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 38 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 63 (“Davos”).
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, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Tor.com. 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!
Chapter 62: Davos
Davos watches Melisandre lead Stannis and others in the daily worship service, and observes that Stannis does not say the responses with the rest, and that there are fewer attendees than before. He prays to the Mother to keep his son Devan safe from Melisandre’s “demon god.” Ser Andrew Estermont comes to get him, and Davos goes with him, remembering how Melisandre had told him it takes years of training and discipline to see visions in the fire. Some of his cohorts had argued for killing her, to keep her from seeing their plans, but Davos is sure that will not work, and hopes merely to escape her notice.
Andrew and Davos go to Maester Pylos’s chambers, where Edric is having lessons. Pylos tells Edric that he is to go with them, and reminds Edric that Davos speaks with the king’s voice. Davos admires Pylos’s courage, risking this along with the rest of them. Edric balks at first when Davos tells him he is going on a ship, and insists on seeing first Shireen and then Stannis, but Davos shows him his mutilated fingers, and asks if Edric truly wants to make his uncle angry. They bring Edric to where the boat awaits, and Davos wishes him well. Edric is confused but polite, and goes.
Davos returns to the keep, not sure he will ever leave it again. He goes to the tablemap chamber and waits for Stannis. He hears Stannis talking to Melisandre as they approach the room, Melisandre assuring Stannis that “three is three,” and that she saw someone die and his mother wail. Stannis is skeptical, but Davos jumps in to confirm that Joffrey is dead, possibly poisoned by the Imp. Stannis reminisces about the time Joffrey slit open a pregnant cat, and opines that whoever killed him “served the kingdom well.” Melisandre again urges Stannis to let her wake the dragons by sacrificing “the boy.” Stannis makes her swear that there is no other way, and Melisandre replies that if he fails the world fails, swearing that if he gives her the boy, she will give him his kingdom.
Davos cuts in to say that he can’t, as Edric is gone. He thinks from Melisandre’s expression that she had not seen it beforehand. Stannis at first thinks Davos meant that Sallador Saan kidnapped the boy for ransom, but Melisandre interjects that this is Davos’s doing. Stannis says he had hoped for Davos’s loyalty, and Davos replies that he kept his oath: to protect the king’s people, of which Edric Storm was one. Stannis says “If I must sacrifice one child to the flames to save a million from the dark…” Melisandre tells Davos he has doomed Edric Storm along with everyone else. Davos answers that “a king protects his people, or he is no king at all.”
Angrily, Stannis asks if he is to learn a king’s duty from an onion smuggler. Davos kneels and says Stannis can take his head, but begs him to hear him out first. Stannis advises him to speak quickly.
Davos fumbled inside his cloak and drew out the crinkled sheet of parchment. It seemed a thin and flimsy thing, yet it was all the shield he had. “A King’s Hand should be able to read and write. Maester Pylos has been teaching me.” He smoothed the letter flat upon his knee and began to read by the light of the magic sword.
Okay, so, maybe it’s a tad weird of me, but I totally choked up at the last passage of this chapter. And I can’t really explain it, but maybe it’s because there’s something about Davos learning to read and write and then immediately using it in service of his people, and, it’s beautiful or something, look, I have no idea. I have feelings about the importance of literacy, okay?
So, is the letter Davos is reading something he wrote himself, or is it one of the ones he found during his reading lessons with Pylos? The only one of those we’ve seen mentioned is the letter about the wildlings’ incursion up north, but while that is definitely important info for Stannis to have generally, I’m not seeing how it would be relevant to justifying Davos’s decision to spirit Edric off the island. So maybe this is something else?
Either way, damn, Davos. You have got some seriously righteous balls to do what you did here. I am admiring the shit out of him right now. I am a Davos fangirl, officially, y’all. Even though his stubborn embrace of principles warns me I probably really really shouldn’t get attached to him, because we’ve all seen what not being a duplicitous bastard gets you in this story.
But hey, at least the assholes sometimes get it too, right? Thank you, Stannis, for reconfirming with that delightful cat-mutilation story my perfect justification in celebrating Joffrey’s death, because wooooowww. That kid really was a textbook example of a budding psychopath, wasn’t he? Yeesh.
Funny how Edric is basically the opposite of Joffrey in every way. In fact, pretty much every one of Robert’s (actual) progeny we’ve come across have been shockingly decent people. Granted, that’s only two people I can recall off the bat (Edric and Gendry), and there’s an argument to be made there about nature vs. nurture (I would opine that being raised as a bastard might suck in a lot of ways but definitely has the potential to build a good character; see also: Jon Snow), but still. The case for incest: not supported by the offspring!
(Not even the Targaryens; Dany may be a genetic fluke of awesome, but Viserys most definitely upheld the general trend of suckiness. Which is part of my suddenly-emergent theory that the character of Dany is at least in part an homage to Cleopatra.)
That said, poor Tommen. I would speculate whether he might turn out to be a better boy king than, well, every other boy king we’ve come across so far, but at his age he’s going to be nothing more than a figurehead pawn for years to come. His “kingship,” assuming it ever even gets off the ground, is not going to be about him, but rather about the epic You Are Not The Boss Of Me fight between Cersei and Tywin I am predicting so hard right now. Because that’ll end well, oh yeah.
In any case, I certainly hope against hope that (a) Edric really did get away and (b) Davos doesn’t get executed for it. If I actually get one or both of these wishes I will be rather astonished.
I suppose it’s worth noting my instinctive and absolute rejection of the notion that Melisandre might actually be right in her assertion that Davos’s actions have doomed the world, even despite the fact that so far pretty much everything else she’s predicted has come to pass. But it is just not in my constitutional makeup to even consider it; everything about her, from the fanaticism to the near-blithe embrace of assassination and ritual murder in order to accomplish her ends is a big fat red NO for me.
I can certainly see why the notion of “sacrificing one to save millions” might seem compelling to Stannis, or to anyone who is forced by circumstance to have to consider the bigger picture, but I’m with Davos on this one: a seeming good achieved by evil means is no good at all.
So, yeah: any king who would countenance such a thing is not a king worth following; and any god that would demand it is not a god worth worshipping.
In my not-so-humble opinion, of course.
[Stannis:] “Weddings have become more perilous than battles, it would seem.”
I KNOW, RIGHT?
And that’s it for now, kids. Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Thursday!