27

I'm still working my way through the third book, but as I understand it, books four and five (A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons) occur at the same time -- both picking up immediately after A Storm of Swords ends -- but taking place in different locations.

I've read that the original publication of a A Feast for Crows was met with some disappointment, with some fans being unhappy having to plough through a whole book before finding out what happened to their favorite characters after A Storm of Swords.

With this in mind, I was wondering if a different reading order might be permissible? For example, could someone chose to read A Dance with Dragons first? Or, even more audaciously, would it be possible to read both books simultaneously? I.e. A chapter from one book, followed by a chapter from the other?

Are either of these viable reading orders, or are there important reasons why A Feast for Crows should be read first?

  • 9
    The correct order is 4, then 5. Anything else just seems forced and weird... – Jakob Nov 20 '13 at 14:29
  • 1
    @Jakob - Tower of the Hand disagrees, although that is for group re-read. But anyway, at the end of the day there is no right or wrong answer, just your own personal preference... – Justin Ethier Nov 20 '13 at 17:23
31

You can certainly read the chapters chronologically, instead of first reading through all of A Feast For Crows. Sean Collins put together a very nice reading order over here: A proposed A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons merged reading order, with explanation.

The Tower of the Hand is doing a re-read of the books right now using this proposed reading order. So far the order has not felt forced at all, and feels very natural. However, I could see it being a pain to sit down and do this yourself, as you have to put your book down at the end of each chapter, consult the list, find the next chapter, etc.

Anyway, Sean's order is listed below by book and chapter number. I removed the character names to prevent accidentally revealing any spoilers:

  • ADWD 1
  • AFFC 1
  • AFFC 2
  • AFFC 3
  • AFFC 4
  • ADWD 2
  • ADWD 3
  • AFFC 5
  • ADWD 4
  • ADWD 5
  • ADWD 6
  • ADWD 7
  • AFFC 6
  • ADWD 8
  • AFFC 7
  • AFFC 8
  • AFFC 9
  • AFFC 10
  • AFFC 11
  • AFFC 12
  • ADWD 9
  • ADWD 10
  • ADWD 11
  • ADWD 12
  • ADWD 13
  • AFFC 13
  • AFFC 14
  • ADWD 14
  • ADWD 15
  • ADWD 16
  • AFFC 15
  • AFFC 16
  • ADWD 17
  • ADWD 18
  • AFFC 17
  • ADWD 19
  • AFFC 18
  • ADWD 20
  • AFFC 19
  • AFFC 20
  • AFFC 21
  • AFFC 22
  • AFFC 23
  • AFFC 24
  • AFFC 25
  • ADWD 21
  • ADWD 22
  • ADWD 23
  • ADWD 24
  • ADWD 25
  • ADWD 26
  • ADWD 27
  • AFFC 26
  • AFFC 27
  • AFFC 28
  • ADWD 28
  • ADWD 29
  • ADWD 30
  • AFFC 29
  • AFFC 30
  • ADWD 31
  • ADWD 32
  • AFFC 31
  • AFFC 32
  • ADWD 33
  • ADWD 34
  • AFFC 33
  • AFFC 34
  • AFFC 35
  • AFFC 36
  • AFFC 37
  • AFFC 38
  • AFFC 39
  • AFFC 40
  • AFFC 41
  • ADWD 35
  • ADWD 36
  • ADWD 37
  • ADWD 38
  • ADWD 39
  • ADWD 40
  • ADWD 41
  • ADWD 42
  • ADWD 43
  • ADWD 44
  • AFFC 42
  • ADWD 45
  • AFFC 43
  • AFFC 44
  • AFFC 45
  • AFFC 46
  • ADWD 46
  • ADWD 47
  • ADWD 48
  • ADWD 49
  • ADWD 50
  • ADWD 51
  • ADWD 52
  • ADWD 53
  • ADWD 54
  • ADWD 55
  • ADWD 56
  • ADWD 57
  • ADWD 58
  • ADWD 59
  • ADWD 60
  • ADWD 61
  • ADWD 62
  • ADWD 63
  • ADWD 64
  • ADWD 65
  • ADWD 66
  • ADWD 67
  • ADWD 68
  • ADWD 69
  • ADWD 70
  • ADWD 71
  • ADWD 72
  • ADWD 73
  • Wow! That's pretty amazing. Considering I'm reading it on a Kindle, it makes me wonder if it MIGHT be possible to merge the two books. Hmm! – Django Reinhardt Nov 20 '13 at 17:07
  • That would be ideal, not sure if it is possible though :). Unfortunately I can't speak for Kindle since I read these books on iOS/iBooks... – Justin Ethier Nov 20 '13 at 17:19
  • Yeuch! :) Good thing about the Kindle is that you can use it wherever you want: On your iPad, iPhone, Android device, etc., plus of course, an actual Kindle ;) – Django Reinhardt Nov 20 '13 at 17:30
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    @DjangoReinhardt Don't forget whisper-sync with Audible. – DampeS8N Nov 20 '13 at 17:41
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    @DjangoReinhardt I don't know of a trivial way to do so but you could merge the books on your PC. Calibre+AprenticeElf to remove DRM, Calibre to convert to epub, Sigil to edit the epubs, Calibre to convert back to Kindle format. – Dan Neely Nov 20 '13 at 18:03
7

Reading book 4 first would be recommended. Book 5 does pass book 4 near the end. Most characters from the fourth book have at least one chapter near the end of the fifth that wouldn't make sense, and may even spoil the fourth book's final events.

For example, Jaime has a lot of chapters in book 4, and near the end of book 5 there are a couple Jaime chapters that take place after the events of book 4.

4

As others have suggested, you certainly could read them in orders other than the order they were written in. Usually I would make the argument that the author wrote it the way he wrote it for a purpose and that you should read it as intended to gain the most from it. But according to this section of the Wikipedia article A Song of Ice and Fire, the motivations behind splitting the books geographically were almost purely for publishing purposes.

I read book four first, then five. The stories in each are hardly connected to the other. There is the occasional reference to events in Westeros in book five which make you go "Oh, I know why that is!". In my opinion, the benefits of reading both at the same time would be:

  • A slightly better sense of what is happening across the whole world, the big picture
  • You won't be left in the dark about your (perhaps) favorite characters until plowing thorugh book four

However, because the events in the books are mostly exclusive, I think there is value to reading them separately. If you read them separately, you will have a better sense of the momentum of events in each, and will be less distracted by the more fragmented approach of reading both books at the same time.

Either way, I am sure you will be happy. Enjoy!

2

In theory I think you could read book five before book four, up to a point. You may lose some of the experience of reading both books from doing so, though; I remember the fates of certain characters mentioned (briefly) in book four not being entirely clear, but then they're covered in much more detail in book five. That said, the opposite may also be true, and it was simply lost on me because I'd read book four first.

The majority of book 5 concerns events that occurred at the same time as those covered in book four, but the end of it covers events going past that point. As long as you stopped at the appropriate point (and I'm not sure when that would be without re-reading the books) it shouldn't be a problem.

Reading them simultaneously is an interesting idea, and may work better than reading all of book five up to the point that it passes the events of book four. You'd get the full story for all of the characters so it may be closer to the original intention of the author (before the book ended up being so incredibly long).

1

The books are basically split by region. A Feast for Crows covers events in South Westeros, while A Dance With Dragons covers events in North Westeros and beyond the Narrow Sea. Only towards the end of Dance does it cover events After the Feast (beginning with the chapter The Turncloak).

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