A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 4

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 4 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 6 (“Catelyn”) and 7 (“Arya”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Before we begin, quick scheduling note: I will be attending the sure-to-be-awesome JordanCon in Atlanta next weekend, and thus there will be no ASOIAF Read post next Friday. But please do check in to the site, as I believe I will be doing some on-the-spot blogging from the con which should be fun and/or humiliating, depending on how drunk I am.

I kid, I kid! …Mostly.

Anyway, back to Martin!

Chapter 6: Catelyn

What Happens
After they make love, Catelyn and Ned discuss the king’s offer. Ned wants to refuse, but Catelyn insists that would make Robert suspicious. Ned doesn’t believe this of his old friend, but Catelyn reminds him Robert may be his friend, but the king is a stranger. They are interrupted by Maester Luwin, who tells them someone left him a message for Catelyn, hidden in a box containing a lens for Luwin. He gives the message to Catelyn, who realizes it is written in the secret language she and Lysa had shared as children. She tells Luwin and Ned its contents: that Jon Arryn was murdered by the queen, Cersei Lannister.

Catelyn says Ned must take Robert’s offer now, and learn the truth. Ned argues that if Lysa’s accusation is true, he should go nowhere near such a “nest of adders,” but Luwin points out that the Hand of the King is the only one with the power to pursue such an investigation, and to protect Lysa and her son. Catelyn asks if he would really leave Robert surrounded by Lannisters, and Ned reluctantly gives in. He insists, though, that Catelyn should stay at Winterfell to rule in his stead until Robb comes of age, along with the baby Rickon; Sansa, Arya, and Bran will go with Ned. Catelyn is heartbroken, but agrees. Luwin asks about Jon Snow, and Catelyn, who has resented his inclusion in their family, refuses to allow him to stay at Winterfell. Ned protests that he will be ostracized in the south, and Luwin brings up Jon’s wish to join the Night Watch. Ned is startled, but muses that even a bastard may rise high there, and decides it is the best course of action.

Aw, crap, so Jon is going to the Night Watch? Blah. Well, at least Uncle Ben is a nice guy. Hopefully he won’t get shot by a burglar and Jon will have to go avenge him… wait, wrong story. Never mind.

Many men fathered bastards. Catelyn had grown up with that knowledge. It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. He had a man’s needs, after all, and they had spent that year apart, Ned off at war in the south while she remained safe in her father’s castle at Riverrun.

Christ. That makes me too tired to even *headdesk* properly over it.

Catelyn is fairly awesome in her own way, but I have to say I’m kind of torn about her attitude toward Jon. On the one hand, while true to the culture being imitated here, it’s complete bullshit that she (and all the other women in the country) have to just put up with their husbands running around fucking other women on the side. “A man’s needs,” my ass. And certainly it would not be cool to have the reminder of that constantly shoved in your face. So to that extent I can certainly sympathize with her.

On the other… well, it’s not like it’s Jon’s fault that he’s a bastard. And as he’s a character who firmly has my sympathies (at least for the moment), I can’t help but get a tiny bit angry at Catelyn for rejecting him, because really it’s kind of completely whacked that she hates Jon for existing, and not her husband for fathering him in the first place. And then I feel bad about that, because if it were me, I don’t know that I wouldn’t behave the same way, because in her situation what else is she supposed to do? And then I feel bad about thinking that, and round and round it goes, and basically the conclusion is that adultery is shitty and Bad and creates drama and you shouldn’t do it, mmmkay?

Not, of course, that anyone’s listening to me on this one. *grumble*

Aside from all that, I predict that the identity of Jon’s mother is Of Importance. Not that it takes a genius to come to that conclusion. And I’m guessing she’s not Ashara Dayne either, because that would be too easy.

Also, Ha! I was totally right about Jon Arryn’s death. Again, not that it was hard to guess.

“Inside was a fine new lens for the observatory, from Myr by the look of it. The lenscrafters of Myr are without equal.”

Ned frowned. He had little patience for this sort of thing, Catelyn knew. “A lens,” he said. “What has that to do with me?”

“I asked the same question,” Maester Luwin said. “Clearly there was more to this than the seeming.”

Under the heavy weight of her furs, Catelyn shivered. “A lens is an instrument to help us see.”

Neat. Also, clever Catelyn. Clever Lysa, for that matter. I look forward to meeting her.


Chapter 7: Arya

What Happens
Arya is upset that as usual, her needlework is far inferior to Sansa’s. Sansa is giggling with Jeyne Poole and Beth Cassel over Prince Joffrey. Arya points out that Jon thinks Joffrey looks like a girl, and Sansa laments that Jon gets jealous because he is a bastard. Septa Mordane comes over from where she is instructing Princess Myrcella, and sighs over Arya’s stitches; humiliated, Arya bolts out, thinking of her jealousy over Sansa’s perfection, and takes her wolf pup Nymeria to watch the boys practice swords. She comes across Jon watching from above, and he welcomes her to watch with him as Bran and Prince Tommen spar clumsily. She asks Jon why he isn’t down there, and he tells her bastards “aren’t allowed to damage young princes.” Arya thinks life isn’t fair, and opines she could do better than Bran. Jon makes gentle fun of her, and points out how Prince Joffrey’s surcoat puts the Lannister coat of arms equal with Baratheon’s.

Ser Rodrik asks if Robb and Joffrey want to go another round, but Joffrey proclaims himself bored with the proceedings, and suggests live steel. Jon observes to Arya that Joffrey is “a little shit.” Rodrik refuses the request, and stands up to one of the Lannisters, Clegane, when challenged for refusing the prince’s request. Clegane taunts Robb that he’d killed a man when only twelve, and Joffrey yawns and insults an infuriated Robb further before heading off with his hangers-on. Jon opines that the show is over, and sends Arya back to the sewing room over her protests. Arya returns to find that both Septa Mordane and her mother are waiting.

Ah, the craptitude of being a tomboy in a world that has no place for them. It is really just a ton of fun to be a woman in this series, isn’t it?

And mind you, I’m not ragging on Martin for making his world a shitty place for women’s rights, at least not on principle. Again, sometimes it takes shoving an injustice in people’s faces to remind us all of what was fought for in the first place. The female characters I’ve been introduced to so far in this series (with the possible exceptions of Sansa and Myrcella) are all intelligent, perceptive people, dealing with their crappy situations as best they can; it makes me sad that they have to put up with such bullshit, but it also makes me interested to see how they will (hopefully) overcome and work through that bullshit.

And Arya, clearly, is a girl after my own heart. Dude, swords versus needlework? No contest. I was forced to take Home Ec in high school, and that is a hundred or so hours of my life I am never getting back. And for what? The most wretched and pointless (and ugly) jumper ever sewed in the history of the world, that’s what. And meanwhile I got out of high school still not knowing how to change a blown fuse, or unclog a toilet, or the bloody difference between a car battery and an alternator. Had to teach myself all that, thank you very much.

Pfeh. You want to teach girls something practical, teach them something useful, so they don’t get cheated by every car mechanic and plumber and electrician they have to deal with in the real world. Seriously, everyone who does not actually do tailoring for a living tell me which comes up more often: repairing your car, or knowing how to sew a frickin’ French seam? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Oh, and some basic finance classes would have been awesome too, New Orleans Archdiocese. You know, stuff like learning how to balance a goddamn checkbook, instead of the week I spent memorizing cow parts, like my mother hadn’t already taught me long since how to pick out a goddamn steak.

Cow parts, you guys. Sheesh.

Er. So, that was… a tangent. Onward!

Jon shrugged. “Girls get the arms but not the swords. Bastards get the swords but not the arms. I did not make the rules, little sister.”

*grumpy* Yeah, well, someone should change those rules, dammit. How is it so often that the coolest people are the ones everyone else spits on? There’s something wrong with the world, man. Not that this is news.

Again, Jon wins points with me for recognizing Arya as a kindred spirit, misfit to misfit. And also for calling Joffrey “a little shit,” ha! I really hope Jon doesn’t get killed. At least not too quickly.

Robb is also going to be trouble. Not because he doesn’t mean well, but anyone whose goat can be gotten that easily is not going to be prone to rational decision-making. And this is not a good trait in a future Leader of Men.

Also, the Lannisters continue to suck. Film At Eleven.

And that’s the story, mornin’ glories! At least for now. Have a delightful weekend, and please come on back not next Friday but the Friday after for more ASOIAF fun!


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