For the past two months, Game Of Owns and the listeners of the podcast have wrestled with a question: where do we go from here?
With the completion of the A Storm of Swords read-through, it was time to venture forth into new territory. But it wasn’t so simple as just picking up A Feast for Crows, book four in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. For fans of the series, there is also the question of how to read- following the expected method of one book after the other, or to embrace the popular new way, reordering the chapters of Martin’s novels so the story takes on fresh life.
Readers have debated the merits of both styles, and the folks at Game Of Owns came together with a few friends to answer the question.
Game Of Owns will proceed with a combined reading order for the podcasts ahead, with an entirely new chapter arrangement created by a team of fans taking everything into account including chronology, spoiler issues, the weather and overarching themes.
Introducing the new reading order and sharing the process behind the creation of it are two of the people responsible for A Feast With Dragons: BryndenBFish and Zack Luye.
-Sue The Fury
Martin originally intended both books to be joined, but he found that he had too many plot and character developments to cover in one book alone.
So, he famously (or infamously) split the book into two. However, both books play on similar themes and narratives.
The A FEAST WITH DRAGONS reading order is intended to be a new, bright, shiny way to read A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Taking subtle chronological cues and more overt thematic and narrative motifs evident in the books, Game Of Owns will tackle the major questions posed by the author in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.
One example of our contextual and thematic approach: Chronologically, Arianne and Quentyn Martell’s points of view are not one after the other, but in AFWD they are. The “Dornish” point of view is spread across this entire book, weaving its presence with our other points of view, picking up where the other leaves off — while retaining one specific narrative release from The Princess in the Tower.
Here is a spoiler-filled handful of examples from Brynden on Reddit.
– Zack Luye
Across two books, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister struggle with challenges of leadership, but more than that, they struggle with inner conflict. In their arcs, the human heart is very much in conflict with itself, but the consequences won’t end there. Meanwhile, others struggle over their knightly vows and what it means to be a good knight and more importantly: good person.
For several months (as Game of Owns neared the conclusion of A Storm of Swords), comments, ravens, letters, and humble requests poured in from the listening audience with one specific ask. It was special to find such a diverse collection of people uniting under one common banner. You wanted the podcast to combine A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons into a single experience that we could share in as a community. For months we argued and compared pros to cons, and your voices remained strong.
Sean T. Collins and Stefan Sasse’s Boiled Leather reading order was the first and most sent in our direction for evidence and consideration. Second-most was A Ball of Beasts (a beautifully fitting name- we toiled for weeks on what to name this damned thing). These were the clear pioneers and options for the path if we chose to combine the books for the podcast.
However, we knew if this was something we’d dedicate possible years of the podcast to, it should be crafted by our own hands in order to earn complete understanding of the subject material, and the choices it would take to put something worthwhile together. This was our first reason to strike on a fresh path combining these books.
On our podcast, I was one of the Unsullied hosts, up until Christmas break. For 300 episodes I waited to read along at the pace of the podcast, and it was maddening. This created a massive separation between myself and the idea of combining the two books. I haven’t read the Boiled Leather or Ball of Beasts reading order, but I know an uncountable amount of our listeners have. The second reason for the fresh path is to provide these listeners with a new experience.
Andrew Walker (a friend and frantically obsessed fan of Ice and Fire) began compiling his order after a long conversation with me about theme, and narrative. I didn’t want this to be a placement of chapters in order chronologically specifically — I’ve had time to learn from the podcast what feelings can resonate with structure supporting it — and that is what he began with.
After a few iterations, I was caught up enough to start actually helping. I finished AFFC and began helping with the order. Hannah Panek of GOO spent time reading through stretches of chapters, reporting syntax and feelings they crafted. This is what we do every week on the podcast. We’re ridiculously emotional about these books, and for the podcast’s sake, the order of how we analyze them on the show really matters. This was the third reason. But we needed help.
This is where BryndenBFish came in. He’s a vocal member of the community and listener of the podcast, and I greatly respect his writing and analysis of George’s material. After seeing what we’d come up with so far, we had a long conversation about the order (AFFC, the higher mysteries — it was one of most exciting talks I’ve had on this story, ever) and how he could help. Shortly following that talk, he began his order. Pages of notes later (hours of audio and text ingested), deadlines were moved due to not agreeing on pivotal issues, but we had agreed on a name. There’s progress!
When things were finished for each of us, we held a moot and argued through each decision, for each placement, for each chapter.
It’s not perfect and I don’t think it ever can be. This was my first read through Feast and Dance, after years of longing and separation. They were more than I could have hoped for, and I know that may not be the popular opinion. Read the books in the published order. Feast is haunting and beautiful; Dance is unbelievably exciting and full of mystery.
But if you’ve read through before, are impatiently awaiting winter winds, and are interested in trying something new — please join us in this trek though A Feast with Dragons.
So, we invite you all to join Game Of Owns as they explore the plots, conspiracies of the kings, queens, knights, reavers and dwarves and their deep character psychologies and motivations in this ordering of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.