March 2 2014

A Feast For Crows — Chapters 6 & 7

Here is my commentary on Chapters 6 & 7 of A Feast For Crows.
For those of you who don’t know what I am doing with these, I have been reading the various Game of Thrones novels for the first time and posting my thoughts over in the A Read of Ice and Fire.
This has been quite the interesting experience as it is a very odd way to read a book (or even odder a set of books). Since Google is awash with Game of Thrones spoilers, this limits my ease of look-up of details from earlier books. Funny how quickly the internet has become an external reference point/expanded memory. On the other hand, I have eBook editions and that helps balance things out as it is wildly easier to search them than paper monsters.
Since I am reading these for the first time, don’t post any comments about events later in the series, but also be warned that each chapters posts will contain all the details I find in the chapter or happen to think of as I am reading. I may even put in some extra material that I think I have figured out that I either don’t put in the tor read or white out there to not spoil others reads who may not have thought of such things.

Chapter 6 – Arya:I’ve been hoping for Arya. From the comments, I infer that some character aren’t in this book–I was really hoping that Arya would be in it. This seems like a better opening. On a ship and next to a pleasant figurehead as opposed to next to a tree with dangling dead people. Interesting that no one asks Arya her name–they just call her Salty. It could just be a cultural thing where you are supposed to give your name (like the other crew are doing).
Arya is a tad sad but that isn’t surprising at all. She is sailing into the unknown with a raft of death behind her.
The Titan of Braavos sounds interesting. Just how tall will it be? GRRM seems to like building large.
The Braavosi don’t seem to be the sort to indulge in the sacrifice of small girls, so I’ll discount that aspect of Nan’s story for now.
Interesting bit of backstory about the Moonsingers leading the Braavosi to Braavos as a place to be safe from dragons. Also quite interesting that the Braavosi are religiously tolerant. Hmm, “Many-Faced God”. Arya hasn’t heard of the Many-Faced God and I don’t recall hearing about it in the story so far. Denyo seems to think it will be of interest to Arya however.
So the Titan seems quite large and isn’t just a statue but rather is a fortress and warning siren all in one.

“Our galleys are our walls. We need no other.”

That’s a sentiment that has been expressed before over here. Notably in Themistocles interpretation of the words of the Delphic oracle:

Not wholly can Pallas win the heart of
Olympian Zeus,
Though she prays him with many prayers
and all her subtlety;
Yet will I speak to you this other word, as
firm as adamant:
Though all else shall be taken within the
bound of Cecrops
And the fastness of the holy mountain of
Yet Zeus the all-seeing grants to Athene’s
That the wooden wall only shall not fall, but
help you and your children.
But await not the host of horse and foot
coming from Asia,
Nor be still, but turn your back and
withdraw from the foe.
Truly a day will come when you will meet
him face to face.
Divine Salamis, you will bring death to
women’s sons
When the corn is scattered, or the harvest
gathered in.

As meaning the Athenians should trust to their ships. Also, note that Westros does not have a monopoly on ambiguos oracles. But, I digress.
Braavos seems quite prosperous and well managed compared to the other places we have seen so far. It also seems that the coin is a ticket to Braavos and no farther. Valar dohaeris again.
The city seems kind of like Venice what with the canals and being conceived as a place of relative safety. It seems a tad odd to just row an eleven year old girl over to an island and leave her, but that’s apparently what you do with coin holders. Then you say Valar dohaeris and take off.
Somewhat creepy temple with silent doors, ill lit and an arrangement of statues. Well, and the walls are lined with dead or dying people and Arya probably just hastened the death of that guy by giving water to a abdominal injury although since no one was tending him, I’m guessing that was coming anyway. The House of Black and White. Hmm, Him of Many Faces (Many Faced God) stands at the end of the road. What with Valar morghulis being All men must die, the dead people on the shelves and the end of the road motif, I’m going with Many-Faces being a god of death of some sort.

OK, I would have hesitated before kissing a skull on the nose and trying to eat the worm is well, uhm, gutsy. The monk guy seems to be able to shift faces like Jaqen. I’m not sure that I would trust that the kindly old man face is any more true than the skull face–or they might both be true. So, Arya has found a temple of death worshiping assassin monks?
As the guy says,

“You are,” he said, “but the House of Black and White is no place for Arya, of House Stark.”

I’m guessing he is going to give her a different name and maybe a whole new persona. Jaqen seems adept at the shifting of not just his face. Arya seems on a path of gaining some mad skills. That should aid her hunger for vengeance but I’m hoping she gets more of the skill part than the mad part.

“Valar morghulis” means “All men must die” and “Valar dohaeris” seems to be a response to that. I’ll go with the valar being the “all men” part, morghul being the deathy part and “is” being some sort of must modifier. That gives us something like “All men must dohaer” so far.
If we split that and go with “do” just being like latin d? or English do we get something like offer or give–basically, to do. The “haer” part tough and carefully googling just shows, hær from Danish for large army and that doesn’t seem to fit.
So, so far we have something like “All men must give haer”. Of course, I don’t think GRRM is strictly building a full language. So, in the context of a respose, some things that would seem appropriate in the context of a response to “All men must die” to a coin holder could be things like:
All men must give thanks
All men must offer aid
All men must do what they can
or something along those lines. Or, it could be something more ritualistic like:
All men must bow to fate.

Chapter 7 – Cersei: Cersei liked Joff. Cersei has blindspots that you can fly dragons through. Also, if she wants Tommen to show some more spine maybe she could try not ordering him to do every last little thing.
Oh, so Cersei also entertained herself with her cousin Lancel. Did we know that before this?

I don’t think that a poor jailer is going to leave behind a gold coin, so that smells of FRAME. The Tyrell’s have their plans, but I think Tyrion’s escape was mostly Jaime and Varys. We haven’t seen much of him lately, come to think of it.

And, Kevan speaks frankly. Unfortunately, I have a feeling Cersei is going to spin off into some web of paranoia and bloodshed. She has put a vivisectionist in the dungeons, why not just go full blown Dark Queen Mother on everything? She doesn’t seem to be handling the idea that other people exist and don’t share her plans all that well.

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Posted March 2, 2014 by user in category "A Feast For Crows", "Book review

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