, Victarion is sent East for the "rightful Queen" (according to her), Stoneheart continues her vengeance and the Blackfish is lurking in the Riverlands. It doesn't really have a climatic ending, ending with Marwyn preparing to go to Essos to help Daenerys and the reveal that a Faceless Man is hiding in the Citadel.
Overall, I get why this is not well-rated among the books. Still, enjoyable and I look forward to reading ADWD.