February 13 2014

A Storm of Swords

We finished “A Storm of Swords” over on the tor.com read through. I’ve been reading along at the same rate as the read along–roughly one or two chapters a week.
I’ve adopted the following reading process for this book:
On Friday morning I read the next chapter and jot down thoughts. Then, when Leigh makes the post, I check to see how many other chapters (if any) will be in this weeks read. I read through Leigh’s comments on the first chapter. Then I read the other chapters.
this is proving to be an interesting reading methodology. It is really different than my usual mode of reading (read large portions quickly). I find that reading the chapters in these discrete segments tends to blur out some of the details from earlier sections. However, mulling about a chapter or two for a week as I wait for the next Friday, tends to sharpen some of the small details within a given chapter. Interesting effects.

Below the cut are the posts I made over at tor gathered together. The format is a link to the particular full article on tor followed by my comments. I think that for A Feast of Crows I may post these a tad more often as this was a rather large post to gather up.

A Storm of Swords, Prologue & Chapter 1:

I see that GRRM makes a note that some of these chapters are happening at the same time as the last part of “A Clash of Kings”–interesting and making for a tightly woven set.

I like that we just step right back into the story–no long explanation of what has happened.
Now, Chett isn’t a particularly nice POV to get into. I second Leigh’s “hands off the SAM.” Since the story has been pretty brutal so far, I wasn’t altogether certain that GRRM wouldn’t let the mutiny happen and was relieved when it didn’t.
Hopefully we will be seeing “The Others”. Ice magic somethings that can create frozen zombie things are cool.

Now on to read Chapter 1.

Chapter 1:
Exact same reaction as Leigh. Also, interesting choice in starting the book with two POV’s that aren’t from our “favorite” people.
I’ll second the “What is Catelyn thinking here thoughts. My first thought was not even that they were getting away, but it was a move–but then Jaime quashed that with saying it was an escape. Doesn’t seem like a well thought out plan, but I guess we’ll see.
Brienne is not only more honest than 95% of the “Sers”, but she is more badass: climbing a cliff, rolling a boulder and then the swan dive–way cool. Hopefully she will survive for a bit.
So, I am also at somewhat of a loss for suspects who were there for the Bran stabbing attempt.
Whoever did it would have had to know there was some reason that Bran shouldn’t wake up. Either this would have required Cersei talking to someone (no one else talked that I recall), someone spying on Jaime & Cersei and seeing Bran also, or maybe someone wanting Bran dead for other reasons–like knowing about his “wargnessishism.”

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2 & Chapter 3

Ah, I see that Chapter 2 is Catelyn. Maybe we’ll get some insight (one way or another) into why she released Jaime.She is taking responsibility for the action, but no explanation yet.
Her father seems sunk in poppy dreams. Who is “Tansy”? Robb is wounded storming the Crag, but the Crag maester will tend to him–does that mean they took the Crag (I’ve forgotten)? Tansy may be Lysa but I don’t really think it could be that easy.
Not a lot of info. It looks like Catelyn freed Jaime as an exchange for Sansa and Arya. She is pinning her hopes on Tyrion’s word. That isn’t a bad pinning, but I don’t think Tyrion is in any position to free Sansa and of course, Arya is not there at all.

Yay, Arya for Chapter 3. The three are fleeing so this is pretty much right after she escapes. This thought:

It’s better if he’s scared of me, she told herself. That way he’ll do like I say, instead of something stupid.

Seems to be falling into the “it’s better to be feared than liked” category of leadership.
But then:
She was only ten, a skinny girl on a stolen horse with a dark forest ahead of her and men behind who would gladly cut off her feet.
Gives us a perspective of just what kind of a situation she is in. She’s handling things better than I could, I think.

Oh, my:

…and then reached up and plucked an apple from among the dead men as she rode beneath them. It was mushy and overripe, but she ate it worms and all.

That is a bit disturbing.
Ah, she is planning on going to Riverrun rather than all the way to Winterfell. That seems like a good plan.
They may be lost, But I think she is right in not going downstream.
Ah, this dream seems like a warg dream with Nymeria. So the mummers are probably not chasing them anymore.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 4 & Chapter 5

Chapter 4:Good, we get to see how Tyrion is doing. So, not surprisingly, Cersei and Tywin have been undermining Tyrion as he lay abed. Stannis did escape on some ships.
That armpit wound sounds nasty and they really need some better antibiotics in Westeros.
Tywin seems to pretty much despise Tyrion. (Man it would be a pain having all your relatives named Ty****–except for Jaime, hmm).

Chapter 5:Davos survived and he’s on a rock. With very little water. Doing some hallucinating and maybe getting some goddess visions. He doesn’t like Melisandre–good.

Two fairly pauseful chapters with some background info being given.

At their heart, pretty much all of the POV characters we’ve seen are fairly ruthless. Recall that they have all been raised to believe that they are rulers–lords, ladies, knights, etc. They think they are better. Rules that apply to “regular” people don’t quite apply to them.
The Starks seem to temper this a bit with some noblesse oblige, but recall the first time we saw Ned he was busy cutting someone’s head off. He applied the rules, but quite ruthlessly.
So, no one is a particularly nice person. Now, they are all clearly creatures of their environment–a ruthless environment it is indeed.
Tyrion is certainly ruthless, and uses people to reach his own ends. He isn’t a complete psychopath like Joffrey and he does seem fairly intelligent. He seems loyal to people who are on his side. His relationships with women are fraught with issues, but at least he isn’t killing them. So, on the balance fairly decent for Westeros.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6 & Chapter 7

Chapter 6: Sansa. Hmm, Margaery Tyrell has sent an invitation. I wonder if there is a naming link between Tyrell and the ty’s of Lanister? Sansa goes into flustered mode at seeing Ser Loras.
Love the grandmother–“As to your father, would that I’d been born a peasant woman with a big wooden spoon, I might have been able to beat some sense into his fat head”. — lol. “I’ve never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they’re only men with the useful bits cut off. ” Yowza! “Should you ever have a son, Sansa, beat him frequently so he learns to mind you.” Curmudgeonly grandmothers–gotta like ’em.
The Tyrell women seem a formidable lot, but in a non evil way. I do like the idea of Sansa being out of King’s Landing. The son sounds probably OK although I’m not at all sure that sequence of events will ever happen. Seems like too safe a path for poor Sansa.

Chapter 7:Jon–Ah, what becomes of Jon? The wildings camp is probably what a Hun camp would have looked like–part army and part migration. I think the appearance of disorder may disguise a potentially quite effective fighting force. I’m torn a bit in that I lean towards liking the wildings, but I don’t really want them to loot the South. It must be terrifying as Jon walks into Mance’s tent.
OK, I like Mance so far, but he seems very dangerous to me. Jon does very well–playing the bastard card seems a good story at this point.

Now a bit of thinking re the Tyrells: So, Lady Olenna has warned her son about an alliance with the Lannister’s as being a dangerous one to control. That seems like good advice that he is ignoring. Her idea to take away Sansa and marry her to her grandson also seems like a really good plan with respect to hedging her families bets as to which king wins out.
Margaery seems pretty sharp herself. I certainly can see how Sansa would feel relief that she had someone to talk to and hope it doesn’t turn against her.

Favorite Major: Arya
Least favorite Major: Catelyn
Favorite mystery:Just what went on with Rhaegar and Lyann.
Major character most concerned about being killed: I’m growing concerned with Robb’s lack of POV. Reasoning: GRRM is merrily faking out Catelyn with all of her other children’s deaths, but we get POV’s from them. No word from Robb. We know he is alive through various reports, but we don’t get any facetime with him. While GRRM could go wild and kill off someone at any point, all of the other POV characters seem to have story arcs that are going somewhere. I also haven’t looked at the table of contents, so the rest of the book could be chock full of Robb. (Hint, don’t mention anything on this last bit if you know one way or the other.)
Bad poem:
There once was a character named Ned
Whom we met while chopping a head.
He was made the king’s Hand,
Far away from his land.
Now it’s Ned who’s lacking his head.

For Braid_Tug@72, here is some meta filk. Tune of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash:

Readin’ is a yearnin’ thing,
And it makes a body sing
Books, they do entice
I fell into a read of Ice.

I fell into a read of Ice and Fire
I read, read, read
And the words didn’t tire,
And we comment, comment, comment,
The read of ice, the read of fire.

The words of a post we greet
In virtual space we meet.
We are quite beguiled
Oh, Ice and Fire run wild.

I fell into a read of Ice and Fire
I read, read, read
And the words didn’t tire,
And we comment, comment, comment,
The read of ice, the read of fire.

I fell into a read of Ice and Fire
I read, read, read
And the words didn’t tire,
And we comment, comment, comment,
The read of ice, the read of fire.

The read of fire

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8 & Chapter 9

Chapter 8: Back to Dany. The boat is heading back to Pentos. So, Dany’s journey is going back to where we first met her. Pleasant opening, Dany likes the sea. Interesting talk with Arstan Whitebeard. The Rhaegar presented here seems in a much better light than we have seen before. Someone who reads books is always a plus for me. Ah, now a bit of mystery. Who exactly is this Arstan?
The tale of Astapor and the three thousand unsullied is a very nice tale. Seems like a good idea to have some of those as guardians. On the other hand, I notice that:

“The warlocks in Qarth told you that you would be betrayed three times,” the exile knight reminded her, as Viserion and Rhaegal began to snap and claw at each other.
“Once for blood and once for gold and once for love.” Dany was not like to forget. “Mirri Maz Duur was the first.”

and then Dany thinks:

He means well, Dany reminded herself. He does all he does for love.

So I wonder just how much Jorah can be trusted in the long run. I don’t think this will be a betrayal–it seems too early for that, but we’ll have to see.And, the remainder of the chapter shows he does desire Dany, indeed.

Chapter 9: Bran. We start with Bran/Summer fighting his way into a pack. Hodor interrupts the dream vision.
The mention of the greenseer’s of old who could see through any beast and the weirwood trees is interesting. This three eyed crow should be a fun quest. That seems like the right choice as everything else seems pretty unsafe. Also, the most useful and interesting choice.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10 & Chapter 11

Chapter 10:Davos–I admit to being a bit disappointed when I saw the chapter title as Davos has seemed somewhat minor. His contemplation of cutting out Melisandre’s heart seems to bode for some excitement at some point, though. I’ve got to say that just walking up and slicing away doesn’t seem like a good plan. He should have stayed with Salladhor and at least gained some strength. The whole Stannis sees no one thing seems pretty suspicious–dead or wasted/enthralled on dark magic seem likely.
Edric Storm seems like he could be eventually interesting. But, it is off to the dungeons with Janos as the chapter ends.

Chapter 11: Jaime — Jaime is still in chains, good for Brienne for not giving in yet.

“Wolves or Lions, what’s the difference? Doesn’t put such a good light on either side.

Jaime seems quite the sexist. Brienne seems to be making all the correct choices so far. At this point, it seems like they need to cooperate in order not to just get killed on the road. I doubt that will happen although it also seems unlikely that they will just merrily ride on to King’s Landing without some encounter.
The back story was interesting, but not quite all there yet.

I’ve got no problem with Jaime killing Aerys. Aerys seems to have been a particularly bad person and they don’t seem to have a mechanism for removing a king other than killing him (maybe a problem that).
As Leigh mentioned above, it did seem like the backstory was leaving out some motivation for what exactly drove Jaime to that final action. Up to that point he had been serving him while watching various people get roasted, so it doesn’t seem like Jaime was just all of the sudden realizing, “Hey this guy doesn’t deserve to be king.” Something pushed him over that line.
I will guess that eventually we will get that scene.
The rise and fall of democratic institutions vs monarchy/tyranny is an eternal crimson braid through the last couple thousand years.
Fantasy tends to have monarchies, but we do have to be careful not to be sucked into the “monarchies are the only path” point of view. Now, at this point in Westeros, monarchies are there and established, so that is what we have.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12 & Chapter 13

Chapter 12:Tyrion — Nice chat with Varys to get him to bring Shae. This seems unwise. Shae’s conversation doesn’t do anything to allay this–its going to end badly.

Chapter 13:Arya — Yay Arya. Chilling opening line–immediately sent “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo in my mind — “Goin’ to a party where no one’s still alive .” OK, now heigh – ho, heigh ho:Will there be dwarves soon? No, three guys. Ah, they have friends in the Inn–I think this is the same Inn that Jaime stayed at. This would make these three outlaws. They are claiming to be Roberts men–interesting choice. They don’t seem bad per se, but we’ll see. Ah, Arya reveals herself to Harwyn–who seems inclined to pay her respect. This seems good, but I can’t see the good fortune lasting. But maybe they’ll all just merrily head up to Riverrun (past bend of bay and swerve of shore)–probably not though.
Leigh–I hadn’t thought of Gendry and who he is. If they are really Robert’s men, then that could be useful also.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14

Chapter 14: Robb — So, that’s where Robb’s been. Off getting married. Well, that won’t come back to bite him–not. I think that’s a really bad move on his part. Lord Walder will not react well. Robb’s not keeping Grey Wind by him seems like a really bad idea also and the knight Grey growls at has got to be a bad sign. So, Robb’s been gone for a long time and basically comes back as a dumb ass.
Speaking of which, he really should have let Edmure know some more of the plan. If the full order was hold Riverrun, then that kind of leaves how you do the holding up in the air. Never give a crucial order that needs to be interpreted. So, Robb is a dumbass thrice (bad marriage, not keeping Grey near and failure to give a good order).
From a story structure point of view, it is very interesting that Robb has been kept under wrap for so long and then comes back in a somewhat negative light. I can’t see anything good coming from these choices of Robb’s.

Aeryl@24:Yeah, everything fits, storywise. The momentum of the story is not heading in a good direction for Robb.
He is being shown as rash (marriage), not good at communicating (Riverrun order) and ignoring magical sidekicks (Grey).
Grey is clearly signalling that Rolph is not to be trusted. All of this would seem to be hinting at a betrayal by Rolph and possible Frey vengeance. Maybe Edmure’s giving Twyin a break will result in a battle in which the Frey’s turn on Robb and Robb gets captured or worse as Rolph lends a hand in the or worse part.
It doesn’t seem like the Lannisters would just crush the North although a comeback with Jon and Bran somehow at the head of a wildling army would be an interesting direction.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15 & Chapter 16

Chapter 15: Jon — The giants are a very interesting appearance. This seems to be a different species from humans. I like the quote from Tormund:

“Giants have no kings, no more’n mammoths do, nor snow bears, nor the great whales o’ the grey sea. That was Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg. Mag the Mighty. You can kneel to him if you like, he won’t mind. I know your kneeler’s knees must be itching, for want of some king to bend to. Watch out he don’t step on you, though. Giants have bad eyes, and might be he wouldn’t see some little crow all the way down there by his feet.”

I wonder if these different views on politics and the nature of creatures are going to have an effect on Jon?

It seems to me that people (Mance) will note his not touching Ygritte as a sign that he hasn’t forsaken his vows.

The wildlings are certainly a diverse group. Rattleshirt has a nasty way of bring Jon–almost cost him his eye. It doesn’t look good for the Old Bear and his men–are they now wights? No bodies, so it seems likely although I can’t think that Sam is dead just yet.

Ah, I see that Mance says:

“Then cut it out.” Mance turned to Rattleshirt. “My Lord of Bones, keep the column moving at all costs. If we reach the Wall before Mormont, we’ve won.”

This seems to say that Mance knows that Mormont is alive and that he knew that before so that if Jon had lied, that would have been that for Jon. If Mormant is alive, then I’m sure that Sam is also.
And, Ygritte seems to have blackmailed her way into Jon’s bed.

Chapter 16: Sansa — Cersei is getting Sansa new clothes–out of the goodness of her heart no doubt.
The Tyrell’s clearly have all sorts of plans. They don’t seem evil though–just scheming pretty much like all the other houses. Even if Sansa was back safe with Catelyn, she would probably just be married off to someone for political gain–like a Frey perhaps.
I think Sansa is looking forward to the dress a bit too much and not the consequences that will be ensuing. Yes, consequences there will be.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 17 & Chapter 18

Chapter 17: Back to Arya — Hot Pie has stayed behind at the Inn and it looks like they are going the wrong way. I have this odd feeling Hot Pie is not going to enjoy his choice.
OK, that answers how Harwin got here–part of the 20 with Lord Beric. And now they have formed a resistance group–basically.
Yes, they are going south–taking her to Lord Beric. The escape attempt gets nowhere and Harwin confirms he is not Robb’s man. Short chapter and it seems mainly there to add doubt back into the Arya story.
I really doubt that Beric is going to hand her over to Robb&Co. I didn’t particularly think that Arya’s trip was going to be that easy. Of course, if she made it back to Riverrun, they would probably just stuff her into a dress and marry her to a Frey. Being a captive of Robin Hood and his Merry Men Lord Beric and his Outlaws is bound to be much more interesting and really much more to Arya’s tastes–even if she doesn’t realize it.

Chapter 18: Samwell — Nice to see he isn’t dead or an ice zombie (or both as it were). But, he isn’t having a good time. Forced marching through snow would be exhausting. i don’t think Sam is all that weak–he seems to have done better than a lot–he’s alive.
Nice to see the Chett scene from Sam’s POV–seems so innocent.
A nightmare march–I wonder if they’ll figure out that Paul just told them that Chett was planning treason. Ah, see Sam isn’t so cowardly as he thinks. He was frightened but he killed an Other. I wonder how many can say that.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19

Chapter 19 – Tyrion: This was a very interesting chapter from a number of points. Tyrion has been pretty static up to this point–unconscious and lying in bed with most of your nose gone will do that to you. I liked the way GRRM is starting to get him back into the game by having him attend this council. Tyrion has been out of it so we get a good excuse to get us caught up on what is happening. Things don’t seem to be going well for the Northern forces from what is said here.
Other than Tywin, Littlefinger, Tyrion and Varys, most of the rest here don’t seem to be really first class thinkers and Littlefinger isn’t on anybodies side except his own. So, that may help out in the long term for the North.
In the short term, Robb’s marriage seems to loom even more ill advisedly. From the extent of everyone’s reaction here, I think we can safely say that Robb has really stepped into it. The whole cloth of relationships is brokered on people keeping their words in regards to major deals of marriage and fealty. We’ll have to see how that works out.
One interesting thing is that Tywin does not seem to have the news that the Bolton’s have captured Theon and Winterfell as he mentions him as a possible suitor for Cersei.
And, that brings us to the pair of marriages here. Cersei is told that she needs to get married to some suitable person and if she cooperates, she can have some choice in the matter. Jaime will not be pleased with that as Tyrion notes and we’ll see how cooperative Cersei is in this. Political marriage is the order of the day here.
The other marriage under proposal is Tyrion and Sansa. There is the age issue, of course, that makes us feel a tad squickish, but Sansa is of a marriageable age in Westeros. As Tyrion thinks/notes, Sansa would be married off no matter where she goes–she is far to valuable as a trading piece. All things considered, Tyrion would probably not be a bad choice for her, although I don’t think she will take that info very well at first.

On a bit more closer examination of this chapter, I note a few things:
Many of the victories occurring for the Lanisters are coming from the Lords who formerly supprted Renly.
The Lord Randyll who is mentioned crushing Robett Glover is (I believe) Samwell’s father. Both he and the Tyrell’s would have been Renly supporters. Robett is the guy who pretended to be held captive in order to take Harenhal.
The fact that Krakkens exist is interesting–I’m guessing some sort of giant squid. The report of the three headed dragon is interesting also and I’m guessing it is a confused report of Dany’s three dragons (although maybe not).

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20 & Chapter 21

Chapter 20: Catelyn — Dead guys to start with and who are they? OK, Tion Frey and William Lannister — ah and “treason passed by a touch.” I’m guessing these two weren’t supposed to be killed. Nice suspense build up here. Slaying semi-random squires to avenge people who died on a battlefield seems like a really bad plan. Catelyn should not have freed Jaime, but that isn’t an excuse for these killings. Since the one is a Frey, it would seem astute for Robb to be harsh here to maybe help make up for the broken marriage. Of course, it is really Robb’s fault for not protecting his prisoners–hence the 7 hangings. Make that 7 hangings and 1 beheading. Robb is in a very precarious place now. Hmm, I don’t know whether to trust that potion the Jeyne’s mother is making.

Chapter 21: Jaime — The countryside has been quite devastated by the battles. With winter coming, this seems like a really bad idea. Although, apparently this behavior is all too common in Westros as the “Autumn King” remark from a couple of chapters ago alluded. Jaime is still being an ass towards Brienne. Jaime’s point of view pretty much confirms he is an ass. He doesn’t seem stupid, just very much self centered. Ah, now they are being shot at by bowman. I chuckled a bit at the bowman always run away part. Someone needs to explain Agincourt to Jaime (although the bowmen weren’t unsupported there). I wonder if that is a bit of foreshadowing. I have to admit that all of the various Sers we have seen could use a bit of their hot air let out of them.Now, Jaime continues being an ass. The bowmen just ran away and he decides the best thing to do is attack Brienne. And attack and attack–with some breathers. He doesn’t even catch on that she is trying not to hurt him. And, predictably someone shows up. I admit, I was expecting the outlaw group that had Arya here given the bowmwn and not the Bloody Mummers. The BM’s are not a pleasant group. Hmm, the arakh coming down, Jaime’s scream and his arms being outstretched all seem to imply that they just cut off one or both of his hands. That is also the implication in Vargo’s statement of:

“But firth I mutht thend him a methage.”

Vargo intends to send some pieces of Jaime off to the Lannisters. I can’t say I feel wildly sorry for Jaime. We’ll have to see how that works out. But, I am very worried about Brienne. Not a good place for her.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22

Chapter 22: Arya: Odd beginning, it seemed almost dreamlike in quality. Some time and distance seems to have passed since we last saw this group. Hmm,
“May the Warrior defend him, and the red priest too.” The red priest would be Thoros.
Arya is still almost just eleven–her worries that no one would ransom her are heart tugging.

Another prophecy:

I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror.

The Baratheon’s were Stags, so the first part is probably about Melisandre and either Stannis or Renly. A man without a face could be the assassin who was able to change his appearance but whose name I don’t recall right now. The crow’s are what the Night’s Watch are called–and also there is Bran and the three eyed crow.

Arya is getting scrubbed and then:
Needlework — ha!

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23 & Chapter 24

Chapter 23: Daenerys–It’s been a while since the last Dany. As I recall, she was about to sail off and hire some mercenaries of some sort. Well, that’s a nasty fountain to have as a centerpiece. The slaver reflects this nastiness. Calling the person you are trying to sell things to a”whore” and “savage” doesn’t seem like good salesmanship tactics. (OK, he doesn’t think Dany can understand him–just stupid then).
The mention that 5000 years had passed since the Valyrians destroyed Ghis is an interesting one of scale. Most people here wouldn’t recall an empire from 5000 years ago and how it relates to the present. Not sure if this is an awkward world building or a reflection on Dany’s range of learning.
Well, that’s some nasty training these Unsullied go through. Then, we have the choice of should she use slaves or not–do the ends justify the means? And, at the end another view of Rhaegar as the honorable one who lost–paralleling Ned, although since Ned sided with the side without honor (Robert) that says something. GRRM is all about making honor a problematic choice.

Chapter 24: Bran — Nice cut from blood soaked dry red brick to the “green gloom of piney woods.” So, we haven’t seen any sight of Rickon down south–I wonder where they are? Staying away from roads seems like a most excellent plan.
A squirrel-skin cloak. Either the squirrels are pretty big out there or it takes a lot of them to make a cloak.
Very interesting tale by Meera–Hodor seemed to like it. Wolves make me think of Starks, so the wolf maid seems like Lyanna. That would make Ned (quiet one?) , Benjen(wild one?) and Brandon(pup?) her pack brothers. I am going to guess that the Laughing Tree Knight is either Lyanna or Ned. Either one of them would be shorter than average at this point. I don’t think we know enough of Lyanna to know how she would do in a tourney, but I like the idea that it was her. It would fit Ned’s notion of honor to have done this also.

Braid_Tug@53:Thanks! I hadn’t encountered Vair before. Very interesting. Dire Vair will certainly be the name of my next band.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 25 & Chapter 26

Chapter 25: Davos — In a cell in the dungeon lived Davos. It was a nasty damp cell full of rats and the dark but at least it was warm. Poppies, leaches and lamprey pie–Oh my!
Melisandre is trying to convert him to R’hllor. Her description bears a superficial similarity to Zoroastrianism–light and dark, good and evil. Very duality oriented. That makes a bit of sense with the Magi mentioned earlier as magi is a term sometimes used to denote followers of Zoroaster.
Azor Ahai–interesting. So here is another prophecy about bringing dragons from stone. Dany already has done that as the eggs seemed like stone before they and her were in the pyre.

Chapter 26: Jon — I don’t really like sending Ghost off, but don’t see a way around it either.
Ah–cannibal cave children under the wall. Always a handy thing. And the tunnel–that will almost certainly prove useful.
And, lots of sex here. Good for Jon and Ygritte.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27 & Chapter 28

Chapter 27: Daenerys — Dany wants to buy all of the mercenaries. A little bargaining and then she offers a dragon. I suspect a trick as I don’t think she would part with a dragon. She frees Missandei–foreshadowing? And then:

“Valar morghulis,” said Missandei, in High Valyrian.
“All men must die,” Dany agreed,

So, it looks like Valar morghulis is High Valyrian and it means “All men must die.” So, my earlier guesses weren’t too bad. I figured the mor part had something to do with death although I missed on the honor part. Also, seems like a good motto for an assassin.

“Olives stuffed with maggots.” Clearly that is what the slavers most desired–it would probably go well with the puppy meat that they seemed to want. Of course, Sardinian maggot cheese is a real thing, so, hey, let other people eat what they want as long as I don’t need to ever have olives stuffed with maggots.

GRRM is certainly building tension in this chapter. Just what is Dany’s plan? Ah, cool. Dragons are not slaves. She killed all of the masters. I hadn’t expected that she would use the dragons, but it seems they have done some growing up–their fire is hot. Also, it seemed quite unwise for the slavers to give her all of the unsullied–she started her plundering a bit earlier than they expected. Fatal error on their part. Dany is shaping up to be a really good Queen.

Chapter 28: Sansa — Sansa has a nice dress and a fine bath. Kind of a big transition from killing a slave freeing. Especially, since Sansa thinks she is getting sold married to Willas. Cersei means Tyrion of course. And there’s the reveal–pretty big bombshell to drop on her. I think I’ll go back to the sold part. Sansa has no freedom here–not a jot. Joffrey claiming to be Eddard is fairly obscene also.
At least Tyrion isn’t being his usual sarcastic self–some semblance of decency there.
Joffrey continues on his path to Lord Ass of Westros. And, good, Tyrion couldn’t go through with it.

Cass314@24:The full quote is:

“Slay the Good Masters , slay the soldiers, slay every man who wears a tokar or holds a whip, but harm no child under twelve, and strike the chains off every slave you see.”

My reading of this is they are to kill anyone who is a slaver unless they are under twelve. If a person just is an expert purveyor of puppies and not slaves they wouldn’t be slain. If they are twelve or older and sell slaves then they are done.
What Dany is really doing here is completely destroying the institution of the Unsullied. There will be no one left to sell or train them.
I can’t say that I have any sympathy for slavers and in this case, Dany seems, to me, to be pretty clearly in the right.

MickeyDee@42:while I am sure that Dany has been deeply scarred by her experiences to date, I don’t see any signs that she is a lunatic. Of course, “lunatic” isn’t a very precise term and could, at times, be applied to just about anyone.
What particular actions to this point in the story would lead one to believe that she is mentally ill?

SlackerSpice@49:Deal breaking with slavers is not insane to my thinking. Killing all the slavers over twelve is somewhat harsh but not outside the bounds of what we have seen as typical behavior in Westros.
Aeryl@50:Walking into the pyre would certainly be crazy here. In Westros, where magic is real, it seems to be less so.
In both of those cases we have to look at the conditions in which Dany finds herself. What is considered normal in Westros in terms of violence is far nastier than we would commonly accept here. Also, the introduction of magic places very different bounds upon what might be considered acceptable reasoning processes.

Nisheeth@58:Yes, exactly. It is very difficult to judge the behavior of an individual without regard to the cultural setting. This doesn’t mean that we can’t do so, it just makes the evidence needed fairly large.
It seems fairly safe to say that Joffrey has some pretty serious elements of psychopathology in his personal make-up and Gregor Clegane has some big rage issues.
Dany’s issues seem much more difficult to judge at this time.

Aeryl@62:I would guess that a dislike for a character adds weight to wanting to term them crazy–exactly part of the reason applying labels of mental illness is fraught.
I’d have to go along with Theon being an unlikable POV character. I’m not terribly fond of Caetlyn. I think she is making key mistakes; the first being her forcing out of Jon.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 29 & Chapter 30

Chapter 29: Arya – A bit of interesting history. All these bits we get make it sound like Ned really should have been king.
Even if she doesn’t know what it means,Arya seems to be using valar morghulis correctly.
The Gendry–who’s brother am I exchange was a bit sad. How far the mighty fall. Arya is reciting her list and dreaming (walking) with wolves (Nymeria for sure).
The new prisoner must be someone from her list. The Hound would be my guess as the others are pretty unlikely. He also has a brother and the Mountain seems unlikely also.

Chapter 30: Jon — A nice, dangerous jaunt up the wall. The big ladders are a good idea; I was wondering what they were going to do. I’m thinking that the horn “bringing down the wall” could be metaphorical. Since the wildlings are now on top, the wall has been brought down in a manner of speaking.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31 & Chapter 32

Chapter 31: Jaime — They did take the hand, so I got that one right. Until they were arguing about raping her, I was actually more concerned about what had happened to Brienne. It was nice that something at least went right here and she hadn’t been raped. Nice for Jaime to yell sapphires also.
I would have thought that Jaime would have practiced a bit more with using his left hand for his sword. It seems like only common sense that you might need to fight left handed in a battle if you had taken a wound. It’s also not really that hard, unless you are hopelessly one-handed, to learn to use a sword with either hand. But, I guess Jaime didn’t anticipate ever really getting hurt. That says something.
Bolton was pretty decent here. He was at least acting civilly and treating Brienne well. The wound cleaning really didn’t sound fun at all.

IndependentGeorge@8 (&others):I’ve been fencing for the last 30 years and teaching fencing for the last 20 years, so I’ve got a bit of experience.
Once you have the basics down, switching hands isn’t that hard for many people. Some people can’t cope, it is true, but in the most part, what I’ve seen is that even if you don’t regularly practice with both hands, you get around a 20% reduction in effectiveness. A little practice will shape this right up.
Now, there are certainly areas where people become highly specialized (like shield & sword as mentioned above) but we have already seen many examples of Sers fighting without shields and the ability to fight in a well rounded fashion would have been very useful in the fighting we have seen in Westeros so far.
I am actually not referring to Jaime’s fighting in this chapter. The poor guy just had his hand chopped off and was ill with fever to boot–plenty of reason for him to do poorly when he picked up the sword.
His moping about and wanting a gold hand (now there’s something that wouldn’t work at all to hold a sword) is a tad on the dramatic side. If he wants revenge, then strap a shield onto his bad arm and start training with a sword in his left. If he is really as good as everyone alludes in the books then he should be able to get back in the swing of things pretty rapidly. If he wants to just sit around, that’s fine also, but if he wants to, retraining is a possibility.
I’m sure that Syrio Forel wouldn’t have moped about so.

It seems odd and somewhat possibly nefarious for the Frey’s to be meeting Bolton. Seems like behind the scenes action. It has been a long time since we saw Robb last, again.

Chapter 32:(iPhone so short) — The singer got greedy so not a lot of sympathy.
A light sword could work for Jaime’s weaker hand.
Just what sword did they use for the steel for two blades? Have we seen Ice for a while. Seems like something Tywin would do.

Bergmaniac@59:Excellent points. Tyrion seems relatively better than other Lanisters; mostly because we get a sympathetic POV for him. POV changes everything.
In a fair world pretty much all of the Kings and their Sers would be currently in a dungeon. One needs only switch the titles to dictators and thugs–really much the same thing.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33 & Chapter 34

Chapter 33: Samwell–GRRM does like talking about pus. Adds just that special extra touch to a scene. Things do seem pretty bad for the brothers.
Oh, hey, let’s add the sacrifice of male children to the list of Westros tourism wonders.
Sam is giving himself far to little credit.
Well, Craster is cheap and very stupid and dead. Attacking 40 armed men seems like a really dumb thing to do. Trying to hide a few loaves of bread wasn’t real bright either.
And now Mormont’s dead (that sucks and now Tywin’s speculation is correct) too and their little band has collapsed.
Oh, and that’s an ominous end–just what did Craster do with the sons and what did they become? Cue ominous music and the sounds of frozen zombies and others coming from the forest.

Chapter 34: Arya–We’re getting a fair amount of Arya in this book. That’s a good thing I think. Interesting Weir cave. Sandor Clegane–confirmed.
Arya just can’t keep quiet. A flaming sword from blood–everybody has a flaming sword. How does this connect with prophecy and Melis? Since fire is the Hound’s special fear this is doubly bad for him. And Beric does seem pretty unkillable–very interesting. Is he some sort of fire zombie as a R’hllor counterpoint to the frozen zombies? We’ll find out more about this I am guessing.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35 & Chapter 36

Chapter 35: Catelyn–OK, back for maybe a glimpse of what has been going on with Robb & co. Lord Hoster has dies. That makes Edmure the new Lord of Riverrun. Edmure misses three times–tell me that’s not some sort of foreshadowing.
Now Caetlyn knows about Sansa’s marriage–not taking it well. But, they are really both misinterpreting events. Jaime is not back in King’s Landing.

I don’t think I trust this account of Ramsay Bolton “kindly” taking the boys and women to the Dreadfort. I don’t think we know at all what happened to them all, but Ramsay doesn’t seem the kindly sort.
Edmure marrying Roslin seems like a fair exchange. I would have thought Robb apologizing was reasonable, but Catelyn seems not to trust that. Also, there is the emphasis on Robb’s liking Jeyne’s brothers–somewhat in place of Bran and Jon.
It feels like foreshadowing of something here. Not sure of what, but I smell treachery and betrayal–maybe that’s just the general scent of Westeros.
It seems like Robb is surrounding himself with potential sources of
harm, but it also doesn’t seem like he has many choices. Limiting your
choices seems like a bad thing to be doing. Maybe he needs to take a
breath and do a couple of kingly moves like “Sure I regret not honoring our marriage agreement, but here is my Uncle and marry off Catelyn to boot just to sweeten the deal (yeah I know, not nice, but that’s perfectly understandable in their cultural context.). Now, I’ve got a war I need to run.” Rather than going to Frey in person–that smells like a trap.
It would be nice to know just how burned Winterfell
really is. These people really don’t seem to believe in intelligence
services (except for Varys–who seems to have excellent sources). A few scouts going about and getting some reliable info would be really handy.
I know that things are difficult and there’s a war. Probably a side
effect somewhat of having mindset of the nobles/Sers as the only useful people.

Chapter 36: Davos–Hopefully Stannis won’t be cutting more bits off of Davos. Ser Axell is also claiming to be prophetic–interesting how it seems to benefit him, though. Doesn’t seem like a trustworthy sort.
Ah, Davos is now Lord and the new Hand–interesting. Sounds like Mel wants to sacrifice the boy. Well, that was an interesting end. It looks as though Stannis has just cursed Robb, Joffrey and Balon Greyjoy.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37 & Chapter 38

chapter 37: Jaime–Well, just sit right down and start scrubbing, Jaime–still not very considerate of the feelings of others. Being unable to even manage a scrub brush with his left hand does put in a vote for extreme right handedness.
So there was a story of Aerion Brightfire rising renewed from the fire–maybe Dany had an inkling of what she was doing when she walked into the pyre.So, Jaime saved the city from burning as well as slaying the mad king. Hippocras is a Roman spiced wine. Interesting word choice. I wonder if Bolton is using Roman leagues (1.4 miles) or modern (3 miles) is his statement that there are a thousand leagues between his land and the Lannisters–kind of a big difference. Bolton wed a Frey daughter already. There’s another link in that thread of things. Bolton and Frey again. “Oh, trout makes for a tasty supper.”

Chapter 38: Tyrion–Meet the Dornes. Ah, the ever pressing challenge of properly seating everyone at a wedding. Even more pressing when some of them might kill you.The “Red Viper of Dorne”–cool nickname. Much better than “the Imp” or “the Kingslayer”. Shows some imagination anyway. It sounds like Oberyn’s sister was murdered by Gregor Clegane (or at least that he helped somehow). This wedding is shaping up to be very interesting. The Viper does seem pretty confident to be riding into a strange city and seemingly vastly outnumbered.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 39

Chapter 39: Arya–“She could see how arrows were good too.” Good for Arya–don’t limit yourself to one weapon.
“You just been good and foraged.”
The Hound does seem to be nosing for a new master or purpose.

This was all good, but it seems all too easy for Arya to get back to Riverrun. I have doubts on that.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 40 & Chapter 41

Chapter 40 Bran–So, he can ride Hodor also. I wonder who those men are and what they mean to do–no idea.
Except that everyone wanted this chapter and the next read together so GRRM is probably doing something cute/clever and the people are really people that Bran and co. shouldn’t be afraid of like Jon or someone they actually want to meet like the crow they are looking for. Haven’t looked at the next title chapter yet, so we will see. (See, this is an example of what info hints may leak–we’ll see when we get to the next chapter if this was indeed the case.)

Chapter 41: Jon — So, yep the group is Jon & co. I really wonder how much of Winterfell is left. From Jon’s description it would be a terrible shame if it is really destroyed.
I didn’t think Bran and Jon would meet–two ships passing, … But, Summer helping out was very cool and Jon is now free; in some sense Jon is free anyway, although he had to abandon Ygritte and so he is also caught.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42

Chapter 42 — Daenerys:Dany appears to be just about to try out her new army–against the Yunkai. I don’t recall hearing about these guys before. Ah, they seem to also be slavers of some sort, like the Astaporians. Choosing to start by talking rather than just attacking seems like a pretty good trait. Seems to indicate that Dany isn’t as crazed as a number of people were asserting in her last chapter. Divide and conquer is a fine strategy.
Betrayed once for love and once for gold. Jorah still seems like a good candidate for the love betrayal. This new Stormcrow, Daario, seems like a possible candidate for the gold–probably a long wait on finding those out. Dany’s telling Jorah off seems quite right for her to do, but at the same time is disquieting for the prophecy.
A bit more on Rhaegar and Lyanna and the tourney at Harrenhal. No new info here, but it does seem to add confirmation to what we have heard before.
Attacking in the night and getting the Stormcrows–I’ll call that a strategic and tactical success.
That was a powerful ending–actually brought a tear to my eye.
Now, I’m wondering if Dany’s plan is to continue on marching up the coast liberating slaves (yay!) until she finds some place with enough boats to sail to Westeros or just what? Kind of reminds of Xenophon’s Anabasis in the march through hostile lands sort of way.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43 & Chapter 44

Chapter 43 — Arya:The old prophetic woman again. She seems to sense the death that surrounds Arya–I guess that means Arya will keep alive but maybe step up her killing. The wedding refers to Edmund Tully going to marry a Frey, I would think. Otherwise, I think old small woman has been snacking on some questionable mushrooms. Her prophecies are a tad oddly worded like:

In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him.

There are a few places that could qualify as “halls of the Kings.” Obviously, Kingslanding’s throne room could work but Joff doesn’t really fit there. The crypt under Winterfell with all of the old dead Stark Kings could work as well.

Ned says that Wylla was his wetnurse and implies that she was Jon’s mother. No real evidence she was anything other than Jon’s wetnurse also.
The rumor of Ned Stark and the Lady Ashara Dayne has been mentioned before, I think. I’m not buying it and call Red Herring.
Riverrun to be besieged by Lannister’s–that doesn’t bode well.
Oh,my! Arya has been caught by the Hound. She won’t like it, but I don’t know if it is bad or not. I don’t think Beric’s group had much of a chance of really getting her anywhere and this pretty much removes them. Unless Sandor bargains with them with Arya. My guess is that he won’t harm her but this will lead to more uncomfortable adventures for Arya.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45

Chapter 45: Catelyn — Marching to wed Edmure with 3500 and then to the North. Seem’s like a reasonable plan.
Robb has made Jon his heir–that seems like a really good plan.
Maybe it is Catelyn’s mood infecting this chapter, but it seems somberly written. We’ve got the dead king’s tomb and Catelyn thinking (mistakenly) about her dead children.
Hey! Good news–Balon Greyjoy is dead. That fits the Krakken prophecy he had from the short old woman.

“Roose Bolton will have the rearguard” — I don’t like that at all. Having a questionable man in the rearguard seems like an ample point for a betrayal during battle.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46 & Chapter 47

ch. 46 — Samwell: OK, so Sam is still on the other side of the wall–hoping for the known village of Whitetree. Sam is walking while Gilly rides their only horse. Sam is a good guy. Oh. oh, he cut himself and has been afraid to look at the cut–could be trouble. Sam is brave as well as good. He burns wight Small Paul and then the Ravens save them–was Sam’s prayer to the Old Gods effective? Who is the guy on the giant elk? Is he a new kind of wight or something else? Very interesting.

Chapter 47–Arya: The last chapter is the first I recall that Stranger was mentioned and I don’t think it was a chance that is the horse’s name. Nice juxtaposition that made me chuckle. The Lord of the dead.
The Hound is taking her to the Stark’s. That’s pretty much where I thought. It seems clear he wouldn’t go back to King’s Landing.
They have a ways to go; I fear that riding down the road may be a bad choice. The game of who has Arya seems unlikely to end that easily.

One possibility (out of many) for “Elk Rider Dude” is some sort of undead Benjen Stark. Perhaps his essential Starkness? is enabling him to somewhat resist being just an ordinary undead ice wight. Or the old gods.
This would explain his calling Sam “Brother” and having ragged garments of the Night Watch.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48

ch. 48 — Jon: Jon makes it to Castle Black–cool. Dolorous Edd did make it back, but just a dozen out of the two hundred. I think Jon has left out on obvious candidate for the new Night Watch head — and that’s Jon, of course. That makes a great deal of sense. Of course, Robb has made Jon his heir and plans to basically bribe the Watch to return him. That plan would be complicated if Jon is in charge. He has the usual Stark honor and wouldn’t want to just abandon his post. I still really want to know just how destroyed Winterfell is. We know that Bran is OK, not sure about Rickon as we haven’t heard any news there in a long time.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49 & Chapter 50

Chapter 49 – Catelyn:It’s only been about year of in world time since Robb crossed the Green Fork the first time. It seems like longer. A lot has happened in the books since then and maybe this odd way of reading (a chapter or two a week) makes the time seem more drawn out. Rain and flooding–a dreary opening. Grey Wind charging at the Frey’s isn’t a good start to an apology. Since the wolves seem to have good sense about such things, I’m going to assume the Frey’s mean no good. We’ve had plenty of intimations about that via the Bolton’s. Catching the army against a flooded river could be unfortunate. I would guess that the Frey’s wanted to do more than see Jeyne. “Ooops, she fell in the river,” or something. And, they are providing wine and ale–trying to get the men drunk? Robb’s apology seemed decent, although Walder didn’t seem very appreciative. Cat prefers the big boned girls. Somehow I don’t feel as reassured as Catelyn that they have eaten with Walder. So the men are passing beneath Catelyn’s room. I think that means the Stark’s are being housed in the castle on the opposite side from where the men will be. I don’t like that. And Bolton is here–also not good from what we had seen before. He starts off by not quite telling the truth about the sack of Winterfell. Bolton is in charge of the rearguard. That is a really bad thing.

Chapter 50 – Arya:OK, I said in the last Arya chapter that riding down
the road was a bad plan and here we have some outriders. They got past, but still, it doesn’t seem like the best idea. I’ll admit that the reasoning of going in disguise is not too bad, but as Arya thinks as
soon as someone wants to see the hood down, the game is up.
Have events gone ahead and they have really missed the wedding or is
something else going on with those pipes and drums? I certainly feel a
tension of something bad here. Maybe it is just the tension from last
chapter seeping through. Ah, Arya sees Karstarks and Umbers–also not good.
So, nothing much happened in that chapter except the tension seems higher to me. Bolton’s and Karstark’s outside seems truly bad.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51 & Chapter 52

Chapter 51 – Catelyn:Back to Catelyn right away (she was last two chapters ago. By the way, I am about to read Chapter 51 but haven’t started yet other than seeing that the title is Catelyn. With all of the build up of tension among the readers out there (I picture vast expanses of people jumping up and down eagerly awaiting these next chapters) it is obvious something is about to happen and so I’m going to pay close attention here. From chapter 50, it seems that Edmure’s wedding feast has started, so unless we go back in time, I will guess that we will join Catelyn mid-feast. I don’t recall from Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding if the actual wedding happens at the start or the end of the feast. At the end, they are taken to their honeymoon suite. But, I guess we’ll see where the marriage happens pretty soon. Drums, loud and pounding and not very well played. Cat seems to be getting a headache. The food doesn’t sound that great but maybe it is Walder’s favorite stuff. OK, Cat is thinking of Edmure and Roslin as currently married, so the ceremony? must happen before the feast and we are beyond it. Ha–Walda in her pink lace and ape of vair. As I recall from earlier in the read, vair is squirrel-skin. So, there’s a picture. Robb is supposed to go off and battle the Iron men tomorrow. As I recall Bolton will be in charge of the rear guard. It doesn’t seem like everyone should be getting drunk today if there is a battle tomorrow, but is the battle tomorrow or are they just leaving? I would think it would be the just leaving with a bunch of hangover’s. Robb is being very polite as Lord Walder was fairly insulting on keeping Grey Wind out of the feast hall. Since dogs and drunken North men are allowed, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to allow a wolf inside. It does seem like a little point where Martin is doing a small ratchet of tension. I’ll note that Cat also called out guards and swords being along the wall. The call out of Bolton’s potential threat against Walder’s grandson’s is also interesting. Walder seems to care about the lives of his decedents in more of a point of honor fashion than the actual people. Now Walder has called for the “bedding” to begin. Roslin seems pretty terrified and it does seem to be a pretty raucous affair. The band has changed the tune. Catelyn has caught something amiss and when she catches Edwyn Frey’s arm, she feels iron rings–armor in other words. This feels foreboding–is treachery planned? I guess it is as a quarrel sprouts from Robb’s side. A quarrel also seems to have hit Catelyn in the back. Everyone’s leaving and the bad musicians is explained. Well, everybody there is dead. (At least I think even Catelyn is dead also). I hadn’t expected that. Dead they kill Edmure also? If so, both regicide and killing your immediate liege lord. And people protected by your sworn bread/salt protection oath. That seems pretty low. Robb should have paid attention to grey wind. I am not really surprised that Robb was killed as his POV has been neglected. I am (very) surprised at Catelyn. I also thought that Robb would have been killed in the upcoming battle with Bolton’s betrayal coming there. So, good fake out there, George. This clearly changes a lot of things. Oooh, and Jon was made heir, but the other brothers are actually alive. Too many implications and I think I am a bit in shock at all of that.

Chapter 52 – Arya:Man, if Martin kills off Arya here I’m going to have a major problem. He can’t be going to do that. That would suck. OK, deep breath and start. Riders pouring out, the Hound saw and is getting his sword. Grey wind is howling.
Oh, wow, they are burning the oiled feast tents. This sucks, but the
treachery is quite well planned. Get out of there Arya and Hound! Three of them. Arya hits with her rock and yes, the hound comes through.
“His axe took her in the back of the head. ” Damn. I think that is a feint though and the Hound just tapped her. I hope. I refuse to believe arya is dead also. Otherwise, a large portion of these books just got tossed.
No, Arya must be alive and the Hound just saved her from running into the castle where she certainly would have been killed. Wow, this is a hard (rough, sucky, …) place to stop. If Arya … nope not going there.

I’ve been mulling over the implications of the killings. Clearly this is a turning point in the story and many lovely possibilities vould emerge. Here are some guess-thoughts.
Depending on how pessimistic we want to be there are a number of possible storylines that can spin off here. In the worst case, Jon is the heir and the other brothers (and Sansa and Arya) don’t like this and all sorts of nasty civil wars erupt. An obvious addition to this would be if Jeyne turns out to be pregnant. Her child would be another useful pawn in the internecine affairs that follow. So, we could have a North with multiple claimants to the throne all fighting amoungst themselves. Some of these claimants could be independent while others would be pawns. Rickon and the potential Jeyne child would be the most obvious pawns with Sansa and her possible children following depending on how Martin develops that storyline. The Lannisters will clearly be wanting to use her for their own ends and how much Tyrion will allow that should make for interesting tension.
Bran seems more likely to be going his own way and not getting involved in the civil strife amoung brothers. An interesting possibility as some sort of sorceror ruler could develop there either independent or supporting one of the other lines.
Jon will probably be torn between staying as a brother or avenging Robb and taking up as king. Could go in any direction. The conflict between becoming king and staying in the watch seems like an obvious one once he finally learns that Robb did make him heir. Not sure just how many people are alive who knew about that, though. There is also the whole Others, frozen zombies and Wildings issues.
It seems unlikely that Arya will let anyone use her for their own ends. I’m guessing that a number of Frey (Walder at least) names will get added to her litany of vengence. Unless, she’s dead and I think that unlikey.
In a better case, the various Starks wandering about could merge together and reforge a new North. Probably the actual story will be somewhere in between these two poles–although given the overall theme, I’ll guess that the more bloody direction is where things will lean.
And, on the other side of the world, Dany will (probably) eventually get her army into position and invade Westeros.

Aeryl@267:Robb was always a bit abstract, no POV and really mostly observed at a distance (Robb won battle X reported by someone else). Mostly we see him through Catelyn’s viewpoint, so it seems that most of the investment in Robb is really a transferred investment through the eyes of Catelyn.
Then, killing both of them at the same time makes a bit of sense. It is rather like a rubber band snapping back to give us a jolt. Robb is killed, POV is at and through Catelyn. She also then snaps and is killed. A double hit to the readers perceptions in the scene made visceral as the characters are closely linked.
I think that is a very interesting writting technique for getting readers to care about a character (Robb) whom they really don’t meet that much.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53

Chapter 53 – Tyrion: Back to King’s landing. GRRM is going to leave us in suspense over Arya. We’ll see if word on the slaughter reaches back here or just where in time this happens. Joffrey is bouncing, so I am going to guess they have the word–evil little king. Yep. Tywin at least doesn’t put up with Joffrey. Drug him and put him to bed. The boy is mad and dangerous. Also, it seems Joffrey doesn’t know who his father was–interesting. Tywin is a schemer. Now, does he think Arya is still a captive or is he planning to provide a substitute? Could be either. I think Tywin talking about Renly is similar in that people are seeing what they want to see.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54

Chapter 54: Davos — I read this chapter this morning while waiting on
appointments so I didn’t get to type as I read. Frey is even more
evil/twisted than I thought if he really cut off Robb’s head and sewed
on the wolf’s. And threw Cat in the river. That’s some nasty stuff.
Stannis didn’t seem to appreciate it either. So, at least he seems
Mel seems to be seeing the prophecies but not
interpreting them very well. Dany has already clearly brought the
dragons back from dead stone and she did have the blood of a king in
Drogo. Davos does seem to fit the hero reborn from the sea although Dany could fit that also. The king consumed by his crown could fit Dany’s brother or be more metaphorical.
It certainly feels like someone (Mel cough Mel) is going to at least try
to sacrifice the kid. Probably for no reason as the dragons are already
I do hope that Stannis doesn’t think that Davos is betraying
him in Davos’ gathering of allies. Davos probably should mention the
note about the North although I think Jon is on his own there.
I do hope that Mel is right in her “Joffrey will die” prophecy. I can get behind that.

If anyone has seen the Kaley Cuoco as a genie, where the girl asks an army to avenge her father–I’m so picturing Arya there:

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55

Chapter 55–Jon:Let’s see, when we last saw Jon, I think that he had just managed to get back to the watch, passed out and then re-awoke. Now, we awake again with the burning of Mole town. The Watch is getting ready for the Magnar. The stuffed uniforms is a nice touch and worth a try. Ooh, Castle Black has no walls–because of political problems. That seems like a bad idea at this point in time. I don’t recall if it was really pointed out before, but yeah, a good thing to notice when a horde of wildlings is about to set upon you. In my text it says:

The last few moles were still making the long climb

Before I realized he must be referring to the people of Mole town, I had a sudden image of giant moles assending the Wall. Giant pack moles would be cool. They should ride them into battle, burrowing underneath the Wildlings and emerging,… ahem.
Lot’s of nice little prose details here as we wait for the fight. “The Wall wept and the sun crept”, “The West had gone the color of a blood bruise”. Nice.

Read to the end of the chapter there. Well done, George. I hadn’t seen the fire and the oil coming. A trap made of Ice and Fire, very nice. There was a page turn in my text as Jon was wandering among the dead. So, at the bottom of one was:

He found Big Boil, weak from all the blood he’d lost but still alive.

There was a bit of space there at the page bottom so it almost looked like a chapter end but then, turning the page to be sure I find:

He found Ygritte sprawled across a patch of old snow beneath the Lord Commander’s Tower, with an arrow between her breasts.

That’s some more lovely writing as Ygritte dies. So, here we have Jon (a good guy) win. But in winning there is a cost. I think that was a much sadder chapter end than the Robb/Cat death. The Red Wedding chapter seemed more shocking than sad and I rather liked Ygritte more than either Robb or Cat.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 56

Chapter 56: Bran — For just a second, I blanked and thought Bran who? It seems like a while since we were with these characters (quick check, chapter 40) and a lot has happened since then. The have reached the Nightfort. An interesting tidbit — the Night’s King and his name being erased. A place of stories and dread for Bran. It is also the place that marks his true leaving of what he knows and his real journey into the wild ahead.
A bit of filling in. Summer was wounded but they saw Jon and that he escaped. At least some Stark now has news of another. A guess Bran as the future “Sorcerer King” gets more info than the others.
I imagine looking at the wall is like looking at a glacier. From a distance it is very hard to grasp the scale. As you approach, it looms larger and larger and pieces of the scale start to slip in until in that bit of frisson you see just how big it really is. I can’t imagine walking up steps made of ice. Ice is treacherous. I live in Minnesota and so I know something about ice. Wet round ice 500 feet up isn’t something you want to be standing on.
Ooh, the Night King took a white skinned bride (zombie, other?) and sacrificed to the Others. A frozen bride sounds oddly parallel to the sorcery Melisandre works. This:

“It was not for murder that the gods cursed him,” Old Nan said, “nor for serving the Andal king his son in a pie. A man has a right to vengeance. But he slew a guest beneath his roof, and that the gods cannot forgive.”

That says a lot about just what kind of affront the Frey’s have committed. There will be a price to their act. That’s what that story is telling us.
Something is coming from the well. Nice horror tension here. Bran wakes Meera and the he rides Hodor!
The thing’s name is Sam. Well. OH! It’s Samwell. Nicely done GRRM. I didn’t even think Samwell until he said who he was. That’s just precious in the midst of everything else that Bran asks Sam not to “tell.” Bran is still a kid after all.
So, Coldhands must be the odd guy on the elk and he sent Sam through to find Bran and company. The Black Gate was very cool. An enchanted weirwood face and they go through the expanded mouth.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57 & Chapter 58

Chapter 57: Daenerys:We sight a new brick city and it has an 800 foot pyramid in the middle. For comparison, the Great pyramid of Giza is 481 feet tall. George does like to have large structures. The Meereen’s essentially crucified 163 slave children pointing the way to the city. A pretty clear challenge to everything Dany is standing for. I didn’t have any particular doubt that Belwas would make short work of Oznak but it was a nice opening.
I like that we see the debates in Dany’s council. How do we crack this nut? This is fun. We’ll see if GRRM is setting a pattern with Dany having sudden insight, taking the objective, etc and that some day she will fail just as we think she can never not succeed. Of course, that is a pattern in itself.
Dany seems to like Daario. That seems like a bad plan though and she realizes it. We’ll have to see there.
Dany is being attacked. Arstan kills Mero quite easily. Ooh!, Arstan is actually Barriston. He offers Dany his service (she should take it I think) and (wow) reveals to her that Jorah has been selling secrets to Varys. Where is she sending them? I would guess that the obvious answer is that she is sending them through the sewer route. She didn’t know who she had to spare and now she has two.
She hints this is her betrayal from love but I’m not so sure there.

Chapter 58:Tyrion:So, we seem to get real confirmation here that Frey
really is a nasty piece of work and had the head of the dire wolf sewn
onto Robb’s body and threw the naked body of Cat into the river like so
much kitchen trash. Frey really does need to get stomped.
Tyrion is still meeting Shae. That seems dangerous for both of them, but mostly Shae. His idea of marrying her off also seems fraught.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59 & Chapter 60

Chapter 59: Sansa: “Her torments would be ended soon, one way or the other.” That is an ominous line. She thinks everyone is dead and she is all alone in the midst of enemies. That has to be a bad place to be and her thoughts have a tinge of sadness to them.
The wedding is to be at midday. Joffrey continues to be an ass. What a surprise. Joff destroys the book with his pretty new sword (that I bet was partly made from Ice). People who destroy books (and people) deserve a special destruction. I really wouldn’t mind some mayhem at this wedding although GRRM might kill off all the wrong characters. I don’t think Tyrion or Sansa will die soon. They feel like characters with long arcs ahead.
Tyrion’s question about the knife was quite interesting–he seems to strongly suspect Joff of being in on the killer for Bran. Also, a cutting remark.


“Yes,” said Prince Oberyn, “but I’ve seen no snakes in this Red Keep of yours. So how do you account for Joffrey?”

Chapter 60: Tyrion: Right to the wedding itself, then. Tyrion’s thoughts seem to track everything to our good man Joff.

The pro-Lannister armies are pretty much gobbling things up. It sounds bad for Riverrun.
A thousand cups of wine spilled on the floor is going to reek eventually as well as being a sticky mess. The food sounds good though. I’m a bit struck that all of the food is somewhat a modern Earth mixture. There is corn and peppers and such. Never any odd Westeros only food items.
Lots of versions of “The Rains of Castamere.” An ill omened song.

Payne’s sword isn’t really Ice–I think that confirms where Joff’s came from.

Oh my–Joff is choking on pigeon pie and wine and the Heimlich maneuver seems to be unknown here. Could we be lucky? Yes! Joff is dead but Cersei is going nuts and blaming Tyrion and Sansa.

Tyrion obviously didn’t have anything to do with this as we were sharing his POV, but it was Interesting that he poured out the wine–does he suspect it wasn’t just choking?
I’m pretty unclear on what this means succession-wise. Who gets to be King next? Tommen or Stannis or since Margaery is Queen does that matter. I’m sure it will get messy.
Oh yeah, Yeah! Joff bites it and it was fairly unpleasant for him.

I like the idea that Cersei was trying to off Tyrion and the plan backfired. It helps to explain her immediate vehement assertion that it was Tyrion.
It depends on if it was the pigeon or the wine that was poisoned. If it was Tyrion’s pigeon, then it is hard to see how Joff would have been the target. If it was the wine, then it is likewise hard to see how Joff wouldn’t have been the target.
Probably not enough evidence is available either way. I think they need a better CSI team. The trials we’ve seen so far (Tyrion in the Eyrie and The Hound) haven’t really been masterpieces of forensic science. They do seem to like leaving things for the gods to decide–in those two cases by trial by combat. Hopefully Tyrion won’t even go to a full trial and someone more reasonable than XCersei at the moment (like Jaime?) will step in.
Since prophecy is big, I wonder why they don’t do an augry or entrail reading or something in these cases.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 61 & Chapter 62

Chapter 61: Sansa–Ooh, back to Sansa right away. Joff death reactions! Ah, Sansa is preparing for her escape. I can’t think this will actually go well. Oops, the stone (black amethyst from Asshai) is missing and Ser Dontos had told her she had to wear it at the feast. I am thinking that Sansa just got used as an assassination tool.
They have made it to the boat. Suspenseful–and I’m making it even slower by jotting these notes. It certainly feels like bad things are about to happen. It’s Littlefinger and OK, well bad for Dontos–he’s dead now.
Nothing physically harms Sansa here and she is away from the castle but I certainly don’t trust Littlefinger’s words. All of his actions have been on the skulky, creepy, nasty side of things. Sansa is quite the prize now that everyone thinks that the Starks are mostly dead. This also won’t help Tyrion much and Sansa seems to have a mildly mixed reaction on that.

Chapter 62: Jaime–At least Jaime has doubts that Tyrion killed Joffrey. A cell does seem the safest place for Briene now–even if she doesn’t appreciate that.
I think Cersei is fruit loops bananas crazy–both from grief and just in general. She does sense a change in Jaime and I think there is one. Actually, the whole family (and city and kingdom and world) is pretty much messed up. They mean to railroad Tyrion but I think that Jaime won’t allow it.

owleyes@62:The last sentence of that prophecy seems the most interesting now that the other parts look to have happened.

“And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow.”

“That maid” seems to refer to Sansa. Since she’s going to Harrenhal, maybe she will somehow kill Gregor Clegane. He fits the “savage giant” part although I don’t know about the “castle built of snow” part for Harrenhal.
Either the Wall or the ruins of Winterfell seem closer for the snow part. But in any case, maybe Sansa will actually get empowered and kick some ass at some point.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 63

Chapter 63:Davos–Nice simile of cinders/voices to start. A worship service for R’hllor. Thinking back to the last time we saw these, I recall Stannis wanting more proof of Mel. And now Jof is dead–do they know that yet and if so, are they about to sacrifice the boy?
Not clear if they know yet–but Davos seems to be saving the boy.
Now they know. Davos knew before–that’s why he sent the boy away. Mel saw the confirmation in her flames.
I wonder what Davos is reading–something he found. Something important. Maybe something about the sword?
I don’t think this will be the end of Davos in any case. I’m growing to like his chapters more all the time.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 64 & Chapter 65

Chapter 64:Jon–Where is Ghost? Hopefully he will rejoin Jon soon. I don’t think he would just be dead and gone.
Mance has arrived at the wall. The gate does seem like the obvious (only) place to attack. Climbing a 700 foot wall of ice while people shoot at you seems pretty impractical. I can’t help but be a bit sad at this battle.
The wildlings really shouldn’t be the enemy here. Clearly, the Others
are the real threat.
That turned out about like I had thought–charging the wall was maybe not a great idea. I was impressed that the giant made it as far in as he did and caused that much damage.
And for now, the wall is Jon’s. He was surprised but I wasn’t. He seems the obvious leader there at this point. I think most of the people there will be pretty supportive of him. We’ll have to see if any of the
malcontents show up.
Also, when he hears of Robb’s death, it will be
interesting how that affects him. (I don’t think he has heard of that
although the dire wolf in his dream could have been the dead Grey Wind.

Chapter 65:Arya–Yay, finally! See, I was right, she wasn’t dead. That
was pretty obvious (I thought) and if George had killed her off like
that there would have been much unhappiness with the books.
Sounds like she was concussed though and depressed to boot. She is only 11 or 12? at this point and as far as she knows most of her family is dead and she is still wandering in the wilds. She is still dreaming of Nymeria.
(Nymeria has bar far the best name of the dire wolves by the way. The
rest are kind of unimaginative names that kids would typically pick for
their pet dire wolf.)
Even though Clegane says that Arya isn’t worth anything to him it rings a bit untrue; he isn’t just discarding her or killing her.
OK, he plans on taking her to the Eyrie and Aunt Lysa.
Lysa was crazed the last time we saw her, but she might take Arya in,
maybe, or have them shot.
Nymeria seems to smell Cat? Just the corpse it seems dead and cold and Arya believes it too.
Now, off to Riverrun again. I can’t really see them getting there or if they get there it will go well.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66

Chapter 66: Tyrion —

“Does Cersei have witnesses against me?”
“More every day.”

The notions of a trial and justice are very different in Westros. I take this to mean that many people are willing to testify whatever Cersei wants them to say in order to curry favor or payment. On the other hand, maybe not so different in truth.
Tyrion does seem in a pickle. I can’t think of a good way out for him. On the other hand (I need some more hands), I really can’t see Tyrion getting killed here. That would seem quite the waste of a very interesting character. Running away seems like the best thing, but seems very unlikely to happen. When Bronn said he wasn’t Tyrion’s brother, I got a brief hope that Jaime would defend him, but Jaime is convinced he can’t hold a sword with his left hand. Well, we will see as here comes the trial.
The first day didn’t go well at all. Tyrion’s asking for Varys seems like a good idea. Since they didn’t tell us what was said, something useful might have happened. Nope, he just didn’t come.
Taking the black would be an option but, like Tyrion, I doubt he would ever make it to the wall.
Prince Oberyn visits–interesting. Ooh, he volunteers to be Tyrion’s champion.

Nessa@38:That is a good summation. The case against Tyrion does look very bad at a circumstantial level.

We are privledged in that we get his POV and so I think we know he didn’t do it. The confession of Littlefinger is feeling a little too convenient and too early to me upon reflection. It could be true or it might be a red herring.
With very little evidence, I begin to suspect Tywin as at least the root of the conspiracy. We saw Joffrey begin to defy Tywin in an earlier chapter and to begin showing Tywin directly what kind of a little monster he was.
If Tywin gets Tyrion to accept the black then I would guess that Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa would be void and she would be available for Tywin to use in another political scheme. Assuming he knows where Littlefinger is spiriting her.
No real evidence and if it doesn’t work out that way I won’t be at all dissapointed, but I like the narrative arc it allows.

The aspect of the trial I find I like the least (intentional from GRRM I am sure) is that Tyrion seems to have no right of cross examination. He is, in fact, specifically denied this.
So, a Westros court seems to allow:
1) Each sides gets to call whatever witnesses they wish before a tribunal of judges.
2) The verdict may be superceded by a trial by combat with champions selected if needed.
This is in cases where a court is even convened. Judgement by Lord seems pretty common also as in the case of Ned and the Night Watch guy he executed.

Black Dread@49:Exactly. And
duh duh duh
Doesn’t that name just inspire a cool villainous sound track?
(although he seems to be motivated by understandable reasons here)
Maybe the crows should all caw or something ala Frau Blücher.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67

Chapter 67–Jaime:Hopefully this will continue the Tyrion we saw last week. A white room. Maybe like this one:

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Black-roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.
Silver horses run down moonbeams in your dark eyes.
Dawn-light smiles on you leaving, my contentment.

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines;
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

OK, now I’m reading the chapter to that tune–interesting. By the way, I would guess that GRRM was aware of the parallel there and it is a song chock full of angst as well as allusion.
Jaime is conducting his own questioning–and maybe start an actual investigation. That would be a good idea. He should maybe have started that prior to the trial being almost over. Just a thought.

He is letting Loras talk to Brienne and decide if she is innocent. It seems like this may actually be a good idea as Loras does seem to be honorable and does seem to be cooling down and ready to actually listen to Brienne. We’ll see.
Oh, well no real Tyrion continuation.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68

Chapter 68–Sansa:Still on the boat. The Imp just blatantly lied about Tyrion’s first wife. A casual twist of the truth to influence Sansa. A forlorn tower in the Fingers. That seems familiar somehow. I guess not. This seems to be Littlefinger’s family tower–a fairly bleak place although the people seem friendly in a somewhat demented fashion.
Littlefinger is quite clever at emplacement–the Kettleblack’s (and maybe everyone’s not so much friendly as the politeness shown before they decide to use you as mulch).
Ah, and Lady Olenna!–that makes sense, quite a lot, although I am sure there must be some twisting here also. Littlefinger strikes me as someone who can’t just tell the unadorned truth. But, I am quite willing to believe that Olenna did the poisoning.
Well, it seems Petyr has already won Lysa quite over. A marriage without a lot of killing; quite a rarity in Westros it would seem. Even though he is now married and even posted a guard, there does seem to be something off in his relationship with Sansa. Off like in he is savoring the wait before he makes his move–maybe (hopefully) I’m wrong on that.

“How would you like to marry your cousin, the Lord Robert?”

Gee, let me think about that–not. Sansa is certainly being treated as a piece. People are trying to maneuver her all over the place. In her conversation with Petyr of “Guess the Poisoner” she seemed to be showing some glimpses that she might, just might, someday become a player. I really hope so.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 69

Chapter 69-Jon:The Wildlings are building stuff–almost certainly siege equipment. Raining down the barrels on the turtle is a good idea.
Thorne and Slynt have shown up. They are doing a mock trial and are going to throw Jon into a cell. That doesn’t seem like the best of plans with an invading army just on the other side of the wall. Now, the chapter ends on a cliff(wall)hanger with Jon about to be put away and then hung, but I really can’t see him getting hung. It seems like it could go a couple of ways. The current men whom Jon has been commanding could step in and either rescue him or turn the tables and put Slynt and Thorne in chains. I don’t know the relative size of the forces for that to happen. Either way wouldn’t seem to be good for the long term wall defense. So, just how bad things will get is very much in doubt, but I equally doubt that Jon will die here.
Also, if Slynt and Thorne are members of the watch, then they aren’t Ser’s and Lords anymore right? They are just brothers like anyone else so their demands to proper titles seems off.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70

Chapter 70-Tyrion:Cool. Hopefully we’ll find out the result of the trial here. Let’s see, I predict that Tyrion will get a big basket of fluffy kittens and live happily forever after. Or maybe not. It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I hit this line:

Tyrion stabbed listlessly at a greasy grey sausage, wishing it were his sister.

Chortle. Ouch–Shae is betraying him big time. Cersei has no doubt coerced her with threats and promises, but it stings in Tyrion’s thoughts none the less. Ooh, good answer Tyrion. Very true, it is for his differences that he is being tried. If he looked like Jaime he would never have been in this position. And so, we will get Gregor (THE MOUNTAIN THAT RIDES) vs. the RED VIPER. A whole pro wrestling event just flashed before me in which Tyrion gets to hit Cersei with a folding chair.
Interesting tale from the prince. It sounds as if the whole civil war might have been averted if Tyrion’s mother had not died.
Hopefully that is poison and it is a good one on the Viper’s spear.

Well. The Viper got a little over eager there at the end. His plan was working perfectly right up until it failed completely. Too much to hope for that the Viper would just win. So, he is dead but I wouldn’t think Gregor will survive. A poisoned belly wound is almost certain death I would think. I wonder what the law of combat says for a tie. I guess we’ll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, it is off to the dungeons apparently.
Also, Gregor did confess. That goes against what Tywin said and I think in addition to having their brother killed, the Dornes may be a bit upset about that.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71

Chapter 71-Daenerys:As I recall, we were about to head into some sewers.
Hmm, it seems Dany is already on top of the pyramid, so events proceeded while we were reading elsewhere. Hopefully we’ll get a flashback as Dany drinks her honeyed wine and snacks on the dog sausage (hot dog!).
Purple robe with silver sash, crown and silver high heels. Um, OK.
Crucifying the slavers to respond for their killing children seem pretty in line to me in the world Dany is in. These are nasty people. It seems, though, that Dany hasn’t really thought her whole free the slaves campaign out. People are reverting to form once she is past and she hasn’t put any real system of governance in place.
She has forgiven Ser Barristan and that seems good. I trust him in this case also. She has banished Ser Jorah and I don’t think that is the right move here. I also am veryleery about saying that Jorah is the betrayal for love–something doesn’t feel right there.
“Stay and be a queen.” That seems like a plan. The opening of the chapter hints at what could go wrong. Dany could end up drinking sweetened wine and becoming decadent by staying too comfortable. On the other hand, taking a bit of a breather is a good idea. Some balance between the two would be best.

This was an interesting writing choice by GRRM. The taking of the city and the journey through the sewers could have been a number of epic chapters in their own right. But, what he is telling in the Dany chapters is Dany’s story not just the story of battles.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72

Chapter 72-Jaime:Jaime is bored, Jaime is sad. Jaime is having angst that his life is not going how he wanted. Poor Jaime. On the plus side, he is at least trying to practice using his left hand. He is disheartened that he did not just immediately excel. I am guessing things have always come easily to Jaime. Now he is going to have to work a little. Poor Jaime.
Also on the plus side, Tommen seems a pretty generic 8/9 year old as opposed to Joff. That can’t hurt.
On the negative side, they seem to have stripped the Tully’s of pretty much everything although at least for the Blackfish that remains to be realized as far as I recall. Also, on the negative side, everyone is trying to make a fake Arya. I can’t see that going well at all. They seem to have forgotten that Jon is alive (as far as they know) and is actually Robb’s named heir. The real Arya is alive. Bran is alive. As far as we know Rickon is still alive. All sorts of Starks still out there. I am flashing to some sort of climatic ending where Arya reveals herself:
“My name is Arya Stark. You killed my father. You stole my name. Prepare to die.” Kind of like a “Disney princess Wolverine”/Inigo Montoya crossover scene. (Go ahead and google “Disney princess Wolverine”–cool things await you.) But, I digress.
Ser Gregor may die. Cool. He’s also suffering immensely. Cool. Pycelle has to heal him so they can properly execute him. Cool. I’m still not really convinced that they can count Gregor as winning that duel. Seems like a draw to me.
Cersei keeps being a really horrible person. Jaime actually sends her away. That seems like quite a good thing.
And, he has given Brienne the reforged Ice to go forth and save Sansa. That is totally awesome coolness as Brienne both seems to be just the person to carry such a mission through and the whole concept of a quest for Brienne is great in itself. She is also probably the most knightly Ser we have seen. Cool.
Nice ending. Jaime is free to write what remains of his story. He has defied his father and defied Cersei. Possibilities. Maybe he will somehow enable Tyrion to escape. I’m still just not buying that Tyrion will just get beheaded.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73

Chapter 73-Jon:Wow. Socks knocked off. I had some time last night, so I read this as a whole piece. I’ve got to say that this chapter can totally be filed under the “I didn’t see that coming” category.

Thinking back, GRRM did give us a couple of clues. Davos had read the requests and shown them to Stannis and then we had the report that Stannis had gone somewhere.
But, Stannis showing up and crushing the wildlings caught
me completely by surprise. The start of the chapter was normal enough. Jon is thrust into another sure death and I’m trying to think how he will get out. We get the “Horn of Winter” and Mance doesn’t just kill him and I’m thinking he’ll talk his way out and then BAM–this part of the story could now completely different.
Stannis is now in the North and I don’t think he is going to let the current leadership of the Wall just muddle about. I’m guessing that Slynt and Thorne are not among Stannis’ favorite people. Also, is he going to sweep down from the North–seems like a better position than Dragonstone. Also, I’m guessing that Melisandre took out the eagle–maybe she is more useful than for creepy shadowy assassin things.
Speaking of Dragonstone, just how far did he have to sail and then march to get to this battle. Quite the tactical accomplishment. He also seems to have arrived with the rest of the Rangers and maybe some other allies–I couldn’t tell from the various banners that Jon saw.
Cool, cool chapter with great potential ramifications.
Let’s see, it doesn’t look good for Mance or the rest of the free folk.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 74

Chapter 74-Arya:A gibbet with a woman’s bones, rattling in the wind. Another ominous note in the Arya story. Death seems to be a recurrent theme here. Is that coin more than just a coin (rhetorical)?
This is providing a tense method of catching Sandor and Arya up on events although Arya isn’t quite following.
“Is there gold in the village?”–awesome and wince at the same intermingled time. Arya takes out two and we see that the events with the torture in the village have had a deep impact on her as she kills the Tickler. This is pretty brutal but could actually be therapeutic if it serves to break through the probable PTSD. I thought that might be Needle and so it was. She is getting a (series of) pretty brutal lesson(s) and is treading a fine line between getting out of this alive with the skills she needs and just becoming a damaged wreck.

Boiling wine on the wounds–ouch, but a good idea. And, three people off her chant list. She leaves the Hound but doesn’t kill him. I think she has some small fondness for him. She has wanted to escape for a long time now (it seems like years). I’m not sure of the wisdom of this, but we’ll see although I think this is a good thing certainly storywise and for herself. The Hound was shown to be not completely awful, but he isn’t really a great role model either.

OH, Cool–she has made contact! (Takes that gun off the mantel.) Off with the Braavosi! On a ship! This should be very interesting. It feels like she has come throw darkness and danger and emerged into a meadow. Of course, meadows can be very dangerous places and I don’t think that the danger is going to leave Arya, but at least this seems like a very new direction. Maybe to Jaqen? Maybe to Syrio? The Jaqen path would be to a school?/sect? of assassin magicians?.–>the Faceless. Jaqen seemed to be a fairly damaged if very capable person. I would prefer Arya avoid some of the damage.
“Valar dohaeris” Have we heard this phrase before? I don’t recall it. The Valar part is the same as “Valar morghulis” and so is All men must. I’m drawing a blank on dohaeris at the moment–have to watch for clues. “All men must redeem this coin for 1/20th par value or a voyage to the castle of the Wizard/Assassins of Braavos.” Something like that.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 75 & Chapter 76

Chapter 75-Samwell:Jon is back and free with Sam, so that is a good sign and better position than we last saw him. Mance is a captive–not dead. That’s a very useful and interesting piece of info. Mel is planning on burning Mance–I guess he is close enough to a king for her. That could go either way with Mance buring or escaping somehow.
Sam is keeping his word about not telling that Bran is alive. GRRM is also not telling us much here. Kind of want to know more about guys that ride giant elks.
Dolorous Edd is dolorous:

“No,” said Dolorous Edd. “He was dead already, from that axe in his head. Still, it was pretty lucky, missing the rocks.”

Slynt would be a bad Lord Commander–hopefully something stops his election. Maybe Sam will step up and get Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister to combine.

Chapter 76-Jon:Ah, we’re staying at the wall, then. Stannis has sent Mel to get Jon. I think Stan is going to get along with Jon (as opposed to just tossing him off the wall). I’m going to call him Stan from now on, I think.
And so it is:

Stannis snorted. “I know Janos Slynt. And I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty. You have his look.”

That line pleases me a great deal. Stan may be brooding and brittle but he seems to be a decent judge of character.
Ooo, interesting:

That did not please the king. Stannis ground his teeth and said, “I need more than a sword from you.” Jon was lost. “My lord?” “I need the north.”

Stan is offering Jon Winterfell. So in addition to making him legitimate, he will release him from his vows (that Mel considers invalid anyway). And, have the wildlings settle the Gift and marry Val. No one in this party (if anyone, anywhere does) knows that Robb wanted Jon to have Winterfell also. That would, I think, tilt Jon over the edge on this decision. I have a feeling he is going to turn it down somehow and Stan doesn’t seem like the type to be happy about that. GRRM could have bad things turn out with either choice.

At this point, it seems clear that there are powerful forces that work outside of normal channels in the world of ASoIaF. Some people are able to tap into these forces (priests and magicians). Some of these forces are termed gods/goddesses. Some of these forces are declared evil and some are declared non-existent or illusory.
What these forces actually and which ones are which seems quite undefined at this point.

The (or some of) the various gods that have been mentioned to date:
The Old Gods — Connected to the Children of the forest & accessible through the weirwoods.
R’hllor — Clearly a fire god of some sort
The force behind the Others–call it Ice.
The Seven — Aspects of one
Davos ocean god — don’t recall a name
Theon&co seemed to have some other ocean gods if I recall
The people of Miri seemed to have a god
The Braavos seem to have something going on with the coins and Valar sayings but that could just be a secret society. I don’t recall any gods mentioned yet there.
probably others I don’t recall or haven’t met yet.

Then, there are various people who channel power without a claim to spiritual backing. The gods could be the end result of such people rising in power or the rumors of such people in the past or there could
be entities of some sort filling the roles of gods that either always existed, were created through mass worship or some other means.

These entities don’t seem to particularly want to coexist. R’hllor seems to distinctly not like Ice (we don’t know Ice’s opinion) and doesn’t seem above wanting to chop down weir trees.
The Seven don’t like the Old Gods either (really, none of the other gods seem to like the Old Gods).
What I recall, so far, for things attributed to gods is that we have seen Mel do various things and have some prophecies. She ascribes these to R’hllor and Thoros resurrected Beric and also ascribes this power to R’hllor.
Other than that, we saw Davos praying to the ocean goddess and then get saved and various people praying to the Old One’s and Seven with other ambiguous results.
The frequency of these events seems to be increasing along with the rise of the powers of the various magicians. Both coinciding with the return of the dragons.
This all gives us not enough information (again that I recall) to make any solid conjectures. There could be god-entities of some sort but we haven’t really seen anything that would rule out that there aren’t really any gods, everything is just manifestations of the return of the “magic” force to the world.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77

Chapter 77-Tyrion:This should be an interesting chapter.
(Aside:I don’t check the table of contents so I don’t see what is coming next. In my scroll e-reader scroll bar, it shows that 104 pages remain but I suspect that much of that is tables or something as it was mentioned that there are 4 chapters left (counting this one) and an Epilogue. That doesn’t leave much room for Tyrion development in other chapters, so my hunch is that something big will happen in this chapter–we’ll see and now on with reading). By the way of another aside, I usually read these through a PC based Nook reader with a text editor in another window–dual monitors, so it is fairly convenient to jot down thoughts as I go.
Well, the first sentence seems to share my hunch as Tyrion hears noises and prepares to die. I am preparing for something but I don’t think he is going to die. I mentioned earlier that I think he is too interesting a character to just off–so I think these noises herald some other development. Someone is either coming to visit him for a very important talk or someone is about to break him out. We’ll have to see and I just spent more words than I have read into the chapter so far.
“Bugger you all.” seems like a pretty good response for someone locked into a dark dungeon cell.
Ooh, it is Jaime. Jaime’s going to save his brother (I think and I mentioned that as a possibility some time ago what with Jaime’s new found sense of duty.)

You won’t need last words. I’m rescuing you.” Jaime’s voice was strangely solemn.

Ha! See, see! I am doing a happy bouncy chair dance right now. Of course with these books things could always go horribly wrong.™
Interesting, Varys is actively helping. Jaime is now in his active debt (and Tyrion too, but Tyrion has zero other options.) So, now Tyrion is going across the sea. Pretty soon everyone is going to wind up not in Westros. Dany, Ser Barristan, Arya and now Tyrion. (Also, he mentions the Faceless Men!)
Tysha wasn’t what Tyrion thought (I don’t think her horrid treatment was warranted in either case) and now he swears revenge. And, he’ll be in the free cities where Dany is headed eventually, that makes for a potential interesting alliance of bloody, nobody wins vengeance very keeping in the overall tone of things. From spite, he tells Jaime that he did kill Joff (who did deserve it as he says). That won’t come back either, now will it?, he asks rhetorically.
What is Tyrion planning on saying to his father, interesting, but oh so very dangerous and probably not wise. Two hundred and thirty rungs is a heck of a long way to climb. Especially for someone who has been in a dungeon. Just saying.
He kills Shae. She did betray him, but he really shouldn’t have expected otherwise. His was the power in that relationship. He is making a lot of choices that can’t be undone. Is he going to kill his father here?
Why, yes, that’s just what he did and:

Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.

Oh my! File that under I was not expecting it. Big time. That certainly opens up several bushels full of worms. The Lannister cause just got dealt a BIG setback. Stannis is kind of looking pretty well situated now. Uhm, let’s see there are the Dornes and possible infighting in King’s Landing and well, all sorts of places this could go.
These last few chapters have been great, by the way. In their way, even more important than the Red Wedding chapter that now seems so long ago.

Tyrion seems to be embarking on a dangerous arc. It will be very interesting to see how GRRM handles this. A bloodsoaked path of vengeance and betrayal in which he allies with Dany and betrays his remaining family, a sink into dreamwine dens and self pity, a heroic quest to save Tysha only to find her old/dead/embittered/?–could be any or any combination of these.
Killing Shae, who wasn’t innocent but was coerced by the power of others, seems to call for some sort of downfall on Tyrion’s part. Killing his father, who totally deserved it, would also seem to bring up problems in the traditions of Westros. If Jaime is Kingslayer then Tyrion’s sobriquet would seem to be Kinslayer–especially since in most peoples minds he also killed Joffrey. Actually, come to think of it, that would make him Tyrion Kingslayer-Kinslayer. Way to overachieve there dude.

GRRM is, of course, going for complexity. In a way Jaime and Tyrion are balancing each other. As Jaime rises, Tyrion falls and vice versa. In this chapter, Tyrion kills two people–one deservedly and one not so much. He also foreswears his past allegiences. Jaime has deep flaws from his past but seems to be trying to atone. All very Byronic:

He knew himself a villain—but he deem’d
The rest no better than the thing he seem’d;
And scorn’d the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loath’d him, crouch’d and dreaded too.
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affection and from all contempt:

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78 & Chapter 79

Chapter 78 – Samwell: “Spare me your fawning, Janos.” Good start there Stannis. 🙂
That’s a pretty good “Joinus or we all perish.” speech from Mel, although it leaves the brothers a bit befuddled.
Ah, Aemon smells a fish in Stannis’ sword I think.
Sam is trying to do something and get someone other than Janos elected. Good for Sam. Oooh, Sam is thinking of putting Jon forward. Very clever, telling each the opposite. Sam, you are the bravest person out there right now.

Chapter 79-Jon:A little sword practice and a little anger. Ha, it won’t be Tywin who wins anything, but these people don’t realize that at this point.
Ghost! Yay!
And now the Raven calling Snow! Well, that’s an omen if I ever saw one
although I wonder who put the bird in the kettle and I think I’ll cast a
glance towards Sam or Master Aemon there.
Well, that went very well. Sam claims he didn’t put the raven in, but Aemon probably had some opportunity. Nice and ambiguous for us, but oh so swaying for the brothers.
Stannis may have wanted Jon as Lord of Winterfell, but I think he’ll
live with him being Lord commander. I think that is a better path for
Jon, anyway. Although I still think that Robb’s bequeathing his crown to Jon is going to come back and so Jon will get another chance at
I think that I agree with Jon that Cat was a brittle person. She seemed very reactive, given to anger, jealousy and self interest. Rather like Stannis in some regards. She was never my favorite and it didn’t really surprise me to have her story end at the wedding. Of course, Jon was a tad predisposed to see Cat in a bad light and since I like Jon rather more, so am I from that point of view.

It is fairly clear that both Robb and Cat (and Ned) made a number of mistakes. Combined together, the total weight of all of the mistakes certainly doomed them. Now, was any one mistake THE mistake? Probably not, although Robb’s marriage and lack of clear communication to Edmure and Cat’s freeing of Jaime do stand out as having particularly bad repercussions. They managed tp pile up all of those mistakes in a fairly short period of time. Basically the sit on a branch and begin sawing method. There may be good reasons for sitting on the branch (lions below). Sawing away at it is probably not a good plan, however.

I am always amused at the concept of plot armor. “Plot armor! How unrealistic!” goes the refrain. But, interesting characters are interesting because they do things and generally succeed. Characters who fail right away don’t make for much of a story.
And, the real world is rife with examples of plot armor. Take any person who has in some fashion been marked as successful. For example, Bill Gates. How improbable is that? The total series of events are quite unlikely. Clearly, he is encased in massive plot armor. Or, he happens to be the end result of a fairly random selection process.
However, broaden the scope and you will see a field littered with the bodies (not all figurative) of people tried to do similar things and failed and have become at the most obscure footnotes.

In ASoIaF we have so far seen things that we will clearly label magic like the pyromancers, warging and Dany’s fire birth of the dragons. Then, there are the various interactions with gods that are delightfully ambiguous. They could be powered by outside entities (gods), personal magical forces, coincidences, fakery or some combination.
The raven could have been planted by several parties or inserted by an outside force. It could have been a pure omen in nature or maybe it just went to Jon because it was familiar with him. Very clever, GRRM.

A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80 & Epilogue

Chapter 80 – Sansa: So, I think this is the last chapter and then the Epilogue from what people have said. Also, people seem to be bouncing up and down with excitement and anticipation. So here I go.
She likes the young singer. As does her aunt. That could be a problem as Lysa seems a tad unstable. GRRM may need to walk through more snow as there is usually some sound as you walk. The sound depends on the temperature. Crunchy or squeaky, swishing or faint patters as your toes kick up little puffs. The snow is heavy and wet, so it is going to be noisier than if it was dry and light, not quite melting.
“May I come into your castle, my lady?” Heh, innuendo much? He says while not liking Littlefinger one bit right here.And then a bit of building and of course Littlefinger tries to molest her. So, that’s out in the open.
Little Lord Robert also continues to be somewhat of a childish child. And it would appear an epileptic. Thinning the blood is probably not the greatest idea.
OK, Lysa is completely off her rocker and Littlefinger had gotten her pregnant. That seems to have contributed to her madness.
Well! Oh my, I guess we don’t have to worry about Lysa any more.
That … well that raises all sorts of possibilities. And Sansa isn’t in a good place in any of them. The Eyrie lords aren’t happy with Littlefinger and so things could go south or he could pretty much take over.
Lysa was basically driven crazy by Littlefinger and now killed.

Epilogue: I don’t recall who Merrett is and which Petyr is he ransoming here? Is this in the future and it is Littlefinger or some other? Slightly confused.
OK, no were down by the river and Merrett is a Frey of one sort or another and so is Petyr. A little more background on the whole betrayal/wedding.
Uhm, OK again. So, Cat is alive (sort of) and killing Freys. A water zombie maybe like Beric is a fire undead of some sort? Or did Thoros somehow raise her up or are more zombies just rising up spontaneously as magic rises? Interesting!

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Posted February 13, 2014 by user in category "A Storm of Swords", "Book review

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