This is a new and exciting experiment. I will be blogging my reading of the “A Storm of Swords” book, the third book in the Song Of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. This experiment starts after the end of the HBO Game Of Thrones Season 3 TV series, in June 2013. I read the first two books multiple times in the past, and I stole a few reads of early chapters and pages from “A Storm of Swords”, trailing the TV show from behind during the TV year. But this is my first serious proper reading of the book!
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
This blog post will discuss everything in Book #3, “A Storm Of Swords” as I am reading it. I will be frequently cross-referencing events in the HBO TV series (up to the end of Season 3). If you haven’t read this book or watched the TV series, or if you are watching the TV series only, do not read below this section! “A Storm Of Swords” covers events in the HBO TV series Season 3 and 4 and maybe even beyond.
Comments will be closed until I read all five books since there is no other way to prevent spoilers in the comments. Once I read all five books, then I will open the comments.
I am reading the books in e-book format and in parallel listening to the audiobooks. The first read of every chapter is typically the e-book. The second read is either the e-book or the audiobook.
CHAPTER -1: A Note on Chronology
With such a complicated story, it makes sense that GRRM put in a “Note on Chronology” at the start of the book to point out that some of the early chapters are happening in parallel with the Battle of Blackwater. And perhaps at the same time nudge us not to get too obsessed with the timeline and instead enjoy the story 🙂 Fat chance at that!
CHAPTER 0: PROLOGUE aka Chett’s Boils’ Frozen Adventures
Not even a minute into the book, and Chett shows his illogical hatorade for Samwell Tarly. Chett blames Sam for Chett’s situation at The Fist, yet Sam, who took his previous position, is also there at the Fist. So regardless, Chett would have been there!
Bannen, the brother of the Night’s Watch who got a funeral at Craster’s Keep gets mentioned in this chapter. @AngryGOTFan’s favorite, Ser Mallador Locke makes a guest appearance in this chapter as well!
A mirror moment, Grenn giving Samwell the same arrow shooting tip as Anguyuy gave Arya later in the book!
Payback! Chett made fun of Samwell suggesting he was so craven he’d pee his pants in fear at the first sight of battle (24 minutes and 40 seconds into the audiobook). The last sentence of the chapter? Chett actually peeing his actual pants after the third horn blast.
MYSTERIES: We have some early signs of White Walker presence perhaps. First, the wood is too silent. This gets repeated often in this chapter by multiple characters. Then it is cold, very cold. Then Chett has an unexpected dream of Bessa (the woman he killed). Guilt? Conscience waking up? Tormented by memories? Unless his dream is not related to the presence of the White Walkers.
CHAPTER 1: JAIME ONE
Epic diss of Ser Cleos Frey: “looked like a weasel, fought like a goose, and had the courage of an especially brave ewe“.
Jaime’s first official internal compliment of Brienne? “though she has steel in her spine… Not many men dare name me monster to my face…”.
I can never get to used to Dotrice’s mispronunciation of Brienne. It is endearing in a goofy way, but someone please write a script to replace the audio with the correct pronunciation!!!
MYSTERIES: Jaime doesn’t know who send the Bran killer and suspects it’s not Cersei. Who then? Who knew what Bran saw and did not want it leaking? Varys said he had little birds in Winterfell. And he said he wanted stability in the realm (remember the Illyrio dungeon scene overheard by Arya?). But he is also not fond of harming innocents. Or is it someone unrelated, someone we haven’t met yet? Crackpot theory: how about a White Walker agent who knew about Bran’s special powers and saw that as an opportunity to get rid of him?
MYSTERIES: Tansy, who is Tansy? Where did she come out of the blue? Catelyn decides that it must have had something to do with Lysa and her miscarriages, but is it so? Did Lysa have a bastard child? Did Hoster have a lady on the side? And why does he feel guilty and talks about all the blood?
MYSTERIES: More Arya connections with the wolves in the wood. Exchanging “ahooos” with the wolves. And then, the dream to close the chapter! Was it a dream or was some kind of “remote viewing”? Arya saw the wolves attack some of the Bloody Mummers that were perhaps sent after her and her fellow escapees! Another prominent mention of a big She Wolf. And then a second layer of mystery, did the wolves randomly attack them or did they attack them to help Arya and friends escape? Let’s not forget, Nymeria was let loose around this area, so if she survived, it makes sense that she would be wondering the woods. One unknown: do direwolves and regular wolves can get along? Get along enough so Nymeria could/would be accepted as the leader of a pack?
CHAPTER 4: TYRION ONE
A juicy chapter, Tyrion wakes up, talks to Bron and then has an epic discussion with Tywin, which we also saw in early Season 3 of the TV show. The chapter goes at great lengths to point out how Tyrion feels screwed up by everyone even though he played a huge part in saving Kings Landing and the Joffrey Reign.
Marg-mania in King’s Landing! Before she even arrived! Something about giving free food to the hungry perhaps!
The TV show funny bits about Pod’s sexual prowess is not inconsistent with the book. Tyrion points out how good he was in battle yet so confused with simple tasks. Sex is a battle of sorts!
Tywin cares! Tywin cares! He visited Tyrion multiple times while he was dying. He even asked him to sit and noticed that his bandages were bleeding and sent him to bed to sleep. You see? Tywin is a Father’s Day role model!
GRRM SEGMENT: GRRM gives us a mini scare at the start of the chapter, is someone coming after Tyrion again? Ooops, it was only Bron visiting him again… GRRM also makes a funny if you are re-reading after the #redwedding: “there’s this to be said of weddings over battles… less likely for someone to cut off your nose”. Ha!… GRRM is running out of names, there’s a Ty-something dad and a Ty-something son. The Lannister nephew that went missing during the Joffrey riots in book 2. There must be a reason he is getting mentioned again, probably it will surface in a sub-plot in book #7 ;-)… Helmet-cast: Tywin yells at Tyrion for removing his helmet during the battle. It looks like GRRM has long-standing helmet issues 🙂
ROY DOTRICE SEGMENT: With Charles Dance as Tywin, the Roy Dotrice Tywin sounds not-so-good and not as Tywinesque. Charles Dance has hijacked Tywin!
BETRAYAL: signs of early betrayed by Roose Bolton reminder. If you recall the Nan (Arya) at Harrenhall chapters in Book #2, Roose Bolton sent H. Talhart and Robert Grover to raid the Crownlands, heading to Duskendale, faking a command from King Robb The Boy Stark. Knowing that there is a big Lannister + Tyrell force near King’s Landing, Roose was probably trying to get rid of them. They were 1/3rd of the Starks force. Just like clockwork, Tywin is sending Randall Tarly and The Mountain to take them on. Was this already pre-arranged by Roose-Tywin, or was Roose simply trying to get rid of them for his own benefit? Tywin was writing letters in this chapter as well (“I have important letters to finish… Some battles are won… with quills and ravens”).
OMENS: The Joffrey-Margaery wedding date is the first day of the new year of the new century. A symbolic date for sure as Lannisters are planning to make this a Lannister Century!
NEW PLOT? Cersei picked a maester that came with the Redwynes to take care of Tyrion and give him lots of sedatives. Coincidence? The Redwyne twins were not mentioned in the tv show, but they were Cersei’s hostages in King’s Landing earlier on.
CHAPTER 5: DAVOS ONE
The Tyrion chapter was a bit depressing, but Davos #1 is the first chapter in this book that needs to come with a 30-day Prozac prescription. I bet Davos’s waterproof iPod was playing “Every day is like Sunday” while he was dying on his rock.
However, this is not just woe-is-me. There are some interesting tidbits. His son Allard was an onion-style playah, a girl in every port (Oldtown, King’s Landing, Braavos)! We also learn here that Ms Melisandre burned the Godswood in Storm’s End after it went under Stannis’s control. Ouch!
MYSTERIES: 1) was Davos saved by randomness or was there intervention by another force? 2) given his mental and physical state, this may be just Davos going crazy and hallucinating, but Davos is apparently having a discussion with “The Mother”, one of the Seven Gods. If this was a “normal book”, we could discount it as hallucinations. But this is GRRM!
CHAPTER 6: SANSA ONE
Continuing the story from Tyrion #1, Margaery has now arrived in King’s Landing and is worshipped by the actually-unwashed unwashed masses. This is another juicy chapter, and here we have the debut of the Queen Of Thorns!
SAN-SAN: Sansa saved The Hound’s stained white cloak in her chest with her summer clothes.
FEEDING-the-SANSA-HATERS: “Sansa was finding it hard to walk and talk and think at the same time”. At least she didn’t have to chew gum 🙂
CASTING: the TV show can become a new career path for retired NBA players. We are introduced to the two seven footer twins, Left and Right, the personal guards of the Queen of Thorns. If the Collins twins get tired of the NBA… Speaking of which, can someone please hire Mark Eaton to play The Mountain? The meek stick figure they used in Season 2 to replace Conan Stevens was a very rare casting disaster for the tv show.
MEMORY EXERCISES: have you memorized the names of all the guests at the dinner? All the Tyrell highborns coming along with Marg and QoT. Including Marg’s mother which is absent from Season 3 (since she doesn’t really do anything).
SEXPOSITION CANDIDATE: “Buxom Lady Jenna”…
SMELL-o-VISION: the Queen of Thorns smelled of rosewater. So every time you see her on TV, open a bottle of rosewater and take a sniff. Until HBO implements smell-o-vision technology for the tv show 🙂
MYSTERIES: who is/are helping Ser Dontos the Fool Knight plot Sansa’s escape? Assuming of course Dontos has an associate and he is not making it up.
TIDBITS: One of the wildlings said of Jon Show, “he has a wolfish cast”. Interesting!… Jon Snow makes a case for what Thoren Smallwood was advocating in the Prologue, attack the Wildlings and cause disarray and chaos… A giant elk is mentioned. Isn’t someone riding a giant elk later in the book?… The Mance entourage has more people than the TV show. Pregnant wife? Wife’s sister with boyfriend? Magnar of Thenn? Leader of outriders?… Finally Dany has a competitor for longest title. Thormund Giantbane Thunderfist Father of Hosts etc etc etc… The laws of hospitality are mentioned again, Mance feeds Jon Snow chickens…
MISSED CLUE: Jon Snow was confused as to who Mance Rayder was, yet he missed an obvious clue. How about the one singing a song from Westeros?
SHOCKER: Mance Rayder sneaked in at Winterfell during the events of early Book #1 (TV show Season 1 pilot) and was actually at the feast when The Starks hosted Robert and his entourage. Holy cow! Don’t freeze-frame the TV show though, the character playing Mance Rayder was cast in season 3, not season 1. This is not LOST 🙂
MYSTERIES: 1) what exactly are the wildlings looking for in the middle of the frozen mountains far away from their goal to go south of The Wall? I don’t believe the TV show followed up on this mystery. 2) Mance’s favorite outfit has fibers from a long lost ship from Asshai. Would it be a stretch to expect some kind of magical connection here? Or am I seeing connections and mysteries everywhere? 🙂
INTERESTING FACTOIDS: The Dothraki rode out of the east about 400 years ago. So their westward expansion is a fairly new thing. This was revealed while telling the tale of “The 300”. I mean “The 3,000 Unsullied in Qohor”. The story starts at around 4 hours and 58 minutes in the Audible audiobook… The dragons never stop growing if they have free range according to Ser Barristan. Free-range chickens, free-range dragons! They are better for you!
RIDING the DRAGONS: It says another year or two and Drogon would become large enough to ride! Holy cow! If so, then that means we are going to see it during the TV show! Assuming both Dany and dragon Drogon are still alive by then.
WORST COVERT OPERATION EVER: Ser Barristan not so good at covert operations. His name is Arstan vs Barristan, so close. And he can’t stop telling stories from the Mad King era, insider stories that random people would not be familiar with in such detail… Ser Jorah was so tangentially close in figuring out Ser Barristan when he mentioned the role of the Commander of the Kingsguard in Westeros.
SER JORAH THE PERV: The santaclausification of Ser Jorah the Mormont on the TV show is evidenced ever more so in this chapter. He is a lying pervert! He sleazily imposes his kissing and touching on poor Dany while in the middle of a serious business conversation… And then he suggests polygamy, “husbands” he says – as if he can handle sharing Dany!… Also, funny how Ser Jorah the Perv is making the case that other people are betraying Dany! Ha!!!
I’M STILL ALIVE: Two of Dany’s hand maidens are still alive! Alive and with Dany! And her three bloodriders are alive and barfing all over the place.
TIDBITS: Dany was born during the worst storm in recent memory in Westeros. Coincidence? Is she going to become a giant storm… Dany has moments of wisdom, on Viserys and “the queen must listen to all”… The Dragons won over the fearful crew of the Pentosi cog. Bodes well for future dragon interactions with other people?… Measurements contest: Barristan taller than Ser Jorah the Perv… The Second Sons are mentioned here as well, they are apparently over 400 years old – mentioned in this chapter in the Qohor 3,000 story.
TYPOS: it’s raining alternate Qarth spellings in this chapter! (Kindle e-book)
WHERE IS STRONG BELWAS? D&D where is Strong Belwas??? Please tell me you are planning to bring him in Season 4!!!! #nooneunderstaaands!!!
MYSTERIES: what did Prince Rhaegar find in his scrolls to make him pick up arms and decide to become a great warrior??? “It seems I must be a warrior”… North of Valyria is demon-haunted and there might be krakens there!
CHAPTER 9: BRAN ONE
As far as I can tell so far, this is the last POV debut in this book (I haven’t looked at the complete Chapter list). Half of the chapter is Summer doing wolfy things in the woods, but this chapter gives us some interesting information…
REVELATION: the fate of Nymeria was a mystery, but we get an interesting revelation here. Summer can feel ALL his other siblings except for Lady. So we have confirmation that Nymeria is alive somewhere!
TIDBITS: mentioned once again, the blades Bran & Co picked up from the Stark tombs. Foreshadowing! Will likely come into play by Book #11 😉
GREENSEER POWERS: they have green dreams, and some could warg into any animal and some could use the Weirwood Webcam Network and some could “see truths” whatever that means.
MYSTERIES: Is there a direwolf wireless network connection? Summer can “feel” and “sense” the others… The “Winged Wolf” is mentioned again, “bound to earth by chains of stone”… Meera can breathe mud?????????
BROMANCE: in the middle of all these backstabbings and plotting and schemings, GRRM gives us a classic bromance with Davos and Salladhor Saan and his Lysene pirates (captain of ship giving Davos his own quarters)
FACTOIDS: there is a smoking volcano on Dragonstone island… Salladhor Saan got a promotion! He is the Lord of Blackwater Bay, state-sanctioned piracy by Stannis’s Florent Hand!… some of the Stannis ships survived the wildfire and went upstream on the Blackwater and apparently a couple of them are playing pirate. Will they run into the Brotherhood without Banners and join forces???… the Shadow baby pushing against Meli’s thighs is canon! Davos recalls it in this chapter!
GENDRY WHO? Gendry “ate” the role of Edric Storm, Robert’s bastard by a Florent lady in the Stormlands. Apparently Edric is not kept as a prisoner but he is treated as royalty, running around and playing with Shireen and Patchface. Not that he has anywhere to go – stuck on Dragonstone.
FORESHADOWING: Did Patchface just foreshadow the #redwedding??? “fool’s blood, king’s blood, blood on the maiden’s thigh, but chains for the guests…”
MYSTERIES: what are these “hungry fires” and secret places that Meli and Stannis were visiting inside the mountain (volcano?)?
GENERAL COMMENT: GRRM does a much better job at representing “people of bodily size” in his books. There are multiple characters of bodily size, and they have a variety of roles and positions and personalities. Not just the Hollywood roles of “friend of a main character” or “jolly big fellow” or “eating at restaurant”.
CHAPTER 11: JAIME TWO
So our super-vow-trio of Bry-een (Brienne), Jaime and Ser Cleos arrive at the Inn where the last Stark king bowed down to Aegon and his dragons. At least there was no Stark present, so we were spared that symbolism.
Jaime’s disrespect and plotting to kill Bra-een continues but she also makes some inroads – he gives her props (internally and externally) for seeing through the inn keeper’s manipulations and even more so, she reminds him of Tyrion after a fashion.
REVELATIONS: the real reason Jaime Lannister joined the Kingsguard. Cersei’s idea to prevent his marrying of Lysa Arryn. Young Cersei, even in the shadow of Tywin in King’s Landing was able to make it happen!… We also get the actual scene of Jaime killing the Mad King, right after he killed his pyromancer Hand of the King.
DRIVEN FURTHER INTO INCEST? The potential of a marriage to Viserys for Cersei and Lysa Tully for Jaime perhaps drove Cersei and Jaime further into incest. Viserys? Lysa Tully? Make me a Septon/Septa instead! Does this have anything to do with the “Tansy” reference in Catelyn #1? There is definitely a swoon level difference between Jaime and grandpa Jon Arryn even for a young Lysa.
ISN’T IT IRONIC? Jaime hates bows and crossbows with a passion, a coward’s weapon and such. He has such a visceral distaste. At the same time, his own son, Joffrey, is very fond of bows and crossbows. And he is definitely a craven!
NOT VERY STEALTH: Brienne calls Jaime “Ser” in front of the inn keeper! (6 minutes and 30 seconds into the audiobook).
TIDBITS: we get a hint that Lord Beric Dee cannot die. Knowing what happens in Season 3, we can put this line in proper perspective… Tywin did not stand up to the Mad King when he decided to de-tongue his then captain-of-guard Ser Ilyn Payne. We don’t know how much Tywin liked Ser Ilyn, but what does this mean when it comes to Tywin dealing with insane antics from King Joffrey?… Tywin is the only one of the last seven Hands to be alive! Jon Arryn lasted nearly twenty years but the other five were “contractors”… Funny, “we are both Kingslayers here” says Jaime…
FORESHADOWING? “in his dreams the dead came burning… in swirling green flames…”
CHAPTER 12: TYRION TWO
SHAE-SHAE: Tyrion was apparently determined to break it off with Shae-Shae, but he couldn’t go through with it. Did this scene inspire the Season 3 finale scene with Varys handing Shae-Shae a bag of diamonds?… Very telling is the post-sex “discussion” where Tyrion was talking about all the risks and Shae having a parallel conversation about jewels and weddings and festivities, completely ignoring the risks pointed out by Tyrion. GRRM wouldn’t have put it here if there wasn’t a reason for it. Ouch in advance?
PYCELLE GETS RESTORED: Power play between the Citadel and Tywin in the appointment of a new Grand Maester opens the door for a Pycelle return. The Citadel is in the Reach and their chosen candidate an actual Tyrell. Hmmm… Interesting!
TIDBITS: There are no secret passages interconnecting Maegor’s Holdfast. Only an escape tunnel. Assuming Varys was not lying… Loras suggests he is done with love (another subtle sign of Loras – Renly relationship)… I hope PETA didn’t read this, a violent dog fight for the entertainment of the KL guards… The world building is so detailed, we get post-sex descriptions like this: “… with a soft wet sound”.
MYSTERIES: What is Varys doing in drag? Business or pleasure???… How does Varys open the secret passages? Tyrion was unable to figure it out. Is Varys actually using magic (to open the secret passages) despite his dramatic speech of hating magic in the TV show?…. Ironically, Ser Mandy Moore was unlikeable according to “research” by Varys and Tyrion. Do we know book wise whether it was Cersei or Joffrey or someone else who asked him to get rid of Tyrion during the battle?… Poor Pod is sleeping in a wheel bed! Squires need to unionize – no pay, no decent bed!
CHAPTER 13: ARYA TWO
RARE HAPPY MOMENT: A mini Winterfell reunion. Arya spots Harwin of Winterfell among the Brotherhood soldiers. He was one of the Stark men Neddard sent to apprehend the The Mountain. So in a way, Ned Stark is the Father or Godfather of the Brotherhood Without Banners!
IN-CHAPTER MYSTERY: yes, yes, yes, by the time you end the chapter you know this, but GRRM plays a little mystery game with us within the chapter, placing clues left and right. The inn Arya & Crew arrive at is the same Inn Brienne & Crew just left from in Jaimie #2.
TIDBITS: Brienne/Jaimie’s suspicions are confirmed. The Inn Keeper was sending them to a trap in the woods for Tom O-7s, Lem, Archer and friends to catch… Hot Pie has a great singing voice, why didn’t he sing in the TV show?… Gendry unwittingly making fun of his drunkard dad…
TV SHOW WAG OF THE FINGER: Arya does not know how to shoot a bow!!! The TV show pilot shows Arya to be an excellent marksman! But the book tells us “she wished she knew how to shoot arrows” at 7 hrs and 50 minutes and 46 seconds in the Audiobook. #nooneunderstaaands!!!
FORESHADOWING: we keep hearing about Needle. I have a feeling Needle will make a comeback at some point!
CHAPTER 14: CATELYN TWO
Jeyne dont-call-me-Talisa Westerling and family make their debut! We meet so many new characters in this chapter: Jeyne, her mother, her uncle, her two brothers, and her sister.
CATELYN DISCOVERS HER TRUE FRIENDS: Only three offered Catelyn unconditional support among the Northern and River lords when she was being presented before King Robb in the hall at Riverrun: the Blackfish (obviously), Lady Mormont, and the Big Oaf the Greatjon!
ROBB loses faith in DIREWOLVES: after the alleged death of Bran/Rickon and his marriage to Jeyne and The Westerlings, Robb drifted away from the direwolves, keeping Grey Wind away because he made Jeynie and family uncomfortable, and feeling betrayed because they were unable to keep allegedly-dead Bran and Rickon safe.
CATELYN EVALUATES and finds that Jeyne-Talisa Westerling has acceptable birthing hips and that her older brother has good teeth and that Margaery would be great for her Robb.
BALON WOULD HAVE ATTACKED REGARDLESS: the should-have-kept-Theon-as-a-hostage keeps getting repeated, but based on Theon’s arrival at Pyke in book #2 and things said and done after, Balon was planning to strike regardless. Theon found the longships ready to go and Balon was not letting other people’s ships leave the Iron Islands.
WERE THEY JUSTIFIED IN YELLING AT EDMURE? Are they just piling on and taking their frustration out on poor Edmure? Why didn’t they fill him in on the plan if this was so important and crucial to their war plan? It was their whole war plan apparently. But there’s no guarantee that Tywin would have played along with Robb’s plan. And what actually happened was a series of random events that happened to work in the Lannister’s favor.
TIDBITS: Robb’s little trick, using Catelyn’s freed-the-Kingslayer troubles to wash off his own folly. Where was this political savvy earlier on and later on when he needed it more?… GRRM’s little trick, Catelyn was allowed access to the roof so GRRM could give us updates of what was happening in Riverrun (eg the Freys bolting out after news of Jeyne-Talisa)… The Greatjon may not be invited at the next feminist convention, “a mother’s folly. Women are made that way”. On the other hand, Karstark may get an invitation, he did not play the gender card, he evaluated the action instead, “I name it treason”… The line Catelyn ended her Robb scene with early in the #RedWedding TV episode (that was used a lot in promos and previews) is kinda canon – she talks about vengeance here, “all that remains is vengeance”… Another Jeyne Westerling, was she married to Maegor the Cruel or was this a different Maegor?… Apparently there are different factions among the Freys with different ideas on how to deal with this diss by Robb. Judging by the #redwedding, Black Walder’s faction won… Last sentence in the chapter suggests that Edmure will have to marry one of Lord Frey’s daughters…
ARMY COUNT: In book #1, the Freys contributed 1,000 mounted knights and nearly 3,000 foot… The Westerlings contributed around 50 fighting men after le marriage.
FORESHADOWING: Grey Wind does not like Uncle Spicer, Jeyne’s uncle. Since this is not a TV actor, it will be interesting to see how he will “earn” Grey Wind’s mistrust in the future. Or may be Grey Wing is allergic to spices 🙂
CHAPTER 15: JON TWO
This is a very juicy chapter, a re-read and re-read and re-re-re-read and re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-read type of a chapter! We are introduced to some of the more exciting peoples of Beyond The Wall.
THE GIANTS are HERE: Jon Snow meets the giants and their giant mammoths! Judging by the descriptions, the TV show did a pretty good job portraying them as not just oversized humans. Regardless, David Stern would love to put them through the NBA Combine and the NBA Draft 🙂 As long as they could metrosexualize them enough to get rid of the nasty stink!
VARAMYR SIXSKINS: holy cow! where does GRRM come up with these??? And why we didn’t see him on the television? A man, a bear, a shadowcat and three wolves as one! Here is an illustration of him/them at the Ice and Fire Wikia.
WILDLINGS SANITIZED for TV SHOW: the TV show sanitized and homogenized the Wildlings, but they are far from just “people like us” (from the Westeros perspective). Ice River clans feast on human flesh… Hornfoot men… Savage dogs… Hanna the Dog head collector (not actual name)…
MANCE RAYDER the UNITER: of all the Kings out there, past and present in the timeline of the books, Mance Rayder appears to have done the best job of uniting his people. Considering what he had to work with versus the relatively more civilized people of Westeros.
THORMUND’s BELIEVE IT or NOT? He made a lot of dubious claims in this chapter… He had sex with a female bear… He had sons with a female bear… His manhood was cut in half by the bear… He lived inside a Giant’s belly which he cut open and the giant did not die… The Giant nursed him for three months…
TIDBITS: What did Jon lie about that got him face-clawed by Orell? The book does not remind us. Was it the number of men of the Night Watch that had gone beyond the wall? I thought Jon said 1,000 were the total on the wall, not 1,000 gone beyond the wall?… Jon thinks Ygritte reminds him of Arya, so Jon likes Ygritte, just nowhere near as much as Ygritte likes him…
FACTOIDS: distance from The Fist to The Wall: one hundred leagues.
MYSTERIES: Jora-dude blew the horn of winter and woke up the giants. True or False or Myth? Also, Jon wonders, does blowing it again puts them back to sleep?… Does Mance Rayder suggest something we haven’t been told yet about his past? “… you cannot fight the dead… no man knows that half so well as me…”
SANSA starts to Understaaand: “they are children, they are silly little girls”. Just like her at the start of the books. Truth be told, Sansa gets a lot of hatorade on the TV show simply because we as TV viewers, having watched hundreds if not thousands of hours of formulaic TV dramas and movies, we are desensitized. I am sure if Sansa was an actual person in people’s lives, they would be a lot nicer and more understanding of her situation and troubles.
SHE TOLD SER DONTOS THE FOOL: Sansa did not keep the Tyrell plot a secret. She told Ser Dontos the Fool. Big mouth strikes again. And then after she told him, she broke off her secret visits with him in the Godswood. So does this mean the Ser Dontos “escape on Jofri’s wedding day” plot is now dead?
TIDBITS: The Tyrell ladies were very friendly to Sansa, even if they had ulterior motives, they treated her a lot better than the Lannisters… Sansa-GRRM made a funny, which one of the many Queens… Just like the actress, “Sansa… grown three inches during the last year”. Nina Gold is a genius 🙂
MYSTERIES: what’s with the silver hairnet? In the last Sansa chapter of Book #2, Ser Dontos the Perv even suggested of magical properties. And here, in this chapter, GRRM reminds us of its existence. Surely, it will come into play at some point in the future, why else remind us of its existence?
REVELATIONS: Jaime Lannister’s rush decision to go thug on Neddard Stark in Book #1 ruined Tywin’s plan to capture Neddard and trade him for Tyrion. It could have saved Neddard’s life too and maybe even Robert’s – at least in the short term! And Tyrion wouldn’t have to take so many risks with the Trial-by-Combat and the Eastern road… We learn what happened after Beric D and Thoros M arrived in the riverlands to capture the The Mountain! The TV show already ruined the subtle mystery of Beric D rumored to have been killed multiple times yet still being alive. An origins story of sort for the Brotherhood!
TIDBITS: Hot Pie farewell, no direwolf bread which was a nice touch by the TV show… The prayer returns and the Hound is included… Arya gets another Lyanna compliment, “you ride like a Northman… your aunt was the same, Lady Lyanna…”… L-Y-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-N-A-A-A-A-A-A-A!!!… Another betrayal, from Arya’s perspective, a small one this time, Harwin is loyal to Beric D and the Masterplan, not the Starks and Winterfell…
DREAM or PROPHECY or REMOTE VIEWING? Arya has a dream, outside Winterfell, alone, up to her knees in mud, with wolves all around, eyes shining…
FORESHADOWING: “I wish I had a good mean dog said Arya”. Having watched the TV show, we know that Arya meets up with the The Hound later on…
CHAPTER 18: SAMWELL ONE
This chapter takes the lead from Davos #1 as the most depressing chapter of the book at the moment. Having watched the TV show, I know there are #RedWedding chapters coming, so probably Samwell #2 will lose its Prozac crown by the end of the book! It should come with at least 30 days of Prozac to be taken before, during and after reading! But this is also the Sam The Slayer chapter!
SAMWELL’s JOB PERFORMANCE REPORT: the TV show ruined Samwell’s chances for a yearend bonus! In the books, he actually did a reasonably good job. He was successful in his first task of sending the correct ravens to the correct places with the correct messages. The second task, he failed in attaching the messages, however, when the ravens arrive without messages, any Maester with half a brain will suspect that something must have gone really bad for the ravens to arrive without messages. So while not an A+ performance, Samwell was not a disaster in this matter!
WHITE WALKER FACTOIDS: it got cold the night before the attack, and colder during the attack. Also, Samwell felt even colder when he was in close proximity of the White Walker… Of the White Walker, “… his feet did not break the crust of the new fallen snow”. Do they glide, not walk???… The White Walker sword slipped through the iron rings of Small Paul’s mail… The whole White Walker melted away after he took the Dragonglass in the throat…
WIGHT FACTOIDS: there seems to be some level of intelligence in the wights?: “…even as they fell, they clutched swords, stirrups and the legs of passing horses”…
TIDBITS: GRRM the fashionista, we get a full page describing Samwell’s wardrobe! Did you know Sam wore Armani? :)… The Ravens could sense the Wights/Walkers/Others approach – they went furiously furious before the actual attack… Small Paul the traitor actually saved Samwell’s life and also gave away the secret plan except no one was paying attention considering their situation… A callback to the “Bear/Maiden” song when the Wight-Bear attacks the ringwall. One of the Night’s Watchmen says “a bear, a bear”… Roy Dotrice really loves doing the horn “ahoooooooooooooooooooooos”. I have to remember to turn it into my ringtone 🙂
The TRAIL of DEAD: More officers of the Night’s Watch die, Thoren Smallwood killed by the Wight-Bear (“and then the bear took his”), while frail, fragile old Ser Ottyn Withers may have died when kicked in face by horse…
FORESHADOWING: The Dragonglass and the old horn were packed in Samwell’s “backpack”, so GRRM is telling us Samwell has them in his possession. The dragonglass blade came into play by the end of the chapter when Samwell killed a White Walker!
MYSTERIES: what does the Old Horn do? Jon #2 talked of Joramun and The Horn of Winter. Is it this one? A similar one? A horn with a different function?… Where the Ice Spiders? The White Walkers are supposed to be riding giant Ice Spiders according to the myths. Instead they are riding dead horses… Did some other force encourage Sam to attack the White Walker by taking on the different voices in Sam’s head?
REVELATION? In Sansa #2, Sansa told Ser Dontos the Perv about the Tyrell plot to marry her to Ser Willas Tyrell. Fast forward to now, and Littlefinger informs the Lannisters of this plot. So did Ser Dontos tell Littlefinger? Was Ser Dontos planning Sansa’s escape directly or indirectly with Littlefinger? Or did Ser Dontos go to Littlefinger in order to derail the Tyrell-Sansa marriage but the Dontos Escape Plan has nothing to do with Littlefinger?
MILD SURPRISE: Tyrion asks to be given an army to attack the Vale. Considering what he knows about The Vale, does he seriously want to do this???
SOUTHERN ELITISM? Both Mace Tyrell and Paxter Redwyne diss and disregard the North and suggest to give it to the Ironborn, “what is there north of the Neck that any man would want?”… In a later discussion, Mace Tyrell also dismisses the Wildlings amassing at The Wall…
THE VARYS PARANORMAL REPORT is ignored by Tywin but GRRM tells us that Krakens are here as well, one sighting near The Fingers. In the same chapter, we are told Littlefinger will sail in that direction, does that mean he is going to have a Kraken encounter? Granted, The Fingers are higher than where Littlefinger needs to go in order to get to The Eyrie…
TIDBITS: Tywin loses his atheist street cred by “…kissed the High Septon’s ring”… The TV show musical chairs were probably inspired by Tyrion taking Pycelle’s old place and Pycelle going as far away as possible… Does Pycelle resemble a white walker???… Great line by GRRM: “making pious noises at the High Septon”… A subtle diss of Lannister-turncoat Vargo the Goat by Littlefinger, “Bolton is stabling goats in my High Hall”. I only caught it on the third read/listen… Tyrell’s second son, Ser Garland the Gallant just became the Lord of Brightwater Keep… Varys thinks of the Wall and suggests to send the turncloak goldcloaks to The Wall. Tyrion joins in… The Lannisters believe in the Gold Standard, but Littlefinger is a big fan of fiat money. I assume Ron Paul did not read these books otherwise he would have mentioned this as an example!… The marriage scene evil giggles were reversed in the TV show. Cersei taking joy in Tywin’s marriage news versus the book with Tyrion taking joy in Cersei’s marriage news… Tywin asks Cersei if she wants to be a cougar… Another “must needs”!!! (3 hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds in Part #2 of 6 in the Audible audiobook)
STRATEGY: Is Tywin also corresponding with Mance Rayder? He refuses to send any help to the Night’s Watch, hoping that Mance Rayder hops over the wall and deals with the remaining Starks and Ironborn and Northeners. I am sure Tywin could care less if Roose Bolton and the Freys survived or not… The Lannisters are not just letting Littlefinger go, they seem to have traded off the situation and think Littlefinger is the better option versus the braver and more noble veteran Lords of the Vale marrying Lysa Arryn and perhaps supporting or even joining forces with The Starks and Tullys or Stannis.
WAR UPDATES: Lots of war and troop movement updates in this strategy loaded chapter… Samwell’s dad (Randyll Tarly) defeated the Northmen who attacked Duskendale after a bloody battle, while the remaining Northeners are likely to be slaughtered by The Mountain as they retreat towards Harrenhall. Given what we know from TV Season 3 and the Nan chapters in Book #2, it looks like Roose Bolton send them to their near certain death by sending them to Duskendale, lying that it was Robb’s command. The only question is whether he did this before or after the Tywin alliance. Either way it would have worked for Roose’s benefit… Back to back chapter victories for the Tarlys, Samwell becomes the first man to kill a White Walker in thousands of years, while Dad defeats the Northerners… Meanwhile, in the West, there are two Lannister armies, one waiting at the Golden Tooth and another reforming at Lannisport by the son of the guy who got owned by Robb in Book #2 in the sneak attack. From what I recall from that book, it was said the son was better at war than the now-dead father. The plan is to attack Riverrun when Robb and his armies are further away. Knowing what we know post-Red-Wedding, with Walder Frey holding the Riverrun heir, would they still attack Rivverun? (assuming the TV show was accurate bookwise in this manner)..
NEW WAR is COMING: Lys and Tyrosh of the Free Cities are about to go to war and they are flirting with Myr. Fighting already broke out in the Stepstones…
The TRAIL of DEAD: 47 lesser lordings and 619 knights died fighting for Stannis during the Battle of Blackwater.
THE TYWIN and BOLTON ALLIANCE: Tywin says “granted enough time, a better option may present itself”. Given what we know from TV Season 3, this suggests that the better option is Roose Bolton becoming Warden of the North and dealing with the Ironborn. The Tywin important letter writing is mentioned again… Tywin is confident that Robb Stark won’t have any heirs… Tywin is not upset that the Westerlings aligned with the Starks? Does this mean the Westerlings planned this with Tywin? Or Tywin is very happy with this turn of events because it is a strategic disaster for Robb, so he don’t mind the betrayal right now?
FACT or FICTION? Littlefinger claims he had sex with Lysa Tully multiple times before. Is he lying to help make his case? Or did he indeed? Could this be related to Tansy in Catelyn #1?
MYSTERIES: Is Cersei trying to slowly kill Lancel? Kevan says “one day stronger, one day worrisome”… A loaded or a throwaway sentence? “Tyrion noted the look that passed between Paxter Redwyne and Mace Tyrell” when discussing whether Littlefinger should go flirt with Lysa Tully-Arryn… Another loaded or throwaway sentence, “but Rowan looked fit to gag” when discussing Tywin pretending he was not the one who presented the dead Elia children to Robert. While Paxter Redwyne didn’t give a crap… What happened to this Tyvek? And why do they keep repeating it in the books? To show how much importance Tywin places on the Lannister name or is there some plot-within-a-plot-within-a-plot in progress?… Is there a maegi in Robb wife’s family? Her great grandmother is a Maegi from Essos. Do any of the younger Spicer/Westerling generations also practice?
OBVIOUS QUESTION: Does Tyrion have any bastards he doesn’t know about? Based on all the sex he has with the ladies of the night, and the lack of proper birth control in Westeros, aren’t there good chances that Tyrion had at least one bastard with one of his ladies of the night???
DIFFERENCE from TV SHOW: In the TV show, the Karstarks just disappear. Here however, the plot thickens, the Karstarks disperse in the Riverlands, trying to find the Kingslayer for a chance at the hand of Rickard’s daughter’s hand.
EDMURE TRIED to get Robb to make a more politically savvy decision with the fate of Rickard Karstark, but Big Oaf Stark logic won and beheading it was…
DIRE STRAITS: Robb losing Karstarks, offending the Freys, ignored by Lysa, who would not even let him pass through the Vale, climb on boats, land at White Harbor and attack Moat Cailin from all directions and end the Ironmen’s stranglehold on the North.
TIDBITS: Catelyn gives us a primer on Lysa psychology (3hr 45 minutes in Part #2 of six-part Audiobook)… not only there is Bigjon, there’s also Smalljon Umber, both MIA on the TV show… Will this create an Umber vs Karstarks feud since it was Umber men detaining the Karstarks after they killed the two Lannister captive kids?… Starks and Karstarks were so close, Karstarks were given Stark all-star names, Rickard and sons Eddard and Torrhen… We also get the Karstarks Origins story of Karlon Stark… No one takes “Beheading 101” in Westeros anymore. It took Robb three axe blows to behead Karstark… Oversexed Robb – two or more times per day confessed Jeyne Westerling… What’s with Catelyn’s obsession with birthing hips???… Another “The North Remembers” reference…
ARMY RECOUNT: Robb lost 300 mounted Karstark riders and twice as many horses that were stationed at Riverrrrun with Robb…
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? the Karstarks foot soldiers are at Harrenhall under the command of Roose Bolton. What will they do when news of this reaches them???
MYSTERIES: since there is magic in these books, did Rickard’s “kill me and be cursed” have any impact on the “success” of the Red Wedding?… What letter was Robb writing all morning (the day he beheaded Karstark)? This mystery may never be solved because Robb burned the letter after he wrote it… Is Jeyne’s mother doing any fertility magic? Jeyne’s great grandma was a Maegi from Essos…
CHAPTER 21: JAIME THREE
The Brienne vs Jaime fight and their capture by Urswyck and Vargo the Goat was a lot more bloody than the TV show. Brienne took two arrows, one blade in thigh, and two lost teeth among others. Both were fighting with handicaps: Brienne had two arrows in her and she did not want to kill or harm Jaime because she swore to deliver him alive. Jaime was in chains and was weakened by months in the dungeons.
TIDBITS: Jaime’s mistrust of the bowmen may have saved them… Jaime does not approve the use of “Dogs” like The Mountain and Amory Lorch… Despite the insults, Jaime continues to give Brienne more and more internal props, “She is Stronger than I am. The realization chilled him”… Jaime got blindsided, he didn’t know The Bloody Mummers changed sides… Cersei and Jaime started their twincesting at an early age, caught by maid who told their late mother. Jaime says the maid was “send away”. Is that a euphemism for having her killed to protect the secret?… Funny, Jaime said “I have a yen”. It may appear like a “french door” type of a thing, but it’s actually an old word that has nothing to do with Japanese yen.
TRAIL OF DEAD: Gone is Ser Cleos Frey, killed by horse and arrows.
EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW: Jaime suggests that Joffrey marry Myrcella like the Targaryens did!… Also filed under “Ewwwww” Rorge and Biter continue their atrocities, this time Biter chewed off a Septa’s breast!!!
CHAPTER 22: ARYA FOUR
Another jam-packed chapter! While the plot does not move forward (Arya has yet to meet Beric D and Thoros M), there’s all kinds of information and world building and new intriguing characters we meet…
LADY SMALLWOOD FAN CLUB: how does GRRM do this? In just one chapter, Lady Smallwood (not to be confused with Lady Hornwood of Book #2) becomes an “Instant Davos” type of a character. She is probably the most sensible person in Westeros – at least among the ones we met so far!… Lady Smallwood for the Westeros Senate!!!! She even dishes wisdom for Arya, “any act can be a prayer… remember that the next time you do your needlework…”
WISE DWARF OLD WOMAN at HIGH HEART (CHILDREN OF THE FOREST?): Arya and crew visit High Heart, a sacred place of the Children of the Forest with 31 cut-down weirwood trees. Arya does not meet the wise old short dwarf lady but she hears three of her dreams. I guess meeting Arya would have been too spoilerish for future books since GRRM’s foreshadowing doesn’t have a lot of shadowing 🙂
Given the location, and given her age (Arya thinks she is older than Old Nan who is very very very old), and given her height, and given that she does not speak like the Smallfolk, is she one of the Children of the Forest? Or perhaps mixed blood of human and Children of the Forest????
KARSTARKS OUT OF CONTROL: in the TV show, the Karstarks magically disappear and we hear nothing of them… In the books, GRRM is keeping it real. The Karstarks are unleashed in the Riverlands and they are causing all kinds of troubles, raiding and pillaging and raping while hunting for the Kingslayer. There are multiple instances of Karstarks causing trouble at different places in just this chapter alone…
MISSED TV OPPORTUNITIES: I understand these type of things are expensive and in this particular case it does not appear to have any impact on the main story, but it would have been so cool to show Arya and Ragtag Rebels climb up and visit the Tree Village with the Lady of the Leaves.
MYSTERIES: what song did the Old Dwarf Woman wanted to hear from Tom O’7s? A semi-famous song, but GRRM gives us no lines. Arya semi-recognized it. Suggests that if he gave us more details of the song, we would have figured out things we were not supposed to figure out. This perhaps narrows down the number of possible songs (assuming it is one of the songs that have been previously mentioned)… Who was the deranged old knight they met? Given what GRRM has done so far, surely this is not just some random knight thrown in for good measure just to show us the impact of war? They say his sons died during Robert’s Rebellion, fighting on both sides of the aisle… more Tansy references, this time “Tansy Tea” as birth control…
SPOILER if you haven’t read ALL FIVE BOOKS: if you are reading this along as you read the books, this is a potential spoiler, so don’t read any further in this paragraph. Last warning, last warning, last warning. After the Red Wedding episode, three different podcasts mentioned something about Catelyn that sounded very spoilerish. *shakes fist at three podcasts* If it was mentioned by only one podcast, I probably wouldn’t have remembered, but three in a row said something very similar. And now it looks like I am getting confirmation of the spoiler with one of the Old Dwarf Woman’s Dreams: “…red tears on her cheeks. When her eyes did open, I woke from terror!”… Spoiler warning ENDS…
PROPHECIES: in addition to the one above, Old Dwarf Woman had two more dreams. The first one seems to have happened already? The Stannis Shadowbaby killing Renly? “…a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag”… The second one either hasn’t happened yet or it happened in the past but we haven’t been told about it yet: “a man without a face… bridge swayed… drowned crow with seaweed…” – of the places we visited, the only one I recall with swaying bridges are the Iron Islands. Given that Melisandre fried a shrimp for Balon Greyjoy, does this mean someone paid a Faceless Man to kill Balon (maybe Roose or Bastard Bolton or perhaps Tywin with his very important letters?)
WHAT-IF: Arya was thinking of escaping and finding these Northmen (the Karstarks). With Robb beheading Rickard and Catelyn freeing Kingslayer, what would happen if Arya found the Karstarks and revealed herself to be Arya Stark???????
ARMYCOUNT: the Mountain lost half his men at the Stone Mill. So perhaps poor Edmure got yelled at a little too much by Robb and Blackfish.
TIDBITS: Arya is going to be 11 years old too. 11 Westeros years… Why does Roy Dotrice sing the names of games? “Come into my castle!” and “monsters and maidens” (audiobook part 2 of 6, at 4h 38min 45sec)… We find out why Edmure Tully hates singers – they made a song ridiculing him for failing to “perform” with a lady… birth control in Westeros: the pull-out method (do the Maesters of Oldtown approve of this technique???)… When Arya was sent away from the “latest news” chat, she should have send Gendry back to listen to the news and then tell Arya. Unless the Brotherhood was smart enough and figured it out so they send Gendry after Arya… Isn’t it funny? unknowingly Gendry dissing his dad as a drunken glutton (or something like that).
UNSULLIED DIVERSITY: the Masters of Astapor are not picky about who they pick as an Unsullied. They don’t get enough credit for their meritocracy. The best soldiers for the job!… In this chapter we are told that about half of the Unsullied are Dothraki and Lhazareen, and the rest are from Free Cities, Qarth, Summer Islands, Ghiscari, Astaporians, etc. [“they sell their own kind”]
ERROR ERROR ERROR? Dany who casually walked into Drogo’s funeral pyre was feeling light headed because of a little heat in Astapor?
FEMALE GAZE: The books and TV show are accused of “male gaze” but this chapter has a lot of “female gaze”. Dany spend half the chapter admiring Master Kraznys’s big breasts (“he has larger breasts than I do!”)…
EUNUCH GAZE: Such eunuch gaze exploitation, the way GRRM describes the eunuchs is the definition of “eunuch gaze”. And don’t get me started on the TV show, they way they linger on Varys’s shiny head and his non-Japanese kimonos.
TV ADVANTAGE: the TV show did a better job in tightening and compressing the “there’s a beast in every man and it stirs when you put a sword in their hands” phrase. GRRM’s version is loooong… The TV show did a good job in compressing the “Rhaeger fought… died” phrase… The TV format made it possible for Dany to pretend she didn’t understand High Valyrian. It would have been a lot harder to do this in the books since they are written POV-style.
HISTORY LESSONS: The Dothraki have not fought against Unsullied since Qhohor… Old Ghis fell 5,000 years ago according to Dany’s memory, destroyed by Dragons of the then-young Valyria. The current Ghiscari are “mongrels” according to Ser Jorah The Perv… We also learn of the Ghiscari Lockstep Legions of old, which appear to be a model for the Unsullied… The largest Astapor Pyramid is 400 feet high…
SEXPOSITION MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: the TV show got rid of Dany’s handmaidens but they missed such a “male gaze” sexposition opportunity with Jhirri “servicing” Dany in her cabin. Maybe that’s why they elaborated on the Doreah scene in Season 1, to make up for this lost opportunity?
TIDBITS: Did Roy Dotrice explain why his Melisandre “performance” is oddball as it is???… Another new (?) location mentioned – the peaceful people of “Nheis” (wrong spelling; googling for the correct spelling is dangerous with spoilers waiting to jump at every corner). And a big ouch for peace, the peaceful people make the best slaves… The Slavers makes a good point despite all the assholiness – it is foolish for men to take “purity” vows, be it priesthood, night’s watch, maesters, etc… Arstan “Barristan” favorability ratings are rising with Dany – she took him with her to meet the masters instead of Ser Jorah the Perv, and she apparently enjoyed his musical performance “tap tap tap”… How exactly does one manage to smell like raspberries? Is GRRM running out of foods and smells? :)… Speaking of food, how about some jellied dog brains and stew of unborn puppy? Go Vegan!… Oh GRRM you so funny, walking with the bow legged swagger of horselords… How did this escape Gemma Jackson? the opportunity to do the crazy hair designs of the Ghiscari Elites?… An interesting philosophical debate towards the end of the chapter between Dany and Barristan on slave soldiers and honor and such… Yes, smack Ser Jorah the Perv some more Dany! He deserves a lot of slappings!..
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? The Unsullied at Astapor were given the secret recipe “Wine of Courage” while in Astapor. Now that they are off with Dany, what will happen to them and their job performance without the “Wine of Courage?”
CHAPTER 24: BRAN TWO: Knight of the Laughing Tree
I first read this while TV Season 3 was airing at the recommendation of @vahlamorgulis since this chapter was trailing the TV show plot. How does GRRM manage to do things like this? Out of the blue he manages to plug-in another layer to the Lyanna and Starks mystery with all kinds of other juicy treats hanging from the Laughing Tree.
REVELATION: assuming Meera’s story is factually accurate, we get confirmation that as of about 20 years ago, there were Green men/people living on the Isle of Faces! Even more so, Meera knows what happened at the Isle of Faces during KotLT’s winter stay, but she refuses to tell us/Bran.
IS KotLT HOWLAND REED? many signs point to Howland Reed being the KotLT. High-born, developed close friendship with the Starks, especially Neddard and Lyanna who rescued him from the teasing squires. Curiosity to explore beyond the Neck – he went down South with Neddard looking for Lyanna at the Tower of Joy. Extra motivation to go with Ned looking for Lyanna. The ages of his two kids (Meera and Jojo) do not conflict with this hypothesis.
Whoever it is, he spent some time there (he stayed until the Spring), so we can assume he saw and learned some exciting new things that we can’t wait to hear!
WHO CREATED/HELPED The KNIGHT of the LAUGHING TREE? the chapter gives us some candidates, the Old Gods, the Green Men, and the Children of the Forest. Practical help, we can assume, if he needed any, he could have received from the Starks. Question is, were the Starks in on the transformation, or did he do this on his own? If yes, maybe someone can find Benjen Stark or Howland Reed and make him tell us the story!
Assuming there was supernatural intervention (how can a Crannogman become a skilled knight overnight?), it seems to suggest that there were/are other forces at play that are stirring and willing and able to intervene. Not just the Lord of Light.
FEEDING TWO COMPETING JON SNOW MOM THEORIES: evil genius GRRM, with this chapter, he manages to fuel the fires for two competing Jon Snow mother theories. One being the Lyanna-Rhaegar affair (Lyanna was moved to tears by his singing), and the other being the purple-eyed lady Neddard wanted to dance with but was too shy to ask (isn’t that Arthur Dayne’s sister or something like that? I think Cersei mentioned her in the TV show)
DANCING WITH NEDDARD: this happened before Neddard married Catelyn, but it appears he stirred for this laughing-purple-eyes lady.
CLAIMS OF CRANONGMEN SKILLS: there are many claims of special skills by the Cranogmen and specifically the KotLT. This is a fantasy book, so it’s hard to tell either way by the laws of our physics alone:
1) could breathe mud
2) run on leaves
3) change earth to water and water to earth
4) talk to trees
5) weave words and make castles appear and disappear
THREE TIMES A LADY: GRRM makes sure we don’t miss this: three times he points out through the Reeds that Neddard did not tell Bran this story. The Reeds appeared rather surprised that Bran was not told of this and other related stories of that era. Their heritage of sorts. Neddard, today’s worst dad in the woooooorld!
TIDBITS: So sad, Lyanna and Arya would have made an awesome power duo if Lyanna was still around :(… Jojo’s stubborness to stay on the mountains probably saved them from the Boltons looking for them up and down the King’s Road… Neddard’s grandma was a Flint and perhaps that’s where Bran got his interest in climbing things… GRRM manages to sneak in another “play the game of thrones” reference, this one uttered by Mr. Liddle… It was on the third re-read that I finally realized the young pup was the almost-forgotten by now First Ranger Benjen Stark. Quiet one being Neddard and the loud one being Brandon… From what I recall, the famous uncle of the starting Queen of Love and Beauty of Harrenhal was a Whent of the “classic line-up” of Aerys’s career-ending Kingsguard… Barristan likes his mysteries. His current “Arstan” persona is further supported by his two mystery knight appearances in tourneys in the past. At this point, book readers don’t know that Arstan is Ser Barristan the Bold, so this is a very tangential clue GRRM gives out… Bran wants to visit the Isle of Faces and the Green Men. YES!!! Except they are heading in the wrong direction.
WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE? Knight of Scowls and Kisses, White Sword, Red Snake, Lord of Griffins, Pitchfork Knight, Porcupine. I am afraid to google them for fear of spoilers 🙂
WARGING QUESTION: what happens if you try to warg into an animal that is already occupied by another warg?. What prompted this question is Bran looking at the eagle and trying to connect but being unable to do so – was it because someone else was in the eagle – the Orell eagle?
WILD CRACKPOT THEORY: In conjunction with Davos #3, I am now ready to make a wild crackpot theory projection: Hodor is the name of the Other God of Ice Melisandre mentioned in Davos #3 in this book (“whose name may not be spoken”). The one who is eternally at war with the Lord of Light and whose name she does not utter.
CHAPTER 25: DAVOS THREE
We are already at Davos #3! In #1, he was lounging on his little island, in #2 he was coughing all over Salladhor’s ships. Now he is enjoying fine meals in the wet and warm Dragonstone dungeons.
WHO IS AZOR AHAI? Melisandre claims Stannis is Azor Ahai. Yet based on her description, it is actually Daenerys that fits the description best: “shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone”. Dany was born on Dragonstone. She woke dragons out of the stone eggs in Drogo’s Funeral Pyre at the end of book #1. There was smoke there as well. On the other hand, Stannis was born at Storm’s End and has nothing to do with dragons other than been given Dragonstone by Robert and he didn’t even want Dragonstone.
SER ALESTER’s TERMS of SURRENDER: what was Alester Florent thinking, sending Tywin Lannister terms of surrender without getting an explicit authorization from Stannis? Alester is right that given the current situation, these were rather favorable terms, but after having spend so much time with Stannis and Melisandre, what was he thinking???
THE DRAGONS REVIVAL PROJECT: Ser Alester mentions a number of failed past “Dragon Revival Projects”: Brightfire and Nine Maeges and Summerhall and Alchemists.
WAR of the GODS: Melisandre says it is an eternal war between the Lord of Light and the Great Other (“whose name may not be spoken”) the God of Night and Terror.
DAVOS RINPOCHE: “… Davos soon found that he was wrong about that, as about so much else…”.
HIGHBORN FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: “my chests were lost when the Lannisters overrun our camp” and “stared at the pail in terror”
TIDBITS: Ser Alester’s Brightwater Keep we learn in an earlier Tyrion chapter was given to Mace Tyrell’s second son, Ser Garland the Galant. Ser Alester thinks his son is safe there at BK… Davos was leeched but apparently only for medical purposes, not Melisandre leeching?… Was it Melisandre who instructed them to give him good meals and treat him nicely? (“do you lack for anything?”). Or is this just another excuse for GRRM to go on and on and on about different foods? :)… Darwin award handed out by Davos: Ser Imory Florent, leading Stannis’s fleet head first into Tyrion’s trap…
CLAIMS OF MELISANDRE POWERS: we have already seen that Melisandre has some powers and she made claims of even more powers. Some of her recent claims:
1) she saw in the flames that Davos was planning to kill her
2) she can tell whether men are true and not servants of darkness – by touching their chest?
3) the Blackwater battle would have had a different ending if she was there with Stannis
MYSTERY: can Melisandre make shadowbabies with other men as well, not just King’s Blood? He told Davos “come to my chamber one night… with your life fire I could make…”. If so, why hasn’t she done so already? She almost drained Stannis to the point of death!
PROPHECY? “… will soon learn that even an ember in the ashes can ignite a great blaze”… On Davos: “yet have served him all the same and will serve him again” (him = Lord of Light)…
TUNNEL UNDER THE WALL (GORNE’S WAY): more backstory, there is apparently a tunnel going from way up North all the way under the Wall, Gorne’s way. This was thousands of years ago, so who knows if this is still functional. Assuming it was true to begin with. We are told no one knows how to find it right know. Surely GRRM did not mention this just for fun???
DISCIPLINED WILDLINGS: amidst the chaos and disorder of the Wildlings, we learn that the Thenns are actually very disciplined and for that reason, Mance send them to climb over the wall along with his wife’s sister’s boyfriend’s raiders.
TIDBITS: we get some astronomy lessons in this chapter. Perhaps Neil de Grasse Tyson can give us a Game Of Thrones astronomy tutorial!… Both Jon and Ghost “marked” by Orell’s eagle. If this was traditional fantasy, Orell’s eagle would have already been killed by either Jon or Ghost… Those Starks, such strange creatures, Jon Snow was thinking of the weirwood trees while sexoring with Ygritte… We get some more detail of the Wall patrols (assuming Jon did not lie)… And here comes the Lord’s kiss – as seen on TV!… Some wildlings consider it incesty to marry someone from the same village/clan… Ygritte is madly in love with Jon, she wants to stay with him forever in the caves, no food, no sunlight, and a promise of turning into flesh-eating creatures. Yikes! It was more romantic on the TV show 🙂
ARMY COUNT: Jon Snow gives a count of the current manpower at the three remaining castles. Inflated by 300, so they should be 700 left by now. So essentially Jon included the ones who went ranging with Commander Mormont.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? Jon tells Ghost to go to Castle Black and they will meet there again since Ghost can’t climb the wall with the Wildlings. Did Ghost understand? Is he heading to Castle Black? Or??? Also, right after Jon said this, there was a “response” from the wind (“a wind sighed through the trees… tugging at his faded blacks”). Coincidence or Old Gods responding?
CHAPTER 27: DAENERYS THREE: THE UNSULLIED POWER PLAY
This is the big chapter where Dany’s gamble with Drogon and The Unsullied paid off. Having watched TV Season 3, the surprise was gone, but as always, there’s a lot more in this chapter versus what we got in the TV show.
QUAITHE KINDA RETURNS: Quaithe made a return of sorts, appearing to Dany in either a dream or some other fashion, but this seems to be a pointless visit – she didn’t tell her anything new or anything relevant to her current situation (the night before Dany made her Unsullied Power Play). Was this a dream? Was this some kind of Quaithe magic? And why appear only to repeat the previous lines?
DANY ACTION HERO: after taking control of the Unsullied, Dany gives the “good master” a taste of his own medicine by slapping him square in the face with his whip! We did not see that in the TV show because perhaps the TV show does not want to lower Dany’s favorability and angelic ratings 😉
FOOTBALL? on Kindle page #310, Kindle Location 6927 we get football??? “water lapping against the hull, a football on the deck above her head. And something else”.
TIDBITS: Illyrio’s assets (the three ships and cargo) were good enough for around 2,000 Unsullied… This time Dany sent Ser Barristan to his room… Missandei is smart, she quickly picked up Dany talking to her in High Valyrian with the “Oh”… Missandei has three brothers who were/are Unsullied… Ser Jorah the Perv is a stalker! (“he’s never far”). Despite his slapping last chapter, he touched her hair uninvited in this chapter… I hope Dany’s dragons did not burn the piles of old books she was going to give the Masters. And she finds someone who can read them! How about the talented Ms Missandei?… Who eats pitted olives stuffed with maggots???… Dragons sensed/knew that Drogon was going to be sold, Drogon was a depressed coiled ball… Funny GRRM, he foreshadows with a shadow, “Kraznys… as their shadow fell across him” [their = dragon wings]… The battle was so one-sided only one of the glorious Ghiscari warriors pulled out a sword…
ARMY COUNT: The TV show simplified things to 8,000 Unsullied, but it’s more complicated in the book, it’s 8,600 Unsullied plus 5,000 trainees… Dany’s Khalasar is 83 Dothraki…
DREAM – PROPHECY? Dany riding a dragon at the Trident as Rhaegar squaring off against the Usurper’s hosts armored in Ice and she melted them all away. Is that what we get in the last chapter of book #7 (or #8 or #9)???
NEVER: Sansa’s “never” hit Tyrion hard, although, logically, this should not have been a surprise given what Tyrion has gone through all his life and who Sansa is…
CERSEI delivers HARD TRUTHS: “almost obscene to squander such sweet innocence on that Gargoyle”… Cersei also offers the legalese explanation why Sansa must obey and marry Tyrion as instructed…
FEEDING THE SANSA HATORADE: “Sansa giggled and spun, Oh I am!!!”… “oh and Dontos but he didn’t count” – the one who told Littlefinger who told Cersei who ruined Sansa’s plans to marry Willas. He don’t count!!!…
TIDBITS: Age factoid, Sansa is almost 13… Sansa’s act of silent resistance: she denied Tyrion’s request to cloak her with dignity… the Kettleback was fairly nice to Sansa… Ser Garlan the Gallant respects The Imp: “will make a better husband, he is a bigger man than he seems I think”… GRRM’s information overload in this chapter includes a detailed description of Tyrion’s manhood…
TANSY! TANSY! TANSY! We have a Tansy! She’s a real person, the Madame of The Peach! Is she the Tansy Ser Hoster Tully was talking in his sleep, introduced to us in Catelyn #1? We know from Book #2 that Edmure is fond of visiting the ladies of the night (that’s how they recaptured the Kingslayer when he escaped in Book #2), but was Ser Hoster Tully fond of the ladies of the night as well? On the other hand, Tansy is a flower name and we are told Smallfolk use this name…
MEET THE HUNTSMAN: new character is introduced in absentia, the Huntsman with dozens of wild dogs and revenge on his mind after his family and holdfast was ruined by the wars. We also get multiple hints of philosophical differences between The Brotherwood Way and Hunstman’s and the locals’ thirst for revenge…
ARYA DANCED WITH GENDRY’S SECRET: Arya was so close in discovering Gendry’s secret, but she approached it from the wrong tangent, wrong direction when refuting the claims of Bella Peach Lady that she was the bastard daughter of Robert B.
ARYA is MERCIFUL: Despite all the chaos and mess, Arya still finds it right to give the caged prisoners water. Anguy seems to agree with her in a way by mercy-killing them. They were Karstarks, looking for the Kingslayer and raping and pillaging along the way.
HISTORY LESSON: more tidbits from Robert’s Rebellion. A battle was fought here at Stoney Sept, the Battle of the Bells, with Neddard and Daddy-Stark rescuing Robert from Aerys’s Hand Ser Connington or Covington or C-something-ton. Two famous knights died during the battle, Rhaegar’s former squire Myles Mutton (sp?) and a popular Arryn from the Vale.
TIDBITS: why did Gendry freak out at the notion of having sex with the Peach ladies? Is he a secret-gay in the books? And why did get all emo later on when Arya asked him a simple question why he called her his sister… We can be accused of being unhealthily obsessed with hygiene in the 21st century, but in Westeros, it is quite the opposite. Arya found it ridiculous that she would have to bathe just two weeks after her previous double-bath… Gendry irritates some shippers by proclaiming Arya as his sister… Nasty rumors are circulating: Catelyn, Brienne and Kingslayer had a 3-way in the Riverrun dungeons and the morning after, Catelyn let Jaime go…
MORE WOLF DREAMS: surely GRRM is not repeating this over and over and over without planning some kind of pay off at some point in the future. In this chapter, we just get a short wolf dream. Is Arya warging or remote-viewing some nearby wolf-pack? Is it Nymeria?
MYSTERY PRISONER: the last page of the chapter introduces a new mystery prisoner. We are told he is a Lannister, he has a brother and he had a lot of gold with him. Is he relevant or was it an in-chapter Jaime misdirection teaser by GRRM?
CHAPTER 30: JON FOUR – THE CLIMB
This may be the shortest chapter so far in the book, but it has a very juicy reveal. Along with the climbing of the wall, as seen on the Season 3 TV episode “The Climb”.
REVELATION: right at the end of the chapter, GRRM hands us a very juicy reveal! What Mance Rayder and the Wildings were looking for in the Frostfangs: the Horn Of Winter aka the Horn of Joramun whose purpose is to BRING DOWN THE WALL! Allegedly of course assuming the Wildlings have it right. And they didn’t find it!
REVELATION FALL OUT: 1) is this the Horn currently in the possession of Samwell Tarley, the old “broken?” horn Ghost found buried under the Fist along with the dragonglass weaponry? 2) will Jon Snow make the logical leap and wonder whether this is the horn Ghost found 3) Mance Rayder did not consider the side-effects of bringing down the Wall after he crossed South? Without the Wall, the White Walkers and Their Army of The Dead would be able to go South a lot easier, significantly reducing the chances of survival of the Wildlings. But then again, their chances of survival are a LOT lower if they remain North of the Wall.
TIDBITS: The Wall is straight East of Castle Black and winding West… Jon is in dire straits juggling the possibilities of Ygritte, Night’s Watch and the Wildlings, with seemingly no way to have his cake and eat it too… Did a book editor manage to remove a “must needs” from the chapter when GRRM was not looking? It says “must of necessity leave their mounds behind”… The Wildlings had 120 men before they started climbing the wall. Six died during The Climb… Crafty wildlings with the climbing strategy and all their gadgets even though they are behind the Seven Kingdoms in technology and engineering…
MYSTERY: Ygritte said the Wall is made of blood! We have been told earlier in the books that likely there is magic of some kind in the making of the Wall. Does Ygritte’s statement suggest some kind of blood magic???
CHAPTER 31: JAIME FOUR – arriving at Harrenhal
We (Jaime, Brienne, Bloody Mummers) finally arrive at Harrenhall! 31 chapters in and still far behind the end of TV Season 3 in terms of overall timeline…
REVELATION: there is a new mystery in the Jaime-Tyrion relation. Jaime says “Tyrion… who loved him for a lie”. What lie? Is this a story line we are already aware of or something brand new? I don’t think this is related to Tysha, since that mystery is resolved…
BLOODY MUMMERS ARE SHIPPERS: yes, even the Bloody Mummers are shippers! That’s right, they were shipping Brienne and Jaime, that’s why they bound them face to face on the same horse!
AS SEEN ON TV (sort of): A number of scenes from this chapter made it in the TV show one way or another, including Brienne’s motivational speech, Jaime’s grabbing of a sword and the horse piss drinking and Jaime using sapphires to save Brienne from raping…
TIDBITS: By now the Freys-Bolton alliance is well under way as seen with the five Freys and Roose Bolton at the steps of the tower… Jaime is starting to understaaand how Tyrion felt/feels… Speaking of feels, Jaime also felt for the two Starks cooked/killed by the Mad King… Jaime was so desperate he even remembers the Prayers to the Seven they said with Cersei as children… Roy Dotrice seems to love doing the Vargo Hoat lithping voithe… Not covered in the TV show was Brienne playing Jaime’s “wet nurse”, washing him after soiling himself… Qyburn makes his debut. I see corruption everywhere!… Another “must needs” this one not part of the narrative, but actually uttered by Qyburn! Maybe that was the real reason he was kicked out of Maesterhood, he kept using “must needs” 😉
ARMY COUNT: at Harrenhall, there were about 5X as many Freys and 5X as many Northerners (under Bolton). 1X = Vargo Hoat’s Bloody Mummmers aka Brave Companions aka Barbarian Barbarians…
MYSTERY? why did Aerys not allow Jaime to fight in the tourneys after he become part of the Kingsguard? Was it to spite Tywin and take away Jaime’s opportunity at fame and glory? Or was this part of Cersei’s scheming? Based on an earlier chapter, we are led to believe that Cersei had something to do with Jaime being picked by the Mad King as part of the King’s Guard. Maybe Cersei did not want to risk him in the tourneys? Or for some other reason? So he can be with her while everybody else was busy at tourneys?
JAIME IS A GREENSEER TOO? Is everyone in this book either a warg or a greenseer of sorts? Jaime claims he saw a glimpse of the green wildfire event – as seen during the Battle of Blackwater. Is there something here or are I am just grasping at straws and seeing mysteries everywhere? 🙂
FORESHADOWING? “we will die together as we were born together” (Jaime of himself and Cersei)
REVELATION #1: Assuming Tywin’s information is correct: the Ironborn have taken over Eastwatch by the Sea on the east side of Westeros! This is the first time we learn of this. Eastwatch has to deal with wildling raiders coming by sea, so we can assume it has better defenses on its backside than Castle Black? This is an interesting development since they are at the northeastern-most corner. Did Balon send ships early to attack the East Coast? Or is this Asha-Yarra? The last we heard of her she was on the other side of Westeros at Deepwood Motte. Or is this other Ironborn marching north? The Ironborn are not particularly fond of inland fighting. From what I recall, the lands of the Umbers and Karstarks and Boltons were not taken over by the Ironborn? Or may be they did, but we don’t know of it yet?
REVELATION #2: Tyrion has another uncle! Tywin’s youngest brother, he left for Essos eight years ago, apparently looking for the Lannister Valyrian steel sword (Brightroar). From what they say, they haven’t heard from him. How many other untold family members do the Lannisters have?
BACHELORETTE: Denied! The Queen of Thorns convinced Mace Tyrell to decline the offer of Cersei’s hand for Willas. So now Tywin is going to create a new Bachelorette Reality Show to decide which one of the available highborn lords would be the best match for House Lannister. Ouch for Cersei!
JANOS SLYNT RISES AGAIN: Tywin’s powergrab continues as he is twisting the arms of the Night’s Watch to make Janos Slynt the new Commander of the Night’s Watch. That could create some awkwardness with Jon Snow, assuming Jon Snow knows of Slynt’s involvement in Neddard’s beheading.
TYRION TRIED TO BE MERCIFUL: Tyrion tried to be nice to Simon Silver Tongue and ship him off to the Free Cities, but greedy Simon Silver Tongue was not satisfied with that arrangement, so he forced Tyrion’s hand to go the Bron-Disposal route.
VALYRIAN STEEL COUNT: We learn that “Thousands” (Valyrian Steel swords) remain in the world. Perhaps 200 of them are in Westeros but Lannisters had zero before this chapter. In this chapter, we learn they have two in their possession, one for King Jofri and one for Kingslayer. Nada for poor Tyrion
TIDBITS: Tywin is so insecure, just because Stannis has the magic Lightbringer, he has to go out of his way to get TWO Valyrian steel swords with a custom paint job for House Lannister… Tywin is fairly nice to Tyrion in this chapter, he shows him the Valyrian Steel swords, and he lets him stay to hear the tidings of Maester Pycelle. He even offers him any dagger he wants from the Armory. He is even very polite is asking him to produce an heir to seal the Winterfell deal. Tywin’s urgency is further fueled by his knowledge that Robb Stark is going to be #redwedding-ed soon but Tywin is not willing to reveal this plot to Tyrion… Consumer Reports gave Kevan Lannister 5 out of 5 in Reliability Ratings but the death of one son, and the mortal danger of the other two managed to turn him into a Huyndai of old :)… Funny, Pycelle still loves Tyrion, “stopped long enough to give Tyrion a look that would curdle milk”… Duskendale appears to be the nearest functioning port until KL is cleaned up… Not a lot of secrets in KL – Shae-Shae already knew of Tyrion’s wedding before she told her, and unlike TV-Shae, Book-Shae was not particularly upset…
MYSTERIES: where did Tywin get the Valyrian Steel swords or the metal needed for the master armorer to make them? The chapter points out that most lords would part with their daughters a lot faster than they would part with their Valyrian Steel swords. Surely there must be more to this story???… Is Cersei slowly trying to kill Lancel? We are told his condition is unstable and Cersei visits him often… Is someone manipulating the food supply? Tyrion notes that despite all the food the Tyrells were bringing in, the prices were still high. Granted, a lot of people were packed in KL before the siege, but I see conspiracies everywhere 🙂
QUESTIONS: how is Tyrion going to find the money to pay for all the repairs and the wedding and the debt inherited from the Robert-Littlefinger spend-and-spend administration?
CHAPTER 33: SAMWELL TWO – Disaster at Craster’s
When the equivalent episode aired on TV, A Pod Of Casts called it Disaster at Craster’s! A great name to describe this loaded chapter. This is the insurrection of the hungry and disgruntled Black Brothers that leaves Commander Mormont and Craster dead.
DIFFERENCES FROM TV SHOW: in the TV show, Commander Mormont had a more glorious death. Here, he was just stabbed in the belly by Ollo the one-handed man and died with his head in Samwell’s hands. Commander Mormont’s dying words to Samwell was for his son (Ser Jorah the Perv) to be forgiven and to Take the Black! Now it’s up to Samwell to carry it through!
No Chett-Rast here either, the insurrection was led by men we have not met in the TV show (except for the nameless dude who called Craster a bastard). Craster was killed by Dirk… Grenn and Dolorous Edd and Giant and a few others escaped. Apparently they tried to take Sam with them but he was too spaced out so they left him. What will happen to them? Will they make it to the Wall or get scooped up by the Wights?
COMMANDER MORMONT’S REALIZATION: “We lost sight of our true enemy. And now he’s here but we don’t know how to fight them”.
AUROCHS WISDOM: Both the books and the TV show presented Grenn as a dumb aurochs, but in this chapter, we get some pearls of wisdom from the aurochs, touching upon bravery, the nuances of name-calling, Cold-vs-Others chicken-and-egg, etc!
SLAYER: Slayer is here! Sam’s new nickname is making the rounds in this chapter and Sam is not particularly fond of it. A number of the Black Brothers don’t believe Sam and Grenn’s story but Dywen, his wooden teeth and Dolorous Eddddd are beliebers and Commander Mormont pays attention skeptical-inquirer-style!
TIDBITS: Craster is so merciful, he offers twice to mercy-kill the dying-and-beyond-hope men of the Night’s Watch, so the Black Brothers won’t have to. He is so misunderstood!… Craster foreshadows the events in this chapter, “Crows. When did a black bird ever bring good to a man’s hall?…”… Signs of the insurrection where there, with Clubfoot Karl and Dirk being more vocal in asking for food. Perhaps Commander Mormont and the leadership should have paid more attention and negotiated more food out of Craster… The Kingswood Brotherhood all-stars are mentioned and judging by the White Bull and Dornish Princess, Ulmer allegedly kissed Princess Elia Martell-Targareyn?… Isn’t it too frozen for Grenn to be cutting wood without a shirt? Earlier on Sam was feeling cold inside in front of the fire!… Sam was STILL afraid of talking to Commander Mormont earlier in the chapter: “Try not to soil your smallclothes every time I look at you!”. But he finds the courage to volunteer to take Gilly’s son from Craster’s hands… The Night’s Watch is so starved, both Sam and Edd think of cannibalism while they burn Banner…
FACTOID: we are reminded that the Wights have blue eyes but also black hands.
WIFE COUNT: it is not often we have a section like this, but in this case, Craster had nineteen wives!
ARMY COUNT: 41 Brothers at the Night’s Watch were alive before the Disaster at Craster began. 44 arrived and 60+ escaped the Fist of the First Men.
DRAGONGLASS COUNT: per Sam, before the Disaster at Craster, there were two dragonglass daggers (Mormont, Grenn), 19 arrows, and a hardwood spear with black dragonglass head. Jon had found “hundreds of arrowheads, spearheads as well” per Tarley.
THE OLD BROKEN HORN REVISITED: We had already been told about the old broken horn Jon found and gave to Sam, but in the light of the revelation in Jon #4: The Climb, one must wonder. Is this the Horn of Winter, the Horn of Joramun, the horn that can allegedly bring down the wall? And is it broken by normal horn standards or broken in its intended functionality?
DOES SAM HAVE THE OLD BROKEN HORN WITH HIM NOW? Based on this chapter, it is not certain. Samwell lists what they have, and the old broken horn is not included. The paragraph that starts with “So now all they had was …”.
MYSTERIES and QUESTIONS
1) Sam raises the question about the Cold and the Arrival of the Others. A chicken-and-egg problem?
2) Sam also raises the question, is dragonglass effective against the Wights or just the White Walkers?
3) no attacks by White Walkers or Wights at Craster’s Keep even though both were hot on the trail of the Night’s Watch. Will we ever find more details on what kind of a deal Craster had with the White Walkers and what they were doing with his sons?…
4) how is dragonglass made? Is it just obsidian or is magic needed to create it so that it can kill White Walkers? No wonder the Children of the Forest used them. Can these be made with today’s knowledge and technology in Westeros? And if so, where can they find obsidian?
5a) why did Craster hate bastards? Because of his heritage? And considering his special relation with the White Walkers, should we be more curious as to who his mother and father were?
6) Sam can see things in the fires too? “When he looked at the fire, he thought he saw Banner sitting up, his hands coiling into fists as if to fight off the flames… but it was only for an instant”. Move over Melisandre and Thoros, here comes Samwell the Fire Reader!
7) how much of a choice did Craster have in letting the Night’s Watch stay at his place? Was he forced to let them in, so he could use Guest Rights as a shield against them killing him and taking everything they wanted?
8) Judging by the end of this chapter, it looks like Mormont’s Bird understaaands what people are saying and his responses are to be taken in context? Or pure coincidence? Because GRRM loves the occasional misdirection in between the foreshadowings!
9) at the end of the chapter, the Craster Wives mention “The Boy’s Brothers”. Interesting. What exactly happens to the boys Craster gifts the White Walkers? The wives seem to think they will come back for this new one. Does that mean they become White Walkers? Or Wights? Or something else?
CHAPTER 34: ARYA SIX – The Brotherhood and Beric vs Hound
Arya is well ahead on the Chapter Leaderboard, now at #6! Back to back important chapters! In this one, we meet the Brotherhood without Banners in their glorious cave, and we get the epic Beric D. vs The Hound Trial by Combat!
TIP OF THE HAT to GRRM: Even though I watched the Season 3 TV show multiple times, and I knew the Hound was captured by the Brotherhood, GRRM fooled me! As you can see at the end of the Arya #5 write-up I was at a complete loss as to who the “Mystery Prisoner” might have been. Well done, Mr GRRM!
BRUTE FORCE SAVES THE HOUND: the Hound’s brute force saves him! Beric D. had him and was about to finish him off but a last desperate attack by the Hound halves Beric and his sword. If the Hound did not have brute force, this was probably an impossible move!
THE HOUND CRIED: Yes, the Hound actually cried after he got burned. Unlike the TV show, the fire caused the Hound a lot of damage and pain. Arya saw elbow to wrist burns and flesh was falling off his arm as he moved. And Arya and everybody else saw it.
ARYA ALMOST STABS THE HOUND: after the Hound was burned up, Arya grabbed a dagger and was going to stab him! His horrid burnt flesh slowed her down and by the time they got the dagger out of her hand she had already lost momentum (“the knife felt heavy in her hand”). So Arya shows some restraint, although she still tries to get the dagger back from Lem! Things did not go down exactly in this fashion in the TV show.
RELIGIOUS IRONY: Beric D., the devout Lord of Light follower has a “throne” engulfed by weirwoods, of Old Gods fame… I love how Arya-GRRM is making fun of their R’hillor. “Who’s Rulore?”. I love this name!
ROBERT DISTILLED: The Hound perhaps distilled Robert Baratheon in a single sentence: “if he couldn’t fuck it, fight it or drink it, it bored him”.
SURPRISES ALREADY REVEALED BY TV SHOW: there are two big surprises in this chapter but both were already covered by the TV show: the Hound is the mystery prisoner and the Beric D. resurrection.
TIDBITS: Thoros can see things in the flames too, according to Thoros… Sansa’s lie to protect Joffrey comes back once again to haunt Arya as The Hound uses Sansa’s testimony to defend himself against the accusation of murdering Mycah the butcher’s boy… It looks like the Brotherhood followers have Wildling type of discipline. It took a lot to “convince” the Huntsman to take his prisoner (The Hound) to the Lord of Light instead of dealing with him as he pleased… Scoreboard (melees): Thoros vs Hound 3-0. Thoros had a flaming sword… We get a full Kindle page of people who died by Lannisters. GRRM is fond of information overload (and so are we)… Oh look, there’s a Ned! Except this one is just a young squire. Or is he???
MYSTERIES: 1) “many powers long asleep are waking, and there are forces moving in the land” said Thoros of Myr. Many and Forces. So it’s not just the White Walkers and their Grateful Dead army?… 2) Is Beric D. using wildfire to light up his sword or Lord of Light approved blood magic or something else?
CHAPTER 35: CATELYN FOUR – Goodbye Hoster, Hello Lothar
Dolorous Cat narrates yet another devastating chapter for the Starks. First we say goodbye to Riverlands Lord Hoster Tully, then Robb learns of the disaster at Duskendale where he lost 1/3rd of his foot soldiers, squeezed between The Slayer’s Daddy and The Mountain, and then they learn that Sansa was forced to marry Tyrion the Imp, and then they learn that Winterfell was burned to the ground and a lot of the Winterfell faithful were put to the sword or were taken to the Dreadfort. I am assuming the speakers at Riverrun have the whole Morrissey discography on repeat. Come Red Wedding, come!
STRATEGY: unlike the TV show where Robb was planning to borrow Littlefinger’s transporter and zig-zag from Riverrun to the Twins and then back down to Casterly Rock, the plan here was quite different. Try to take back the North. By attempting to take over Moat Cailin from the south, something very difficult. Their attempts to take back the North would have been made a lot easier if Crazy Lysa allowed them to cross the Vale and climb onto ships and land at White Harbor, so they could attack the Ironborn at Moat Cailin from multiple directions.
CAT THE OBSERVER: Cat notices that Robb consciously or subconsciously replaced Bran/Rickon/Jon/Theon with his new wife’s brothers, R-somebody and R-somebody. Cat also notices that she is no fun to be around.
NO SANTACLAUSIFICATION OF TYRION HERE: Cat and Robb both point out that Tyrion swore before the whole court that he would trade Sansa and Arya for the Kingslayer, yet he ended up marrying Sansa. We know how this happened from Tyrion’s perspective, but the Starks have every reason to feel betrayed by the Imp!
RED WEDDING TRAP IN PROGRESS: The Boltons and Freys were sitting on the news of what happened at Winterfell and perhaps they planned to do so. By bringing up the Winterfell disaster right before they began negotiations with the Starks, they were all but guaranteed that the Starks would have no other option but to agree to the Frey terms and head off to The Twins for the #RedWedding.
TIDBITS: the TV show made Edmure look like a total goofball. In the books, the reason he missed his shots was because he got really drunk the night before the funeral, rivers of regrets… We learn who are some of the prominent remaining Tully friends, the ones selected to push the Hoster boat, Bracken, Blackwood, Vance, Mallister of Seagard, Marq Piper and Desmond Grell… In a moment of dread, Cat urges Robb to bend the knee and persue peace with the Lannisters. Robb The Boy King refuses to listen…
MYSTERIES: 1) did you forget about Tansy? The chapter wants to remind you – it was the last word Hoster Tully said! TANSY TANSY TANSY who are you???… 2) still no word from Lysa, nada, even her father’s death did not penetrate the milky firewall of the Vale… 3) is Lord Frey killing his wives when he gets tired of them? He is on wife #8!
CHAPTER 36: DAVOS FOUR – The Hand And The Leeches
Davos is on the career fast track, from prisoner to Hand of the King. This was spoiled in the TV show in Season 2, right before the Battle of Blackwater. Also, the King’s Blood is provided by Edric Storm, not by the teleported Gendry who is still in the Brotherhood Cave.
WHAT STANNIS SAW: the TV show kept it a mystery, but here, what Stannis saw in the flames is fairly obvious: he saw the Night’s Watch getting attacked by the Grateful Dead army at the Fist of the First Men. And we get another cold reference, “I felt a cold so terrible I shivered”.
MELISANDRE WAFFLES ON LEECHES: unlike the TV show, here Melisandre is rather non-committal on her leeches. She says they will work and they will not work. Both she says.
WAKE THE STONE DRAGON: it is possible Melisandre is crazy, but she wants to wake the dragon. “Wake the Stone Dragon”. I think there was some mention of stone dragons in the House of the Undying or one of the other dreams/prophecies in book #2. A quick search of book #2 points out that there are stone dragons on the castle walls at Dragonstone!
THE FLORENTS ARE A DISASTER: Alester Florent tried to negotiate total surrender to Tywin behind Stannis’s back… Another Florent, the fleet admiral, led the fleet head first into Tyrion’s Wildfire trap… Axell Florent, Alester’s brother and castellan of Dragonstone suggests pointless pillaging of a small island guarded by women and children. This looks like something Salladhor Saan came up with so he can load up on Celtigar’s treasures and he managed to convince Axell Florent to go along…
DENTAL PSA: Grinding your teeth is bad for your oral health. Please consult with your dentist. Even if you are a King!
HISTORY OF DEATH BY TREASON: Daemon Blackfyre and Tyone brothers and Vulture King and Grand Maester Hareth and Rhaenyra Targaryen.
A FEW GOOD MEN: Stannis exposition time, he goes through the current situation with his various pledged lords. Not particularly good news. Stannis praises the following for not being totally useless: Ser Gilbert Farring, Lord Morrigen, Bastard of Nightsong, young Chyttering, cousin Andrew (who dat?)
ARMY COUNT: Stannis has around 1,500 fighting men in Dragonstone, about half of which are Florents. He has 200 men at Storm’s End…
TIDBITS: After the sacking of King’s Landing, Neddard wanted to send Jaime to the Night’s Watch, but Jon Arryn, the architect of the Robert-Cersei marriage convinced Robert to keep him around – to make the Robert-Cersei marriage possible… Stannis’s grandpa on the mother side is an Estermont… Melisandre hearts Davos. Apparently he passed whatever test she was giving him in Davos #3… Stannis is still haunted by Renly’s peach… Unlike the TV show, here, Stannis is adamant about not using Edric Storm as a sacrificial lamb…
CLAIMS: Ser Barristan claims that the Mad King era turned south with Varys. That’s quite an accusation for our poor beloved innocent eunuch… More special horns! Celtigar has a horn that “could summon monsters from the deep”… Axell Florent claims he can see things in the flames and Rulore wants him to be the next Hand. How convenient! It is part of Axell’s power play which includes threatening Davos mafia style!… Stannis/Melisandre claims that if she was at the Blackwater, she could have prevented the disaster. Sure, it’s easy to make untestable claims… Melisandre claims that Stannis did not have sons because his marriage bed was “defiled” by Robert and Edric’s monther…
MYSTERIES: 1) why did Melisandre want Davos to run into Edric Storm? It seems counter to her plans for Edric as a sacrificial stag?… 2) is there something magical with Lightbringer? Davos notices brightness and glow and shimmering
QUESTIONS: with just 200 men, isn’t Storm End ripe for the taking? The Lannister-Tyrell alliance has a lot of men, they can easily start a siege without committing too many men?
CHAPTER 37: JAIME FIVE – Confessions of a Kingslayer
In this chapter, Jaime tells the story of his kingslaying in detail! Assuming all Jaime said was true, he should have been considered a hero for saving half a million people from a fiery death from the pyromancer terrorists planning to detonate weapons of mass destruction.
THE VARGO THE GOAT DE-HANDING THEORY: Roose Bolton has a long winded theory as to why Vargo the Goat Hoat de-handed Jaime. The theory thays that Vargo the Goat was thtuck being a rock and a hard place, and the de-handing made Jaime less of a threat, it gave him something to send Tywin to demand ransom, and made Jaime less valuable to others for ransoming. Vargo’s escape plan was to give Jaime’s head to the Karstarks and marry his daughter and hide at Karhold way up north, far away from Tywin’s reach. I believe Vargo said so in a previous chapter but I thought he was just BS-ing and trying to intimidate Jaime. It turns out he wasn’t.
FUELING THE SHIPPING: Despite him being about to faint in the hot water, Jaime’s organic sword stirred when he caught sight of Brienne’s forest… Jaime holds back a dozen japes when he sees Brienne in the ridiculous dress… “Come curse me or kiss me or call me a liar”… “Gentler than Cersei”… Brienne volunteers to groom and dress Jaime instead of letting the servants do it…
ROOSE DRINKS ALCOHOL: the TV show made Roose Bolton alcohol-free but here we learn that he drinks hippocras which is apparently wine flavored with spices. Why break canon like that? #nooneunderstaaaaaaaaaands
TIDBITS: Justice for all? Jaime notes that his de-handed hand was the one that windowed Bran, killed the Mad King and incesticided with Cersei!… Prince Rhaegar was the one who persuaded the Mad King to summon Tywin to court. But then again, Tywin would have acted regardless… The three Mad King pyromancers of choice were Rossart, Belis and Garigus, all killed by Jaime… Pycelle is such a Lannister pet, he convinced the Mad King to open his gates for Tywin… We get more existential questions from Jaime, “the goat had robbed him of his glory and his shame, both at once. Leaving what? Who am I now?”… A meal for three inside a giant empty hall… The Starks don’t have to worry about the Karstars foot soldiers. Roose sent them along with the Glovers and Tallharts to Dunskendale, led by Rickard’s son Harrion. If he dies, then Rickard’s daughter Alys Karstark would be the key to Karhold. The one who’s hand Rickard promised to whoever brought him the head of the Kingslayer… Red Wedding plotter Roose makes a jape about the laws of hospitality being sacred but Jaime gives him a nice reality check “I’m a captive here”… Jaime was as surprised as Brienne when he found out Tyrion married Sansa, “that ought to put a smile on Tyrion’s face”… The chapter ends with a surprise for those who did not watch the TV show, Brienne will not go with Jaime but will stay with Vargo the thaphireth Goat…
QUESTIONS: going forward, how likely is that Vargo the Goat will remain loyal to Roose Bolton after Bolton took the Kingslayer from him and Bolton previously had convinced him to switch from the Lannisters to the Starks without telling Vargo about the mortal risks of betraying Tywin. Although, Roose is interested in being the Warden of the North, so Vargo the Goat is more of a problem for the Freys who want to be the powerhouse in the Riverlands.
CHAPTER 38: TYRION FIVE – the Red Viper arrives
Yes! Finally some new ground not covered by the TV Season 3! We have the introduction of the Red Viper and a handful of other prominent Dornish lords and ladies!
REVELATION: Tyrion’s birth was seen as a bad omen in the Seven Kingdoms. Some thought the Gods were punishing Tywin because he got too powerful and arrogant and was above the King. Tyrion’s malformities were greatly exaggerated and dramatized Hollywood-style.
COUGHING MEME: another King’s Landing chapter, another coughing by Lord Gyles Rosby. Is this going anywhere or is this a GRRM jape of sorts? He starts the frakking chapter with Gyles Rosby coughing!
CERSEI vs TYRION: Assuming what the Red Viper said was true, Young-Cersei claimed that baby-Tyrion was hers and she was torturing him by twisting his manhood to the point of eunuchization – as penalty for “killing” Mom Lannister when he was born. At least he wasn’t claimed like #LOST 🙂
THEY WANT JUSTICE: the Dornish are not here just for the seat in the Council and for the wedding. They want justice aka revenge. Justice for the brutal death of Princess Elia of Dorne and her two sons by Rhaegar. And the Mountain is the start, they say, not the end. This nearly 20 years after. The Dornish hold Myrcella as hostage – Tyrion promised her to young Trystan of Dorne. How much do they know? From what I recall, Tywin was involved. I predict violent drama!
THREE KINDS OF DORNISH: there are three kinds of Dornish people, the Sandy who live on the coasts and are the most closely related to the Rhoynar (led by Nymeria they escaped from Essos to Dorne). The Stony are the least related to the Rhoynar and live inlands and/by/at the mountains. The Sandy are somewhere in-between in both ways, many are desert dwellers.
HOUSE MANWOODY IS FOR REAL: A Podcast of Ice and Fire was self-proclaimed House Manwoody. Not having read ahead in the books, I thought this was a jape of sorts. It turns out, this is canon! There is an actual House Manwoody and we are even introduced to a handful of members of House Manwoody!
NEW FORMS OF EXPOSITION: with so many characters and locations, GRRM has to be very innovative in his exposition. In this case, he uses the QUIZ technique. Tyrion quizes Podrick Payne on the banners of the various Dornish lords. What a convenient expositional coincidence… Speaking of exposition, there is a ready-for-HBO-sexposition line, the Red Viper and his Paramour looking for a hot blonde woman for a 3-way. I suspect this will be at least as long as the Littlefinger “play with her assets” scene 😉
TIDBITS: Another Tyrion chapter, another mention of Tywin’s youngest brother Gerion/Gery who is MIA in the Free Cities looking for the Lannister Valyrian Steel blade Brightroar. Coincidence that we get two back-to-back mentions? Tyrion says he was his favorite uncle… Tywin started a tax on prostitution with Tyrion taking the blame for it as Master of Coin… Don’t tell Sansa but her almost-husband Willas Tyrell enjoys fine horseflesh… Tyrion held back but finally decided to strike back at the Red Viper’s verbal jabbing and probing… Can you imagine Tywin being “ruled”? It was said Lady Joanna “ruled” Tywin…
CLAIMS: the Dornish horses can allegedly run for two days and one night and never tire…
MYSTERIES: why hasn’t the Red Viper had a son? Foul play? Magic? Biological reason? Sells them to White Walkers like Craster? 🙂
RED VIPER’S RESUME
* at 16, he allegedly used a poisoned sword in a first-to-bleed duel
* he studied at the Citadel and forged six chains before getting bored
* he was a member of the Second Sons (remember them from Dany’s TV Season 3?)
* he formed his own sellsword company in the Free Cities (which one?)
* he learned the poisoner’s trade at the Free Cities
* allegedly he learned darker arts as well
* he is pansexual (hello HBO sexposition!)
* he has many bastard daughters, The Sand Snakes
* he enjoys fine horseflesh
* he claims he did not intentionally maim the Highgarden heir (Willas Tyrell)
AGES: Cersei and Jaime are about 8-9 years older than Tyrion and The Red Viper is around 14-15 years older. According to Red Viper.
ARMY COUNT: 300 Dornishmen arrive. According to Tyrion, there are about 5,000 Gold Cloaks in King’s Landing, along with another 20,000 loyal to Tywin, and thousands of Tyrell, estimated 50 to 70 thousands. Assuming Tyrion was not exaggerating to impress the Red Viper. We know that Tywin sent forth both The Mountain and Randyll Tarly to fight off Northeners. Maybe Tyrion is counting those too?
MACE TYRELL VANITY and AMBITION: he wanted a new Leo Longthorn out of at least one his three sons and a queen out of his daughter (Margaery).
CHAPTER 39: ARYA SEVEN – Hound returns, Gendry pledges
Another day, another Arya chapter! In this chapter, the Brotherhood liberates a Sept from the Bloody Mummers, Gendry signs up with the Brotherhood, the Hound returns for his gold (as NOT seen on TV), and we get more exposition!
ARYA TURNS INTO A CW GIRL: when Gendry decided to join the Brotherhood, he did not get a heartwarming reaction from Arya as seen on TV; instead, she gave him CW-girl attitude. A rare occurrence for Arya to be sure, but all that Princess training by Catelyn and Septa Mordane seeped through somehow.
THE LAST KISS: Lord of Light followers give newly deceased people a kiss of fire. A literal kiss of fire, not Ygritte style “kissed by fire”. It was apparently this kiss of fire that surprisingly brought back Beric D. the first time he was killed. We can presume that since then, Thoros repeats this routine after he is rekilled again? Remember, what we saw on the TV show is not book canon unless we find it in the books 🙂
TIDBITS: Astute observation by Thoros: the Gold is all that The Hound has left now… Some of the Brotherhood are uncomfortable with the fantastical elements. Lem Lemoncloak of Motorhead believes Thoros is a “great healer”, nothing supernatural here, move along… It appears there was a “Catholic Priest” among the Bloody Mummers, Septon Utt… One of the rescued Faith of the Seven monks prohibited the Brotherhood from praying to the Lord of Light (LoL) under their roof – even though the Brotherhood just rescued them (but also burned it all to flash out the Bloody Mummers)… Connections: Anguy “met” with Alayayayayaya and Dancy and other A-list recreational consultants while in King’s Landing – after he won the Archery competition during a tourney there… GRRM sets a misdirection trap, Tom O’7s sings the Rains of Castamere, so when we hear it sang again a few chapters further down the road during the Red Wedding, we won’t be as suspicious…
AUDIOBOOK ODDITIES: Harwin is made to sound like Littlefinger! What has Harwin done to Roy Dotrice to punish him like that? Although, to be fair, Dotrice has to voice hundreds of characters, it’s an impossible task! Is it known whether or how much direction GRRM gives Dotrice in the pronunciation of the audiobooks and the voice types – beyond what’s written in the books?
REMINDER: Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, the Tickler, the Hound, Ser Ilyn Payne, Ser Meryn Trant (Podrick killed Mandon Moore – I always get those two confused), King Joffri, Queen Cersei. How about we add some more from Arya’s perspective? Janos Slynt, Tywin Lannister, Jaime Lannister (he de-windowed Bran), Littlefinger, etc.
MYSTERIES: 1) does Beric D. need to eat or drink or sleep or is he in a different state of existence? Arya noted that he never ate or slept and only occasionally drank wine… 2) what is the price they pay every time Beric is brought back by Thoros? Thoros states that the seventh time may be the last for both of them. Beric D. also states that his memories are fading away, as if he was reborn the first time Thoros brought him back (“are you my mother Thoros?”). Also, is it draining Thoros every time?…
CHAPTER 40: BRAN THREE – all along the Watchtower part #1
This chapter was mostly covered in the TV show, in a less detailed and elaborate fashion of course. Bran and crew hide in a Watchtower while strange men are wondering about across the pond. And Bran manages to control/possess Hodor and calm him down during a stormy hodoring crisis! GRRM presented this very unassumingly, “reaching, reaching”. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and whether the ethical dilemmas of control/possession are touched upon. I’m sure Jojo Reed will have something to say!
TIDBITS: We get some Hodoring! Roy Dotrice loves Hodoring too… Bran appears to be slowing developing an interest in Meera. In this chapter, he doesn’t want to appear frightened in front of her… Old Nan gets some historian cred – one of her stories was verified by Maester Luwin. So does this suggest that we should pay closer attention to Old Nan’s tales, even if they sound too fantastical?
MYSTERIES: Brandon the Shipwright “had sailed beyond the Sunset sea”. We don’t know what’s there – or if there is anything there!
CHAPTER 41: JON FIVE – all along the Watchtower part #2
This was spoiled by the TV show, so the surprise was mostly ruined because the moment you read a “round tower” you know exactly where they are heading.
YGRITTE SHOOTS JON: In the TV show, Ygritte feathered Jon with three arrows in three different body parts. A bit extreme. Here, it was only one arrow, and Jon suspects she may have been aiming for the horse so he wouldn’t get away. So we don’t really know what her intend was. Jon discovered it after it happened – there was no magic Ygritte appearance out of the blue like the TV show. It goes to show that GRRM has a plan but even with only 10 episodes per year, the TV show often fumbles on the small details when they try to improvise/adapt. GRRM has a plan. The TV show has a plan like RDM’s Cylons had a plan 🙂
WILDLING FEMINISM: “a man can own a woman or a man can own a knife, but no man can own both” – every girl learns this from her Mother said Ygritte.
NEDDARD HAD A PLAN: Neddard and Benjen had a good plan to repopulate The Gift after the Winter… We also get a reference to the title of Book #7 (dreams of spring)… Now if Benjen had a wife/girlfriend named Jen, well, BenJen or BenjenJen!
TIDBITS: Summer saved the day for Jon Snow, but Jon Snow was not sure whether it was one of the Stark direwolves. Given the urgency of the situation, neither Summer nor Jon had the time for pleasantries… Unlike the TV show, it appears that book-Ygritte was truly impressed by the Watchtower-Castles and Jon was dreaming of giving her a tour of Winterfell… We also learn that Oldtown has a tower higher than the Wall… Jon accidentally almost betrays Bran and company as he starts telling Ygritte about the secret causeway to the Watchtower. The Wildlings heard some shouting (the Hodoring!) but between the storm, the captured man (no horse raising business as we saw on the TV show), the wolf attack and Jon’s escape, they probably forgot/lost-interest in the sounds… The Wildlings descended at Greygard… One of the Wildlings wants to visit the Green Men at the Isle of Faces – callback to the KotLT chapter.
QUESTIONS: where is Ghost now? Jon says that he cannot feel him which perhaps suggests he is not nearby. Would the Night’s Watch open the gate for Ghost – assuming he made it all the way to Castle Black? Would it depend on who was on duty? One of Jon’s friends who knows Ghost?
CHAPTER 42: DAENERYS FOUR – Mhysa
This starts a series of three jam-packed chapters. Mhysa, High Heart #2 and Bear/Brienne. Things were more complicated than the TV show, so more rereads were necessary for this chapter. For one thing, there were two companies of sellswords, and Daario “Fabio” Naharis was part of the Stormcrows, while the obnoxious Titan’s Bastard was leading the Second Sons.
The battle was different here as well. In the TV show, they opened a secret gate and took the city. Here, the battle was a proper battle outside the city walls. Yunkai the city was not attacked by Dany. They accepted her terms by letting all the slaves go, and that’s what created the Mhysa moment.
MHYSA: the Mhysa moment here was less unrealistic than the TV show. And more logical since Dany remembered seeing this in the House of Undying, so she did not fear for her safety. In the TV show, she didn’t see much in the House of the Undying.
THOUSANDS OF GROUPIES: for budgetary reasons perhaps they disappeared in the TV show, but here, Dany does not just have her Unsullied and the untrained Unsullied. She also has tens of thousands of newly freed slaves trailing her army, freed slaves who decided to follow Dany instead of staying behind and rebuilding a free Astapor. Dany left Astapor to a council of elders of sorts to lead the now freed city! Needless to say, Ser Jorah the Perv and the Dothraki asked her to abandon them.
DANY KNOWS THE STRATEGERY: Dany’s planning impressed both Ser Jorah the Jealous Perv and Ser Barristan the Bold. Some purists may complain that she gave the Sellswords and Yunkai’i deadlines but she attacked before the deadlines. However let’s not forget, she was not going against proper honorable knights – she was fighting slavers and sellswords!
WOKE THE DRAGON: YES!!! Finally Dany put Ser Jorah the Perv in his place after he started complaining about Daario Faabio. Ser Jorah the Jealous Perv, the first of his name! Only one issue with the timing of this. Probably not a good idea to give your Army Commander a big scolding like this just hours before a big battle!
RHAEGAR HAD THE BLUES: Arstan says Rhaegar had an air of melancholy and doom, affected (?) by the events at Summerhall, his favorite place. We also learn that he preferred singing to fighting and he only fought when he had to. So we can assume he entered the Year of False Spring tourney so he could name Lyaaaaannnnaaaaa Queen of Love and Beauty?
“HOUSE TARGARYEN WILL END WITH ME” said Dany, remembering MMD’s words that she would never have any children. Assuming of course what MMD said was true and assuming there is no way to undo the damage done. We still don’t know if there are other Targaryens hiding. Maester Aemon is at the wall, but perhaps not fertile. Plus, let’s not forget the Jon Snow theories – if he is Rhaegar’s son…
ARMYCOUNT: each sellsword company had 500 riders, while the Yunkai fielded about 4,000 slave soldiers. Dany had a miserable 30-something mounted Dothraki, a big disadvantage, lack of riders.
BATTLE RECAP: Daario’s Stormcrows joined Dany as Daario promised. Only 200 died, with about a dozen on Dany’s side. Thousands were captured. Mero the Titan’s Bastard was not captured but Ser Jorah had people chasing him. Grazdan delivered Dany’s terms to Yunkai’i.
TIDBITS: Twin bells: I am assuming the second bell was for Astapor. The first for the House of the Undying… If the sellswords sounded obnoxious in the TV show, it was worse in the books. They were talking like sailors and drunk fratboys on steroids. Dany too… Oh noes! Dany asked Ser Jorah the Perv to mentor Grey Worm. Nooooooooo!… The sacking of Astapor was bloody, although it only gets one sentence. Dany ordered the slaying of all the slavers there… Ewwwww! the dragons cooked the heads of the two dead sellsword captains and started eating them. Dany did not try to stop them! And no one else from her “court” apparently objected… The TV show made the Unsullied looked stupid for letting Daario Faabio reach Dany’s bathtub unmolested. Here, they caught him! Unsullied Power!!!… DJ Daario the Gangstah, he has a golden tooth. OMG, is he a secret Lannister???… Another “must needs”, this one uttered by Dany while she was yelling at Ser Jorah the Jealous Perv… We get so many results of Tourneys (Lance), someone must needs create an RPI/SOS page based on the results. Rhaegar had some good RPI wins at the Storm’s End tourney and the Year of False Spring Whent tourney! We can assume it is Ser Barristan who unhorsed him in the finals at the Storm’s End tourney but Arstan is too humble to mention his own name or perhaps he doesn’t want to give Dany any clues?…
POETIC: GRRM doesn’t get enough credit for his creative writing: “they ate the land bare as they passed like locusts in sandals” and “the hours crept by on turtle feet”.
QUESTIONS: is it true? the Unsullied cannot sleep unless they are in a fortified location?
CHAPTER 43: ARYA EIGHT – High Heart #2
This chapter by now I probably read/listened to more than any other chapter, except perhaps the House of the Undying or the Stannis introduction (Maester Cressen prologue in Clash Of Kings). We get everything here, including spoilers nee prophecies 🙂
JON SNOW MOTHER TALK: out of the blue, little Ned Dayne dishes new info on Jon Show’s mother! They were both nursed by Wylla, one of the Dayne household. In the TV Season 1, Neddard told Robert during their picnic on the way back to King’s Landing that her name was Wylla – from what I recall. Ned Dayne states matter of factly that Wylla is Jon Snow’s mother. Obviously a cover-up would also involve Wylla getting asked/paid/forced to play the part, so there’s that… Catelyn is so psychotic with Jon Snow that Harwin begs Arya not to mention any of it… We also get another manifestation of Neddard’s parental failings. Ned Dayne’s reaction mirrors that of Jojo Reed when he learned that Neddard did not tell his kids some crucial things about their family and legacy.
THE OLD DWARF LADY: she makes a longer appearance in this chapter and we learn more too! Arya says she is around 3 feet tall and her eyes red like Jon’s direwolf… The Old Dwarf Lady says she hasn’t been kissed in a thousand years. Exaggeration or factual???… She makes another interesting comment, a parallel between her and the Old Gods, “they linger here as I do, shrunken and feeble but not yet dead”. Hmmmm, who are you???… Some details about the mystery-so-far song she wants to hear are revealed in the next Catelyn chapter, which perhaps suggests that she may not be lying about her age? Here we learn that it is Jenny’s song. I don’t recall if it was mentioned earlier in the books… Summerhall from what people are saying was one of the many failed experiments in the past century to bring back the dragons… Later in the chapter, Thoros says of her powers, “the weirwoods whisper in her ear when she sleeps”… We also get a “memory of trees” tidbit earlier, but no Enya singing 🙂
PROPHECY and SPOILERS from THE OLD DWARF LADY: (SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ AHEAD IN THIS BOOK!!!!!!!): she reveals the death of Baelon Greyjoy… She confirms the death of Hoster Tully, which perhaps is a mechanism by GRRM to let us know that she is not making things up?… She also spoils that The Mountain kills Vargo Hoat in Harrenhal and the fever is when Brienne bit his ear before she was sent to the Bear Pit… The wolf howling in the rain is most likely Grey Wind at the Red Wedding… The sad sound of bells is Jinglebells (Frey’s son) at the Red Wedding… The only one of her prophecies/spoilers that is a mystery is the “maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair” and then “slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow”. The first part, I don’t recall the color of Sansa’s hairnet (having read all the King’s Landing chapters), but what if she is talking about Sansa’s hairnet? And given that winter is coming and Sansa is perhaps heading towards the Eyrie, could it be that Sansa kills Littlefinger at the Eyrie? Giant in scheming and plotting, not giant of stature. Okay, it sounds a bit of a stretch, but that’s all I got right now :)… Her interaction with Arya is a bit strange, first she invites Arya closer and then she freaks out. The way it is phrased, it is hard to tell how much of it is grief that finds Arya (Red Wedding) and/or grief caused by Arya?…
THOROS SHOWCASES HIS SKILLZ TOO: Thoros could not outdo the Old Dwarf Lady, but in this chapter we see that Thoros has some mad skillz too. He sees in the flames the Lannister siege of Riverrun, he sees the Blackfish there (unlike the TV show, the Blackfish stayed behind to hold the fort and fords – literally), but no Robb/Catelyn (which we know why)…
FIRE CONSUMES: another GRRM magic moment. It is such a simple line, and just three short paragraphs, yet it conveys so much. This too should suggest to us that whatever brought Beric D. back and is keeping him around has a hefty cost to him,
WAR OF THE GODS: We hear multiple times in this chapter that tLoL (the Lord of Light) does not have power at High Heart, a place of power of the Old Gods. We hear this from both Thoros of Myr and Old Drawf Lady.
MIRROR MOMENTS: In High Heart #1, Arya walks around the top of the hill with Gendry. Here in High Heart #2, she walks around with Ned (Beric’s squire)… Mirroring Ser Jorah, Gendry is hostile towards Ned Dayne. Fuel for the shippers to be sure…
TIDBITS: we get the Thoros of Myr origins story, apparently Thoros had some priestly skills (gift of tongues and fire seeing), but not enough to be of value to the Essos tLoL priests to keep him around… Ned’s first world problems: wearing the helmet gives him headaches, removing it gives him sticky hair. Gendry lets him ‘ave it and rightfully so!… Arya’s smalltalk conversation starters: “have you killed anyone?”… Gendry once again unknowingly disses his own father… The Brotherhood is having an internal debate on where they can get the best “deal” for Arya – Riverrun with the Blackfish and risk the Lannisters or the Twins? But Thoros did not see the Red Wedding in the flames, or the Hound… This further delay causes an Arya outburst where she internally angrily denounces Gendry and Hot Pie as “they were never my pack”. And as spoiled by the TV show, here comes The Hound again!
QUESTIONS: Is the storm Arya seeing north of High Heart the one raining down mercilessly on Robb and Cat and army as they head over to the Twins for the Red Wedding?… “Just so” is a popular phrase, mostly with characters from Essos?… Given the name, I am contractually obligated to ask this question: is Ned Dayne Ned-Stark’s bastard with Ashara Dayne?… Why did Arya freak out at the notion that Neddard loved another woman before Catelyn?
MYSTERIES: was it just the wind tugging at Arya or some supernatural force?… everything about the Old Dwarf Woman (see her own segment above)
CHAPTER 44: JAIME SIX: The Bear and Brienne
This concludes three back to back epic chapters, Mhysa and High Heart #2 and now the Bear and Brienne! Only we get a very interesting “bonus scene” in the books, Jaime’s fever dream which is a mini short story on its own right!
PLOT HOLE / CONTINUITY ERROR? at the start of the chapter, Jaime “rode with sword and dagger on his belt”. But when he jumps into the bear bit, he doesn’t use (or have???) either one and throws dust and bones at the bear.
THE BEAR and THE BRIENNE: this was mostly spoiled by the TV show, although it happened slightly different here. No acrobatic jumping out of the bear pit, but Bolton’s men carpet-bombed the bear to death with arrows from fairly close distance. And Jaime’s decision to go back and rescue Brienne was because of the Fever Dream. Most of the other differences are probably filed under “TV adaption”… Jaime even gives the bear some props, “the poor dumb brave brute”… Rorge urges Vargo Goat to fight, even though they are drunk and outnumbered, so “I hath chothen to be merthiful”. Where are my thaphires now???
FEVER DREAM: this is a short story within a story! And after the dreams ends, it is revealed that Jaime was having this dream while his head was resting on the stump of a weirwood tree. Coincidence? I think NOT!… Lots of interesting visuals and symbolism in this dream. A dream expert would have a field day with this one… Themes of descent, judgement, primal fears, and so much more… Here Jaime is visited by his Dead, the five of the old Kingsguard and Rhaegar Targaryen. The Kingsguard Dead stubbornly obsess with the oath, choosing to ignore the reason why Jaime king-slayed. But Lewyn Martell and Rhaegar hit him with the death of Elia and her children, again though, a bit unfairly, how could one man protect everyone all the time? If anything, it’s the Targareyn’s fault for scattering the King’s Guard to the seven corners of the realm… Here Jaime self-ships with Brienne, “she had more of a woman’s shape now”. And is his mild erection for Brienne but Jaime misinterprets it to be for Cersei?.. The line “if you climbed on my shoulders you’d have no trouble reaching that tunnel mount” perhaps inspired the TV writers to have this scene play out in the TV show. Perhaps they were afraid PETA would go furious if they were shooting at the bear like crazy? They already got in trouble with horse deaths…
TIDBITS: We get the short version of the Tarbecks story here where we are also told that Lannisters cousin-marry. So Jaime-Cersei are just one step “above” in the family marriage tree… Vargo the Goat may be a brutal barbarian but he paid attention to the STD PSAs, so he has Qyburn the Gentle examine all his “ladies” beforehand. Here we also learn that Qyburn “verified” Brienne’s maidenhood. Mildly surprised that Brienne did not beat him up for it.
ARMY COUNT: Roose Bolton gave Steelshanks Walton 200 men to guard Jaime Lannister. Vargo Hoat’s Bloody Companions (or Brave Mummers?) are only 100, but they make up for their numbers with brutality and barbarism. Steelshanks was not comfortable with the idea of confronting them even though he had numbers.
CHAPTER 45: CATELYN FIVE: Walking and Talking in the Rain
Dolorous Cat is back, giving Dolorous Edd a run for his coppers! This is another chapter that on first read it may be yet another “walking and talking” chapter, but on rereads, all kinds of goodies pop up!
CATELYN SAVES THE DAY TWICE: it was Catelyn’s advice that saved the day twice for Robb. First, she insisted that Robb’s wife Not-Talisa (Jeyne Westerling-Stark) remain at Riverrun, and then she told Robb that he ought to name a successor. Cat freaked out when Robb picked a successor (Jon Dayne-Targaryen-Stark Snow), but still, it was at her behest! Robb also took her earlier-chapter advice to find an excuse to send away Rolph Spicer because Grey Wind does not like him, but the significance of Grey Wind’s mislike has yet to be revealed. He was to oversee an important hostage exchange, Kevan’s son Martyn for Galbart Glover’s brother captured by the Randyll/Mountain sandwich during their Bolton-inspired Duskendale escapade.
BALON GREYJOY IS DEAD: As spoiled by Old Dwarf Lady two chapters ago in Arya #8, we now officially learn that Balon Greyjoy is dead. The news bearer is the captain of the ship that took Theon Greyjoy back to the Iron Islands at the start of Book #2 (and whose daughter was sexing with Theon). So this starts a Game of Thrones Iron Islands edition! A game within a game!… High Heart #1 had something about a bridge and a death, it may have been giving us more details on Balon’s death. In this chapter, the official story is that a wild storm broke a (rope?) bridge and down went Balon Greyjoy. But we also learn that his long lost pirate brother Euron the Crow’s Eye happened to have returned to Pyke right after Balon died and claimed the throne. Coincidence?
ROBB HAS A PLAN: Robb apparently learned well from Maester Lywin, Rodrik and Neddard. He came up with a brilliant plan to take back Moat Cailin from the Iron Islanders. Ironically, the date set for this is the same as Joffrey’s wedding, first day of the new century! The plan also includes Catelyn going to Seagard for protection. After all, Cat suggested this for Jeyne, so why is she complaining when the same logic is used on her? Cat suspects that she is sent there partially because she makes men uncomfortable with her treasons and hard truths. Knowing what we know about the Red Wedding, this means that Maege Mormont and all her daughters except from Dacey were spared the Red Wedding. Also saved was Galbart Glover, and together they were tasked with heading into the Neck to seek out the crannogmen.
ROBB NAMES AN HEIR: And the winner is… Jon Snow! This makes Cat go cat-crazy. Wow, Jon Snow the King in the North! Will this ever happen? His decision is signed and sealed in the presence of his lords and advisers.
CAT DISSES JON SNOW SO BADLY EVEN GREY WIND GETS ANGRY when Catelyn equates Theon Greyjoy with Jon Snow: “no more than Theon Greyjoy would harm Bran or Rickon”. Ouch! No wonder Catelyn is hated by some book readers 🙂
CAT DISTILLS MEN: “are men so fragile they cannot bear to hear the it?” (it = the truth). In addition to Edmure and Robb (from Cat’s perspective), she should have added Rickard Karstark as well. His sons were killed fairly in battle by the Kingslayer yet he couldn’t handle it and went off on a vengeance tangent.
OLDSTONES: in Arya #8 we learn that the Old Dwarf Lady wanted to hear Jenny’s song which apparently she has a very strong emotional connection to. Here we learn some about Jenny of Oldstones with flowers in her hair and her Prince of Dragonflies. (Ewwww, Littlefinger and Cat played Jenny and Dragonflies, maybe that’s what gave Littlefinger the idea to expound on his relationship with the Tully ladies!). Not sure if there is any significance in the similarity of names, Jenny vs Jeyne Westerling-Stark… Jenny is a more recent development, but before them (thousands of years before) ruled Tristifer of House Mudd. There is a detailed podcast trilogy on House Mudd and the history of the Riverlands at Westeros History podcast.
BLACKFISH GETS A TITLE: woohoo! the Blackfish gets his due, Robb names him Warden of the Southern Marches. Southern from the perspective of Winterfell, not from the perspective of Westeros. Cat notes that he is part of every single one of Robb’s victories. Not bad for a grandpa 🙂
TIDBITS: Catelyn scolds Edmure for wanting a beautiful bride and then remembers her earlier disappointment when her husband-to-be Brandon was killed and she was hurriedly married to stone-cold not-as-handsome Neddard Stark… Catelyn makes new friends, the Mormont Bear Ladies. Another opportunity for Arya tutoring had she been with them. Cat notices that they are a lot more comfortable in their lady-warrior skins than Brienne. Perhaps Cat was what-if-ly shipping Dacey Mormont and Robb?. She is also perhaps what-if shipping herself with Jason Mallister (“was still a handsome man”). I don’t know if he is currently married… We learn who is in Edmure’s inner circle of riverland frat bros: Marq Piper, Patrek Mallister (who was talking wenches with Theon in late book #1), the young Vances (not related to Vance Refrigeration I presume), and Lymond Goodbrook. Tymond Badbrook was not available ;-)… Catelyn poses an interesting what-if. What if Theon was killed instead of the Karstarks? They would have the Karstarks army… Cat is on roll in this chapter, she even brings up Ser Jorah’s second wife (Lynesse (not Lysene) Hightower) as a parallel to her situation as a non-Northerner in the Westeros North.
ARMY COUNT: Robb has an army of 3,500 mostly horse heading towards The Twins… Seagard has six longships and two war galleys… Robb estimates that when he arrives at the Twins he will have 12,000 men between his own riders, the army commanded by Bolton and the Freys. So all three parties have about similar numbers.
QUESTIONS: where are Ned’s bones? Tyrion send them north but did they make it to Winterfell?
MYSTERIES: what was Euron’s involvement in the death of Balon Greyjoy? Pure coincidence? Maybe. But we are also told that he traveled all the way to Asshai by the Shadow and we know why people go there – to learn the dark arts! They don’t go there for the beaches and the wines!… On the other hand, Melisandre will be more than happy to take credit for his death, it was the Lord of Light’s leeches she will claim.
CHAPTER 46: SAMWELL THREE: Hello Coldhands
We have the debut of a new intriguing and mysterious character, Coldhands! And a different scene from what we saw during TV Season 3. The TV show blended some of this scene and the earlier escape from The Fist into one scene. Here, we have a different situation!
COLDHANDS DEBUT: Mr. Coldhands arrives just in the nick of time and saves Sam and Gilly and Baby from certain death at the hands of a handful of wights. No white walkers here… So what is his connection to the Ravens, which arrived in the thousands and took out all the wights, giving Sam and Gilly and Baby time and space to escape? You can’t just randomly have thousands of ravens at one place! The TV show was in dire straits with this scene. They wanted to have the ravens in but they couldn’t put them in the correct context, so they had them flying ominously, looking almost as if they were chasing Sam and Gilly instead of saving them… Also what is his connection to the Talking Raven. In addition to “fair, far, fear”, the Talking Raven also said something less cryptic: “Go, go, go!”
WHO/WHAT IS COLDHANDS? he is wearing all black, riding a 10 foot elk that is tamed for riding, and has black cold hands like the Wights (“with fingers hard as stone”)… So is he a wight of a different kind? Resurrected or controlled by a different entity? This also brings up another potential question, is the Night’s Watch just in Westeros or is there an ancient parallel part of the order that lives North of the Wall and Coldhands is part of that group? There is more to the Wall than the humans of today know and understand… Given what we know so far in the books, and how few people we know of north of the Wall, there seems to be only one candidate: *drumroll* Benjen Stark. Dressed in black, Samwell thought he was a brother of the night’s watch.
WAS THAT MORMONT’S RAVEN? we only know of one raven that can speak and kinda make sense. But it doesn’t mean it’s the only one.
CLUES: We get another clue of the cold wind having something to do with White Walkers and Wights, “a biting wind was blowing from the north”.. And when they arrived, “he woke suddenly in cold and dread” and “the air itself seemed frozen”. As you may recall, Rast had a rather strange dream right before the White Walker attack in Rast #1 aka Prologue. Here Sam says he has strange dreams as well. This one though was not scary, he was feasting the Black Brothers at Horn Hill and Lady Gilly was in his royal bedchamber… Gilly says they can smell the baby because the newborns stink of life… We get another confirmation of the wights physical characteristics: black hands, blue eyes, milk white face.
TIDBITS: Sam prayed at the Heart Tree before the wildling attack asking for help and the leaves of the weirwood rustled softly. Osha the Wildling interpreted that as an answer from the Gods in book #1 when Bran was in the Winterfell godswood a few centuries ago. The leaves were also rustling right before the Ravens Air Force attacked the wights… Samwell’s first world problems: no ferries and no bridges to cross lakes and rivers. Sam almost complained there was no Starbucks nearby ;-)… Roy Dotrice is having a field day singing the various songs in the audiobooks. Someone mentioned earlier on twitter that he sings them as if they are Christmas carols… GRRM’s endless reminders that Sam is very fat have a payback here. Sam’s weight is enough to give him an advantage in bringing Small Paul down and then sticking a “chunk of charred wood, smouldering red and orange” in his throat, which proved very successful in destroying the wight… We also learn of more Black Brothers turned Wights: Small Paul, Chett and his angry boils, Lark the Sisterman, Ryles and Softfoot.
QUESTIONS: it doesn’t seem clear whether Sam’s dragonglass knive ever touched the Wight of Small Paul or it got broken on his mail. Samwell forgot all about the mail even though he too was wearing it. If he slashed at his face or hands, may be we could have gotten a more clear answer. Iron is stronger than dragonglass.
CHAPTER 47: ARYA NINE
The suspense of this chapter is mostly ruined by the TV show since we know what happens. For book readers, Arya is on a cliff hanger, just captured by The Hound, and worried they are heading to King’s Landing. Actually, the Hound is pretty accommodating considering that Arya tried to kill him at every turn and escape whenever possible. Some of it perhaps is because he sees her as a big prize and he doesn’t want to reduce/ruin his chances of the prize and perhaps future employment, but perhaps it is also a case where he sees in her as a kindred spirit of sorts? The The Hound also gives her props because she is not afraid to look at his face. The The Hound has a moment of higher awareness, “well, maybe it does” (it = it makes me a monster [for killing Mycah and others]).
On first read, this seems like a slow, filler chapter without a lot of forward movement, but on re-reads, the interactions between Arya and the The Hound are quite amusing.
WOLF’S BLOOD: if there is any doubt that Arya has the wolf’s blood of the Starks DNA, here’s another factoid – she was seriously considering jumping in the swirling mess of the river just to escape the The Hound.
TIDBITS: the Hound’s horse is a character too (character as in a personality that could perhaps get a show on the USA network where characters are welcome!), named after the Stranger of the Faith of the Seven?… The Hound uses the “Knight’s honor” as his trick to get across the water and not pay (he doesn’t have the money to pay since the Brotherhood took it from him). Strategically this was a brilliant move by the The Hound because the next time someone wanted to cross (eg anyone chasing the Hound and Arya) would have to pay cash up front, they couldn’t get away with tricks. Assuming they would even take new customers after what happened to them – not to mention the severity of the storm and river flow and flood… We got The Rock in the TV show, even though it is just a paragraph here… The The Hound accidentally foreshadows the Red Wedding in the last sentence in this chapter, “maybe we’ll even be in time for your uncle’s bloody wedding”. Ha! and Ouch!
CHAPTER 48: JON SIX: the return of the Jon
Here we go. Jon’s thread is finally jumping ahead of the TV show. TV Season 3 ended with Jon and his arrows just arriving at the Wall. Here, Jon arrives at the Wall and catches up with old friends. And gives them the all important warning that the Wildlings are coming. Here, in the books, Jon only has a thigh arrow wound. In the TV show, he was carpet bombed by Ygritte (and then fell on the arrows) to the point where his survival might be “Legand of the Seeker” syndicated TV show caliber realism. Ouch!
THEORY RUINED TWOFOLD: in an earlier Tyrion chapter, Tywin mentioned that an Ironborn held Eastwatch by the Sea. This led me to speculate that the Ironborn took Eastwatch, either by sea (they started before the Stony Shore and Deepwood Motte attack) or perhaps Euron returned and attacked Eastwatch. Both this chapter and the previous Catelyn chapter put this theory to bed. It turns out there is a much simpler explanation. The man of the Night’s Watch in charge of Eastwatch is a bastard from the Iron Islands, Cotter Pyke. That’s all Tywin was referring to. But that got me theorizing to no avail :). And there’s a relevant issue here. Eastwatch is held by the Ironman bastard and the Shadow Tower on the west coast is held by a Mallister. There is long history and hatorade between the Ironborn and the Malisters who are on the west coast of the riverlands and often have to deal with Ironborn raiders. The two of them do not get along at all. Part of the reason why they were sent on opposite sides. We see once again that old loves and hates do not just dissolve on the Wall, but live to rise again.
THE SURVIVORS: we get a longer list of who survived both the Fist and the Disaster at Craster: Grenn the Aurochs, Dolorous Edd (of course!), Dywell (and his clacking wooden teeth) Giant (the shortie), Sweet Donnel Hill (I believe one of their good archers), and some we don’t know including Left Hand Lew, Garth Greyfeather and Ulmer.
ABANDONED: Grenn tries to explain why they left Samwell behind. Before we yell at Grenn, let’s not forget that it was Grenn who kept pushing Samwell not to give up while escaping the Fist and managed to get Small Paul to carry him. Time was of the essence at Craster’s and Sam wouldn’t move. Plus, perhaps, the instinct of self-preservation suggested that Samwell would slow them down and increase their risk. Plus, it was utterly important for them to get back to the wall with the news of both the Fist and the Disaster at Craster. “Disaster at Craster” was coined by of A Pod of Casts after that episode aired on TV.
THEON RUMORS: having watched the TV show which apparently borrows from Book #5, we know where Theon is. But in the books, this is a juicy rumor/hint – he is at the Dreadfort getting flayed by Bolton’s Bastard.
JON RECEIVES A LOT OF BAD NEWS: a wave of bad news hit Jon Snow in his bed of blood (ha!). Having watched the TV show and seen all these events, we are desensitized to their impact but Jon Snow isn’t! Jon also notes that the direwolf at Queenscrown (Summer) recognized him.
TIDBITS: Jon has something in common with Catelyn and @FittenTrim: they all hate Theon… Mance Rayder is no fool. He sent his all-star raiders all over the wall pretending to be climbing the wall, so as to spread the Night’s Watch thin, making it easier for the Styr, Magnar of the Thenns
Magnar of Styr (corrected; thanks @bhs14) to take over Castle Black… Wynton Stout is a ranger for eighty years! Not eighty years old, but a ranger for eighty years! Wow! Maybe it’s the ice that keeps them alive – Maester Aemon is older than double AARP!… Sam’s birds, returning from the Fist, remembered Jon Snow and started singing “Snow, snow, snow” when they saw him… Jon’s distilled emotional situation: “wrong to love her, wrong to leave her”. The things they do for love and duty!
ARMY COUNT: The Magnar has 100 of his disciplined Thenns and 20 wildling raiders. The Night’s Watch has 40 men, mostly boys, old men, crippled and infirm according to Donal Noye. The book has a little bit of foreshadowing on the mention of Noye (“that was for the good, at least”).
QUESTIONS: where is Ghost? he did not show at the Wall as Jon had hoped.
FORESHADOWING?: the chapter ends with Jon dreaming of swimming with Ygritte in the hot pools at the Godswood in Winterfell, but the dream ends with the flesh falling off Ygritte’s bones! OMG! Is she going to be flayed by the Boltons?
OMG MOMENT: this is not related to this chapter, but it just came to me! In Catelyn #5, we learn that Robb names Jon Snow his heir. Having watched the TV show, we know the Red Wedding is happening next. In Samwell #4, we have a raven that talks and makes sense. This reminds us of Commander Mormont’s raven, who earlier on (in book #2 I think?) was calling Jon Snow “King”. And indeed! Jon Snow is now, in name only, the King in the North! Or at least the heir to the smoky mess that is Winterfell.
CHAPTER 49: CATELYN SIX: Red Wedding #1
Here we come. The first of the four Red Wedding chapters. The TV show took most of the emotional impact of the Red Wedding since it was watched, rewatched, discussed, rediscussed, rinse and repeat. But there were some differences here making it a slightly different experience.
GREY WIND GONE WILD: Grey Wind does not like the Freys at all. When the heir to the Twins (Ser Ryman) and his sons rode to greet them, Grey Wind threw a direwolf-style hissy fit. Catelyn saved the day once again by becoming a human shield and breaking Grey Wind’s momentum… So according to this, Ryman Frey, son of the late Stevron Frey, is the current heir to The Twins. Good luck keeping track of all these. I need a posted size organizational chart 🙂
NOT ALL THE FREYS ARE TOTAL WEASELS: a number of the more respectable Freys were sent away on random chores, Catelyn slowly started to discover. Robb’s squire (Olyvar), one of the Freys who escorted Catelyn in her Renly and Stannis adventures (that feels like it happened centuries ago!), etc.
THE GIFT: Roose Bolton is such a gentleman. She offers Catelyn Theon’s flayed pinky skin. She hesitates but declines. I bet if it is was Jon Snow’s she would wear it proudly around her neck 🙂 – just kidding! Interestingly, no one asked Roose Bolton to stop flaying Theon. Not Robb, not Cat, not any of the others present. Roose is so evil-genius, a hostage of a different kind – negotiating the hostage’s death instead of his life.
STARKS NOT SO BRIGHT: it seems the closest thing to questioning Roose Bolton’s scheming and plotting was Catelyn pointing out his bastard was accused of grevious crimes. But it seems they ate everything Roose told them with some mild non-committal disbelief. Maybe the Starks needed a Varys-type Spider to do their scheming and plotting analysis for them? 🙂
ROOSE AT RISK: if hostage-exchanged-with-Martyn-Lannister Glover brother returned to Robb, the truth of Roose’s Duskendale plot would have been revealed and then he would be in hot water. The Glovers are more respectable in Starks terms than the Boltons, and no one really trusts the Boltons anyway, so he would have a hard time coming up with a reasonable explanation.
TIDBITS: Cat warns Robb to remember to demand bread and salt so he can be protected under Guest Right. As if that would stop Larry Flynt. Then they almost forget to ask, but Catelyn remembers. Perhaps the Freys were trying to play dumb and avoid breaking “guest right” but they seemed to be determined to red-wedding them regardless… Great description of Lord Frey by Cat/GRRM: “there was something of the vulture… and rather more of the weasel”… Here come the bells mentioned by Old Drawf Lady in High Heart #2. Jinglebell wore a (mocking) crown with tiny brass bells… Robb’s phrase “no words can set that right” are recycled by Lord Frey later on…
WAR REPORT: In yet another one of Roose Bolton’s schemes, he probably co-ordinated with The Mountain to attack his rearguard composed of Stark loyalists (White Harbor, Norrey, Locke, Burley) right after Roose and his preferred armies crossed the Trident. One third of Roose’s force was slain. He managed to get rid of more loyalists by leaving 600 men to guard the Trident (Hornwood, Stout, Cerwyn, etc) under the leadership of Ronnel Stout and Ser Kyle Condon. Why am I writing all this? So I can remember it better 🙂
ARMY COUNT: after the Trident losses and the 600 left behind, Roose Bolton is left with 500 horse and 3,000 foot, mostly from the Dreadfort and some Karstarks. In other words, Roose Bolton brilliantly managed to get rid of a lot of the armies of the other Northern Lords, making his Northern conquest easier.
DISSING TIME: Lord Frey disses the Crannogmen, “he has less wits than a crannogman”. Maybe the KotLT needs to pay him a visit :)… Catelyn (in internal dialog) disses the Rosbys, “the Rosbys had never been robust”. But then again, we see Ser Giles Rosby coughing in almost every single King’s Landing chapter. So there’s that!
OBSESSED WITH BIRTHING HIPS – Is Catelyn a latent lesbian? She seems to be very very obsessed with women’s hips. She even talks to a maester about it! In this chapter she also talks of big breasts and strong arms!
QUESTIONS: did the Freys want to red-wedding not-Talisa Jeyne Westerling-Stark as well? Black Walder expressed disappointment. Perhaps they were worried she would be great with child, so they wanted to kill the heir as well?… I thought Grey Wind did not like the Spicers/Westerlings? Robb asked Ser Raynard to babysit an already irritated Grey Wind.
AFRAID FOR THE CRANNOGMEN: did Robb tell Roose Bolton the details of his plan to take Moat Cailin? If yes, what if Roose Bolton decides to take advantage of this plan and under a Stark banner enter the Neck and destroy the Crannogmen? Granted, the crannogmen are well aware of the Boltons so they would be cautious, and Bolton has bigger fish to fry now – he has to get rid of the Ironborn and convince the other Northern lords to accept him as Warden of the North and their new leader. Plus, from what we were told, the Mormonts and Galbarts were to get started straight away, bypassing the Red Wedding. So may be I am just overly worried since GRRM loves killing likable people 🙂
CHAPTER 50: ARYA TEN: Red Wedding #2
Arya is the undisputed POV chapter leader so far in the books with 10 POV chapters as of now. That’s 20% of all chapters so far! This chapter also happens to be the second of four Red Wedding chapters. Vitamin C and B12 and Kleenex are reserved for the next chapter. This one is one of the quietest chapters in the book so far.
TIDBITS: Arya considers Umbers and Glovers trustworthy while she is looking at banners and sigils in the camps… The Hound exposes the Knights and their hubris (“it would have been beneath him to look twice at some poxy peasant”)… Unlike the TV show, Arya committed no farmer-violence. But then again, the TV show “covered up” a lot of Arya’s violence, so I guess they tried to average it all out… Arya is worried that Roose Bolton will recognize her as Nan. If only that was the only problem… Arya needs to pick better hair stylists, first Yoren, now the Hound. Or was the Hound trying to give Arya a matching hair style like his (half bald on one side)?… The Bolton men are happy to take the Hound’s wagon and eat it instead of the Freys. Foreshadowing a future rift in the Frey-Bolton alliance?… The Hound once again accidentally foreshadows the Red Wedding in the last sentence of the chapter: “it’s your bloody brother I want”. He did the same thing in the last sentence of Arya #9.
QUESTIONS: what are Arya’s supernatural skillz? Arya had a very bad dream before the Red Wedding but can’t remember details and she can sense something’s wrong.
CHAPTER 51: CATELYN SEVEN: Red Wedding #3: THE ACTUAL EVENT 🙁
Where is the Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and a box of Kleenex? This is the chapter the actual Red Wedding event happens! Having watched the TV show however, the emotional impact of most of the chapter is taken away. Except for the last page where Catelyn executes a mentally challenged person and then starts tearing her face out in mad grief (“ten fierce ravens were raking her face with sharp talons and tearing off strips of flesh, leaving deep farrows that ran red with blood”). Apparently the plan was to keep Catelyn as a hostage, but Catelyn’s last act ruined that part of the plan. They had good reason to want Catelyn as a hostage: with Blackfish holding Riverrun (not going for a pee break like the TV show), he would have been more likely to yield if both Catelyn and Edmure were held hostage. The Frey Weasels think of things like that.
SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE AT A RED WEDDING: 1) the music is really bad, 2) food selection is pretty miserable but there’s plenty of booze for everyone (Lord Frey did not want to waste food on the dead – such a paragon of environmental consciousness and conservation of resources), 3) Roose Bolton makes a very vague faux-threat to the well-being of Walder’s grandsons in the care of Ramsay at Dreadfort (the two that were fostered at Winterfell as part of the book #1 Catelyn-Frey accord), 4) your favorite direwolf is not allowed anywhere near and instead is chained up (not that Grey Wind could have stopped the Red Wedding), 5) your favorite people from the host family are all busy and out of town on assignment, 6) the host’s son is very sweaty and stressed out as he leaves the festivities in order to start the preparations, 7) the bride is crying all the time, a lot more than most brides do 8) the host’s son refuses very rudely to dance with a noble lady, 9) they start playing the song you hate the most, 10) some of them are wearing mail/armour, 11) the guests wear your own clothing pretending to come to your defense
PEOPLE OF SIZE: GRRM, being a person of size, he gives more spotlight to people of size, but he also does not shy away from shining the light in a flood light fashion. Here, Fat Walda proudly tells another person of size, Ser Wendel Manderley that it was her size that got her such a prized husband, Roose Bolton, the new Warden of the North!
TRAIL OF DEAD: Catelyn Tully-Stark, Robb Stark-Tully-Westerling, Grey Wind, Dacey Mormont, Smalljon, Wendel Manderly, Robin Flint, Lucas Blackwood, at least one of the Vances, Owen Norrey, Jingelbell, and many more
TIBDITS: GRRM loves food so much, even grossed out delicacies like “jellied calves’s brains”… Robb’s guard included Smalljon Umber, Dacey Mormont, Patrek Mallister, Robin Flint, etc… Poor Catelyn, she felt safe because everyone’s swordbelts were hanging on the wall. Catelyn is making a case for the NRA here… Unlike the TV show, Catelyn actually had a Bedding Ceremony, and our good old trusty Jory Cassell (not to be confused with former NBA player Sam Cassell) tore Catelyn’s gown during her bedding ceremony… This will freak out 21st century sensibilities, brothers and sisters participating in each other’s bedding ceremonies as per Cat…
QUESTIONS: 1) did the Northern Lords who participated in the Bedding Ceremony survive and were kept for ransom or were they dispensed with later on behind the scenes? In addition to Edmure (obviously) we are told that the Greatjob and Marq Piper were participating, 2) what if Robb went to the bedding ceremony? What would the Freys do? Kill him later? How did they know he wouldn’t participate in the bedding ceremony?
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ALL THE BOOKS: this paragraph has spoilers if you haven’t read all five books! If you are reading this along for the first time, don’t read this paragraph. Last warning! When the Red Wedding aired, three different podcasts, back to back as I was listening to them, mentioned one way or another that Catelyn was coming back in some payback fashion. If it was one, I wouldn’t have paid attention. But if three different and unrelated podcasts mentioned it, well, there must be something to it. And I got confirmation of this in this book. In High Heart #1, the Old Dwarf Woman says “…red tears on her cheeks. When her eyes did open, I woke from terror!”… In a later Davos chapter, Salhador Saan says Catelyn’s body was thrown in the river (to mock Tully tradition). And on the last page of this chapter, we see how the red tears were created. But even without the spoiler, it would have been possible to figure this out. For example, Podcast Winterfell episode #116 speculated it might be Catelyn in High Heart #1 without being spoiled… Despite this sad big spoiler, it is still very interesting to see how this will develop and how it will play out. I recall the “Rise” dream in one of the later chapters [my reading position is further than my writing position most of the time]. The spoiler warning ends. Do not read this paragraph unless you have read all five books.
CHAPTER 52: ARYA ELEVEN: Red Wedding #4
Original book readers were treated to a pins and needles situation as the chapter ended with Arya getting an axe to the head. Having just read the dramatic Red Wedding #3, book readers were emotionally manipulated by GRRM in thinking that he just killed Arya too. Logically, the Hound had no reason to kill Arya – she was the replacement of his gold stolen by the Brotherhood without Coin. But we also know the Hound and the Cleganes are wild beasts, so there’s that. This is a fairly short chapter.
THE FREYS HAD A PLAN: this chapter reveals some details about the Red Wedding outside the castles. The Freys apparently had a very detailed plan. They gave the Starks/Northern soldiers a lot of wine and set them up in three huge feast tents that they set up to burn easily. They were throwing things at them from the towers and with catapults and attacked them with mounted horse, and shooting arrows and fire arrows, and on and on. They definitely had a plan for an epic massacre! Based on previous chapters, the Freys, the Boltons and the Starks had about equal number of soldiers. But with the Freys having the element of surprise and booze and planning and setup, it was definitely not a 1-vs-1 or 2-vs-1 type of a situation.
MYSTERIES: we get another sign of Arya’s paranormal abilities. She heard a wolf howling (Grey Wind during the Red Wedding) but apparently she hadn’t heard it with her ears. So perhaps she is indeed connected to the Direwolf Network! Good thing they didn’t implement two-factor authentication 🙂
CHAPTER 53: TYRION SIX – the need for a sharp lesson
Finally, the Red Wedding is over! Now we have a set of five stand alone chapters before the next cluster of chapters. Nothing like a Tyrion chapter to help us recover from the Red Wedding blues. The big scene of the chapter was portrayed in the TV show, with Joffrey wanting to serve Sansa Robb’s head at his wedding feast and Joffrey challenging Tywin and Tywin doing the “the king is tired” thing. And we have another Joffrey vs Tyrion confrontation.
SHARP LESSON: woohoo! Joffrey managed to piss Tywin enough that he got upgraded to “Sharp Lesson” tutoring! I wonder what Tywin had in mind? The need for a sharp lesson is such that Tyrion notices that Joffrey’s situation is making Tywin nervous enough to start pacing. *gasp* “He requires a sharp lesson” indeed!!!
TYRION DISTILLED? did Tywin distill Tyrion with “you have a certain cunning, … but you talk too much. That loose tongue of yours will be your undoing”.
RED VIPER FOR VISERYS: now that’s an oddball combination but apparently after Robert’s rebellion, the Red Viper was trying to lead a revolution and put Viserys (yes, Dany’s brother) on the throne. Good old Jon Arryn and good old Doran Martell managed to smooth things out and prevent another war, but the Red Viper is a wild one. So this prompts the obvious question, a candidate for a first Dany ally in Westeros?
WILL THIS BE ON TV? the Queen of Thorns having a Joan Collins diva moment with the Red Viper’s paramour Ellaria Sands.
THE TYWIN and FREY-BOLTON DEAL: this chapter reveals the terms of the Tywin-Frey-Bolton deal: Ser Emmon Frey will get Riverrun once the siege is over. A big thing for greedy old Lord Frey. Dying Lancel and another Lannister will marry Frey women while a Lannister woman will marry a Frey bastard (wow, a bastard!). Roose Bolton becomes Warden of the North and he is given faux-Arya-Stark, so he can control Winterfell when his bastard marries faux-Arya. This faux-Arya thing might have created some interesting faux-spoilers, when people saw or heard or read about it out of context so they think the real Arya is marrying Bolton’s bastard.
ELIA and KIDS REVISITED: Tywin has a plan on how to spin the death of Elia and her kids to the Martells, while managing to spare his big mountain dog from blame. We get the story here from Tywin’s perspective. Based on what the Red Viper was saying in his first chapter (Tyrion #5), I doubt he would buy the Amory Lorch story. It seems like the Red Viper is certain Tywin was behind it all. Tywin’s mention of Robert’s relief after he presented him with the dead heirs is a link and a callback to the Book #1 (Season #1) scenes with Robert planning to have Dany killed in Essos and then realizing it was a bad idea on his death bed.
THE MAD KING HAD TYWIN LEVERAGE: Mad as he was, it looks like the Mad King had indeed leverage over Tywin. Tywin confesses to Tyrion he was worried about Jaime being so close to the Mad King. So part of what Robert/Joffrey were accusing Tywin of was apparently true. By holding his precious heir as a gloried hostage, the Mad King partially defanged Tywin. Until he needed him… Tywin also revealed that he wasn’t certain what Jaime might do in that situation. Another sign that Jaime is different in that he does not fit the mold of what Tywin expects of and from him.
TYWIN LIES: Tywin argues with Tyrion it is better to kill a dozen at a wedding than thousands on the battle field. Well, except it wasn’t a dozen that died at the Red Wedding but thousands! So his plan did not really save lives.
WAR REPORT: Tywin gives us a recap of the situation. The Blackfish will be under siege at Riverrun. The Freys will go after the Mallisters at Seagard. And Tywin plans to convince Jonos Bracken to switch sides and attack the Blackwoods. But all who yield will be spared, except for the Bloody Companions (more accurate name when you blend their formal and street names). Tywin is getting soft in his old age, but the great King Joffrey lets him have it!
TIDBITS: Close call for Sansa, Tyrion taking interest in her Godswood prayers, even thinking of going there to pick her up after it started raining… why does GRRM hate peas/pease? He is dissing them via Tyrion!… Nice: “as fruitful as trying to squeeze silver from a silverfish”… Cersei has a different spin on Joffrey’s cat c-section vivisection, she calls it “over some mischief with a cat”. Wild Robert knocked two of Joffrey’s baby teeth after he saw that!… We close the chapter with another “must needs”. Woohoo 🙂
CHAPTER 54: DAVOS FIVE – a day in the life of a Hand
We have the first Davos the Hand chapter. Unlike the TV show that turned Davos into the Hand of the King right before the Battle of Blackwater, in the books, Davos went from dungeons to Hand!
MESSAGE FROM GRMM: “the fault lies in the reader, not the book”, said Melisandre, but at another level, GRRM is yelling at us 🙂
NEW PRAYER: “Lord of Light, Save Us from Your Followers”. Selyse and Axell Florent are so ridiculously annoying bleating sheep! And so dramatic, Selyse going on both knees and throwing her arms around his legs and Axell going to one knee.
THE MESSAGE: Davos learns of the attack on the Wall while practice-reading with Teacher Maester Pylos. He learns that Stannis and Melisandre do not know of this (message blocked by then-Hand the Florent). Having watched the TV show, we know how it plays out, but I don’t know if it will play out the same way here.
DAVOS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE NORTH: “what harm if some wildling king conquers the North”. Those Southern Elites, they don’t care about us frozen peoples of the North!
MELISANDRE DOES DAMAGE CONTROL by claiming some responsibility for mistakes: “if sometimes I have mistaken a warning for a prophecy, or a prophecy for a warning” (the fault lies with me, not Rulore). So this brings up the question – how much power does Rulore have and how much power does Melisandre have? We have seen evidence that she has some powers, for example, the Shadow Babies and seeing things in the flames (such as the Battle at the Fist and Davos wanting to kill her), but that does not necessarily mean that every single claim she makes is true. Based on what we have read so far, the leeches were not what killed Robb. We know quite well how detailed and planned Robb’s death was. We don’t have enough detail on Balon yet. Of course one can make the argument that the leeches were facilitators, they made sure everything went according to plan, etc, etc, etc. So we go into the untestable and unmeasurable territory. On the other hand, if I fire up the BBQ and throw three shrimps on it, and randomly pull three Game of Thrones names out of a hat, there are pretty good chances they will eventually die in the books 🙂
STANNIS THE UNBELIEVER: Despite him being pronounced the Chosen of Rulore and the new Azor Ahai (aka Azor Ahai Second Generation with Retina Sword), he is quite the unbeliever. He questions the effectiveness of the leeches since only two out of the three leeched kings are dead. He questions Melisandre’s skills and Rulore’s effectiveness. [Rulore is book canon misspelling – book-canonized in Arya Six].
STANNIS THE PHILOSOPHER: Stannnis ponders, if one boy can be sacrificed to save the lives of thousands and thousands (if not everyone in the kingdom), then does it not make sense to make the sacrifice? Assuming of course the sacrifice will indeed bring victory which no one can guarantee.
STANNIS THE SANSA: he thinks if he offers the Northerners and the Ironborn pardons, they will join him against the Lannisters. As if he can help them. And as if they are not at war with each other. Oh, Stannis, maybe you need Melisandre more than you know it!
DAVOS IS NOT NEDDARD: Unlike Neddard who paraded around King’s Landing flashing everyone with his big honor, Davos is quietly using his smuggler skills to build an alliance of King’s men around him. The Lord of Light popularity is dropping at Dragonstone as Rulore failed to delivery Stannis victory at The Blackwater… Among the new loyalists are Ser Gerald Gower, and Ser Andrew Estermont (I think Stannis praised Cousin Andrew in a previous chapter). and The Bastard of Nightsong. That last one sounds like a Red Viper Lite… Davos also understaaands. As Salladhor says “the higher a man climbs the farther he has to fall”…
HISTORY OF FAILED HANDS: they forgot to add good old Ned. But we get a list of other failed Hands that were all-stars before getting traded to Team Hand, Ser Ryam Redwyne, Septon Murmison, Lord Butterwell, Myles Smallwood (related to Lady Smallwood?), and Ser Otto Hightower… We also get a lowborn Hand who exceeded expectations, Septon Barth – a librarian?
PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE THE DRAGONS: apparently there had been many attempts the last couple of centuries to bring back the dragons. Stannis mentions the Nine Mages (Aegon 3rd), Baelor the Blessed, Aegon the Fourth, and Aerion Brightflame the Wildfire Drinker. Not sure if one of these is Summerhall. They all failed, But Dany, the first of her name, protector of the Jorahs and the Arstans, succeeded in an act of desperation.
IS THAT ANCIENT PROPHECY ABOUT DANY? Melisandre keeps repeating the dragons out of stone prophecy, and in this chapter, it appears they focus on the idea that the one or more of various stone dragons that decorate Dragonstone will come to life. That’s because the prophecy says something about dragons out of stone. But we as book readers know of someone else who had dragons out of stone eggs. And born on Dragonstone. On the other hand, from what I recall, there was something in the House of the Undying about stone creatures taking wing or something (I am afraid to reread the House of the Undying for fear of new spoilers). Of course that could also be about Dany’s Book #1 dragon hatching since the House of the Undying covers the whole timeline, not just the future. On the other hand, we know of at least two castles that have lots of stone dragons and assorted other stone creatures. Dragonstone and Winterfell. As you may recall, back when Bran was climbing and climbing in early book #1, he describes the stone creatures at the top in Winterfell. And I’m sure other castles we were told or not told about yet have stone creatures on them… Leave it to Davos to bring up a mundane yet practical question – what will happen to the castle and the buildings and the people inside them if the stone dragons turn to life?
TIDBITS: GRMM loves to keep reminding us of Queen Selyse’s moustache. A fetish of his? :)… Salladhor Saan tell us Catelyn’s body was thrown naked in the river. The Freys are so cheap!… Mnemonic for correct spelling of Salladhor, Salad with an extra L and “hor”… Stannis is not particularly patient with the Lord of Light Chorus (Selyse and Axell Florent)… The Axell Florent angry look at Davos is perhaps reminding us that Davos is not out of the woods yet just because he is the Hand of the King… Davos is shipping Stannis and Melisandre. He notices that he does not pull away from her touch, unlike the touch of his beloved wife… As boys, Robert and Stannis thought Tywin was the King and were impressed by his presence. Ha!… MMD’s phrase in Book #1 “only death can pay for life” makes a return twice in this chapter. Perhaps they both studied at the same magic school… The Shadow Baby black hands pressing at Melisandre’s things as seen on the TV show is canon in this chapter as Davos remembers it!… We learn that Old Valyria had advanced ways of working the stone, “with fire and magic as a potter might work clay”… In the TV show, Shireen (sans Patchface) helped Davos learn how to read while he was in the dungeons. Here, he is taking lessons from Maester Pylos, the one who replaced now dead Maester Cressen (book #2 Prologue). Here is taking lessons in parallel with Shireen and Edric Storm and his own son… We also get the story of how Robert defeated three armies in a single day. It isn’t as glorious as it sounds. It was just three scheming Lords caught unawares, defeated one by one. Still a great achievement but not as impressive as it sounds… One more “must needs”, this one in Davos thoughts (“he must needs understand the words the ravens bought)… We also learn that Davos visited the Wall and Beyond the Wall as a youngster on a pirate ship and later traded with the Wall as a smuggler… Davos-Wife delivers hard truths too, “Only a starving man begs bread from a beggar”…
ARMY COUNT: Stannis has 1,300 men at Dragonstone and 300 at Storm’s End plus an alliance with Salladhor Sann’s pirate ships. And Melisandre.
QUESTIONS: was Melisandre burning bloody leeches again or was Davos having a smell memory? “he could smell the burning blood again, and hear the leech hissing and spitting on the brazier’s hot coats”?… Edric Storm looks more like Robert/Renly than Stannis. Are we to start questions whether Stannis is a bastard? And does he have a dentist-maester to deal with his constant teeth grinding problem?
MYSTERIES: what is the name of The Other? Melisandre says his name must not be spoken. So immediately that makes us curious. What’s his name? And why must it not be spoken? For magical reasons? This also triggers the obligatory crackpot theory. Is it “Hodor”???… Stannis claims he saw something in the fires, a King with a Crown of Fire on his Brows, Burning. Who or what is this? Did he see the past, Viserys getting his golden crown? Or something in the future?… Another Magic Horn! This one can summon krakens from the deep and it is at Claw Isle in Lord Celtigar’s castle. Assuming all that is so…
CHAPTER 55: JON SEVEN – Donal Noye Has A Plan
This is GRRM at his best. A look at the soldiers preparing for battle, then the actual battle and then “you know nothing Jon Snow” 🙁 This is probably going to be even more painful when it is translated to the screen when the lovely Rose Leslie portrays this on-screen. A Westerosi Romeo and Juligrette!
EVIL GRRM: GRRM is such an evil genius. Re-reads of the books are made more emotionally painful every time Ygritte says “you know nothing Jon Snow” earlier in the books because as readers we remember her final scene and her final “you know nothing Jon Snow”. No wonder. When listening to podcasts of various book readers, I noticed some kind of undercurrent when they were mentioning this phrase, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Now I understaaaaaaaand as @angrygotfan likes to say.
DONAL NOYE SAVES THE DAY: the Night’s Watch was all but lost, even without the element of surprise. Forty old men and green boys going up against 100 disciplined Thenn wildlings and 20 seasoned Wildling Raiders. But Donal Noye pulled one out of the hat and came up with a brilliant plan to defend the Gate and make his last stand at the top of the wall. A lot was lost (Common Hall, Stables, provisions), not to mention a lot of Black Brothers and Villagers, but without Noye’s plan, it would have been a pure massacre. Samwell and Gilly were so looking forward to warming up in the Common Hall 🙁 Who knew Donal Noye had such a brilliant strategic mind? And because of this, are we to start suspecting that there might be more to him than what we have been told so far?
CLUES OF THE PLAN IN RE-READS: in re-reads of the chapter, we see many subtle and very subtle clues of Noye’s plan. For example, Jon Snow says “rain or snow could doom them all”. Because fire don’t like rain/snow. We also get a detailed description of Jon’s arrows. The fletching was grey. Did I mention the fletching was grey? Just so you know, he was not the one who killed Ygritte.
MAESTER AEMON SMARTER THAN ALL OF THEM: despite his 100+ years, Maester Aemon came up with the idea of putting strawmen soldiers as scarecrows and false targets. It will be interesting to see if Dany ever meets him. She could definitely use some of his wisdom. She now relies on Ser Jorah the Perv for expert advise. Yikes!
JON SNOW HAS A NEW ROMANTIC INTEREST: his name is Satin. Snow finds him pretty as a girl. He even compliments him “he may be pretty but he’s quick”, and even spares him the embarrassment of noticing his liquid fear… Too early?
TIDBITS: Nooooooooo! Mole’s Town is burning! Nooooooooo!… Callback to early Season 1 when Jon Snow mentions “the pointy end”… We get a mini history of the Night’s Watch Bad Commanders, including a civil war between different Castles 600 years ago. No wonder Mormont sent the Pyke and Mallister on opposite corners… We are reminded again that Westerosi people consider bastards treacherous by nature. One look at Ramsay Bolton and the stereotype grows stronger for another 200 years!… Jon Snow hipster moment: “a few of them even looked like soldiers. In a bad light. If you squint”… We get another reminder of all the many ravens Master Aemon sent. To about 50 important lords plus big cities… We also get another recurring theme, “The Wall Defends Itself” and as we will see in the next chapter, there is more to it than meets the eye…
NUMBERS: Joer Mormont is commander #997. So we have a number’s tease. Is #1000 going to be someone important? Someone we know? Perhaps one of our POVs or their close friends and family? Let me predict Jon Snow to be Commander #1000! Although, technically, as of right now, he is The King In The North!
QUESTIONS: are we to assume that Styr, the Magnar of Thenn was killed? The last we saw him was standing over the barricade. And then a big chunk of the staircase and wall collapsed down. Was the barricade close enough to the Wall that when the icy chunk fell down it killed them all?… During the battle, Jon Snow says “somewhere in the west a warhorn blew”. Was this one of the warhorns of this battle or something else happening to their west? From what I recall, Jon was on a western tower, with the Thenns coming from the South?… How badly is the Gate closed up now? If Brothers are returning, how long would it take for the Night’s Watch to un-bar the Gate so they can return inside?… Did Jon Snow get down from the Tower too early to start looking for Ygritte? He had no way of knowing whether all the Wildlings were killed or fled. Him hobbled and a green intern, they would be an easy target… You know nothing Jon Snow 🙁
CHAPTER 56: BRAN FOUR – The Wall and the Samwell
This chapter was one of my early sneak reads and I read it quite a few times since, it feels like it happened a long time ago. The re-reads help put it in timeline order. This was mostly spoiled by the TV show, Bran meets Samwell Tarly at the Nightfort right on the Wall and finds a way to cross under the Wall, not through an interstate highway as seen on TV, but rather, by a secret weirwood themed door that only opens to men of the Knight’s Watch.
THE BLACK GATE: Nightfort was the oldest castle on the Wall, which perhaps may explain why it has the secret entry, the Black Gate… Is the skinny crooked queer weirwood without a face at the ground level in the kitchens by the well linked to the weirwood Guardian FACE of the Black Gate?… The Black Gate is quite magical. A glow came from the wood. The face looks as if a man lived for a thousand years and did not die. Is there any actual person magically implanted into a Black Gate Guardian? Any relation to The Old Dwarf Lady of High Heart #2?… The Black Gate even speaks… And then we get this last line in the chapter: “a drop of water… strangely warm and salty as a tear”. What are we to make of this now?
COLDHANDS: what happened to Benjen Stark? GRRM continues to bring him up in various POVs. And then this new Coldhands Black Brother guy appears. So, the reasonable theory is that Benjen Stark = Coldhands!… The Reeds appear surprised to hear of this Coldhands with an Elk and a fleet of Ravens. Whatever more they may know, they are not sharing… Why can’t Coldhands pass under the Wall if he is one of the Good Guys? If he WAS a brother of the Night’s Watch, wouldn’t he be allowed? Or does his level of existence (resurrected corpse with intelligence or remotely controlled???) prohibit him from entering since he is not a living human Brother of the Night’s Watch?…
THE WALL: In previous chapters, it was mentioned “the wall defends itself”. Here, we learn that the Wall has more active defensive mechanisms as well. Coldhands told Samwell that are spells woven into it, “old ones and strong”… Plus, it has the Black Gate as a way for Brothers to go in and out but not lower-case “o” others… Old Nan once again gets more historian cred when she said the giants, monsters and ghouls could not pass as long as the Wall stands strong. Which makes Mance’s decision (albeit out of sheer desperation) to seek the Horn of Joramun a rather bad idea because if he crossed over and had no Wall left to defend from the Others, it would be a very bitter sweet achievement…
GREEN DREAM CONSPIRACY: Jojo Reed had a green dream that send them to the Nightfort. And Samwell and Gilly were apparently sent to the Nightfort by Mr. Coldhands to help someone cross over. Coincidence??? I think not!
BRAN SKILLS IMPROVING ALREADY: not so long ago during their Reed adventures, Bran had to be coached and coaxed into warging into Grey Wind. He is beyond Level One now, “that was so easy now”. But he still has difficulties when warging into Hodor. Plus, I bet there will/should be philosophical and ethical issues with regards to “possession”…
GRRM LOVES DOING THIS: “there was no thing that comes in the night… If there had ever been such a thing, it was gone from this world now, like giants and dragons”. HA! Yeah, the dragons moved to Defiance 🙂
TIDBITS: this is a backstory heavy chapter. We get the history of the Nightfort and the Night’s Watch through some of Old Nan’s tales and Bran’s recollections. Including the Night’s King who apparently married a White Walker Lady… The sanctity of Guest Right in this world is further reinforced with the Rat Cook story, which, perhaps is a sign that there will be a price to pay for the Freys. Or perhaps nothing will happen to them, which will be a sign that the Old Gods don’t have a lot of power anymore… Lifetime achievement for Meera: very few Crannog-people leave the Neck (as we read in KotLT) so for Meera to climb up on The Wall and take a look at the lands beyond was a great achievement unlocked. That is partially why “she was adamant”… Nightfort is the only castle that has built-in steps into the Wall. So they cannot be burned Noye-style… Here we get another sign that Hodor may not be as “simple” as they think. For example, he hooted when Bran said Samwell was a brother of the Night’s Watch… Samwell’s cravenly paradox: he is scared of Meera’s little net yet he sticks his naked hand in front of a giant direwolf he never saw before…
QUESTIONS: did Meera see Orell’s eagle? And waved back at him? Will this come to bite them in the ass later on? Or was it some random non-warged eagle?… Is the Joramun of the Wildlings that joined the Starks to get rid of the Night’s King the same Joramun of the famous Horn Of?…
MYSTERIES: Is there a common link between the Weirwoods and the White Walkers? They both get descriptions of being whiter than white… Do the direwolves have a Direwolf Wireless Network Database? Did Summer “verify” Sam by comparing his smell to the network database where he found the “smell signature” from Ghost? If yes, this is probably something that perhaps direwolves can do naturally, without thinking or running SQL queries. Or perhaps the direwolves can just smell/sense the goodness/evilness of a person?
CHAPTER 57: DAENERYS FIVE – False Equivalence Day
This is the third in a trio of jam-packed and loaded chapters. First the Thenn vs Noye siege at the Wall, then Bran meeting up with Samwell and the Black Gate, and now Dany outside Meereen. From what I can surmise, the TV show compressed the three Slaver cities into two, so this is partially charted and partially uncharted territory. This chapter has not one but two mano-a-mano fights, Strong Belwas vs The Hero, and Arstan The Squire vs The Titan! In a shocker for a GRRM book, it is 2-0 for the characters with the higher favorability ratings among readers! And it wasn’t even a close call. Strong Belwas defeated a mounted knight with just a chest scratch, while Ser Barristan utterly destroyed the Titan with just a wooden staff (which also killed the magical assassin in the last Dany chapter in book #2)…
DANY THE WISE: Dany exhibits great wisdom beyond her years when she decides to send Strong Belwas to fight the Hero of Meereen (whatever that title means). Not only does she protect her valueable soldiers, but she also puts to the test one of Illyrio’s men, and takes away the glory of the fight from Meereen regardless of the outcome.
DANY THE UNWISE: Dany the Diva? How can you possibly equate what Ser Jorah the Perv did with what Ser Arstan Selmy the Bald Bold did? You just found out that Ser Jorah betrayed you to Varys. On the other hand, Ser Arstan the Selmy just saved your life once again. And his “treason” happened many years ago. And it wasn’t really treason. The Kingsguard serves the King, and there was a new King (as Cersei told us in Season #1). Selmy is not part of House Targareyn. Plus he fought for the Targies during the war, while Ser Jorah the Perv was on the opposite side. Arstan smartly kept his name a secret for a very good reason – he already knew that Ser Jorah the Perv was betraying her to Varys…
DANY THE UNSTRATEGIC: Be as angry as you want with Barristan. But you also have to understand the strategery of the situation. You want to take Westeros and be accepted as The Queen. If you land on Westeros with the last famous member of the all-star Kingsguard by your side, your claim just got a lot more serious. It would give more people cover to join your cause. On the other hand, if you show up on Westeros next to a disgraced knight of a lesser frozen house from the outskirts of Westeros, your claim gets PR damage. Imagine the attack ads the Lannisters would run on Raven TV!… Next to the Dragons, the Unsullied and her Riders, Ser Barristan is her 4th most important asset. You can’t risk/waste him in the sewers because of some “wake the dragon” diva hissy fit! Sure, send Ser Jorah to the sewers, seal him in if you like. He deserves it. But not Ser Barristan! Can you tell I am mad at Dany? 🙂
ARSTAN THE SANSA: From the start Arstan pointed out that the Hero challenge had to be met for honor’s sake. He also thought the hero should have dismounted since Strong Belwas did not have a horse…
ARSTAN THE UN-SANSA: “it was as though he’d ripped a caul off my eyes” – when the Great King Joffrey, the Greatest King that was, is or will be kicked Ser Barristan out of the king’s guard. So you see, the great King helped Ser Arstanstan find enlightenment by giving him a sharp kick when he needed one. It was like Tilopa hitting Naropa with his shoe. Praise King Joffrey The Wise!
ARSTAN FINALLY STRIKES BACK: Arstan was taking a lot of BS from Ser Jorah the Perv, but he finally strikes back in this chapter. “A better knight that you, ser” he said. And “you speak of betrayal” and “an informer by your side selling secrets”.
JORAH FUMBLES: why on earth did he not tell Dany that the Titan’s Bastard was on the loose? If he did, she probably wouldn’t have gone on a horse ride with just one protector and she wouldn’t be playing rockstar with her adoring Freedmen (“she had no enemies among her children”). On the other hand, you have to consider that out of 80,000 people some may be deranged or opportunists or guns for hire. Children or no children… Ser Jorah also reveals his unworthiness when he calls the Freedmen “slaves”… As a disgraced knight, is Jorah actually allowed to keep the title of “Ser”?
SCORCHED EARTH: with advanced warning of Dany’s success in Astapor and Yunkai, Meereen went with a scorched earth policy, leaving no natural resources for Dany and her merry band of *GASP* eighty thousand people. Talk about having Groupies! And apparently they also wanted to emotionally manipulate and intimidate her by nailing slave children to every milepost. So Dany’s group walked 163 miles from Yunkai to Meereen? Ouch! Lotrimin must be selling for 10 gold dragons.
FREEDMEN CONTRIBUTIONS: we see perhaps in this chapter some foreshadowing of the military contributions of the Freedmen to Dany’s cause? When the Titan attacked her, only one set one foot forward. The rest were watching even though they were so many they could just overwhelm him by sheer volume. It was only after Arstanstan Selmy knocked him down that they went all Frey-Red-Wedding-style on him. If it wasn’t for Selmy, they would have all stood by and let her be killed?
ANOTHER TARGARYEN: Do the Dragons have DNA sniffing powers? One of Dany’s dragons was dragonly affectionate with Brown Ben and that prompted Brown Ben Plumm to reveal that he had Targaryen blood in him in addition to just about everything else. He retains the Westerosi last name of Plumm which he said was important during the days of one of the five previous Aegon Kings. I don’t remember all the Aegons, so I don’t know where this Plumm fits in the History of Westeros or whether he was indeed someone important in his time… And he had a six foot penis… After all, if the Direwolves have special powers, why shouldn’t the Dragons?
POINT COUNTERPOINT: you can’t feed 80,000 people on scorched earth said Jorah. And Dany countered, “I will not march my people off to die” (remembering the Red Waste). Perhaps an emotional decision here more than anything else.
DRAGON CONFLICT WITH EARLIER CHAPTER? In Dany #1 of this book, we are told that the Dragons would be old enough to ride in a year or two. Here, we are told “it would be years before her dragons were large enough to ride”.
EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW: Dany considers the possibility of marrying Ser Jorah just so he can stop whining and obsessing with her. That is, following his advice and take two husbands, Daario and Ser Jorah… But guess who has the upper hand? “Daario made her laugh, which Ser Jorah the Perv never did”… I wonder if these delicacies can be found in the Official ASOIAF cookbook: “unborn puppies” and “honeyed dormice”. Who would eat unhoneyed mice?
TO THE SEWERS: having watched the compressed verison of Dany’s arc during Season 3 on TV, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Dany is going to send Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan through the sewers and that’s how they are going to prevail. So there’s not as much surprise in the last line in the chapter “And then she knew”…
WORDS OF WISDOM: “there are old sellswords and bold sellsword but no old bold sellswords” — Brown Ben
TIDBITS: the Great Pyramid in Meereen is taller than the The Wall, 800 feet tall… The great people of Meereen are better feminists than the 21st century. There, men are penalized for “raping with their eyes”… Dario the not-Fabio-in-the-books is so gansta with his golden tooth… Lots of pissing and shitting as forms of intimidation here – as if they don’t do exactly the same thing in public during their normal day to day lives :)… Strong Belwas says he lets a man cut him every time before he kills him. His wound is similar to Khal Drogo. Should we be afraid that we are going to lose him to infection? On the other hand, there’s no MMD to poison him?… Daario raises a great point, if anyone emerged from the sewers all smelly, they would be very easy to spot… The Unsullied are also the Undirtied. They take daily baths with water or sand.
ARMY COUNT: Dany now has an entourage of 80,000 people following her around. About a quarter of them have weapons in their hands, but most of the Freedmen are not trained warriors. Ser Jorah the Perv divided them in Four Companies, to go along with the Unsullied and the two Sellsword companies, one led by Daario-not-Faabio, and the other having a new leader, Brown Ben. Dany also has her three ships with her, waiting in the bay. Their names were the names of Old Gods in Valyria. Please don’t tell me we are going to have even more Gods playing the game of thrones as well 🙂
CHAPTER 58: TYRION SEVEN – King Joffrey’s Wedding #1: New Year’s Day
This is one of the shortest, if not the shortest chapter in the book, just five pages long. But it is the first in a new five-chapter arc in King’s Landing. It is an important day today, the first day of a new year of a new century, the day King Joffrey will marry Queen Margaery.
VARYS HARD TRUTHS: Varys does not deny he plays all sides. He flatly tells Tyrion that if Cersei asks him, he will spill the beans on Shae-Shae. Varys makes a good point: “I must buy my life anew each day” (with those whisperings). Because let’s face it, when they all get in trouble or they want something dirty done, who do they turn to?… Varys also gives Tyrion some personal hard truths: “I do not understand what there is in her to make a clever man like you act such a fool”…
TYRION’s MOMENTARY LAPSE OF UN-REASON: “the only safe coure was to rid himself of Shae” – yes please! Among the options are a high-end career at Chataya’s or perhaps a marriage with a lordling such as Ser Bronn of the Blackwater or Ser Tallad the Tall who fancies her…
SHAE-SHAE IS NOW SANSA’s MAID: it happened earlier in the TV show for TV reasons but here in the books, it is only now that Tyrion-Varys decide to make Shae-Shae one of Sansa’s maids, along with a veteran discreet maid who worked for King Renly.
LORD GYLES AGAIN: I hope GRRM is going somewhere with Lord Gyles or he keeps mentioning him as some kind of an inside joke or perhaps a lost bet with a fellow author or perhaps an homage of sorts? Here, he doesn’t cough *SHOCK* but he lost his lavish apartments – they were given to Tyrion and his new wife. I hope they disinfected every corner, otherwise Tyrion and Sansa will be coughing too 😉
TIDBITS: Sansa has erected her own Wall against Tyrion, “even her tears she hoards to herself”… “it is high summer for House Lannister. So why am I so bloody cold?” wonders Tyrion…
CHAPTER 59: SANSA FOUR – King Joffrey’s Wedding #2: Breakfast of Champions
It has been 30 chapters since we had a new Sansa POV! Oh my! How could GRRM do this to @klbardster? This chapter takes place the morning of Wedding Day, as the Lannister family is having a breakfast of champions as it is custom in the Reach.
TYRION HAS FIGURED SOMETHING OUT: Sansa senses that Tyrion has figured something out but she’s not quite sure what he’s on about. More on this in the next chapter, since I read the five KJ wedding chapters as a unit, so I know what’s up.
BOOK VIOLENCE: If the Gods get angry about Guest Right, they should also get angry about Book Violence! A rare book, only four copies available, and Joff tears it to pieces with his new Valyrian steel sword. To be fair on Joff, they should have given him some targets to practice with his new sword during the unboxing ceremony. Haven’t they seen any unboxing videos over there in Westeros?
JOFFREY GETS A SHIP and A VALYRIAN STEEL SWORD and many more GIFTS: a rather ironic name, “King Joffrey’s Valor”, Redwyne was pandering to the N-th degree. King Joffrey wants to lead the assault on Dragonstone when the Redwyne fleet arrives. That would be something I’d love to see happen :)… We were told in earlier chapters the Red Viper is familiar with the Dark Arts and we saw the jewelry attack on Dany in late Book #2. Is his “red gold brooch” just a gift or something more?
SANSA’s HEAD IN THE CLOUDS: slowly but steadily Sansa is waking up, but her head is still high in the clouds. We get so many examples in this chapter, cloud castles, Podrik’s pimple, Tyrion’s nose touching habit, threadbare cloak, etc. Also, no suspicions, “Tyrion was a bad sleeper”… On the plus side, she was correct, her maids were Cersei’s spies…
SHAE-SHAE: Shae-Shae is such a character, “but sometimes she gave Sansa the most insolent looks”… Shae’s hopes and dreams: when she sees the Red Viper’s Paramour, she goes into Sansa mode and dreams of herself being in a similar situation. Maybe she should consider going to Dorne, since the other six Kingdoms frown upon paramours and such?…
TIDBITS: poor Sansa, from her persective, “all of them are dead but me. She was alone in the world now”… Tyrion’s toast to Aegon makes it sound like he had it pretty good… Poor Podrick needs a therapist, he is even afraid of little Sansa… Not sure how Cersei felt when she wore her lady mother’s cloak at her forced wedding to Robert. Maybe that’s partially why she [allegedly] poisoned Jon Arryn? Tape-delayed vengeance for brokering the deal?… Someone needs to give KJ a lesson in sword naming. Lion’s Tooth? Widow’s Wail? Hearteater? He can’t even pick a good sword name!… the Lannisters seem obsessed with Stannis’s magic sword [assuming it is magic and not a gimmick like Thoros’s flaming sword]. In an earlier chapter Tywin wanted to outdo him by commissioning the Valyrian steel swords for Joffrey and Jaime… Ellaria Sand worships a Lysene love godess. I suppose in a book with thousands of characters, GRRM could not just settle on a couple of religions and Gods. There had to be hundreds of Gods too :)… we get a mini history debate between Tyrion and the Red Viper, ruining Sansa’s great opinion of Baelor the Blessed…
QUESTIONS: why is there a silver trout on the 7-sided Mace Tyrell chalice? Aren’t the Iron Islands the seventh kingdom, not the riverlands?
CHAPTER 60: TYRION EIGHT – King Joffrey’s Wedding #3: The Main Event
This is a jam-packed and overloaded chapter with all kinds of action and revelations. The biggest news of this chapter is that Ser Gyles Rosby’s cough is improving! Now that was a really big shocker!
MYSTERY SOLVED: BRAN’s KILLER REVEALED: this mystery started in early book #1 and drove some of the story forward. We finally have an answer! Tyrion figures out who hired the killer to kill Bran after he fell. And the mystery person is… King Joffrey! Tyrion does not know why Joffrey did this, but he is convinced and dangerously but subtly teases Joffrey with this factoid, which gives him confirmation. Big Mouth indeed! There goes my theory that the White Walkers wanted to kill Bran because he is a Westerosi Walt and a potential danger (?) to their plans? An act of mercy by King Joffrey or spiteful vengeance on Robb for squabbling with him earlier on? Joffrey was semi-smart, he told the killer to make the attempt after the King’s entourage left Winterfell.
KING KOFFREY, the FIRST OF HIS NAME: cry tears of joy, the craven usurper boy king is dead! Poisoned most likely at his own wedding! A public and humiliating kof kof kof death for him and his extended family. So GRRM punishes everyone, even the most hated guys. Not just the beloved characters.
BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN: in an earlier chapter, Tywin points out to Tyrion that his Big Mouth will be his undoing. This is indeed so twice during this event, the first day of the new century. Tyrion first subtly hints at Joffrey that he knows he hired someone to kill Bran in book #1, and then, instead of finding an excuse to avoid the dwarf joust, he mocks the drunk king’s fighting skills… Tyrion is also very irresponsible in getting utterly drunk. It is self-inflicted wounds in a way. This was not even directly related to do with Shae-Shae or his other issues.
KING KOFFREY SENT A MESSAGE: Tyrion understaaaaaaaands. Koffrey’s utter destruction of the “Lives of Four (should have been Five) Kings” book was a loud and clear message sent to Tyrion. Tyrion understaaaaands and thinks that he must needs leave King’s Landing and even Westeros before Koffrey ruins him. He considers Oldtown, a place of knowledge or even Braaavos and the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea…
SANSA ESCAPES THE HALL BUT TYRION DOESN’T: taking advantage of the chaos, Sansa disappears from the Feast, perhaps truly going ahead with the Dontos plan?… “I should leave. Now. Instead he waddler towards her” (her = Cersei). Oh Tyrion, were you that drunk??? And just like that, Cersei orders Tyrion’s arrest…
THE ROYAL JOUSTERS: King Koffrey apparently pre-planned to intimidate and ridicule Tyrion at the feast by bringing in two dwarf jousters and then asking Tyrion to fight the winner… The dwarves even succeeded in getting Tywin to be “mildly amused”… Tyrion smartly understands that the dwarves are not to blame but whoever hired them… It will be interesting to see how the TV show will handle this scene. I doubt we are going to get the “dog mounted the sow” and “stag knight mounted the wolf knight” scenes!
TYRION HAS A NEW BFF: Tyrion found a new BFF in this chapter. It appears Ser Garlan is more grounded than the other Tyrells as he praises Tyrion for saving the city. Garlan also points out that Tyrion’s Wildlings played a key part as well, they killed most of Stannis’s scouts in the woods, which allowed the combined Lannister and Tyrell force to take them unawares from behind… Garlan also politely tells the King it was rude to wine-shower Tyrion and warns Tyrion of Koffrey’s approach…
WAR REPORT: in one long paragraph we get all kinds of news updates from the “War of the Five Kings”. Black Walder Frey captured Seagard… Randyll Tarly reigns supreme north/northeast of King’s Landing… The Mountain holds the ruby ford and took Harrenhal easily (remember the Goat prophecy in one of the High Hearts?)… two Lannister armies are syncing at the Golden Tooth and will be joined by Ryman Frey leading 2,000 men to lay siege to Riverrun held by The Blackfish… Redwyne’s fleet is getting ready to sail and lead the assault on Dragonstone. Tyrion says they outnumber Salladhor Saan’s fleet 10:1. Which means Salla is going to be long gone before any battle takes place. No pirate is dumb enough to take on a 10:1…
FACTOIDS: Most people in Westeros do not understand High Valyrian per Tyrion… a boy king officially becomes King when he reaches the age of 16, which by Westerosi standards and life expectancy is probably our equivalent of 25?
TIDBITS: The famine in King’s Landing was partially/mostly caused by Mace Tyrell when he closed the Roseroad so food supplies were not reaching King’s Landing. The Reach is the bread basket of Westeros… Tyrion realizes the absurdity of the 77 courses when people are starving in the city… Margaery is wearing a maiden’s cloak. Something Tyrion and Renly share, maiden wives… Tyrion thinks Koffrey will grow and be as tall and strong as Jaime one day. I doubt that. Jaime was never a cravenly weasel. Tall I don’t doubt, but strong?… Tyrion notes that Koffrey and Margaery looked like a textbook regal couple… Tyrion still holds a grudge against Sansa for not kneeling during their wedding… Tyrion is entering Ser Jorah the Perv territory: “Grief… made her more beautiful”… Is Cersei still trying to slowly kill Lancel? Perhaps getting one of the maesters to slowly poison him? “he looks ghastly”… The Queen of Thorns makes another attempt to steal away Sansa by inviting her to join her back to Highgarden… With a 77 course feast, it is getting harder for GRRM to come up with new dishes, “fish tarts” and the like… The wedding planners are funny, blood sausages served while a juggler was juggling swords and axes… Tyrion notices that “the Stark girl’s eyes were far away” – was she thinking/hoping/dreaming of the Ser Dontos escape plan?… The Voice: “in a voice ten times her size” (the Queen of Thorns)… A thin black dog sniffing at Koffrey’s corpse. Dog food! How the mighty fall…
LOTS OF QUOTABLE QUOTES: Drunk Tyrion is Epic Tyrion, so many great quotes… “the mob loved Margaery so much they were even willing to love Joffrey again”… “he wondered if his nephew was capable of loving anyone”… “if we start killing men at weddings they’ll be even more frightened of marriage” (Queen of Thorns)… “Tyrion was beginning to wonder whether Lord Luthor Tyrell had riden off that cliff intentionally”… “let them stare & whisper until they’ve had their fill, I will not hide myself for their sake”… “if i have to hear seven versions of that, I may go down to Flea Bottom and apologize to the stew”… “never believe anything you hear in a song”… “it’s ill luck not to eat pie” (King Koffrey)…
CRACKPOT PREDICTION: in every wedding, GRRM mentions that there is a challenge that is part of the ceremony. I predict that either in a future wedding or a past wedding relayed via a story we will learn of a situation where someone issued a challenge and ruined the wedding.
MYSTERIES: the Old Dwarf Lady said something about a lady with purple in her hair. Here we are told that Sansa’s hairnet has dark purple gemstones. Is Sansa the woman in her prophecy?… Where is Ice? It appears Ser Ilyn Payne has a new sword. Tyrion regrets not sending Ice back to Robb when he was Hand. How the mighty fell indeed, one was Hand, the other was King, now one arrested for kingslaying, the other dead…
WHO KILLED KOFFREY: THE SUSPECTS: in random order
1) TYRION: as we learned from mystery novels, the suspect with the most obvious clues going against him is often not the actual killer. Because there are lots and lots of clues pointing to Tyrion: “he wanted to strangle his bloody royal nephew”, hoped the statue of the Father would crush Koffrey like a dung beetle, Joffrey knows that Tyrion figured out his Bran secret… Joffrey threatened him by destroying his book gift… Tyrion filled the King’s cup multiple times… Tyrion empties the chalice of leftover wine. This happened after the dying Koffrey pointed at him, so maybe it was a defensive maneuver but it makes him look even more guilty… “Half a chalice and Koffrey will be falling down drunk”… Joking with the Red Viper about poisoning nephews in historical context alluding to Koffrey… “the boy earned himself a dagger”…
2) LORD TYWIN: in an earlier Tyrion chapter, Tywin promised to give Koffrey a “sharp lesson”. Well, this would qualify as a sharp lesson. No one dares to publicy defy or humiliate Tywin and Koffrey did! And during the choking crisis, we see that Tywin took a back seat instead of taking charge of the situation. This is no unlike Tywin. Cersei had to urge him into action.
3) QUEEN OF THORNS: she was messing with Sansa’s perhaps magical hairnet given to her by Ser Dontos the Fool. She was also hovering around Joffrey when he was torturing Tyrion….
4) MACE TYRELL: he gifted Koffrey with the chalice that he drunk from. If it was his wine that was poisoned as opposed to his food. Because it says “she and Joffrey shared a drink from the great 7-sided wedding chalice”. So if it was a poison and a Tyrell conspiracy, maybe they gave Margaery some kind of antidote? Or whatever Melisandre did when Maester Cressen tried to poison her in the Prologue of Book #2?
5) RED VIPER: he gifted Koffrey a scorpion brooch and he is said to be skilled in the dark arts. We already saw Dany getting almost jewelry-killed at the end of book #2. Red Viper wants vengeance for the death of Elia and her kids and the Lannisters are stone-walling him. A child for a child type of vengeance here!… “I’ve seen no snakes… how do you account for Koffrey?”…
6) SOMEONE WAS TRYING TO POISON TYRION but Koffrey ate Tyrion’s pigeon pie and instead got himself poisoned (assuming the pie was poisoned)
7) MARGAERY or HER MOTHER: an off line, she told her daughter, “he choked on the pie. It was naught to do with you. He choked. We all saw”. Why would Margaery be needing that kind of comforting?
8) SANSA: Koffrey ruined her life. Plenty of motivation.
9) MELISANDRE’s LEECH: we have seen that the Lord of Light has some power (Shadow Babies, Seeing Things in Flames), so maybe it was indeed the leech!
10) IT WAS REALLY ACCIDENT: move along, nothing to see, just a freak of nature accident. Sure, sure, sure…
CHAPTER 61: SANSA FIVE – King Joffrey’s Wedding #4: The Great Escape
The King Joffrey post-game show begins with a Sansa POV. We start with Sansa leaving the Feast Hall as King Kof-Kof-Koffrey was dying. A short chapter but lots of new revelations.
THE LITTLEFINGER POWER PLAY: we were told Littlefinger was on his way to the Vale, but it turns out, he was still around! He (or his associates) left the “come to the Godswood tonight” note for Sansa earlier on. He assassin-hired Ser Dontos to help Sansa escape for 10K golden dragons. So he is obviously involved with the hair net thing too. And the King Joffrey assassination!… He also brought in the jousting dwarves and convinced King Koffrey to use them during the feast. So Littlefinger, the master of puppets, was actually orchestrating this to make Tyrion take the fall for King Koffrey’s death? He knew Tyrion would be furious, he knew both would be drunk, he knew Koffrey was unstable even without being drunk… With this elaborate scheme, Littlefinger perhaps climbs on top of Varys as the top schemer and plotter… We also get some distilled wisdom, “always keep your foes confused” and “best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose or even seem to work against you”. Was this part of what inspired that awkward “Chaos is a Ladder” narration?
EMOTIONAL CONFUSION: for someone in her situation, Sansa’s emotional confusion and rollercoaster is not a surprise. “Hysterical laughter”, crying but not sure for whom or what, etc. Try being in her shoes and then you will see that she is actually doing much better than most people would. It is just that she is still clinging to some her “bubble”, and that drops her favorability ratings with some book readers. For example, she wishes the servants were there to help her dress while she was escaping in the Godswood. Another example, they tell her to be quiet during the escape, yet she still keeps talking. Not to mention blatantly asking Dontos in the Godswood if he/they killed King Koffrey. Or “be brave like a lady in a song”.
SANSA THE WISE: she lets Ser Dontos the Drunk go first, so he wouldn’t fall on top of her during the descend… she kept the hairnet… “had she escaped the Lannisters to tumble into worse?”…
WHAT IS HOME? Sansa says “I’m going home”. I don’t know how much they told her, but there is no home. Winterfell is in ruins, the North is at war, the roads are closed and controlled by enemies, Riverrun under siege… Littlefinger as well says we are going home, but where is home?
WHO IS OSWELL? “there was something oddly familiar about his face”…
SER DONTOS THE FOOL: For a price of 10,000 golden dragons, Ser Dontos the Fool helped Sansa escape. But he didn’t. Littlefinger’s logic, hard and cruel, was correct. You can’t trust a drunkard with such a big secret. So as much as it sounds unfair to poor Ser Dontos the Fool, it was the only logical thing to do. Or perhaps take him with them?… Ser Dontos got game – he was quite drunk yet he managed to climb down the secret Littlefinger staircase without falling. Perhaps the crisp night air and the fear of falling and the promise of 10K gold dragons woke him up?… He too was drinking the knight kool-aid, he wore his old surcoat with his House colors while he was helping Sansa escape…
STILL AROUND: we learn that Tyrion’s chain is still around, it has been lowered so ships can pass, but it remains there, so if need be, King’s Landing can once again use it… Also sticking around is the hairnet, Sansa put it in her pocket, so we can assume it is with her now…
CLAIMS: Littlefinger claims once again that he took Catelyn’s virginity. He tells this to Sansa fairly plainly. He also seems to suggests that he got over Catelyn and he sees Sansa as the daughter he could have had, but not in a sexual fashion. But this is Littlefinger, can we believe anything he says?
TIDBITS: Sansa notices the missing amethyst and starts wondering whether they played a part in King Koffrey’s death. If she thinks the amethysts are some kind of poison of unknown power and use, is it wise to touch them like she did? Probably not! We don’t want a self-poisoning now, do we?… Littlefinger’s secret door in and out of the castle comes into play again. He and Neddard used it in book #1. Now his daughter… Hooray, another “must needs”, this one uttered by Ser Dontos shortly before he was killed…
QUESTIONS: there must be something to the “hollow knights” Sansa noticed while traveling underneath King’s Landing? “their helms crested with rows of scales that continued down their backs”. GRRM wouldn’t have mentioned them for no reason? Maybe they are from the Stargate SG-1 Goa’uld universe? OMG, there’s a Stargate underneath King’s Landing!!! That’s how Littlefinger and Melisandre were traveling all over the Seven Kingdoms in the TV show 🙂
CHAPTER 62: JAIME SEVEN – King Joffrey’s Wedding #5: Reunions
We close the King Joffrey’s wedding arc with the return of Jaime Lannister to Kings Landing with two epic reunions with Cersei and Tywin. We also have a mini Brienne – Loras rainbow guard reunion.
BREAKING NEWS: Tyrion is going to be put on trial for the kinslaying and kingslaying!
WESTEROS CSI REPORT: a team of Maesters performed an autopsy on King Koffrey and discovered no food killed him, so it is indeed poison.
INSIGHT INTO CERSEI’S MIND: Jaime gives us a lot of inside info on how Cersei thinks. She only shows her wounds when with Jaime because she don’t want others to think her weak… She made Jaime keep a distance from Joffrey to reduce the risk of their secret getting discovered… “How like Cersei to name me Lord Commander and then choose my colleagues without consulting me”… “She did not come to him”, “she gives but I must ask”… Cersei asks Jaime to kill Tyrion to avenge Koffrey… “I am not whole without you”… “You’ve changed” she notices… “She needs to be” (his new stump)… “Cersei recoiled from his stump”…
JAIME DOES NOT CARE MUCH ABOUT JOFFREY: “he tried to bring the boy’s face to mind but his features kept turning into Cersei”… He never held Joffrey at Cersei’s insistence and he yielded without a fight… “Robert was welcome to him” and Jaime is whining that newborn Koffrey ate up too much of Cersei’s love and time… “perhaps he was the monster they claimed”… He pictured Joff dead and still felt nothing… “Joff’s like to need everyone of them too” (prayers). Not a lot of respect for the great king’s body of work!…
JAIME WANTS TO COME OUT OF THE INCEST CLOSET: first he says this inside his head, then he asks Cersei to go public with their love and get married too and who cares about the Iron Throne. The Rock is enough for their kids he says… then during his confrontation with Tywin he had a sick of lords, sick of it all meltdown. The meltdown ended when he was answered by Tywin’s stern silence and finally the “You are not my son” when Jaime insisted that he belongs to the Kingsguard and will not leave his post for Lannisterhood. Ouch! I’m sure there will have to be to this drama later on!
THEY WILL NOT DARE SHOW THIS ON TV: Jaime and Cersei having sex in the Sept, with Joffrey’s corprse nearby, and Cersei having her moon blood. This would dwarf Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach video controversy! Perhaps that’s why at the end of Season 3 they showed Jaime finding Cersei in her chambers, so any sex scene will happen in a traditional bed, not a Sept… In this scene we also see the wild side of Jaime, the Lannister equivalent of Wolf’s Blood. This was such a huge risk, although from his perspective, he doesn’t really care who knows. It is Cersei who wants it secret.
JAIME ON TYRION: he doesn’t think Tyrion would have killed Koffrey. He freaks out when Cersei asks him to kill Tyrion to avenge Koffrey. “The thought turned his stomach”.
JAIME WANTS TO BELIEVE: in a world of magic unbelievers, Jaime is perhaps starting to question his unbelief. “Renly died strangely as well when Stannis needed him to”. And after a fashion, he gives Brienne’s story some credit.
LORAS vs BRIENNE: when Loras sees Brienne, he goes Renly crazy, challenging her to fight. He is so mad about this, he even ignores his Lord Commander until Jaime throws his title around. Jaime tries to soften the situation and in doing so, Brienne feels hurt/offended by his attempt to downplay her wits. But Jaime is successful in preventing a blood bath. He also predicts that in a Loras vs Brienne fight, Brienne would win. But currently Brienne is broken and Loras is mad with grief/revenge, so wouldn’t that change the balance of power had they fought right now?
BRIENNE IS CURRENTLY BROKEN: the news of the Red Wedding shook Brienne to the core. “the strength is gone from her” and “she was broken now” and “had been like one half dead”. He also acknowledges that he got 0wn3d by Brienne in their fight, “fought Jaime to exhaustion”… He even offers her a position with the City Watch or a return to Tarth but nothing breaks through 🙁
JAIME AND TYWIN REUNION: Tywin freaks out at the stump “breath hissing between his teeth”. Tywin immediately sees this as an opportunity for Jaime to get out of the King’s Guard and become once again the official heir to Castelry Rock. Using Barristan’s dismissal by Cersei as a loophole to exploit. While noting it was very stupid to dismiss Ser Barristan… And marry Margaery so he can further the line. The Tyrells want Margaery to marry Tommen so she can once again be Queen for the Third time. Tywin also wants to get Cersei married, perhaps to the Red Viper. Jaime freaks out at the notion of either one of them getting married.
TYWIN WANTS THE NEW KING AWAY FROM CERSEI: Tywin indirectly partially blames Cersei for Koffrey, so he wants Tommen to move with Jaime back at The Rock and be his ward and squire and learn how to be a proper Lannister. Away from Cersei who is to be wed to some other lord and go away. So this would leave King’s Landing squarely in Tywin’s hands. How convenient!
JAIME’S QUOTES: on Brienne’s “will not serve with oathbreakers and murderers” –> “then why did you ever bother putting on a sword”… “… shove it up some place even Renly never found” – and book readers didn’t “notice” the Loras-Renly thing?
TIDBITS: just like our world, the Smallfolk in Westeros engage in sensationalism in celebrity gossip. Tyrion drank the King’s blood, Sansa puff of brimstone disappearance, etc… Qyburn “endless attempts to be ingratiating”… was the Captain in King’s Landing a little too quick to let the 200 Northerners in? Peace banner or not? Or did he know to expect them? Earlier on they say they received the Pipers. The lord’s son, one of Edmure’s frat bros (Marq Piper) was held hostage at the Twins… King’s Landing could care less about King Koffrey’s death…. we get a “hot pie” reference! Hot Pies! Hot Pies! Get Your Hot Pies!… Jaime likes being a pampered lord – “had forgotten how well he liked it” (people quickly jumping to obey him)… the Kettleback doesn’t realize he is looking at Jaime and treats him like a random cripple… We see another example of Jaime’s “wolf’s blood”, he throws down the candles, not even thinking that could have started a fire… Vargo the Goat is getting a taste of his own medicine, the Mountain cut off his hands and feet but enjoys his lisping so he is keeping him alive for now. GRRM is in a difficult situation here, squaring off two hated characters against each other. Anyone cheering on The Mountain vs The Goat?
QUESTIONS: will the “big bat” shield come up again in the future? GRRM mentioned it enough times, and that often means he plans to use it again… Foreshadowing or Cersei’s homage of sorts? Dead King Joffrey’s gilded armor was “eerily similar to Jaime’s own”… One of the Spicers is mentioned as one of the people looking for Ser Jaime when he escaped – on behalf of the Lannisters… In the Dany Meereen #1 chapter, Brown Ben says he is related to the Plumms. Here we are told of the Brothers Plumm also looking for the escaped Jaime (on behalf of the Lannisters)…
MYSTERY: there’s something between Tyrion and Jaime that we are not told. Jaime wonders whether Tyrion found out. We as readers have not been told yet. From the looks of it, this is something that would not make Tyrion very happy.
CHAPTER 63: DAVOS SIX – Another Escape and a Loooong Cliffhanger
I don’t know if Davos is in AFFC or ADWD but potentially original book readers were left *gasp* on an 11-year Davos cliffhanger! Oh my! That is so cruel! Having watched the end of Season 3, we saw the conclusion of the cliffhanger, the letter saves the day. But ouch for the original book readers!
RAVEN FROM GENDRY: “I was promised sex with Melisandre! What’s going on here???? Who is this GRRM who is ruining things for me???”
DAVOS IS NO NEDDARD: he build up a team of King loyalists and actually planned how to face Stannis after he confessed planning and executing the Edric Escape. “I don’t need men of honor now. I need smugglers” he told his other honorable lords. Perhaps Neddard needed a #2 like Davos… Some of the loyalists: Bastard of Nightsong, Ser Gerald Gower, Ser Andrew Estermont the Cousin, Ser Triston of Tally Hill, Lewys the Fishwife, etc. And Maester Pylos who went along with the plan, and got a lot of new respect from Davos. Perhaps the Edric/Robert magnetic personality is magical!… Davos also speculates that if a threat is directed at Melisandre she is more likely to see it in her flames, but if it is not directed at her (the Edric Great Escape) she does not see it. We also get one more instance where Melisandre has true power – she saw in her fires that Koffrey died and Cersei wailing…
DAVOS HAD A PLAN: if Davos survived his confession with Stannis, Davos says he will take his son (Devan) and go back to his wife and younger kids and be done with Kings and Wars and such.
DAVOS WANTS TO LEARN: not only is Davos taking reading classes with Maester Pylos, he also asked Melisandre to teach him how to read the fires! Wow! Melisandre of course says “it takes years of training” and you Westerns are not good at this thing. She also laughs at the idea that Ser Axell Florent is able to actually see anything in the flames…
STANNIS THE SANSA: “they must send for me now” he says when he learned that Koffrey is indeed dead. I can’t believe he is THAT naive???????
STANNIS THE PRACTICAL: “if I must sacrifice one child … to save a million…”
STANNIS THE SHORTCUTTER: Stannis makes Melisandre to swear on her life that sacrificing Edric is the only way. So it is fairly clear now that Stannis was going to give her the green light to sacrifice Edric so Stannis can get his stone dragons. But if the prophecy was about Dany’s stone egg dragons, what would they get from Edric’s death?
TIDBITS: Queen Selyse is drinking all the Rulore Kool-Aid “her pinched face full of fervor”… And they are dragging poor Shireen with them. Shireen who just lost her friend Edric Storm. Being part Robert, to his credit, it looks like Edric is not freaking out about Shireen’s facial distortion… Fewer people are at the Rulore night fires notices Davos… We learn that Red Priests light fires every sunset to pray to Rulore… Edric is not shy about refusing to go to the Night fires “I am a Warrior’s man, like my father”… Smuggler wisdom: “a clever smuggler did not overreach, not draw too much attention”… We get the Stannis version of Koffrey’s Cat C-Section. He was just a scientifically curious young man, yet Robert broke his teeth for it! Such barbarians ;-)… Davos is driving both Stannis and Melisandre crazy by repeating Edric’s name…
QUESTIONS: where are they planning to hide Edric? He is going with Ser Andrew the Cousin, so Davos/Stannis are losing a trusted associate…
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? And now a new game show. “Foreshadowing Or Not?”… Davos thinks he is less without his “luck”. Foreshadowing? I hope not… “When Davos left the window, his shadow went before him, tall and thin, and fell across the Painted Table like a sword”…
PREDICTION: GRRM keeps repeating and reminding us of all the stone gargoyles and creatures at Dragonstone and other places. And stone creatures coming to life. Yes, we have already seen Dany’s stone dragons hatch, but given all the repeating gargoyle descriptions, I predict that somewhere (Dragonstone, Winterfell or elsewhere), somewhere at some point some gargoyles will come to life in some fashion. There’s also that line in the House of the Undying…
CHAPTER 64: JON EIGHT – When Mance Attacks
In Jon Seven, we had the Magnar of Thenn attack. Here we have the double Night and Day attack by Mance Rayder and his wildlings. The situation favored the Night’s Watch, high up on the Wall. On top of the wall, the only injury was an arrow to a wooden leg. However, at the passage, it was a near disaster. Crafty Donal Noye and his four warriors were killed by a single Giant who crawled through the broken oak door. One more giant crawling in and Mance Rayder would have been able to crawl under the Wall. So while this was a solid victory for the Night’s Watch, the gate is a big vulnerability when squaring off against Giants with insane strength.
TRAIL OF DEAD: the over-achieving Donal Noye who saved Castleblack twice, first countering the Thenn attack and then preparing them for the Mance attack and refusing to let the Gate unguarded under a pile of crap and sacrificing himself to stop the Kings of the Giants from crossing over… We had a big casualty on the Mance front as well, the King of the Giants was killed and killed Donal Noye while trying to crawl under the Wall. Jon remembered the “last of the giants” song… the Garrison with the more experienced Rangers is still missing, so the Night’s Watch is still green boys, cripples, bastards and broken things…
THE GATE: we get a detailed description of the gate and passage underneath the Wall! Three chained gates, one 9-inch think oak door and murder holes above each gate. Narrow for just one man to walk across. And twisting so you couldn’t run through it.
JON THE LEADER: With Donal Noye going down below to guard the Gate, Jon is thrust into a leadership position and gets an A+ so far. Sensing panic in the Black Brothers, he gave them a verbal courage speech. And once the battle was over, he run straight down to see what happened at the Gate below. Maester Aemon was right – no one else was available!… All those lessons with Neddard, Maester Luwin, Commander Mormont, Qhorin 1/2 Hand are paying off now… Speaking of leadership, when will the seasoned veterans of King Landing’s City Watch be arriving? The ones sent Tyrion The Hand… I don’t know how much Jon knows, but are we to expect fireworks between Jon and the low born Ugly Frog?
JON SNOW DREAM: I don’t remember the direwolf eye colors but since poor Grey Wind was killed at the Red Wedding, Google verified that he has grey fur and yellow eyes. So the direwolf Jon Snow saw in his dream at the start of the chapter was indeed Grey Wind. And the drums above were probably from the Red Wedding… Also interesting was his rejection by the Starks. However, the rejection may be coming from Jon, not the actual dead Starks. His issues. Otherwise, Lyanna would have said “nice to see you son”!
WILDLINGS ARE WILD: as discussed in previous chapters, the Wildlings are very undisciplined and uncoordinated, despite Mance’s attempts to teach them. “The wildlings had not crossed 1/3 of 1/2 mile yet their battle line was dissolving” and “when they break, they break hard”. He almost wrote “Breaking Bad” 🙂
TIDBITS: Jon burned Ygritte in Wildling fashion as she could have wished. And later on he said he is done with kissing. Just like Loras, they appear to be of the “one true love and that’s it” school of romance… Five of the people from Mole’s Town stayed behind. One man and one crowssbowing lady of the night along with three orphans no one else wanted… Under the leadership of Donal Noye, the brothers were very well prepared for the Mance Rayder attack, stocked up with all the necessities at the top of the wall!… the Stewart Bowen Marsh gets credit for having an abundance of supplies and managing to fix two of the trebuchets. One of which broke during the battle… The Giants must have very loud and penetrating voices, “a giant roared something in the Old Tongue, his voice an ancient thunder that sent shivers up Jon’s spine”… Jon counted at least 100 mammoths. CGI team, start working!… The drunk priest is so annoying both Noye and Jon are tempted to throw him down the Wall… We learn that 30 years ago, Ser Wynton Stout was a dozen votes short from being elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Hey, there’s a sign of a democratic process…
NOW I KNOW WHAT NEIL MARSHAL IS GOING TO BE FILMING: we already had two epic Wall chapters, and there’s a handful more Wall chapters remaining in this book, so I am assuming the big event in Season 4 to be directed by Neil Marshal is going to be The Wall!
QUESTIONS: where is the Mance Rayder line “I’m gonna light up the biggest fire the North has ever seen” come from? Here, it is the Night’s Watch that is lighting fires. Many wildlings are in the woods, it doesn’t make sense to light a fire and burn themselves. Unless he was planning to light the fire after he safely crossed south of the Wall? OMG, does this mean he is going to cross??? If the TV show indirectly spoiled this, it is warhammer to the DVDs!
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? Jon wishes he had 20 trebuchets on sledges and turntables (yes, he is a Hipster Emo DJ), and another 1,000 men and 1-3 dragons. Will these happen in the next few books? GRRM loves doing this, so pretty much every single speculative or what-if sentence is part of the new “Foreshadowing Or Not?” game show…
CHAPTER 65: ARYA TWELVE – Rise!
We have a relative short chapter, a half a prozac misery-does-not-love-company chapter (“whole days passed when neither of them said anything”), with Arya numb from her losses and The Hound angry his chance to make big bucks was ruined. But this is also the chapter with “Rise”.
RISE: “Rise and eat and run with us”… this paragraph contains spoilers if you haven’t read ALL five books so far! Skip this paragraph if you haven’t read all five books. A combination of podcast spoilers after the Red Wedding TV episode and lots of clues in the books, suggest that Catelyn is coming back and this was perhaps her “origin” story? However, we see no reaction from the dead Catelyn. Was the wolf’s task to bring her ashore and then something or someone else would take it from there???. The spoilers have actually made this more interesting, to see how it develops and how it plays out. One more thing to look forward to. This paragraph contains spoilers. Don’t read this paragraph unless you read all five books…
WHO IS DRIVING THE WOLF? one question is, who is driving the Wolf to find Catelyn’s body? Arya went to sleep thinking of her Mother and wanted to find out what happened to her for sure. And sure enough, her dream showed her Catelyn. Is Arya driving the wolf? Is the wolf helping Arya? Is someone else driving the wolf and letting Arya in on the direwolf video feed? The wolf POV in the dream says “only the scent mattered” and the wolf sets aside wolfish needs for this task.
DUAL ABANDONMENT ISSUES: we have another round of Arya abandonment issues (“they were never my pack”), but are we also getting some Nymeria abandonment issues as well? Arya and the Starks kicked Nymeria out. I don’t know if the direwolf had enough intelligence to understand why, but perhaps that event gave her abandonment issues, that’s why she has now build up a great pack of wolves, so she wont’be abandoned again?
WHY DOESN’T ARYA WONDER ABOUT HER DREAMS? Arya had wolf dreams almost every night and she is seeing some pretty interesting things. Yet we have not seen her wonder what exactly do the wolf dreams mean? Why is she seeing them? Who is this recurring wolf? Etc…
WHERE DO I GO? Arya has a page of practical existential questions. Where do I go? Where do I belong? But at least she his considering the options, Lady Smallwood, Sharna’s Inn with Hot Pie, the Brotherhood, the Blackfish, the Wall with Jon Snow. Yet all options are flawed and/or impractical.
THE HOUND TRIES TO PLAN: the Hound just lost his big paycheck and is in “cold rage”. He is trying to plan but his plans are not successful. As book readers we already know that attempting the Eastern Road would be guaranteed death, so the Lysa plan has no legs. Then he decides to wait it out in the small village, hoping to get a message to Lysa (through coming/going patrols perhaps?), but the villagers don’t want him and his troubles… So in the end, it is back to Riverun and Blackfish ransom. Except he should have probably guessed that the Freys would go after Riverrun, so that too is a bad plan. No wonder he didn’t really care if Arya stayed or left and he even gave her a knife.
UNFAIR TO THE HORSE: The Hound and Arya are unfair to the horse by calling it Craven and blaming it for leaving the Twins. While at the same time they did the same thing. It’s a horse, it has no …horse in the Freys vs Starks fight. Someone tell PETA!
MOUNTAIN CLANS GROWING STRONG: we learn that Timmay son of Timett and Gunthor son of Gurn are back in the Mountains and are loaded with modern weaponry they got from Tywin and they looted during the Blackwater. Tyrion’s doing. It will be interesting to see if they play a part in a future plot. GRRM would not have mentioned them just like that, would he? If he mentions them a couple more times matter of factly, then we will know for certain 🙂
TIDBITS: Arya discovers “emptiness”. The first Stark buddhist monk?… Original book readers arrive to this chapter with baited breath because the last they saw of Arya was getting hit on the head by the Hound. But even the lump is going down now… The big she-wolf can outrun horses and outfight lions and swim against a strong stream (unless this is dream boasting and not a fact)… Arya takes a swing at Sansa again, “that was just stupid, like something Sansa might dream”… Arya complains about getting axed, but the Hound is probably right – he saved her life… The Freys are so thorough, they are sending men to hunt any remaining Northerners… We also see the Hound’s gentle side as he “almost tenderly” mercy-kills the almost-dead Piper soldier… Arya has seen enough TV shows that she understands if you don’t see the dead body, they are not dead… Ha!: “Clegane was no Pinkeye”… Wolf is practical, “wolves fled from men” and “felt no shame”… more Lady Smallwood street cred, the villagers couldn’t get Arya into a dress (“they weren’t Lady Smallwood”)… Arya committed doll violence in this episode, the only way to get another girl from pestering her all the time. Wolf’s blood indeed!…
ALIENS??? GRRM writes “and spoke a queer alien tongue”. Oh my! There are aliens riding on the comet and will invade at the start of Book #6. The Prologue will be that of an alien riding the comet!
QUESTION: what does the last line of the chapter suggest? “I have a brother too”. A new plan hatched???
CHAPTER 66: TYRION NINE: The Trial #1
The Tyrion Trial begins! No cross-examination in Westerosi trials, which makes it even easier to stack the deck for a guilty verdict. Partially this reads like a “clip show” chapter 🙂
CERSEI OWN3Z TYRION: with Tyrion locked up in a room and without any allies, Cersei is having field day destroying him. She plans to get Bronn married to Lady Tanda’s Lollys, she flirts and teases the Red Viper for a guilty verdict (his paramour wants him to marry Cersei!), she names The Mountain as her champion in case Tyrion asks for trial by combat, builds up a long list of witnesses and orchestrates a parade of witnesses damning Tyrion, etc.
WHAT IF JAIME WAS WHOLE? Tyrion was able to use Trial by Combat to get out of the Eyrie because of the Bronn advantage. He thought to repeat here, but Cersei already countered it by naming The Mountain as her champion and planned to get Bronn-Bronn married to a high born lady. Bronn would have probably not accepted to face The Mountain regardless of Lollys and price. Too risky vs going up against a rigid more-of-the-same solid knight like Ser Vardis or the Kettlebacks or one of the oafs in the current Kingsguard. Plus Bronn would be in a lose-lose situation if he accepted (either die or lose the Stokeworth deal)… But what if Jaime was whole and what if Tyrion knew that Jaime was around? If Tyrion let it be known that Jaime was going to be his champion and he was going to ask for trial by combat, he would have put both Tywin and Cersei in a very difficult situation. With the likely result of Tyrion walking away cleared of the charges. Jaime did not visit Tyrion privately and no one told Tyrion Jaime was back. Jaime was in the back of the throne room during the trial (and looks different) so the chances of Tyrion noticing him were very slim… Even so, what if Tyrion still named one-handed Jaime as his champion? And Jaime agreed? It would have still forced Tywin and Cersei to let him get away with it…
VARYS UNFRIENDED: Varys refused to visit Tyrion and then spent a whole day recounting all the times Tyrion said or did things that made him look like he wanted to kill Joffrey and hurt Cersei. Varys had detailed transcripts even! Wow, he has little birds crawling through the Red Keep transcribing everything???… “Smelling of rosewater” – does this mean he is allied with the Tyrells?… Tyrion regrets his Varys bromance, “should have had the eunuch’s head” and “damn me for whatever trust I put in him”.
FALSE WITNESS? Lady Merryweather, one of the Tyrell high born entourage claimed that Tyrion dropped something into the king’s wine. Did Cersei pay her? A Cersei + Tyrell alliance to convict Tyrion? OR *gasp* did actually Tyrion poison Joffrey but he is hiding the truth from GRRM???
RED VIPER GUILTY? Tyrion’s simple “No. Did You?” raises the question, did the Red Viper poison Koffrey? The Red Viper thinks that if it wasn’t for Cersei’s freakout with Tyrion, the Tyrells would probably be screaming that it was the Red Viper who poisoned Koffrey. He has plenty of motivation: Tyrell hatred, vengeance for Elia and kids, and Trystan and Mycella becoming the new Royal Couple per Dornish Law, putting the Lannisters in a very awkward position…
CSI CRIME LABS: The CSI team of Maester Ballabar and Frenken found no evidence of choking. We do not know if they found any sign of an actual poison or speculated based on the outcome. We also don’t know if it was the wine that was poisoned or something else. Pycelle claims Tyrion used The Strangler poison.
TYWIN’S GUILTY PLEA OFFER: Kevan brings Tyrion a guilty plea offer from Tywin, which would sent Tyrion to The Wall instead of seeking the death penalty. Assuming Tywin would keep his word. Cersei would definitely not be happy with that outcome. Kevan does make a good point that even if found not guilty, Tyrion would not be safe in the “real world” regardless.
TYWIN’S SIDE OF THE STORY: Kevan recites a full page of Tywin’s viewpoints on his career as Hand and leader of the Lannisters. This is probably as close as we are going to get to a Tywin POV?
RED VIPER PLANNING TO KILL TYWIN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER? “Your father may not live forever”…
RED VIPER KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED? from what the Red Viper says, it looks like the Martells know exactly what happened to Elia? Tywin thinks he can fool them because they were not there, but judging by all the digging the Martells have been doing the last 20 years or so, it looks like they figured it all out. Which leads me to believe that’s why the Red Viper visited Tyrion, to offer to be his Champion so he can get a chance to kill the Mountain in trial by combat (since Tywin was stonewalling them)?… I don’t think Tyrion’s mention of the Mountain’s involvement is what prompted the Red Viper to volunteer to be his champion?
TIBDITS: Tywin is keeping his new allies close, naming both Mace Tyrell and the Red Viper as co-Judges… the trusty Toyota of the Lannisters, Kevan, thinks through and through that Tyrion is guilty, “I wish I could believe that, Tyrion”… Pod took the “don’t return without him” to heart and it was only his begging and Tyrion’s earlier book offer to price-match Bronn that brought him for a visit…. Tyrion feels betrayed that Sansa disappeared so quickly despite their vows. Lannister ego!… Tyrion thinks about naming Shagga of the Mountain Clans as his champion, although a savage barbarian would probably not have an advantage versus the savage beast that is the Mountain?…. Tyrion on Sansa poisoning Koffrey: “I would have if I’d been her”… Big Mouth strikes again, multiple times during the trial, Tyrion’s mouth almost gets him tied up like a pig… Pycelle is milking his “too frail to stand” to get a table and chair arrangement during the trial… The Lannisters punishment of faux-Shae (Alayayayayaya) left “stripes on her back” but Red Viper still found her super hot… we get a history lesson on how Dorne slipped away from the Young Dragon and the Tyrell overseers… Cersei was born ahead of Jaime…
QUOTABLE QUOTES: Bronn to Tyrion: “if I wanted wits, I’d marry you”…
GRRM PLAYS WITH WORDS: “assuming Joff had not simply chocked to death on a bit of food, which even Tyrion found hard to _swallow_”… “asking the Father Above to guide them to justice. When he was done the _father below_…”…
QUESTIONS: if the wine was poisoned and Margaery was drinking from it too, why wasn’t Margaery killed? I don’t recall how many times we are told they drank together from the same cup, but I guess it is possible the poison was added after Margaery last drunk from the cup. Or the poison wasn’t in the wine? Or if this was a Tyrell conspiracy, Margaery took an antidote of sorts?… Even Tyrion doesn’t know why he did not reveal to the Red Viper that Tywin ordered the death of Rhaegar’s kids…
CHAPTER 67: JAIME EIGHT: Lord Commander
This chapter is a gift that keeps on giving. It gets better with every re-read. There are so much stuff packed inside. I almost have a note in every single paragraph…
WHY DIDN’T JAIME VISIT TYRION? Jaime quietly attended the Tyrion trial but he did not visit Tyrion in his room/cell? Why???
LEGACY ISSUES: Jaime is having legacy issues as a Lord Commander (LC) of the Kingsguard, thinking of his resume and thinking of all the previous highly regarded Lord Commanders. His inner dialog with Arthur Dayne is telling, “It was my doing”… With that perhaps as a backdrop, he conducts his first meeting of the Kingsguard as their new LC, trying to motivate and push each one of them to step up their game, “these five were not the brothers he would have chosen, but they were the brothers he had”
THE NEW LORD COMMANDER: He names Boros Blount as official King’s Food Taster and chastises Boros for giving up Tommen to Bronn-Bronn. Boros throws a hissy-fight but is too craven to pull out his sword. Instead he fires a volley of green phlegm at Jaime’s feet (Jaime was playing with fire hire since he would lose an actual fight, “they fear the man I was; the man I am they’d pity”)… He questions the Kettleback’s resume (see segment below), chastises Meryn Trant for beating up Sansa, questions Balon Swann’s family and loyalty, and talks Brienne with Loras.
JAIME THE SANSA: Jaime glorifies the “good old days”, when he was a young teenage prodigy fighter and was hobnobbing with the likes of the Kingsguard and Kingswood Brotherhood All-Stars. How much is that so and how much is that Jaime glorifying things as an impressionable Sansa-fighter?… Insightful line” wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne but … became the Smiling Knight instead”…
THE KETTLEBACK MYSTERY: Jaime raises an interesting point. Where did this Kettleback come from? All the other members of the Kingsguard are known quantities but the Kettlebacks came out of nowhere into Cersei’s service. This one claims he was knighted by some Robert Stone knight, presumably while he was a sellsword with The Gallants. Jaime doubts the truth of that… “what was Cersei thinking when she gave this one a white cloak?”…
LORAS on BRIENNE: Jaime and Loras have a long discussion on Brienne and Renly’s death. Loras appears to be finally starting to look at it more logically, and admits that even the Mountain couldn’t cut through steel like that with just a sword, plus “why armor him and then cut his throat?”… I so wish we get a POV of the Loras and Brienne discussion that will happen after this chapter! Can Loras remain calm and not have another violent freak out?… Jaime on Loras: “he is not false. Not yet”… Sure, sure “we had prayed together than night”. Just like Jaime and Cersei “prayed” in the Sept when Jaime returned!… Jaime helps him out by saying he would have done the same (on Loras’s Kingsguard-slaying) and then Jaime wonders why he didn’t use that as an opportunity to get rid of Boros Blount).
LITTLEFINGER SUGGESTED RENLY’S GHOST: Littlefinger is a gift that keeps on giving. He was the one who suggested to the Tyrells to dress Ser Gallan the Gallant in Renly’s armor to confuse and frighten the Stannis troops.
THE WHITE BOOK: two feet tall and 1.5 feet wide, over 1000 pages, the living history of the Kingsguard. Will GRRM ever publish it? 🙂 Jaime seems to be a book of his own, “I know of every hedge knight, freerider and upjumped squire of any skill who has ever presumed to break a lance in the lists”…
WHO KILLED KOFFREY? Jaime asks his new brothers a lot of pointed questions on whether Tyrion killed Koffrey. Meryn Trent says that plenty of people were around, including the King’s family, the bride’s family, Pycelle, the High Septon, etc.
THEY ALL DISS VARYS BUT THEY ALL TURN TO HIM WHEN IN NEED: even Jaime turned to Varys for help. He got background info on Balon Swann’s involvement in the War of the Five Kings, and he was also looking to him for info on Sansa’s escape.
JAIME’s HOMEWORK: learn to write with left hand… learn to fight with left hand… update the White Book with the latest happenings… do something about his stump (eg Jacelyn Bywater wore an iron hand)… “other things to tend to first”, “other debts to pay”…
A LOT OF WEIGHT IN TOURNEY VICTORIES: they are placing so much weight in tourney victories that they are entered in the White Book as part of each member’s resume!
THE BEST RPI/SOS TOURNEY WIN EVER? Ser Barristan defeated Robert, Red Viper, Leyton Hightower, Jon Connington, Jason Mallister, and Prince Rhaegar at a Storm’s End tourney. His RPI/SOS must be #1 with these!
TIBDITS: Cersei avoided alone time with Jaime since their sexting in the Sept.. Tywin “disowned” him after Jaime refused to opt-out of the Kingsguard… Jaime lost enough weight he can’t fit his old Kingsguard clothes… After Ser Barrristan was dismissed, he went to the White Tower and added an entry into the White Book about his dismissal. Ha!… Handwriting matching personality? Gerold Hightower’s forceful hand vs Selmy’s smaller and more elegant writing… Jaime won the tournament at Cersei’s wedding… Jaime feels dissed because the previous Lord Commanders did not include more of his achievements in this resume… Funny: “he might have been the first knight in the realm to swear fealty to all six kings”… Interesting, the Lord Commander (LC) can ask the Brothers of the Kingsguard to reveal their secrets to him? “a sworn brother has no secrets from his LC”…
IS JAIME SHIPPING LORAS NOW? he sees Loras a mirror image of himself when he was younger. He sees Cersei as a mirror image of himself and we know what they are doing behind closed doors. So is he going to want to do the same thing with Ser Loras now? Self-mirror fetish?
IS JENNY OF OLDSTONE A RECENT STORY? Jaime is reading that when he was young, Ser Selmystan Barry went against Duncan the Prince of Dragonflies in a tourney.
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? the table in the White Tower of the Kingsguard is made of old weirwood. Not just weirwood, but old weirwood!… Jaime notices how the new members sat on one side with the older members on the other and wondered whether there would be another inner divide/fight like that during the Dance of the Dragons…
TYPO OR DISS? In Barristan’s last entry, written on his way out, the Kindle version of the book writes “King Joffrey I baratheon”, with lower-case baratheon. A typo or an intentional diss by Ser Barristan?
CRACKPOT THEORY: in the previous chapter GRRM once again mentioned that Jaime had the black bat sigil during his trip back to King’s Landing. Here we are told of the shields in the White Book. So the leap of crackpotiness here is this: will Jaime adopt the Black Bat sigil and disown his Lannister heritage?
CHAPTER 68: SANSA SIX: Another Wedding!
After a GRRM-caliber delay, a new aSoS chapter write-up is here! Yet another wedding in this book, but per Dothraki/Magistrar-Illyrio standards, this was a rather dull affair! But on re-reads some pretty big revelations shine through!
LIES, LIES, LIES: we know that Littlefinger (LF) is a scheming weasel but GRRM hits us over the head with it when LF tells Sansa that Tyrion gave his first wife to the guards when he got tired of her. We know that is very untrue having read all the Tyrion POVs. So, what else that Littlefinger is saying is not true or partial truths or shades of truth?
WHO KILLED JOFFREY? according to Littlefinger, assuming he can be trusted, it was our beloved Queen of Thorns who picked up one of the amethysts from Sansa’s hairnet and dropped it in Joffrey’s wine cup? If so, what measures did the QoT take to protect Margaery from getting poisoned as well? Did they tell her not to drink after a certain point? Did they give her some kind of a potion that would counter the poisons? Did the poison use some kind of magic that targeted Joffrey specifically? The purple hairnet is mentioned in one of the High Heart prophecies and it certainly makes sense for the QoT to do this as laid out by Littlefinger.
REVELATION #1: Littlefinger’s family is from Braavos. His great grandfather was a sellsword from Braavos who worked the Seven Kingdoms as a sellsword under a Corbray. His grandfather became a knight and took as his sigil the Titan of Braavos. But LF found it too fierce so he replaced it with his little mockingbird.
REVELATION #2: the Kettlebacks belong to Littlefinger. Or at least so he thinks. He told their father to send them to King’s Landing after they started hiring sellswords. They have been getting bribes from both Cersei and Tyrion, but Littlefinger thinks they will do his bidding if need be. Although he is cautious about the one who took the White (the one in the Kingsguard), he says “that white cloak does things to a man, I find”.
REVELATION #3: Sansa is to marry Lysa’s son! Sansa quickly understands this time (remembering the Hound’s words) that it is her claim to Winterfell that Lysa wants. This will be a secret wedding and they will have to wait for Tyrion to be executed for allegedly poisoning King Kof-kof-Koffrey. Assuming sickly Robyn-Robert Arryn-Tully is healthy enough to live that long. Sansa is now competing with Margaery for most high-born marriages! Sansa is really going to be more of a baby-sitter it seems. Lysa wants her to babysit her future husband. Milkface has weak eyes so Sansa will be his Roy Dotrice. No glasses then… The chapter ends with Lysa giving Sansa some hard truths, Eyrie-style, “you are really just a beggar now, so put that pride aside. Gratitude will better become you in your present circumstances”. Ouch!
REVELATION #4: Lysa hated her marriage with Jon Arryn, partially because she was infatuated with Littlefinger and partially because Jon Arryn was way older. “His breath smelled like bad cheese”, “his seed was old and weak”. Lysa lost three girls and two boys fathered by Jon Arryn.
REVELATION #5: Lysa is cool with poisoning people. “A man will tell you poison is dishonorable but a woman’s honor is different. The Mother shaped us to protect our children and our only dishonor is in failure”. Who did she poison or who is she planning to poison?
THE BORING WEDDING: Lysa meant business as her infatuation with Littlefinger apparently was not to be denied! She arrived with Septon and Singer and “Wedding Feast in a Box”, marrying LF within the hour! The most exciting thing during the wedding was her wild sexy screams that everyone in the mini tower was able to hear. No noise-cancelling headphones then 😉 She appears to be truly infatuated. Sansa notices “her eyes seemed to glow whenever she looked at him”. PEEEEEETYR!!!!! I am looking forward to hear this line in the audiobook :-)… … More LF the Perv moments as Sansa joined LF’s bedding ceremony… LF is getting a big wedding gift from Lysa, she will make him “Lord Protector of the Vale”…
HOME: LF tells Sansa we are going “home”. Sansa somehow thinks the boat is going to sail through sea and land and end up at Winterfell. I don’t know how much she was told of the fate of Winterfell and the North, but perhaps this is yet another “Sansa the Princess” moment. LF misled perhaps but he did not lie, they went home. He had a home, Sansa didn’t. So the only logical home to go to would be his.
SANSA FINDS A NEW HOUND? Marillion the singer (not the band) tries to impose himself on Sansa. The retired tired old dog she befriended was no Lady-the-Direwolf and was easily sent away by Marillion. But LF gave Sansa a new Hound, Lord Luthor who saved her from the sexual advances of Marrillion. He even drew singer’s blood! The singer apparently managed to increase his favorability ratings by befriending the sickly Robyn-Robert Arryn-Tully.
SANSA THE PRINCESS: Sansa is growing and learning but we still get plenty of “Sansa the Princess” moments. Dissing Ser Luthor’s outfit as not being “proper” for a knight, nitpicking on the food they gave her (“pomegranate seeds were so messy”), she eats oranges with a spoon, etc… We also get Sansa the CW Princess, “under that was a sour milky smell. Her cheek tasted of paint and powder”. Because Lord Robyn-Robert Arryn-Tully must have fresh milk!
SANSA THE WISE: she understands that Lysa hates Tyrion, so she avoids giving Tyrion credit for treating her gently and not demanding sex and an heir immediately.
SANSA THE BASTARD: neither LF nor Lysa want the world to know that Sansa is with them, so LF comes up with a little scheme, Sansa is his own bastard daughter from a died-at-childbirth Free Cities noblewoman. And her name, is Littlefinger’s mother’s name, Alayne. Which makes sense at a level, but it is also Littlefinger-creepy.
LYSA THE WISE: Lysa may be a little touched, but her thought process (for the right or wrong reasons) is perhaps beneficial for the people of the Vale. Stay out of the fighting, let everyone else get bloodied and deal with the situation when it is all said and done. The Vale does not need any of the other kingdoms to survive and the Eyrie is impregnable. So let’s give Lysa the Queen of Milk and Beauty some props for her strategery!
DO WE LIKE JOFFREY NOW? “he used to call my Robert cruel names and once he slapped him with a wooden sword”. Milk-face vs Joff-face! Poor Milk-face is so meekly even the steward’s sons were “much too rough” for him…
LF on CERSEI: We get LF’s insight on Cersei, he finds her utterly predictable and disses her as depending on her beauty, birth and riches. No doubt this is colored by LF’s perspective. Cersei is probably not as bad of a player as LF suggests? She certainly gave Tyrion a lot of trouble back when Tyrion was acting Hand.
LF on MARGAERY: TV Margaery is a wannabe-player in the Game of Thrones, but LF’s analysis of book Margaery is “keep her queenly crown and her maidenhead, neither of which she especially wants”…
WORDS OF WISDOM: by Littlefinger, “nothing discourages unwanted questions as much as a flow of pious bleating”… Also, “in King’s Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces”…
TIDBITS: more hints of Loras’s gayness, LF says “doubly difficult” to find a bride for him… Coming from LF, this is a lot of praise for the QoT, “that old woman is not boring, though, I’ll grant her that. A fearsome old harridan and not near as frail as she pretends”… Littlefinger is so stingy he has no retirement plans for the few in his household guard. The Captain of his Guard is over 80 years old! Granted, it is very light duty, protecting rocks from nobody :)… We have yet another LittlePerv moment, “he was studying her… his …eyes full of… Or something else?”… Vale politics update, Yohn Royce wanted the Vale to join the fighting, although we are not told which side he wanted them to fight for…
QUESTIONS: assuming it was indeed the Queen of Thorns who killed Joffrey, we still don’t know exactly how she did it and how Margeary was spared from the poison. Please someone explain it in a future chapter!… what is Littlefinger planning to do with the Kettlebacks as a “hidden dagger”? Take out more Lannisters to create even more chaos? “Chaos is a ladder” although I don’t recall if this is a book based line or made-for-TV. That scene on the TV show I found rather off… why did Lysa arrive with so few protectors? did she arrive by Sea where it is safer or by land? Or did she leave some behind to guard access to LF’s “Fingers”?
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? a new installment of our favorite Game Show, “Foreshadowing Or Not?” Sansa thinks “there was something forlorn and desolate about the little tower” (Littlefinger’s ancestral home)… Are there plans in place for the Tyrells or LF to break the Tyrell-Lannister alliance? LF says “the great western alliance will be preserved… for a time, at least”… When Lysa asked LF what he would do with Alayne, he said “I have a few notions”…
SYMBOLISM OR NOT? a new spin-off game show. Littlefinger talks about Neddard and his “Game of Thrones” skills while killing a pomegranate with his dagger!…
CHAPTER 69: JON NINE: the Acting Lord Commanders
This chapter has two parts, each one dominated by a different “acting Lord Commander”. In the first half, Jon Snow leads the few remaining brothers in the defense of the Wall against the Mance Rayder attacks. In the second half, m’lord Janos Slynt arrives (with Ser Allister Thorne in tow) and appoints himself acting Lord Commander.
JON HAS THE WOLF’s BLOOD TOO: while nowhere near the levels of Lyannnnnnaaaa and Arya, Jon Snow has some wolf’s blood too as evidenced in the last paragraph where he almost choked to death the beloved Ser Alliser Thorne.
THE NEW REGIME: Jon’s reign as acting Lord Commander ended quickly as Janos Slynt took cover, arriving with some of the Eastwatch men. Both Slynt and Thorne and the drunk Septon and the captured weasely Lord of Bones had it in for Jon Snow, but frail old Maester Aemon was adamant in the defense of Jon Snow. He must have dragon fire in his veins! Maester Aemon is the prince that was promised!!!… Funny how the Ugly Frog retained the title of “Lord of Harrenhal”… Slynt is so low born that he wants to be addressed as “m’lord” as opposed to the proper “my lord”.
BOWEN MARSH GOT PLAYED: Mance’s plan to send Bowen Marsh on a wild goose chase worked real well. He chased the Weeper and 300 Wildlings all the way to the westernmost part of the Wall. He defeated them in battle but lost 100+ men. Considering how few men the Wall has, and where they are needed now, this was a total disaster. That’s why Bowen Marsh was the leader of the Stewards, not the Rangers!… Mance Rayder may not have as much technology as the Seven Kingdoms but he is still making adjustments and throwing different things at the Night’s Watch. Even avoiding the areas where the one remaining catapult is able to hit. And using raw hides to counter fire arrows.
GROOMING THEM FOR COMMAND: Jon is starting to groom his class of recruits for command, starting with Pyp! Snow notices that Pyp kept morale from dropping by being a goofball. Snow also notices that Grenn has matured since he last saw him and became more of an aurochs! He (or GRRM) calls him a red-neck!
DID GRRM FORGET ABOUT THE MURDER HOLES? in the previous Wall chapters, we were told there were murder holes above the passage underneath the Wall. Here, Jon Snow mentions the passage twice yet each time he appears to forget that they also have the murder holes as an option.
TIDBITS: Jon Snow knows how to use telescope technology. They have telescopes even! From their version of Best Buy – the Free City of Myr :)… The whole point of the telescope was so that Jon Snow would notice Thormund eating a roast leg of goat. Out of all the things to see, he made out a roast leg of goat. GRMM needs a spanking!… Val was milking a she-goat. What else would she milk? A he-goat?… the Mammoth’s dying cries are terrible to hear, especially if they go on for 1.5 days and no earplugs available… GRRM continues to opportunistically remind us of Benjen Stark yet we have no new news of him. Which perhaps further fuels the Coldhands theory.
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? a new episode of our favorite game show… Forgetful Owen has a dream that King Robert arrived to defend the Wall with his golden banners of House B… the straw soldiers on top of the Wall named after Brothers who were not there. Will everyone whose strawman equivalent got arrows die? Dolorous Edd looks shaky as he leads the strawman arrows!… Jon’s dream before the Ugly Frog arrived, “his dreams were strange and formless… strange voices… warhorn blowing low and loud, single booming note that lingered in the air”… On Jonos Slynt: “if he lives to Mormont’s age”…
CHAPTER 70: TYRION TEN: Trial By Combat Again
This is the first time in many years that I got mad at a book character! Red Viper! He had victory in his back pocket and he ruined it all for himself and for Tyrion by being too careless and too cocky at the end! You are dealing with a beast, a force of nature in the The Mountain, you can’t just do victory laps and such until he is confirmed clinically dead! But this is a GRRM book and there’s a price to pay for everything and everyone. Just a few hundred pages ago he gives us another wild and entertaining character, and now he is gone with a sickening crunch! But the shocking ending should not take away from the Red Viper’s strategy at both knocking down the The Mountain and also managing to get a full public confession of killing Elia and her kid. Plus the oil aka poison on his spear guaranteed some kind of justice regardless of what happened, as long as he managed to puncture The Mountain. And he succeeded on all three. But he didn’t live to celebrate!
SHAE-SHAE: so now we know why book fans don’t like Shae-Shae! Granted, on Shae-Shae’s defense, what options did she have? Deny Cersei and get killed off or do what Cersei asked of her and hope they wouldn’t kill her anyway. It will be interesting to see how this will play out on the TV show where Shae-Shae is a more sympathetic character, she was even willing to sacrifice herself for Sansa.
BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN: Tyrion delivers an interesting confession speech (on trial for being a dwarf/different), but at the same time, he goes all bitter, “Yet now I wish I had (poisoned Kof-Kof-Koffrey). I wish I had enough poison for you all”… We get some more Tyrion insights, “Did you think I would go meekly, Father? I have too much of you in me for that”… and “it was almost worth dying to know all the trouble he’d made”… we also get the “it all goes back and back, to our mothers and fathers… We are puppets dancing on the strings…”
IS TYWIN MORE GUILTY THAN HE TOLD TYRION? in a previous Tyrion chapter, Tywin tells Tyrion that he didn’t specifically ask the The Mountain to kill Elia. Here however, we get some backstory from The Red Viper that suggests that Tywin may have lied to Tyrion and wanted “revenge” against Elia for beating Cersei in the Rhaegar T. marriage sweepstakes. The Red Viper is convinced given Tywin’s track record with the Reigns of Castameer and the Towbarfs (names are an approximation).
CERSEI WINS: in the previous Sansa chapter, Littlefinger downplays Cersei’s “Game”, but hear we see that she wins and frustrates Tyrion in many different ways. From bringing in the The Mountain, to using Shae-Shae against him. Granted, Cersei had a lot of advantages in this situation and the upper hand, but still…
COULD JAIME OR BRON DO BETTER? Tyrion wished he had Bronn or Jaime but would they really fare better than the Red Viper? Two-handed Jaime may be very skilled but did he have the cat quickness and more importantly the sense to use a spear instead of going sword-to-sword with the Mountain? Bronn was in a lose-lose situation, but he seemed to think that his chances were not particularly good vs The Mountain. And neither Jaime nor Bronn would poison their sword.
THE ALLIANCE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN #1: Apparently Tywin’s wife and Red Viper’s mother were planning to have at least one pair of their kids married, either Elia/Jaime or Cersei/RedViper or both But Tywin’s mother died giving birth to Tyrion (are we to take that for granted or is there some kind of sub-plot waiting to surface?), so that ruined the Mother Plan.
THE ALLIANCE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN #2: the Red Viper had a pretty good plan after victory. He and Tyrion and Sansa go south, and Sansa (The North) and Tyrion declare for Mycella as Queen instead of Tommen. This would put the Lannisters and specifically Cersei in a very awkward position.
CHARACTERS COMING UP? in addition to all the action, it feels like GRRM is preparing us for some new characters to come into play. Namely the Hightower heir, Baelor the Breakwind Brightsmile and some of Red Viper’s associates that were dressing him up for the Trial-by-Combat.
TIDBITS: GRRM even describes the food in the vomit in detail… Tyrion’s fanclub is shrinking by the hour. Even Addam Marbrand and Pod and trusty Uncle Kevan appear to be convinced he is guilty… The Red Viper perked up when Shae-Shae said she was asked to perform “shameful things”. Nothing too kinky for the Red Viper. Perhaps he was worried he was missing out on something?… Tywin is so uptight he was the only one perhaps not laughing at Shae’s “my giant of a Lannister”. But when Tyrion ruined his plans by asking for Trial By Combat, we had a red-faced Tywin fisting the table! A trial by combat would be a lose-lose situation for Tywin… Red Viper was amped up for a fight, when Tyrion faux-confessed, “Prince Oberyn looked mildly disappointed”… They spared Tommen this whole mess, so at least there’s that… Tyrion continues to think like a Master of Coin – stage the fight at the Dragonpit and make big bucks with a capacity crowd!… we get some in-chapter foreshadowing, when the Red Viper was putting on his armor, we get “with its visor removed, the prince’s helm was effectively no better than a half-helf” – sickening crunch! Ouch!
TV SHOW: I am so glad the TV show got a new Mountain! The one in Season 2 was just too meek and skinny and mild-mannered. There’s no way he could have pulled this scene! So it is good news that they have a new beastly Mountain for Season 4! Can they pull off the Mountain Pole Vault Olympics? They’ll probably not show the hacking of the child spectator? The Trial By Combat be a great Twitter Trending episode-ender. Perhaps the end of Episode 8 or 9? We know what Episode 10 is going to be since they brought in the big director for that. And there’s plenty of action to fill Chapter 10!
CHAPTER 71: DAENERYS SIX: QUEEN
What is Dany going to be doing during TV Season 4? Season 3 compressed the Slaver’s Bay story, so what will she be doing for 10 episodes? Will they pull stuff from future books? Or will we get a repeat of Season 2, every other episode yelling at Ser Jorah for betraying her? 🙂 This perhaps explains why no Strong Belwas, the story is getting compressed, no fight outside Yunkai and no other Strong Belwas goofiness (he bit a rat in two – in the sewers!)…
The end of the previous Dany chapter got me mad at her for equating Ser Barristan with Ser Jorah the Perv and sending them both in the sewers as a penalty. But finally the “dragon” went to sleep and her wits returned and she now realized the difference between what Barristan did and what Ser Perv did!
SER JORAH THE PERV FINALLY KICKED OUT! Dany does not have the heart to get him killed, so she kicks him out! So now we have a big cliffhanger in this book, what will Ser Jorah do? And will we ever find out? Assuming of course he leaves and he does not stay behind. And what if he turns bitter and tries to go Mero the Titan’s Bastard on her? Our Fierce Bear seems to be an entitled diva, demanding forgiveness and such (“you have to forgive me”), taking credit for the victory, aggressively making his case, even touching the Queen, thus semi-waking the Dany dragon once again!… On the other hand, Dany does not currently someone to replace Ser Jorah, with street-savvy knowledge of both the Seven Kingdoms and the Free Cities. Ser Barristan is too honorable and high brow for some of the things that need to be done, while Ser Jorah would offer her more practice advice. Maybe she can start interviewing replacements?
DID VARYS REALLY WARN SER JORAH? Ser Jorah claims that Varys sent him a letter to warn him that an attempt would be made against Dany. He claims that Varys was spying on Dany but he did not want her dead. Varys certainly did not object when Robert asked him to get her killed. So, is Ser Jorah making it up to make his case or is he telling the truth? Was this part of the Illyrio Book #1 dungeon plot? By having Robert make an attempt on Dany’s life and by telling Jorah about it, Varys perhaps wanted an unsuccessful attempt to be made, to get the Dothraki riled up and driven to attack Westeros?
SER BARRISTAN IS RESTORED: Barristan had his diva moment too. Refusing to take a sword unless given to him by The Queen. But we also see more savvy in Barristan. He kept his identity a secret, not just to prevent the Spider/Lannisters from learning, but also because he wanted to test Dany, to see if she was worth it or a Mad Queen in the making. Barristan seems convinced now that she is not a Mad Queen. He dishes a lot of Davos-style hard truths and we even get the “the gods toss the coin” when a Targaryen is born.
GRRM THE CRUEL: First Ser Barristan tells Dany that he has a boatload of juicy Targaryen secrets that Dany is entitled to, and then Dany decides she doesn’t want to hear any of them now. Noooooooooooooooooooooo! GRRM the Cruel, at least give us something before this book ends!!!!!!!!!!
HOW MEEREEN WAS WON: we get a detailed recap of how Meereen was won. It only took a day of fighting and was nowhere near as bloody (on Dany’s side) as it could have been, thanks to the dismantling of the ships and the sewer rats (Jorah, Barristan, Belwas, etc) unleashing the slaves from the fighting pits. Will the loss of her ships come to bite her later on or are we to assume she has taken over the ships of Meereen?
ASTAPOR IS A DISASTER: Dany left behind a council to rule Astapor, but now Grazdan’s Butcher (actual butcher, former slave) has named himself King and wants to marry Dany to expand his rule. Astapor is a big mess, every pyramid on its own against the rest.
IS YUNKAI PLANNING REVENGE? the Astapor envoy tells Dany that Yunkai is rebuilding and planning revenge. They are training new soldiers, they have send for sellswords and they even sent people to the Dothraki, hoping to bring a Khalaasaaar to take on Dany!… Is that true or is he making it up to encourage Dany to marry him? Still, a rather jarring decision by Dany considering her previous feelings of slavery.
DANY THE SLAVER: in a rather ironic twist, the Meereen Highborn want to sell themselves into slavery to escape the mess that is Slavery’s Bay. Dany not only allows that, but she also accepts a 10% transaction fee! Perhaps Dany did not object because these were the Slavers who wanted to become slaves?
DANY THE AVENGER: she avenged the 163 children by similarly killing 163 slave masters. Dany is having an internal dialog whether this was excessive or not (“I made a horror just as great”), but she settles on this being justice for the dead kids (“harsh justice is still justice”)… Stern Dany was successful is ending the pillaging, “filled a bushel basket with bloody hands and soft red worms”…
DANY THE QUEEN: we get a lot of insight with distilled one-liners, “Whatever I do, all I make is death and horror”… More insight: “all i have brought to Slaver’s Bay is death and ruin. I have been more khal than queen”… And “how can I rule the 7 kingdoms if I can’t rule a single city?”… There is a lot of hope in this insight, the fact that she is able to notice and question all these is a sign that perhaps she is a lot more Rhaegar than Viserys/Mad-King?… Dany punted one of her big decisions. As Daario counseled her, she either had to keep or kill Ser Jorah. No middle ground. Dany couldn’t decide what to do, so she punted… But the biggest revelation that closes Dany’s chapters in this book is that Dany is going to stay in Meereen and rule as a Queen. Practice being a Queen, so she will be better trained when she takes over Westeros. And it looks like she is going to have a lot of practice, as GRRM lays out and foreshadows all kinds of trouble. Astapor unrest, Yunkai revenge, too many people and not enough food, flies everywhere, potential Dothraki attack, etc…
MISSANDEI WEST WING: Missandei, despite her age, is very politically savvy. A couple of times she jumps in at the right moment to give Dany an assist!
NEW PLACES TO VISIT: we are told of the Isle of Naarth and the vegan Peaceful People where Missandei comes from, with their own God and his butterflies. But Dany goes skeptical inquirer on them, “the butterflies do not help them when the slave ships come raiding”.
TIDBITS: we get another small sign that the Dragons have some kind of intelligence, they roared as one when Meereen began falling… Dany ate “dog sausages”. I don’t think we are going to see that on the TV show :)… the TV show lost itself a sex scene by killing all of Dany’s handmaidens!… we learn that the Unsullied are not taught how to read or write… GRRM takes a mini-swing at fantasy history, “too simple and fanciful to be true history”. Yet at the same time, Dany mentions the Baelor the Blessed sisters locked up in a tower story which is apparently true?… Not sure what the “red door” has to do with anything? Was Dany just reminiscing or is there more to it? From what I recall the “red door” is in one of the Free Cities, Braavos or something? So why would she be looking for a red door here? *confuse*
PROPHECY ASSUMPTION? “The Dragon has three heads”. But we have not had any prophecy that says that they have to be men? Dany assumes that both of them are men, two men she can trust if she can find them. Maester Aemon and ???
THREE TREASONS COUNT: I am confused. Does Ser Jorah count as two of the three treasons now? We can assume Mirri Maz Dhur is the “for blood”. Is Jorah the other two or just the “for love”?
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? Dany felt like a god at the top of her pyramid… Flies, flies, flies. They are mentioned a lot. Will they play a part in a future plot? Perhaps some kind of a disease killing people by the thousands?… Daario is quite ridiculous, now with purple hair and trident beard, and Dany thinks they make his eyes look purple, which is a plus for Targareyns… “One day one of them may not return” (on the dragons flying away or something happening to them).
BOOK CLIFFHANGER: what will Ser Jorah do now that Dany kicked him out?
CHAPTER 72: JAIME NINE: THE NEW ARYA
This is part of the book-ending King’s Landing arc, although there’s not a lot of Tyrion here. However, as in many Jaime chapters, there’s a lot of insight and background info rolling in from all directions…
MEET THE NEW ARYA: we have a new Arya! A fake Arya obviously but good enough for the Tywin-Bolton alliance. This New Arya will marry Roose Bolton’s Bastard, who is now legitimized by King Tommen, and daddy Roose Bolton will become the new Warden of the North!
MYSTERY SOLVED: WHAT HAPPENED TO ICE? The Stark sword “Ice” was in the hands of Ser Ilyn Payne for a while, but we have new news now. A few chapters ago in a Tyrion chapter we saw that Tywin had two new Valyrian steel swords for Joffrey and Jaime. Now we learn that these two new swords were actually made from Ice! Tywin had it reforged into two. So now the question arises – is the red in them linked to the way Ned Stark died? Red for the Starks or Ned Stark’s death? Killed by his own blade?
IT WAS POISON: the Mountain is indeed poisoned! Red Viper was fighting with a poisoned sword. Maester Pycelle is unable to heal him, but Tywin demands that the Mountain must survive so he can be officially killed by the King’s Justice – in order to placate Dorne. Strangely Pycelle asks that the Dornish are detained, but Tywin gives him a reality check. Tywin is apparently afraid that Stannis might join forces with the Dornish… Here too perhaps The Mountain’s size works to his advantage? A lesser man could have probably died already but a beast like the Mountain can last longer?
CONFIRMED: Tyrion’s CSI work was correct! Cersei confirms that Joffrey was the one responsible for trying to get Bran killed after he fell off that window! In Cersei’s mind, Joffrey did this inspired by Robert’s drunk rumblings. But this is Cersei’s viewpoint, she calls Joffrey brave in this chapter and we all know what a craven he is (eg vs Arya in early Book #1).
STANNIS IS ON THE MOVE: Varys’s fishing boat birds have brought news back that Stannis has left Dragonstone with most of his power. They don’t know where he went. Candidates include the Stormlarnds, Lys, and Dorne!
THE OATHKEEPERS: Jaime and Brienne have found a way to attempt to keep their oath to dead Lady Catelyn (“Sansa Stark is my last chance for honor”). They are probably doing this more for themselves than Lady Catelyn or the Stark girls, but at least they are trying. The only thing they can do is have Brienne try to find Sansa and protect her from Cersei’s wrath. Brienne is only one and Sansa is at the Fingers at the moment, not sure how Brienne can help her, but try they must. In doing this, Jaime is going against Tywin and Cersei who wants Sansa dead, and even against himself since Jaime believes Sansa poisoned Joffrey (but he don’t care – “he deserved to die”)! Jaime also tries to make up for it by giving Brienne half of Ned Stark’s sword, so she can try to defend his daughter with his own sword, now named OathKeeper. Sounds like this will play out at some point in future books!
JAIME vs BRIENNE: it was going well between them, until Jaime had a hissy fit, perhaps taking out his Cersei frustration on Brienne (“she bleats like a bloody sheep”). And pushing Brienne away. But not before he gave the shippers a gift: “she does have astonishing eyes” and “see wench? we know each other too well”… So now we can assume that Loras’s issues with Brienne are over?
JAIME vs CERSEI: we get another crazy Jaime and Cersei scene. The Sept was fine for sex, but not the White Tower says Jaime. Cersei tries to use her feminine powers to get Jaime to abandon the Kingsguard and become Tywin’s son again. After Jaime refuses, Cersei goes wild! Among the points of contention are Cersei being forced to marry again, Cersei being sent to The Rock away from Tommen, Jaime refusing to leave the Kingsguard, Jaime still supporting Tyrion, Jaime wanting to go public with their relationship, Jaime denouncing his kids (“my seed, not my son”), Jaime’s naivete on being lied to, etc.
JAIME IS USELESS: Jaime tested his fighting skills with practice swords and got his ass royally kicked by trusty Ser Addam Marbrand. Jaime is worried he might tell someone that Jaime is useless with his other hand. If it was Cersei, she would probably have Addam killed!… And we get his distilled realization, “lost a hand, father, son, sister, lover and soon a brother”, yet they keep telling me we won!
KING TOMMEN: We learn some more about our new King – “He even liked to read” and “pressing his royal seal into the hot wax was his favorite part of being king, so far”. Is that “so far” foreshadowing or not?
WAR REPORT: the fallout from the Red Wedding, the Tullys are officially stripped of Riverrun which is given to Ser Emmon Frey (who I think is married to a Lannister lady). Ramsay Bolton is legitimized. Roose Bolton is the new Warden of the North. Rolph Spicer (Jeyne Westerling’s relative) is now given the castle of Castamere and the other Westerlings are forgiven. Also pardoned are the Brackens and Vances and Maidenpool…
TIDBITS: Jaime sees the gift of the Valyrian steel sword as a mocking gesture. Having read the earlier Tyrion chapter, we know that that is not so. Tywin was honest in this aspect! And by giving him the sword, Tywin was apparently actively trying to bring Jaime back on-board, using Ser Kevan as a nudging proxy… Of the current six members of the Kingsguard, Jaime appears to mistrust Trant, Blount and Kettleback. All three his sister’s creatures?… Tidbit on Steelshanks: he shared the Lannister coin with his men. For someone who works for the Boltons, he seems way too honorable!… Ha! Jaime really wanted to kill Robert Baratheon himself and he is pissed at Cersei for robbing him of that opportunity!
QUESTIONS: Giving Castamere to the Spicers brings up this question, were the Spicers/Westerlings secretly in league with Tywin? During the TV season, there were many theories that the Robb-Jeyne/Talysa thing was a scheme to cause unrest in Robb’s ranks and open the door for Tywin to align himself with the Freys/Boltons and the Red Wedding.
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? “This is Stannis Baratheon. The man will fight to the bitter end and then some”. Does “then some” foreshadow anything???… Jaime asks Cersei to be quiet while they are having their argument in the White Tower. Does that mean that one of his brothers overheard their argument and this will come up in a future chapter… Jaime on his white cloak: “I’m sure I’ll soil it soon enough”…
CLIFFHANGER: so this chapter closes with another book cliff hanger: Brienne is now embarking on a new adventure to find and protect and defend Sansa!
CHAPTER 73: JON TEN: THE RETURN OF THE KING
GRRM certainly loves to stir the pot of characters and mix and match them in unexpected places and situations! We have another instant classic chapter here, Stannis arrives in the nick of time and saves the day for the Night’s Watch! And inadvertently saves Jon Snow from certain death!
STANNIS SAVES THE DAY: in a previous chapter, Varys told Tywin Stannis is MIA. Now we know where he was heading! At Eastwatch, persumably convinced by Davos, to save the realm from the attackers. He left his fleet and family there but his army joined with Cotter Pyke of Eastwatch and marched west to take the Wildling camp by surprise. As Ned Stark told us in Book #1, Stannis is a proven battle commander, so we can assume he devised a detailed plan to attack the undisciplined wildlings. The only thing that gave them trouble were the Giants on Mammoths. Perhaps Stannis needs to recruit/convince them to join him, as they would give him a competitive advantage versus the other Westerosi armies.
WHERE IS DAVOS? no mention of Davos!!!
WHAT HAPPENED TO MANCE? A wedge of knights attacked Mance and his horse and he went down. We don’t know what happened to him. Also unknown is the fate of Thormund. Harma the Dogshead was killed and her head (wait for it) met the same fate as the dog heads she used. Mance’s wife, wife-sister and Jon Snow were last seen at their tent.
MAESTER AEMON STILL HAS FIRE: he is fighting Slynt/Thorne on Jon Snow and refuses to let them kill him. He even wrote Cotter Pyke of Eastwatch… But Thorne is devious, he devised a lose-lose situation for Jon Snow, go kill Mance under a banner of truce, so Jon Snow would be dead no matter what happened. If it wasn’t for the surprise Stannis arrival…. Of course we don’t know what Jon would have done – he was trying to decide whether to try to kill Mance or go back and tell them about the Horn of Winter – but the Stannis surprise spared him that difficult decision.
MANCE HAD A PLAN: another reveal, the Wildlings actually found the Horn of Winter (“graven with runes”), but they don’t want to use it unless they have no other choice. The main reasons for not using it so far? 1) if the Wall goes down, the Others will follow them, and 2) “sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it”… Mance through the use of Orell/7Skins Eagle knows how few men the Night’s Watch has, how few supplies they have, how few men came from Eastwatch with Slynt/Thorne. And he reveals the reason why he hasn’t attacked from all directions – the Others and their Dead Head army are behind them, and would cause even more casualties. Mance admits that even the giants cannot stand against them! By this, I assume they mean the White Walkers, because the Giants could probably crash and dismember dead-head humans?… So Mance wants to trade the Horn of Winter for passage south of the Wall. No bending the knee, nothing else. Just a straight up trade, Passage for the Horn of Winter… We also get a little bit of backstory of how Mance climbed through the ranks, he killed three competitors and the other two (Thormund and Styr) joined him…
MELISANDRE BURNS THE EAGLE? another sign of Melisandre’s actual power! North of the Wall even! She burned the Orell eagle, and breaking the hold Varamyr had on all his creatures. As you may recall, in an earlier chapter, Bran had trouble getting into Summer when he was injured and in pain. Bran is not an expert skinchanger, but getting burned alive is a lot more painful than a battle wound…
SKINCHANGING 101: Varamyr
Six Seven Skins tells us that once a beast has been “joined” to a man, any other skinchanger is able to slip in as well, just like a horse is broken for riding. Varamyr has now taken over Orell’s eagle, and in the process, part of Orell is also inside Varamyr. Not good for Jon Snow to have this whole entourage hating him.
WHITE WALKER WATCH: Mance tells us that the Others “never come when the sun is up”. So that’s good to know.
JANOS SLYNT IS DELUSIONAL: not only does he speak of himself in the third person, he thinks Mance Rayder and his thousands of Wildlings have no chance now that he is here!
TIDBITS: Emo Jon is glad Neddard is dead so he won’t learn of how he was going to die a traitor… One of the ravens on the battlefield, eating giant brains, recognized Jon Snow screaming “Snow, Snow, Snow!”?… Thormund is back and he appears to still be fond of Jon Snow, unlike most of the others in the Wildling “leadership”. And we get more Thormundisms! (he don’t fight with no spear!) Har!… Donal Noye gets some cred from Thormund and Snow… The Wildlings are not very organized and structured in war, “a shout, a slash and a fine brave death”… We learn how the Lord of Bones was captured, by Cotter Pyke of Eastwatch (“had more guts than sense”)…
ARMY COUNTS: The Wildlings lost 200 men and a dozen giants while trying to storm the gate and Thormund gives Jon and his CB&BT crew a lot of credit for holding them off…
QUESTIONS: 1) if other skinchangers can enter animals previously “joined”, does the same thing happen for humans? Now that Bran joined Hodor, does that mean that any skinchanger can join with Hodor? Or would a skinchanger still have to have mad skinchanger skills before he can join with a human regardless? 2) if “the gate was sealed with rubble” how did Jon Snow get outside the Wall and visit with the Wildlings?
CHAPTER 74: ARYA THIRTEEN: THE COIN
The Coin pays off! Arya wanted to go to the Wall, but the ship was not going there, so her last remaining option was Jaqen H’ghar’s coin, so Arya now embarks on a whole new adventure, on a boat on the way to Braavos! Valar Morghulis!
THE REVENGE OF THE ARYA: it is Judgement Day for three people in Arya’s Prayer List! She kills The Tickler, leaves the Hound to die slowly in pain, and watches Polliver’s face get spliced by The Hound. Arya also kills a squire (google reveals the sigil to be House Sarfield of the Westerlands). And she is reunited with Needle, still carried around by Polliver and kept in tip top shape. GRRM teases this first in the chapter (“a slimmer blade, too longer to be a dirk, and too short to be a sword”) before it is revealed it is indeed Needle.
THE END OF THE HOUND? it is interesting that Polliver and the Tickler decided to attack the Hound, drunk or not, dagger tossing or not. Knowing what they know about him. Even drunk, the Hound took out Polliver. It is unknown what would have happened between him and the Tickler if Arya had not intervened to tickle the Tickler… But the Hound got cut up badly in multiple spots, and without a proper Maester, his wounds are winning… Arya still tries to take care of the Hound’s wounds but in the end, she judges him and decides that he does not deserve the gift of mercy and leaves him to die slowly… The turning point perhaps was earlier on when The Hound was talking “shop” with the Tickler/Polliver, “she ought to dip him in wildfire and cook him. Or tickle him till the moon turns black” (The Hound does not like Tyrion). This triggers a “he’s just like they are” from Arya. And that probably sealed the Hound’s fate. We also get “I bet he’s killed a hundred Mycahs” and herself if it wasn’t for the ransom (this last one is perhaps questionable?)… But is he dead??? The rule is, if we don’t see a dead body, we can’t know for sure! However, they were no other people around. It is possible that someone might have followed the blood and horse trail and found the Hound, but even so, can they save him? It’s not like there’s a Maester on every street corner… The Hound had some kind of an emotional reaction/breakdown, “he was sobbing”, confessing his sins and guilt in a Clegane kind of way.
ARYA KILL CRAZY? Arya is going a bit kill-crazy, there were other people walking around, “so Arya knew she couldn’t kill the woman”. That’s a pretty low threshold for killing!!! Getting cheated on a found/stolen horse deal. Maybe all the time she spent with The Hound has side effects???
THE NEW PRAYER LIST: The Mountain, Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn Trant, Queen Cersei, (The Hound), Valar Morghulis.
WAR REPORT: the Freys will hang Edmure Tully if the Blackfish does not surrender Riverrun. The Blackwoods and Brackens are fighting each other at Raventree, with the Brackens joining the Lannisters/Crown… Meanwhile, Randyll Tarly took Maidenpool and locked up Mooton… The ship captain tells Arya “we saw a dozen pirate ships making north” – were these Stannis riding the Salladhor Saan ships to Eastwatch???
TIDBITS: and we are back again at the Inn, apparently the only happening Inn in Westeros!… We learn the Tickler/Polliver’s schemes – they go to inns, eat and drink, and then torture the innkeeps and steal their money!… If Arya/Gendry/Potpie stayed at Harrenhal, they would likely be dead now. The Mountain put everyone to the sword except for the cook who opened the door for them and a couple of women… The Trader woman got it wrong, “this mare is well-bred, but you’re not”… Arya hears of the Fake Arya but she just eye-rolls and apparently does not pay any more attention to it…
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? “maybe Lady Lysa will marry you to her little Robert” (you = Arya)
BOOK CLIFFHANGERS: this is the last we see of Arya and The Hound in this book. Is the Hound dead? What kind of adventures is Arya going to get in the Seas and Braavos???
BATTLE AFTERMATH: Mance Rayder is captured by Stannis, and so is his newborn son and wife-sister. His wife did not make it. One thousand wildling fighters were slain and the rest scattered. Stannis has just over 1,000 men, but we see here that a disciplined army with the element of surprise can take on much larger numbers and win.
STANNIS THE UN-PILLAGER: Stannis does not allow his men to pillage and plunder barbarian style! Three men raped Wildling women and they lost their manhoods for that! Jon Snow says, “keeps his men well in hand, that’s plain”. In a world such as this, Stannis gets 21st century props for this!
SAM SWORE TO KEEP BRAN’S EXISTENCE A SECRET: three times he swore, to Bran, JoJo and Coldhands (“swear it for the life you owe me”).
JON’S DREAMS: more dream action! his dreams are in the Winterfell crypts, Robb and Neddard at a feast, “but there’s a wall between us ” and no place set for Jon. We know why Robb is at a feast. Perhaps Jon should be thankful of the “wall” – he’s alive, they are not!… More troublesome, “I don’t even dream of Ghost anymore” – what happened to Ghost???????
WEST WING #1: with the Wildlings scattered and the Stannis host staying at Castle Black, the Brothers have a new task at hand – selecting a new Lord Commander (LC). The new LC is selected with a democratic process, with secret voting. The winner must needs need get 2/3rds of the votes, so it can take a while. One time it took them two years with seven hundred different votes, Take that “motion to proceed”… The Slynt-Thorne ticket is very methodical, slowly but steadily picking up votes and endorsements, including acting LC Bowen Marsh. The only other two viable contenders, Cotter Pyke of Eastwatch and D. Mallister of Shadow Tower hate each other and split their votes… Sam is not very politically savvy, but Jon sends him in the right direction. Sam then realizes (with the help of Pyp and Grenn) that someone has to try to convince Pyke and Mallister to unite and stop Slynt from becoming the next LC. Pyp thinks Sam is the best suited candidate, high-born, maester’s steward, and Other-Slayer!… the Cook is getting five votes, Clydas thinks it’s from the people who want him out of the kitchens! (his subordinates or fans of his cooking?)
ALLISER THORNE BOOMERANG: years and years of mistreating new recruits likely cost Alliser Thorne a realistic chance at becoming the next Lord Commander. That and his winning personality. He finished sixth on day #1 and lost votes on day #2. Payback!!! – “almost all the men he’d trained — despised him”
REUNIONS: Samwell reunites with Dolorous Edd (and Dywen and Giant) and the Shadow Tower men while walking slowly towards Castle Black, and then he reunites with Jon Snow and everybody else at the Wall. The band is back together! Yes, Sam and Gilly and baby were walking all the way from Nightfort to Castle Black.
JON SNOW THE TRAINER: Bowen Marsh, acting Lord Commander, removed Jon Snow from duty, so Jon Snow is helping train Brothers of the Night’s Watch who need help to improve their skills. And take out his frustration on his whole situation. Thorne and Slynt are still running attack ads against Jon Snow.
JON SNOW WINS FAVOR WITH STANNIS: accidentally, Jon Snow ended up receiving credit for giving Stannis the Horn of Winter and Mance Rayder’s son and wife’s sister. All Jon Snow did was wait outside the tent with sword drawn to protect them from looters.
WHERE IS DAVOS? no mention of Davos!!!
TIDBITS: we get more signs of a division between King’s Men and Queen’s Men. Sam observes, “the queen’s made him uneasy”… We also get a mini-dump of sigils… Craster’s daughter is now breast-feeding Mance Rayder’s son… Sam thinks of a plan to send Gilly and baby to Horn Hill, pretending the baby is his… Dolorous Edd is back and we get a couple of Dolorousisms (“I would certainly make an awful LC. But so would all these others”)!… More Maester Aemon mad skillz, “Aemon’s wrinkled hands sorted with surprising speed”…
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? “he’s not so greedy as this one”, Gilly on Mance Rayder’s son…
WHO/WHAT IS MELISANDRE? Jon Snow notices something interesting, Melisandre does not feel cold and she is wearing summer clothes on top of the Wall where others are freezing their asses wearing layers and layers of clothes. Jon also notices that the ruby around her neck pulses at the same rate as her heart (she touched his forehead). She is also warm to the touch – on top of the Wall… He also notices a scent of “smoke and blood” from Ms Melisandre… Who or what is Melisandre? Something other the Human? The Lord of Light’s equivalent of the White Walkers????
TEMPTATION: Jon Snow was facing certain death at the start of the previous chapter. Now he has a chance to be the Lord of Winterfell, legitimized as a Stark by King Stannis. But there is a price to pay, he must accept the Lord of Light as his lord and savior, bend the knee to Stannis, burn the Winterfell Godswood, take Val the wildling as a wife. Quite the temptation for a bastard who has no prospects outside of this and is facing uncertain future if the Slynt-Thorne ticket wins the LC election… Despite the temptation, Jon wants time to think it through and he has to decide on his own since Stannis asked him to “say nothing … to anyone”.
FIRST SIGNS OF AN INTER-WALL HUMAN ALLIANCE? Stannis wants to populate the Gift with wildlings. Currently mostly unpopulated and unused. He is willing to take Giants as well. His only conditions are that they keep the king’s peace, the king’s laws and take the Lord of Light as their lord. With all his righteousness, Stannis is not apparently a big fan of the separation of church and state.
STANNIS THE KING: Stannis delivers all kinds of hard truths and bitter truths. Cutting through the diplomatic BS for sure!… An interesting reaction by Stannis when Jon Snow out of the blue complains that it took Stannis too long to show up… A little illogical, Stannis believes Jon because he looks like Neddard?… Stannis also doesn’t seem to understand how things work with wildlings, thinking that if wildling Val married Jon Snow, somehow the rest of the Wildlings would follow Val/Jon/Stannis. Val is the sister of Mance Rayder’s wife, not a merit-based position “earned” as a wildling. This could work in the 7 Kingdoms, but the wildlings don’t follow these conventions… Sounds like Stannis hired 21st century campaign advisers, dressing him up in Night’s Watch gear while there. Great for a photo-op, great for the undecided voters ;-)… But a King must needs not clench his teeth so much, not a good example, can produce unflattering pictures…
DONAL NOYE FAN CLUB: Stannis joins the Donal Noye fan club, “he would have made a better LC than any of these fools”… Noye made Stannis’s first sword and Robert’s famous warhammer…
WHERE IS DAVOS? Stannis gives Davos credit for convincing him to first save the kingdom and then try to win the throne as opposed to what Stannis was previously doing. But we have no hints as to the current whereabouts or mortality status of Davos.
WAR REPORT: even though the Ironborn are fighting among themselves, they are still holding Moat Cailin, Deepwood Motte (the Seattle of the North) and Torrhen’s Square and the Stony Shore… During the battle, Stannis killed 1000 wildlings but he also holds 1000 as captives… Melisandre confirms she was involved with burning of the Orell-Varamyr eagle…
TIDBITS: more of Melisandre’s beauty, Jon Snow too thinks “she’s beautiful” although he may have a “kissed by fire” fetish ;-)… Strange Jon Snow would say this, “something more than a little unsettling about red eyes” – considering Ghost has red eyes… But he found her “beautiful”, so shippers, you have yet another new project!… And yet another option for shippers, Jon and Satin. Jon is now spending quality time with him training him…
CHAPTER 77: TYRION ELEVEN: TYRION THE ARYA
Yet another wild chapter in this crazy book! Tyrion borrows a page from the Arya playbook here, leaving a trail of dead and hurt behind him! We get a glimpse of his state of mind with “that might have hurt me once, when I still felt pain”.
TYRION KILLS TYWIN: Payback for Tysha and everything else! Would Tyrion have done this if Jaime had not revealed the truth about Tysha just a few minutes ago? Would Tyrion instead just go straight to his escape boat?… Tywin taunts Tyrion, thinking he doesn’t have the courage to bolt him and looks shocked when Tyrion bolts him through and through… It didn’t take Tywin long to figure out that Varys was involved with his escape (Varys did tell Tyrion you are going to get us both killed)… Despite all his political savvy, Tywin failed to understand the importance and intensity of the Tyrion-Tysha situation. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation right there, he kept on calling her a whore, further inflaming Tyrion, and earning himself a nice bolt!
IS TYRION A BASTARD (NOT TYWIN’s SON)? Tywin’s dying words were “you are no son of mine”. Did he say that to spite Tyrion or did he confess? We were told by multiple people that Tywin was madly in love with his wife. Did Tywin know Tyrion was a bastard but forgave her or kept it a secret for her sake and for her sake he kept Tyrion alive and around? But at the moment of death he let go of the secrets?
TYRION KILLS SHAE-SHAE: Tyrion was going after Tywin but what a surprise! He finds Shae-Shae in Tywin’s bed! With the Hand’s chain around her neck. Their short interaction perhaps opens Tyrion’s eyes on the true nature of Shae-Shae and after he gives him another “my giant of Lannister”, he pulls the trigger/chain, and just like that, Shae-Shae is dead!
WHY DID TYWIN SLEEP WITH SHAE-SHAE? of all the women, why did Tywin sleep with Shae-Shae, knowing that she was sleeping with Tyrion for so long. And given what we know about Tywin and his issues with prostitutes after his father’s disgrace. Is it a case of “protest too much?”. Was Tywin planning to have sex with her and dispose of her, that’s why? He has been without a wife for many years after all. I hope we get an explanation in future books, because it looks and feels rather inconsistent. It certainly adds drama to the chapter and the story, but there needs to be some ground underneath it, otherwise it is a bit jarring. With Tywin dead, we will have to hope for insight from Ser Kevan or Cersei or Varys’s records???
JAIME CONFESSES: it looks like the White Book (Legacy), the White Cloak and his time with Brienne and the reality/humility of a lost sword hand are making Jaime do unusual/unexpected things? He confesses to Tyrion that Tysha was actually not a whore. The whole whore thing was retconned by Tywin to teach Tyrion a “sharp lesson”. Jaime went along with Tywin’s plan but claims he did not know Tywin would make her have sex with the whole garrison and all that. Jaime was a pawn in this but Tyrion is very sensitive about these things and he is in an angry-at-the-world type of a state, so perhaps he unleashed too much anger at Jaime, even promising to fight him cripple-vs-cripple when they meet again. How much of this is heat of the moment? Jaime is after all helping him escape. And Jaime only lied in the Tysha situation, Tywin was the guilty party. Tyrion also promises payback on Tywin (he delivers soon) and Cersei and Jaime and seals it with “a Lannister always pays his debts”…
TYRION FAUX-CONFESSES that he killed Joffrey, “yes, I killed your vile son”, again lashing out at Jaime. He has second thoughts, is tempted to hit Undo, but then he remembers Tysha and moves on. Jaime is not exactly invested in Kof-Kof-Koffrey – in a previous chapter he said he deserved to die, but still… And Jaime would better understand than most the trade-offs of Kingslaying…
TYRION CONFESSES CERSEI’s SINS: Tyrion lashes out at Jaime in other ways as well. He reveals that Cersei had been sleeping with Lancel and others. Lancel we know for sure, the others I don’t know if Tyrion is exaggerating to hurt Jaime even more.
VARYS THE NEEDED and (AB)USED: they all look down on Varys, they all make fun of him, they all criticize them, yet every single one of them, when in trouble or when in need, they all rush to Varys asking for help. Even Jaime Lannister!… In this case, Varys even “has agents in the Free Cities who will see that you will not lack for funds”.
To BEHEAD OR NOT? Both Jaime and the Guards state that Tyrion was to be beheaded tomorrow. Tywin suggests that he was still planning to send him to the Wall. Was Tywin planning the same thing Cersei-Varys planned for Ned Stark or was he lying to calm Tyrion down?
TIDBITS: Tyrion considers spilling Lannister secrets before he was beheaded – assuming it was a public beheading… A sneak peek into the Tyrion-Jaime earlier “good old days” relationship: “I’d almost forgotten what an annoying little man you are”…
QUESTIONS: did Shae-Shae die too easily and quickly? Tyrion just twisted the chain twice?
MYSTERIES: what exactly is there at the 4th level in Maegor’s Dungeons? Varys said it was for torture and makes Tyrion walk through it in the dark. Given what he has been through, surely Tyrion can handle a few torture machines and skeletons? Was Varys trying to cover something up? What else was there he didn’t want Tyrion to notice? “there are things you would not wish to see” = there are things I don’t want you to see???
BOOK CLIFFHANGERS: This is the last King’s Landing chapter in the book! Tyrion will soon start a new wild adventure. Just like Arya, he is heading to the Free Cities – if the rest of his escape plan is without a problem… Plus, what will Jaime do now that he knows Cersei was “cheating” on him with Lancel and others? Who will fill the leadership vacuum left by the death of Tywin? Can the rest of them hold the current alliance and the seven kingdoms together?
CRACKPOT THEORY: did Varys help Tyrion escape because he is hoping he can now recruit him (or make him part of his) schemes in the Free Cities? Varys had a brain-crush on Tyrion and this would be a great opportunity to recruit Tyrion…. was Varys indirectly encouraging Tyrion to climb the ladder and goto Tywin’s chambers? Varys protested yet he gave Tyrion precise step-by-step instructions on how to get into the bed chamber. Coincidence? Tyrion suspects Varys did not want him to go up because he would understand how he “hears” what others are saying. But didn’t Tyrion already know something along those lines?
CHAPTER 78: SAMWELL FIVE: WEST WING #2
Samwell has done pretty well for himself in this book. He got five POV chapters, he has a girlfriend, he killed an Other, he found a secret passage under the Wall, he survived the Fist and the long marches, and he is back at his old comfy job pushing papers and food trays!
WHY IS MELISANDRE INTERESTED IN SAM? In addition to giving shippers something new and unexpected to ship, we are left to wonder. Is there something special or different about Sam that Melisandre is able to sense? Or is she tired of skinny Stannis and she prefers a man of considerable size?
IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH LIGHTBRINGER? Sneaky Maester Aemon wants to “see” Lightbringer and (he and we) get a play by play of this shiny new magic sword. But Maester Aemon ruins the fun by pointing out that there was no heat coming from the sword and no signs of the effects of heat on the scabbard. Is heat important? Must Lightbringer be hot? We don’t know, but M. Aemon must be onto something, otherwise he wouldn’t have mentioned it. But there seems to be something magical with this sword, when Stannis sheathed it, “the room seemed to grow very dark, despite the sunlight”. Hmmm. So what is this Lightbringer? Is it the true Lightbringer or some gimmick Melisandre came up with?
FROZEN FIRE: we learn from Melisandre that dragonglass is “Frozen Fize” in old Valyrian and “small wonder it is anathem to these cold children of the Other” (the White Walkers!)… Stannis also says that he has sent word to his castellan at Dragonstone to start mining dragonglass and ship it to the Wall. Lots of it in the volcanic island! Assuming they can hold on to Dragonstone long enough to mine enough of it and ship it. But with Tywin just getting killed, perhaps Dragonstone got a new leash on life?
STANNIS PLANS TO REPOPULATE ALL THE CASTLES of the Night’s Watch. Now that’s a surprise! Left to rot, now under the Stannis regime, all remaining castles will be rebuild. Stannis the Builder sets a timeframe even, “within the year”. But he also mixes in his Rulore in, “nightfires burning before their gates”. Although, considering that the Wights are easily killed by fire, it is not a bad idea to have wildfires in front of the gates!
WAR FOR THE DAWN: Melisandre has been going on and on but now it appears we get some confirmation that what she is saying is part of other prophecies as well. Maester Aemon recognizes “the war for the dawn” and the prince that was promised. We all know that Prince is Jon Snow! Come on, it’s obvious! Isn’t it?
STANNIS THE KING: tired of the Brothers not picking a new leader, Stannis kept them on their knees for a long time… He continues to dish hard truths, praising Jonos Slynt “any of you, I would think. Even the cook” (would make a better Lord Commander (LC))… Stannis noticed Littlefinger’s part in keeping Jonos Slynt around as the LC of the City Watch during the Robert era… Stannis demands from Sam to show him the Black Gate when he makes Nightfort (the largest of the castles) his new seat of power. Is Sam allowed/supposed to show non-Brothers the Black Gate?…
WHERE IS DAVOS? no mention of Davos!!!
JONOS SLYNT DISTILLED: “a toad grows wings and thinks he’s a bloody dragon” — Cotter Pyke
WEST WING #2: more sneaky Maester Aemon, he encourages Sam to go talk to Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister and get them to unite and counter the Slynt-Thorne ticket. Sam feels brave enough now to face them (“Gilly made me braver”)… Sam finds the courage not only to face them but also lie to them, playing them (King Stannis will name your opponent as LC tomorrow) to accept a third person (Jon Snow!) as a candidate since they hate each other so much. Neither one really wants to be the new LC, but they hate the idea of the other one winning… Despite getting yelled at by Pyke and polite-rejected by Mallister, Samwell perseveres and even returns to the angry Pyke… Pyke makes a good point for his case: “you think Mallister has the belly to stand up to Stannis and that red bitch?”… And so does Mallister, the position is Lord, not fighter, you have to be a lord and treat with lords…
TIDBITS: Samwell should be glad Stannis is so righteous, otherwise he would take Sam as a hostage and use him against Randyll Tarly. But Stannis would have found out that Randyll could care less about Samwell (although if he learned that Sam killed an Other and survived the Fist and he is maester’s Stewart…???)… We get clarification from GRRM-lisandre on Wights vs White Walkers (Others): “necromancy animates these wights yet they are still only dead flesh. Steel and fire will serve for them”. On the (oh dear) other hand, “the Others are something more”… Did we know that Sam’s mother is a Florent? And is her family one of the Stannis Florents or the Crown Florents?… Cotter Pyke cannot read/write – his maester reads to him…
CHAPTER 79: JON TWELVE: GHOST and RAVEN and WEST WING #3
Yet another wild Wall chapter! Jon is now Varamyr South, with a Direwolf and a Raven in tow! Yes, both Ghost and Mormont’s Raven returned out of the blue. Jon is also the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. When a few chapters ago they mentioned Jorah-Daddy Mormont was #997, my first thought was, Jon Snow is going to be #1000 at some point in future books. Well, that’s probably what would have happened in typical fantasy, but this GRRM-landia, and now Jon Snow is the Lord Commander, #998! His reign will begin in the shadow of Stannis and Melisandre…
DID THE OLD GODS SELECT THE NEW LORD COMMANDER? Just about when Jon was realizing that his two choices were to get hanged by Jonos/Thorne or be the new Stark in Winterfell, here comes Ghost out of nowhere! To add to that, Jon notices the resemblance between Ghost and the Heart Tree (Old Gods)… Jon also makes a distinction between Ghost’s red eyes (weirwood’s eyes) and Melisandre’s red eyes… Jon was so close to taking the Stannis offer he even started making plans to take with him Val and Gilly and the kids and bring Sam over for visits… He even breaks through his layers of emotions and confesses to himself, “he wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything”. And just then, Ghost jumps in – literally and in his head too!… And then there was Mormont’s raven jumping out of the kettle and perching on Jon Snow’s shoulder?… The Old Gods are the ones closest to nature (if they are not nature itself), so here we have two animal interventions… And a series of dreams pushing Jon away from Winterfell in different ways? Oh my!???
BABYLON 5 CATELYN: “Who are you?” (“This is not your place”) “Why are you here?” her stares were asking Jon. This perhaps helps with the Jon Targaryen theory. But if he is also part Stark (Lyanna or Neddard), then he surely belongs there. The Dead Starks would probably know this? Perhaps Jon projects the “you do not belong here. This is not your place” from the Old Starks in the crypts, but that could be his own internalized issues, and not the actual Old Starks seeping through… On the other hand, if this is indeed coming from the Old Starks / Old Gods, emo-Jon might be misinterpreting it. They may mean that his place is at the Wall or elsewhere, not necessarily that he is not a Stark and such.
CATELYN ISSUES: the mere memory of Cat sends Jon into a rage and poor Iron Emmett pays for it… Jon interestingly notices a resemblance between Stannis and Catelyn(deep blue eyes, hard cold mouth, Iron). Is there something to it here? Time for another bastard crackpot theory?
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT’S WATCH: Stannis yells at them, scolds them, and locks them up in their room without dinner until they finish their homework. Such a stern father!
WILDLING CAPTIVES: Stannis kept them on the other side of the Wall, in a ring of ditches with sharpened stakes and high wooden fences. White Walker bait?
WEST WING #3: Jon catches Thorne and Bowen Marsh trying to convince First Builder Othell Yarwyck to support Janos. They succeed initially but Othell has a change of heart when he makes his withdrawl speech that gets both Slynt and Thorne all twisted (we don’t want to kick Stannis in the mouth by picking the guy he thinks is least qualified)… Dolorous Edd nominated Jon as Lord Commander. I assume this was part of the Sam Plan… Cotter Pyke and Denis Mallister are united in shooting down Janos Slynt, one wildly (“he’s never seen Harrenhal”), the other politely… Tywin’s letter in an earlier chapter of praising Janos Slynt got the message through. Bowen Marsh says he is Tywin’s favorite…
DID SAM PLAN(T) MORMONT’S RAVEN? Samwell claims he had nothing to do with Mormont’s Raven jumping out of the kettle. Samwell and Clydas were the ones responsible for the Kettles. But true, Samwell had no way of knowing what Mormont’s raven would do. The raven did not previously sit on Jon’s shoulder and such. But Sam was the first to exclaim “that’s Lord Mormont’s raven” when it flew out. Pretty convenient! I hope we get an answer to this mystery!
WHERE IS DAVOS? no mention of Davos!!! But there’s a slim of hope of a Davos appearance in this chapter: right before Jon entered the Hall for the final vote, a knight leading a group of King’s men talked to him. I suspect that was Davos!!!! (Knight from Jon’s perspective, he doesn’t know the Davos backstory). This sounds like a GRRM thing to do!
TIDBITS: Iron Emmett is introduced at the start of the chapter, which I can only assume means that he is going to have a role to play in future books… Jon has his version of “Fight Club”, getting beat up to take out his frustrations, confusions and anger. Remember, Stannis made him swear not to tell anyone about his Winterfell Temptation, so he has to figure it out on his own… Ghost is now leaner and taller. Not a lot of food beyond the wall but he is still growing… Just when we thought we were done with Mormont’s raven, it is now back and since it is attached to Jon, we will probably hear more of it. I’m sure Roy Dotrice was dancing around the studio when he saw the return of the raven 🙂
MYSTERIES: where was Ghost? what was he doing? Why wasn’t Jon able to feel him if he wasn’t that far away North of the Wall? Does the Wall block warging signals?
BOOK CLIFFHANGER: this is the last Wall chapter in this book! Jon Snow is about to face King Stannis as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, a defacto “no” to Stannis’s Winterfell offer… Plus evil GRRM has yet to tell us what happened to Davos! Evil GRRM, why you torture us so?
CHAPTER 80: SANSA SEVEN: DOLL PROPHECY
More craziness, Vale style! We even get the fulfillment of a High Heart #2 prophecy. Yes, GRRM gave us a doll prophecy! You win GRRM! Tip of the hat! It makes prophecies even more unpredictable! Plus, Sansa opens her Etsy store in the Garden and Lysa spills the beans on big secrets. GRRM is solving even more mysteries at the end of this book!
REVELATION #1: Lysa poisoned Jon Arryn with the Tears of Lys, at the recommendation of Littlefinger! Jon Arryn wanted to send his weasely son to foster with Stannis at Dragonstone and the Lannisters convinced Robert B. to foster him at The Rock (perhaps to keep Jon Arryn in check in case he or Stannis tried anything?).
REVELATION #2: Lysa sent the letter to Catelyn telling her the Lannisters killed her husband. The letter that convinced Neddard to become The Hand Without A Head. Also a Littlefinger recommendation.
REVELATION #3: Lysa got pregnant with Littlefinger’s baby! Her father made her drink tansy tea to abort the baby. So this solves the “Tansy” on Hoster Tully’s deathbed mystery. Hoster Tully also threatened to kick Lysa out (just like he did with The Blackfish) if she refused to marry old Jon Arryn. The pregnacy was the reason Hoster Tully kicked out Littlefinger but used his Brandon Stark duel as an excuse.
REVELATION #4: Lysa build up Littlefinger’s career by getting him his first job, and then convincing Jon Arryn to take him to court in King’s Landing.
SANSA IS LITTLEFINGER’S WEAKNESS? In the previous Sansa chapter, Littlefinger told Sansa that once you find out what a man/woman wants, you can then play them. Is Sansa Littlefinger’s weakenss? Did he intentionally kiss her publicly in the garden, almost guaranteed that someone would see them? Is he so infatuated with Catelyn-Sansa that he threw caution to the wind? How could someone so calculating as Littlefinger do this? Unless it was some kind of a convoluted plot to get rid of Lysa? Littlefinger arrived earlier but only just now he met up with Lysa… Was Littlefinger’s plan all along to dispose of Lysa like this or he panicked/improvised at the thought of Lysa killing/harming Sansa? There is perhaps one sign of premeditation, he tells Lysa “for as long as we both shall live” right before he pushed her out the Moon Door. And right before pushing her out, he confessed Catelyn is his own true love.
WAS LYSA PLANNING TO KILL SANSA REGARDLESS? or did she want to give her a prolonged scare? Earlier on in this chapter Lysa said sending her down to the Gates of the Moon would be too harsh of a punishment given their relationship. Sansa should have grabbed on to that deal when Lysa mentioned it!… This also brings up the question, how much of this was Lysa-crazy/delusional and how much of it was Lysa-drunk? Sansa too wonders that, “is she drunk or mad?” and “Lysa Arryn was frightening her as much as Queen Cersei ever had”…
LYSA’S WORLD: Lysa is outsourcing the punishment of high born kids by punishing low born kids in their place. Because that is a great way to teach them a lesson? You screw up and someone else takes the blame? On second thought, perhaps there is some wisdom to that?.. Robert-Robyn is “eight going on three”.. Lysa kept a small household, with very few guests, kicking out everyone who dared complain about her son, herself or her beloved Marillion… Her bannermen are not very happy with her marrying Littlefinger (and not one of them), they don’t want Littlefinger as the new Protector of the Vale. Meanwhile a number of Stark sympathizers are furious the Vale did not support Robb Stark. I believe it was a Royce who sacrificed himself to give Catelyn and Brienne time to escape Renly’s death scene?… Lysa made Littlefinger shave his beard… Littlefinger made Lothor Brune the new captain of guards in the Eyrie – in typical Littlefinger fashion… Her son gets leeched after he has his seizures. Is this a medically appropriate procedure or some sub-slot?… Marillion is an all-star in front of Lysa and Robert-Robyn but he is hated by everyone else. With Lysa dead and Littlefinger making him the Fall Guy, the future does not look bright for him… Lysa is so delusional she thinks Sansa was flirting with Marillion…
SNOW WINTERFELL: there is power in Snow Winterfell? Sansa thinks so, she felt emboldened to question Littlefinger and slay young Robert-Robyn’s “giant”… Wasn’t making a detailed Winterfell castle not a good way to keep her identity a secret?… The castle ended up getting ruined when Robert-Robyn had his seizure… Symbolism here? Littlefinger repeatedly helps Sansa build Snow Winterfell?… We also get more Creepyfinger action, “she did not know how long he had been watching her” and of course the kiss… “Winterfell has withstood fiercer enemies than me” Littlefinger says, but he had a big hand in getting Ned Stark killed…
GRRM EXPLAINS THE INFODUMP: “I am telling you all this so you will understand” Lysa tells Sansa, but this is also GRRM telling us that it is important for us to know all this!
RIDICULOUS: Lysa recited the whole recipe of what they put in her “Tansy” tea. First of all, how would she know? She couldn’t have possibly tasted all the ingredients? And why would she recite them all anyway? GRRM foodiness is out of control. It’s not even a food! Just a cup of tea! Yes, even a drop of pennyroyal!
TIDBITS: GRRM loves distilled self-reflective single-sentences. We get one from Sansa this time, “I thought my song was beginning that day, but it was almost done”… we get some more details on The Gates of the Moon, with Lord Nestor Royce, with his daughter Myranda running the castle with her bestie Mya Stone, Robert’s bastard daughter who helped Catelyn climb the Eyrie in early book #1. Sansa would definitely be better off there, no Lysa, no Robert-Robyn, no Littlefinger, no Marillion… The thought of marrying Robert-Robyn produces this out of Sansa: “I would sooner be married to Tyrion again”… Marillion too is obsessed with Sansa, (“the singer’s eyes undressed her”)…
FORESHADOWING OR NOT? Littlefinger will help Sansa rebuild Winterfell in the future?
CHAPTER 81: EPILOGUE: R-WORD!
But wait, there’s more! This book has an Epilogue! Unlike the first two books. GRRM did not kill the POV in the actual Prologue (Chett) but he kills the POV in the Epilogue. This chapter is essentially an info dump on the Freys but it ends with the R-word! Catelyn is back! Or Catelyn-something! She can’t speak because of the way they killed her at the Twins, but she is alive in some ways. What ways? How? What? Who? Similar to Beric or something different? How did she end up with the Brotherhood? How are they communicating? No religious conflicts between her situation and the Lord of Light? Hopefully we will learn more in future books! We know there was perhaps some Old Gods involvement per Arya #12, the Wolf dream and “Rise!”… GRRM teases Cat’s reveal a few paragraphs earlier, “there was one woman with them bundled up in a hooded cloak three times too big for her”. R-word!!!… We also get confirmation of what the Old Dwarf Lady said in one of the High Hearts. Merrett notes, “her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him and they hated”. (Jon Snow might want to stay away from her!!!)
GREATJON IS ALIVE: we learn that the GreatJon Umber is alive and in chains at the Twins. Presumably to be ransomed? But he put the hurt in a lot of Freys before they chained him. Merrett (the POV) was responsible for getting him too drunk, but he failed.
RED WEDDING UPDATES: Lame Lothar (the Steward) and Roose Bolton were the architects of the Red Wedding, they even created the playlist… The Freys lost 50 men during the Red Wedding including two knights. That’s very little compared to how many Starks/Northerners they killed… Grey Wind killed four wolfhounds and tore off an arm “even after we’d filled him full of quarrels”… Lame Lother rigged the feast tents to collapse…
WHO IS MERRETT? the ninth son of Lord Frey. Married to a Darry. Father of Fat Walda who is the new wife of Roose Bolton and cast for Season 4. His prospects were ruined by the Kingswood Brotherhood, mace to the head gave him impossible and incapacitating headaches. He was fighting along fellow squire Jaime Lannister under Lord Summer Crakehall. His only task at the Red Wedding was to get the Greatjon Umber drunk; he failed. Volunteered to ransom Petyr (say it Dotrice-style) Pimple (son of heir Ryman Frey) who got captured by the Brotherhood while chasing a camp follower. Was this a trap, using ladies to lure highborns or it just happened?
FREY’S WORLD: Lord Frey is 92 and despite of his other faults, he believes in “taking care of his own”… He groomed Lord Stevron for sixty years to be his heir, but with Stevron dead, the “taking care of their own” is not a high priority among the high ranking heirs (Ryman, son of Stevron, and his sons, Edwyn (to be given Riverrun) and Black Walder who hate each other)… You need some kind of distinction to stand out in the crowded world of the Twins… “Only full blood siblings could be trusted” (same father and mother)… Ser Hosteen is considered the strongest Frey…
BLACK WALDER: he sleeps with the wives of other Freys (Petyr Pymple, Edwyn, etc), and also the 7th Lady Frey. “A man who took what he wanted”. Refuses to marry. Has lots of bastards. During the Red Wedding, he was responsible for the attacks on the camps.
TIDBITS: snow in the Riverlands in the autumn! An early winter means may will die… By the end of the chapter, GRRM manages to make this one too an interesting character. “sent back to the Twins to face Lord Walder’s poisonous disdain”… the Brotherhood crew that meets with Merrett includes some of the characters Arya met earlier on, Tom of Sevenstreams, Lemoncloak, etc. They are looking for the Hound and Arya. Beric D and Thoros are not with this group.
I can’t believe this is finally over! It took three months after the end of TV Season 3 to finish this (September 14, 2013)! So to close the book, here is a recap of the various cliffhangers. Cliffhangers in this case is short for where the various characters and plotlines are.
Tyrion and Arya are embarking on new adventures in the Free Cities. Arya is heading to Braavos and Tyrion somewhere Varys has allies. This is GRRM, there is no guarantee they will actually get there, but since this happened in the book-ending Tyrion and Arya chapters, it is likely happening. I better pull out the Free Cities maps!
Bran is also embarking on a new adventure North of the Wall, with the Reeds, Hodor, Summer and Coldhands. If Coldhands is Benjen Stark, surely Bran will recognize him? Who is the Three Eye Crow? Will they find him?
Sansa was just saved by Littlefinger. With Lysa dead, Littlefinger having the Lord Protector title and the Jon Arryn heir in hand, and the Vale lords unhappy, the situation sounds ripe for more drama.
Rickon is, who is Rickon again? One of the Frey grandsons? 🙂
Jon Snow: the new commander of the Night’s Watch, getting ready to face King Stannis!
Davos: where is Davos???
Thormund and Wildlings: scattered after the Stannis surprise attack and worrying about Wights/Others from the North, will they regroup and attack? Will they ask Stannis for a deal? They are kinda desperate caught between the Others and the Wall and Stannis is kinda desperate for men.
Catelyn is back. In what form, how, where, who, when, we must needs be told!
Riverrun: under siege, Blackfish must yield or Edmure will be killed.
Riverlands: Brackens and Blackwoods (or something like that) fighting. Bracken is with the Crown/Lannisters.
Nymeria: she is allegedly somewhere in the Riverlands with her great pack of wolves. With Arya gone, will we hear any more from her/them?
Iron Islands: with Balon dead, who will emerge as the new leader?
Theon: this is the TV show leaking in, what will happen to the captured Theon? He lost a book finger and a TV manhood so far.
King’s Landing: with Tywin dead, there is a power vacuum. Tommen is King. There is no Hand! Tywin ruled them all with an Iron Fist and was feared by many. With Tywin dead…
The Mountain: will he survive the Red Viper poisons? The Lannisters want him alive to placade Dorne.
The Hound: is kinda dead, but since we have not seen a body, and he is a beastly man, there’s a possibility he may survive long enough until he is found and healed?
Dorne: what will they do after the death of the Red Viper?
Jaime + Cersei are drifting away. Split on Jaime’s career choice, on Tyrion’s fate, on Sansa’s fate, on their relationship status.
Brienne: armed with a shiny Valyrian steel sword, what/where/how is Brienne going to try to keep her Catelyn oath?
Dany T. wants to be a ruler in Meereen with potential issues coming up. Astapor chaos. Yunkai revenge. Too many people and not enough food. Potential Dothraki attack now that the slavers are gone (Dothraki sold their captives at Slavers Bay, so an attack would not just be because it is Dany of Drogo).
Ser Jorah the Perv: kicked out by Dany, what will he do? Go elsewhere? Follow her like a puppy? Beg and crawl for forgiveness? Go bitter and plan revenge? Return to Westeros?
I am sure there’s a lot more, but I can’t think of them now 🙂