Fri
Mar 25 2011 1:05pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 2

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinWelcome 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 2 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 2 (“Catelyn”) and 3 (“Daenerys”). Technically these chapters aren’t numbered, at least not in the copy of the book I have, but I’m numbering them my damn self anyway for at least marginally easier tracking purposes.

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.

As a note, “non-spoiler” really means “NON-spoiler.” “Hints of future events,” just so you know, also count as spoilers.

And now, the post!

Chapter 2: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn Stark, née Catelyn Tully of Riverrun, goes to Winterfell’s godswood to find her husband; she knows he always goes there after he takes a man’s life. She finds the godswood of Winterfell very dark and unsettling compared to the sunny one she’d known at home; unlike her own family, the Starks keep faith with the old gods. She finds Ned polishing his sword Ice under the weirwood tree at the heart of the grove. He asks after the children, and Catelyn tells him they are fighting over what to name the pups; Ned is upset to hear that the youngest, Rickon, is a little scared, and comments that Bran did well at the execution. He goes on that this is the fourth desertion from the Watch they’d had this year, and there have been deaths in the ranks as well. He thinks he may have to gather arms soon and deal with the bandit king Mance Rayder himself. Alarmed, Catelyn answers that there are worse things beyond the Wall, but Ned thinks the Others are long extinct, if they ever existed in the first place.

Catelyn has sad news for him; Jon Arryn is dead. She knows Ned regarded him as a second father, especially after Arryn had revolted against Mad King Aerys II Targaryen rather than give Ned (and his other foster son, Robert Baratheon) up for execution, and they were brothers-in-law as well (Arryn was married to Catelyn’s sister Lysa). Saddened by the news, Ned urges Catelyn to take the children to Lysa to cheer her, but Catelyn tells him she cannot; the king is coming to Winterfell. Ned is pleased to hear Robert is coming, but less so that he will be accompanied by his wife Cersei and her brothers, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock; Ned has not forgiven them for only throwing in on Robert’s side once victory was all but assured. Catelyn cautions him to watch his tongue around Cersei, but Ned only begins planning how to welcome the king.

Commentary
Good Lord, what an infodump.

I suppose that’s somewhat inevitable at this early stage, especially since it’s completely obvious already that Martin has an extreme case of MY TANGLED WEB OF CAST OF THOUSANDS, LET ME SHOW YOU IT. I expect that eventually I’ll learn all these names and relationships, but right now it’s all kind of leaving me blinking. I will say that having to actually summarize these chapters, instead of just read them, helps with the learning curve quite a bit.

Catelyn had been anointed with the seven oils and named in the rainbow of light that filled the sept of Riverrun. She was of the Faith, like her father and grandfather and his father before him. Her gods had names, and their faces were as familiar as the faces of her parents. Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song. The Tullys kept a godswood, as all the great houses did, but it was only a place to walk or read or lie in the sun. Worship was for the sept.

First of all, lovely prose. And, a nice bit of worldbuilding as well as cast-building here, too. I’m unclear, at this point, on whether the gods in Martin’s world are “real” or not, or if they are the “interfering in world events” type even if they are real. Others and direwolves notwithstanding, I get the sense that Martin’s fantasy takes something of a minimalist approach to the actual fantastical elements in it, so maybe not.

Speaking of which, so Ned doesn’t think the Others exist, eh? I’m sure this will not come back to bite him in the ass at all. Nosirree.

Also, “Ned”? From “Eddard”? Why not, you know, “Ed”? Because it would sound sillier? Of course, I don’t know how we all got to “Bill” from “William” either, so maybe I shouldn’t expect made-up nicknames to make logical sense either.

 

Chapter 3: Daenerys

What Happens
Dany’s brother Viserys shows her the gown their host Magister Illyrio has given her, and Dany asks why Illyrio is so generous to them. Viserys answers that Illyrio knows he will not forget his friends once Viserys comes to his throne. Dany doesn’t trust Illyrio, but knows better than to say this to Viserys. Viserys cruelly warns her of the consequences should she fail with the Dothraki horselord, Khal Drogo, tonight, and leaves. Dany thinks of the land across the sea that her brother claimed had been stolen from them, which she had never seen; she had not yet been born when the remaining Targaryens had fled the Usurper. Her mother had died giving birth to her (which Viserys had never forgiven), and they had wandered all over since their last protector died to keep ahead of the Usurper’s assassins, according to Viserys. Her brother talked much of how they would have their inheritance back one day, but Dany would rather just have a home.

Servants enter and bathe and dress Dany richly, talking of Khal Drogo’s wealth and power, and Dany thinks of how she is being sold to a stranger. Illyrio and Viserys enter; Viserys is uncertain of whether she is too young for the khal (thirteen), but Illyrio reassures him. On the carriage ride to Drogo’s manse, Viserys plots how he will overthrow his enemies with the Drogo’s khalasar (army), while Illyrio encourages him with talk of how he has the support of the peasantry in the Seven Kingdoms. Dany is suspicious of Illyrio’s sincerity, but Viserys eats it up. At the manse, he is announced as a king and Dany as the princess of Dragonstone, and once inside Dany realizes fearfully that she is the only woman there. Her attention is caught by a guest Illyrio tells her is Ser Jorah Mormont, who was banished from the Seven Kingdoms for trafficking in slavery; Viserys comments he will want to talk with Mormont later. Illyrio then points out Drogo to Dany, and goes over to make introductions; Viserys points out how long Drogo’s braid is, indicating that he has never been defeated in battle. Terrified, Dany blurts that she doesn’t want to be his queen, which infuriates Viserys; he tells her she will do whatever is necessary to get him his army. Then he makes her smile as Khal Drogo approaches.

Commentary
There are generally two ways, in my experience, that works of speculative fiction tend to deal with the question of the status of women in the imaginary societies they set up. This is something that is a particular concern for epic fantasy, as it is more often than not set in approximations of historical periods in the real world which were, shall we say, not banner eras for women’s rights. Both approaches have their good points as well as their criticisms.

The first way is to bypass the problem by “fixing” it, i.e. rejiggering the fictional society so that the problem doesn’t exist (or barely exists) in the first place. (A few authors, like Robert Jordan, take this approach to its logical extreme, by flipping the situation around so that the shoe is on the other foot entirely.) This approach can be praise-worthy in that its point is often to show how societies in which women are held in equal esteem with men are both viable and preferable to those which do not. However, “fixing” the problem of sexism also runs the risk of being seen as an attempt to silence or sidestep the issue, rather than correct it.

Martin, by contrast, has clearly decided to go the second way.

[Visery’s] fingers brushed lightly over her budding breasts and tightened on a nipple. “You will not fail me tonight. If you do, it will go hard for you. You don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” His fingers twisted her, the pinch cruelly hard through the rough fabric of her tunic. “Do you?” he repeated.

And

“With Khal Drogo’s army, that is how we go home. And if you must wed him and bed him for that, you will.” He smiled at her. “I’d let his whole khalasar fuck you if need be, sweet sister, all forty thousand men, and their horses too if that was what it took to get my army.”

Yeah.

Martin’s approach—which is to say, more or less shoving the reader’s face directly into just how deeply shitty life could be for a woman in any remotely historically accurate representation of a medieval-ish society—is very effective in terms of shock value… as long as that shock value is properly perceived. And as long as that’s what the author intends it to convey. The risk, obviously, is that of presenting the situation not as deplorable but as inevitable—or, at best, as deplorable and inevitable. And obviously, I would have a few issues with the latter interpretation.

The worst, of course, would be if it were being used solely for the shock/titillation factor and no other reason. My instinct is to say that’s not the case here, but I’ve been wrong before. I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here, because unlike with the Wheel of Time, I don’t really have a sense yet of Martin’s intentions regarding his female characters. Dany is practically the archetype of a victimized woman here, but generally speaking I’m only going to have a problem with that if that’s all she ever turns out to be. So time will tell, I suppose.

And then there’s this:

She had always assumed that she would wed Viserys when she came of age. For centuries the Targaryens had married brother to sister, since Aegon the Conqueror had taken his sisters to bride. The line must be kept pure, Viserys had told her a thousand times; theirs was the kingsblood, the golden blood of old Valyria, the blood of the dragon. Dragons did not mate with the beasts of the field, and Targaryens did not mingle their blood with that of lesser men.

Other than the heartfelt response of “ICK” I have here, I do have to note that this is also very historically accurate, judging by what I know of dynastic practices throughout history. The Egyptian pharaohs, for instance, were famous for their incest, and for much the same reasons, as long as you equate “blood of the dragon” to “blood of the gods.” So… there’s that, I guess. I’m not sure it makes anything better, though.

Also, I don’t know how much truth there is to the whole “incest causes congenital insanity and/or brain damage” trope, but Martin certainly seems to be running with it, seeing as Ned and Catelyn think of Dany and Viserys’s father as “Mad King Aerys,” and Viserys himself seems to be a bloody idiot in addition to all his other charming personality traits. Then again, it’s not like stupidity is reserved for victims of inbreeding only, and Dany is clearly plenty intelligent, so take it for what it’s worth.

It’s interesting that we’re getting this political drama from both sides of the conflict. At the moment I’m much more inclined to trust the Stark viewpoint on it, but Dany obviously has my strong sympathy as a character, so we’ll see how it all plays out.


And that’s it for now, kids! Enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you with the next installment on Friday!

113 comments
Matias Miguez
1. meiyas
Just what I need, comments for the chapters I have just finished reading!
Heidi Byrd
2. sweetlilflower
I haven't read these books in years, since the last book came out actually. I am enjoying your recap of the chapters and your commentary. However, as I have a severe addiction to books, I am unable to actually read the books with you because I am pathologically incapable of putting down a book (for real, ask my husband). I am enjoying getting to renew my friendships with these characters through your witty eyes. Good work!
Marcus W
2. toryx
One of the advantages of coming to ASoIaF after reading WoT is that you're somewhat prepared to deal with a large cast. GRRM does a good job of dealing with it, I think, by grouping characters largely by family as we see in the Catelyn chapter. Obviously, it's too early to tell how consistent he'll actually be with that.

As far as it goes, I was so enchanted with this chapter and the setting of it that I didn't even notice that it was an infodump. I was just absorbing the information like a sponge even as I felt like I was in a dark, quiet, forboding place. One of the other advantages I have as a reader of this series is that I've been to places like this, and love them wholeheartedly. Like the Starks, I'm a creature of the north (born in the desert and raised in the mountains) and as a historian old ways enchant me. The Godswood with its weirwood tree sounds beautiful and peaceful to me and I loved the description of it.

On my first read, the Daenerys chapter disturbed me a great deal. I had a hard time overcoming my distaste for the way Viserys treats his sister (okay, outright anger) and dealing with the sadness that's so profoundly draped over Dany in her POV. She's so young with her whole life before her and yet she's got nothing to look forward to. Harsh, man.

There tend to be two lines of opinion with the way Martin handles his character's reality. People either love it for its "grittiness" or despise it for its harshness. I love it, and the first time I saw a character in a Fantasy say "Fuck" I couldn't help but grinning. It goes back to my love of history. I know a lot of how things really were back in the Medieval Ages and experiencing that sort of surroundings in fantasy in a way that isn't all fun and games (aside from the wee trouble of some great Dark One) is thrilling to me.

Besides, I have a much easier time relating to characters who say "Fuck!" than those who tug on their braids.
Heidi Byrd
3. sweetlilflower
I haven't read these books in years, since the last book came out actually. I am enjoying your recap of the chapters and your commentary. However, as I have a severe addiction to books, I am unable to actually read the books with you because I am pathologically incapable of putting down a book (for real, ask my husband). I am enjoying getting to renew my friendships with these characters through your witty eyes. Good work!
Todd Tyrna
4. Ezramoon
Great post again!

The thing I like about Martin's infodumps and POVs is that it flows natuarally and doesn't feel forced on us, most times. We get a nice POV with the childrens' chapters, because they are somewhat clueless to what's going on, and we as the reader learn and experience things at the same time as them.

And for not having kids, Martin can sure put himself in their shoes...wow! I love reading those chapers.
Edgewalker
5. Edgewalker
Honestly, after Malazan, Martin's cast seems paltry,lol.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
When Ned was dismissing the Others as either fancifal or extinct to Catelyn, I had the same reaction as Leigh. I was also thinking, "Gee, maybe if you hadn't cut the guys head off so fast you could have learned a few things." And, while its clear he is heavily into the "Starks are tough" motif, expecting a three year old not to show any fear seems a bit extreme.
The Daenery's chapter was interesting to see the other side. Dany certainly has a likeable viewpoint and her brother, not so much.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Leigh - to help you orient yourself a bit in the midst of the info dump but without giving you all the associated details you get in upcoming chapters/books, you've just been handed most of leading families of Westeros. Stark - North; Lannister - West; Arryn - East. (You don't get South for a while.) Then there are three other former kingdoms, with the families leading two of them being Baratheon and Tully. (The final one also doesn't come up for a while.)

To continue the geographic orientation, Viserys and Dany are on a continent to the East (referred to by GRRM as Essos, but not named in the books as far as I can recall.)

Rob
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
"Also, I don’t know how much truth there is to the whole “incest causes congenital insanity and/or brain damage” trope, but Martin certainly seems to be running with it, seeing as Ned and Catelyn think of Dany and Viserys’s father as “Mad King Aerys,” and Viserys himself seems to be a bloody idiot in addition to all his other charming personality traits."

What you said.

Rob
R B
9. MasterAlThor
Leigh,

Thanks for the post. I need this as I haven't read these books in years. Keep it up.

I have a few questions. Why would you have a problem with Dany remaining a victim? It happens all the time in RL. I would say you just have to let that one go. (That is not a spoiler)

Another question is can you recommend a book where they deal with the question of equality for all, in a fantasy setting, that gets it right?

I ask that second question cause I would like to broaden my horizons. Hey the more books I read the smarter I will be right???

Dragon
James Whitehead
10. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
I like the Starks so far. I think Dany is far more perceptive than her brother, despite her being much younger. Viserys, on the other hand, is far too wrapped up in his revenge to see what his 'sweet sister' sees. He also seems as unstable as was implied his father was.

As to the whole inbreeding/madness issue, don't forget that hemophilia was an issue for the royal families of Europe in the 19th century due to 'close' breeding of relations. Whether or not madness occurs this way or can be passed on is another thing.

I did wonder if Viserys has a little King Lear in him. His usage of the dragon imagery reimnds me of this quote from King Lear: Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I just watched Ian Holm's Keing Lear recently & that line stuck with me.

Kato
David Goldfarb
11. David_Goldfarb
There's plenty of precedent in English history for calling people named "Edward", "Ned". "Eddard" is close enough.
Barrett Taylor
12. B_Taylor
Glad you're enjoying the books. I agree with those who are surprised/ amazed you can read it so slowly.

Commenting on "incest causes congenital insanity and/or brain damage" - well, yes and no. Incest increases the likelyhood of any given trait croping up, if it is present in the population (and, given mutations, it can enter the population after the start). So, if you have a family of geniuses, the offspring are more likely to be geniuses. Or crazy/stupid. Some of those traits are recesive, so you may not realize they are present, until a few generations down the line when you get Mad King Aerys. Actually, this is why dog breeders intentionally get incestuous matings, to promote desireable traits (this is also why mutts are often smarter, healthier, and longer lived).
Brian Vrolyk
13. vyskol
Hmm, in retrospect, it could be argued that my comment hinted (ever so faintly) at some spoilery. So I've edited it just to say I'm thoroughly enjoying your read-through and observations and can't wait to see your reactions when things really start to get interesting. :)
Tess Laird
14. thewindrose
After reading the third chapter, I am envisioning the Starks as very honorable(along with the first chapter'Bran' and Ned's speech about looking a man in the eye that you are going to kill).(Yes I know it is too early to take sides!:))
And holy hell - the Daenerys chapter. That is one messed up brother.

tempest™
Jim Burnell
15. JimBurnell
I can only think of one major female character in the whole series who is nothing but a pathetic victim, and it's her own lack of self-esteem that makes her so. Many struggle at the bonds of their society's opinion of women, but I found something to admire or respect in all of them, even the vicious ones. Hope that's generic enough not to be a spoiler.
someone else
16. Naraoia
Poor Dany. Any mention of the big house with the red door breaks my heart. *nods*

Also, yeah, I don't know if I realised it on previous reads, but this chapter does a good job showing her intelligence.

(Grr. Must. Resist. Dany spoilers.)

Re: infodumps, like someone else said, they rarely felt like that to me. I guess the trick is to tie each piece of worldbuilding to something in the here and now of the story. It also helps that I've always liked Martin's prose.

That said, I remember having serious difficulty keeping some of the less central characters straight.

JimBurnell@15, if it's the character I'm thinking of... well, I'll be very interested to see her future development.
Edgewalker
17. Hammerlock
The incest=drooling idiot trope has some basis in reality, but the short of it is this:
Brother/sister can have as many kids as they want, even go down the line like that and produce healthy, normal kids.
BUT: any genetic defects or recessive defects will remain in the shrunken genetic pool, and its all but inevitable to see them surface--any kids will have a much higher chance of having something wrong with them.
Also, the lack of genetic diversity means the line will be limited in beneficial mutations/resistances; keep at it for several generations and the product will probably be more prone to illness.

Incestual couplings are not automatic freakshow generators, but depending on your family's DNA your kids have a higher chance of losing the genetic lottery than the average baby.

Viserys' idiocy is likely more a product of upbringing and ego than being a genetic defect.
J Brons
18. Doc Bronze
Ha! It's been long enough since I read these books, that I had forgotten about the welcome contrast in these early chapters between the grim feudal Westeros setting and Dany's exotic and somewhat savage mediterranean/ancient world environment.
Edgewalker
19. andNowMyWatchBegins
Just finished a re-read of GoT in advance of the series. It doesn't lose anything except shock factor second time around. I envy you coming at this fresh and being able to share it piecemeal with us.

Never really considered the 'sexism' issue of fantasy so that is a great unique take I will get from this read although I'm pretty sure Martin manages to cover the entire spectrum of personalities in his female (and male) characters.

I look forward to your reaction to all the wonderful surprises ahead!
Edgewalker
20. hammerlock
...aaand 12-b_taylor beats me to it.

Dogs are a bit simpler genetically speaking, but do provide another good image: in the span of a few thousand years, man took the wolf and bred it into the chihuahua.

As an aside, that was probably the last straw and made god shake his head and go 'Good DAY sir' as he left; then again god made the platypus so its entirely possible this fit into his sense of humor--until man made the puggle, anyway.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
More orientation
"Seven Kingdoms" (used in relation to Ser Jorah) refers to Westeros

Pronounciation - think
- Tar - GAIR - eey - enz

- Da - NAIR - eez

- Vi - ZER - eez

- AIR - eez

"princess of Dragonstone" - Dragonstone is an actual island off the east coast of Westeros.

Sept/septon - the southern religion worships seven icons (details to come later).
Marcus W
22. toryx
Rob M @ 21:

Not to put a dampener on your fun or anything, but isn't most of this information provided along the way? I understand that it's a little tricky to get dumped into the world but the Seven Kingdoms, location of Dragonstone and Septon stuff is (as I recall) all part of the gradual education a reader gets as they go.
Edgewalker
23. Fredweena
I'm reading on my kindle, anyone have a good website for maps? I've tried to google, and the ones I get are so small as to be illegible.
Thanks!
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Thanks Leigh and good luck with your move!

Like Sweetlilflower@3, I haven't read these books since the last one came out. Now I'm embroiled in Malazan, which is an epic read/commitment, plus moving, so I'm not getting to read along either. I appreciate your recapping, Leigh, especially in light of the upcoming HBO mini-series!

GRRM has a great command of the language, and historical realism. I think you'll enjoy all the nuances he brings to the feminist issue, even when it's maddening, like this chapter. His characters are not one-dimensional.....except when they're stupid. I think stupid only has one dimension. ;-)
Edgewalker
25. Gentleman Farmer
Viserys is clearly set up to be the bad guy in the Daenerys chapter, and is clearly crazy and cruel.

However, one of the things I like about George R.R. Martin is that most of his characters have some explanation of why they are the way they are, and are capable of arousing some sympathy. In this case, since Viserys is 21-22 (8 years older than Dany) it's pretty hard to sympathize with him.

However, if he were talking this way, and to some lesser extent acting this way at the age of 14, it would be pretty understandable. He's a kid who saw his family slaughtered by the Usurper at age 8, lost his mother and father and everything he owns, and since about the age of 14 has been responsible for looking after himself and the 6 year old girl who (in his mind) was responsible for his mother's death.

So yes, he seems to be a paranoiac, and has a lot of rage towards his sister, but in some ways also comes across as a young kid who just wants to be able to put everything back the way it's supposed to be.

I think some of the "shock value" of what Viserys says here (particularly vis a vis the khalasar) is to establish the reader's sympathies with Dany rather than thinking too much about her older brother who has been begging and trying to look out for her for the last 8 years. Viserys is clearly intended to be on the "bad" side in this chapter, but is a good early illustration of the shades of grey that colour all of Martin's characters.
Rob Munnelly
26. RobMRobM
Toryx - I'm trying to give just a little bit to ground Leigh in the world without spoiling, thereby get even better re-read insights from her. Appreciate feedback if you believe I've crossed the line. I tried not to do so. One can get location of Dragonstone from reviewing the map in the books. Septon - kind of implied by the word that seven somethings are involved but, technically, yes this isn't made clear until later. Etc.

Rob
Peter Leventis
28. PL1
Leigh, FWIW the site Tower of the Hand adds chapter numbers to chapters, too, e.g. "3. Catelyn I" and "7. Catelyn II". Link to a chapter listing for aGoT. (clicking on that page leads to a slippery, spoilery slope)
Marcus W
29. toryx
Gentleman Farmer @ 25:

The shades of gray that are invested in the characters are probably my favorite aspect of the series. That goes a long way in distinguishing the characters as people to me rather than simple caricatures. And I agree with your assessment of Viserys as he's been described thus far.

RobM @ 26: I understand. And I really don't mean to criticize in any way as much as ask the question. It's just that I think, by and large, that it's the writer's job to paint the world in a way that will lead to understanding on the part of the reader. I always thought that Martin did a particularly good job at that and I'm curious to see if that's true for other first time readers here.

It's my concern that orientational material may deprive us of that, while also interfering with GRRM's method of dispensing the information.

Most likely, however, I'm just being overly protective so I'm just going to shut up about it now.
Sydo Zandstra
30. Fiddler
@Leigh:

As a note, “non-spoiler” really means “NON-spoiler.” “Hints of future events,” just so you know, also count as spoilers.

Leigh, I think you're being a bit naieve here. I suggest you
read the discussion in your announcement post again, where several
people gave reasonable arguments on why this is not going to work.

A lot of people have read the books, most of them a long time ago.
Basically, if plot stuff cannot be discussed beyond the 2 chapters you
do once a week, you will get either of these 2 situations:

1. Everybody plays nice.
This will get you comments like 'Great post Leigh! I love character X
too, and hate character Y (although I know better, because of what
happens in later books and will learn more about why they did what they did)'. In the end, the reply count is going to dry up fast, because you just cannot pretend reading these books for the first time, if you have done multiple reads (which is why I only read your commentary and mostly skim the replies, with this post from me being an exception).

2. There will be spoilers, posted by people who either realize they
are doing so, or don't realize this (since it was a long time since they
read the books). You can expect this is going to happen, especially
once the HBO show starts airing.

My bet is on #2.


Please don't get me wrong. I love reading your insights, but I just
don't think this series is lending itself for a first reader-only POV,
especially if there is discussion in it. The way Bill and Amanda do the
Malazan reread would have been better here. Especially since Amanda stated several times there that she doesn't mind spoilers, and has Bill to coach her expectations a little there.


Having said that, I hope for you that I'm wrong (wouldn't be the
first time), and in any case good luck with moving back home. :)


Edit: I'm aware there is a spoiler thread on the forums. I just don't think that is going to work in connection to these blogposts.
Edgewalker
32. BEKirby
@Leigh:

If you haven't already turned to the back of the books, there are lists of each of the houses there that might help you get a quicker handle on how the characters relate to each other. Best of all...no spoilers.
Edgewalker
33. Patrick C
RobM @21 - Are you sure on those pronunciations? A quick google couldn't fine me anything one way or the other, but I recall reading somewhere that they were:

Aerys: Ayr-iss
Daenerys - Day-nair-iss
Viserys - Viss-er-iss

With the "iss" at the end instead of the "eez."

That said, I'm willing to be proven wrong.
Edgewalker
34. Ministan
Don't worry too much about the "infodump" in chapter 3. Yes, the interrelationships between characters gets even more complicated, but Martin is very good at keeping the main plot focused on the POV characters (hence the chapters being named after them), and also at subtly "reminding" you of the things you need to know.

Another thing he does very, very well is name his characters. Almost every single character has a name that instantly reminds you of who they are and what they're like. Not since Tolkien has a writer done so good a job at this. It's almost as if their name is a musical theme!
someone else
35. Naraoia
Fredweena@23, and RobM: and within Westeros.org, be sure to look at this. It's huge, detailed, and a beautiful piece of art to boot.

BEKirby@30, are there really no spoilers in those lists? I have a vague recollection that I was grumpy at one of them at one point... Something like a character's name being in curly brackets when they were still alive where I was in the book. Though given that it's been years since I could be spoiled on these books, maybe that's just my brain making stuff up.
Will Drewen
36. VaeVictis45
Re: Incest and its effects on Viserys

My interpretation of Viserys was always that his temper was due to his upbringing more than any inherited traits. I don't know what he was like as a child (ie before Aerys was overthrown), but it seems to me that since then, he's had people waiting on him hand and foot and telling him how awesome he is and how he will one day reclaim Westeros.

His whole life has been one long series of frustrations and (at least in his interpretation) being denied what is rightfully his. People who killed his family and have tried to kill him now rule comfortably where his family had ruled for generations. On top of all that, he blames Dany for their mother's death.

I suppose the argument could be made that he just had rage issues to begin with, but I'd still say that it has less to do with incest and more to do with his upbringing. Just my 2 cents.

And as for a map, here is a really extremely detailed map of the whole ASOIAF world. It's huge, so you'll have to zoom in on it to be able to read it, but it shows every location mentioned in the books (as far as I know):
kevinhatch.com/media/kh-asoiaf.pdf
Edgewalker
37. Jim Hart
For what it's worth, Ned from Edward was a pretty common medieval English nickname, and the various kings Edward were often referred to as Ned, so the nicknaming is not totall made up.
Edgewalker
38. Patrick C
OK, a slightly longer google search turned up the official pronunciation guide for the HBO series (no spoilers unless you don't want to see what names will or will potentially be used in the show): http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/2011/2/11/official-pronunciation-guide-for-game-of-thrones.html
It looks like RobM and I were both right (and both wrong for any pessimists and negative Nancy's out there):

Aerys - AIR-eez
Daenerys - Duh-NAIR-iss
Viserys - Vi-SAIR-iss
Targaryen - Tar-GAIR-ee-in

I'm assuming from GRRM's involvment with the show, that these are the same as his pronunciations. Of course, I know what happens when you assume...
Will Drewen
39. VaeVictis45
Edit: Oops, double post
Jim Burnell
40. JimBurnell
Naraoia@16: There are actually 2 females with self-esteem problems, but the one to which I was referring has no redeeming qualities, and her name starts with L not B :)
Marcus W
41. toryx
On Pronunciation: I'm pretty sure that "rys" are pronounced eez. It's been a long time since I've actually talked to GRRM about his characters but if you look around you can find interviews with him pronouncing a number of them. Catelyn and Dany in particular I always got wrong -- in the former Cat is pronounced as the feline followed by lynn and DAN is the emphasis in DAN-ee (as opposed to my perceived Kate-lynn and Day-nee respectively).
At least, that's how GRRM tends to say them.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
@38. I did mine by ear from listening to George in on screen in the HBO promos - glad you found the official ones.

@37. I know at least two Edwards who are called Ned.

@35 - agree no assurance that appendices are spoiler free. Caution is warranted.

Fid - I'm not as pessimistic as you that spoiler free can work in this context but it poses challenges (see my back and forth with Toryx above). Our goal can be to make sure all understand the key points that are raised in a particular chapter or preceding chapters, without disclosing the future events that make clear the true extent of their importance. But I'd still prefer the middle ground in the BSC Review/Gestalt Mash initial read/re-read - that posts are marked up front as spoilered or spoiler free, spoiler space is added where needed and then the post proceeds. Thus, in reading, a spoiler warning should be heeded by those who want to remain pure of heart.

Rob (or Robb as the case may be).
someone else
43. Naraoia
JimBurnell@40 OK, I got that totally wrong then XD
Kat Blom
44. pro_star
Leigh, I must say, I'm surprised that the Danerys chapter didn't create multiple headdesking or book throwing. I believe the day after I read this chapter I stomped up to my boss and said "Please tell me Viserys dies a horrible horrible death!!" For some reason (hmm, I wonder why!) I just...from the beginning, had such a strong dislike of him as a character. GRRM wrote it well...

and to hamemrlock@20 - I read your post and had that image of Gene Wilder - Good DAY Sir! (not sure if that was your intent, but you did make me giggle on this miserable dreary wintery friday!)
Edgewalker
45. Spain
Don´t worry about the infodump. It all gets pretty clear in little time. But I recommend to have a map close by. As for Dan, she is a real woman, no doubt about it, you will see.
Tom Feltes
46. tomf
Heh. The discussion on character name pronunciations reminded me of a video of GRRM taking some questions after a reading where he was asked the same question. So to get the scoop on how to pronounce the character names, here it is from the author himself (starting at about the 2:21 mark):
http://www.youtube.com/embed/DOEO27SZAtw
Not sure if there are spoilers before or after this bit, so you might want to proceed with caution.
Genevieve Williams
47. welltemperedwriter
MasteralThor@9: I can't speak for Leigh, but the issue I'd have with it is that there'd be no story then, at least not for Daenerys. If she starts a victim and stays a victim, well, that kind of story does little other than depress me. I'd at least want to see her struggling to change her circumstances, and how she might do that is an intriguing question since she begins from an effectively powerless position.

I initially found Daenerys's story interesting because it really captures the dynamic of an abusive relationship. Viserys is rotten and she knows he's rotten, but he's all she has. And, as Gentleman Farmer points out @ 25, he's been responsible for keeping them alive for years. Does this excuse his treatment of her? Of course it doesn't. But it makes this relationship more complex, and the complexity of the relationships is one of the things I really like about aSoIaF. Somebody was remarking on the last post that the series has no clear good guys and bad guys (except for the Others, I guess, but they're pretty clearly zombies, which raises the question of who's responsible for making them so). Whether you consider this a selling point depends on how you like your fiction; personally, it's a plus.
Joshua Fields
48. Archimedes
Leigh... great recap (as usual). I read somewhere that you don't pay attention to maps. I've only really done a good job paying attention to maps once and that's because I was almost forced to do so in WoT. Since we are all discussing having the maps close at hand, does anyone have any tips? I'm usually a "bust thru and figure it out later" type of reader. (Go ahead and judge)
Otherwise, I'm trying to read along with you as this is my first read of Martin as well!
Justin Epstein
49. RedFlag
@Leigh

It’s interesting that we’re getting this political drama from both sides of the conflict

I liked this aspect too. We've spent some time with the Starks, gotten a general idea how they are doing after their side won, and now we get to see how things are with the losing team. If we assume that Mad King Aerys is anything like Viserys, then it's understandable why his subjects/nobels would have rebelled. But at the same time it is easy to sympathize with Dany and to see that she has been screwed over life, and not because of anything she has done. Just like in real life, not everyone one the losing side deserves to lose.

Regarding the infodump, the beginning chapters do introduce a lot at once. One of my favorite things as the books go on is getting mini-infodumps where we find out little bits and pieces of events that happened years or decades ago. It's like Martin started us off in the middle of the story, so we have one narrative which moves forward in time and tells us what happens next, and then a second narrative moving backwards in time telling us what happened before. It can be just as rewarding to find out what happened to a character years ago as it is to hear what they are doing now.
Genevieve Williams
50. welltemperedwriter
@RedFlag: that's another thing that I really like about this series as well, the strong sense not only of this world's history, but how that history affects characters in the present. As you go on you get to see how the same event affected different people, and that can give you great insight into the characters and their motivations.
Rob Munnelly
51. RobMRobM
@47 "...except for the Others, I guess, but they're pretty clearly zombies...."

Actually, no, based on info in the Prologue.

The Others are the Others - some type of creature that brings cold temperatures with them somehow and fights effectively with swords made of ice. Among other powers apparently possessed by Others (based in the Prologue) is the ability to take dead bodies of humans and turn them into undead killer zombies. So, two distinct creatures: Others; and the once-human zombies created by the Others. At this point, we don't know how the Others came to be the Others.
Genevieve Williams
52. welltemperedwriter
Ah yes, RobMRobM, you are right. Thanks for the correction. I haven't read these books in several years and had forgotten to which entity the term "Other" actually applied. Thought my memory was better than this, though!

If I recall correctly (as we see, by no means a certainty!), I had a theory that the Others were basically some sort of cold-climate-thriving species using the onset of winter as a chance to expand their resource base. Which is a pretty dry theory considering how creepy they are, I guess!
Maiane Bakroeva
53. Isilel
KatoCrossesTheCourtyard @10:

Hemophilia has nothing to do with inbreeding, it is a spontaneous mutation that is dominant in men (because it is positioned on the X chromosome of which men have only one).
It wouldn't have made a whit of difference if Victoria wasn't related to her husband at all or was a farmwife - she was a carrier, which meant that statistically half of her sons would get it and half of her daughters would be carriers in their own turn.

As to psychic diseases, well, schizophrenia, for instance, has a strong hereditary component, even without inbreeding.

Anyway, I never felt that Viserys is crazy in the clinical sense here - he is just weak and frustrated, IMHO.

Yes, the memories. These chapters never felt as an info-dump for me, but then, I was devouring AGOT at a much quicker pace. I guess that at 2 chapters per week it may feel that way.
janele janele
54. krq
@RobMRobM:

Please stop "helping". I am very sensitive to spoilers and you spoiled a lot of things for me in the first re-read. I had no idea that "++++++++" meant "SPOILERS COMING UP; READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!" last week.

Now I have to do a search for "RobMRobM" to see if spoilers are around.
James Whitehead
55. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@53Isilel, thanks for the clarification. I do think, however, that Viserys is more than just weak and frustrated.

Kato
Alice Arneson
56. Wetlandernw
toryx @2 - I was just absorbing the information like a sponge even as I felt like I was in a dark, quiet, forboding place. Can't help noticing the similarity of the mushroom analogy here....

JimBurnell @15 & @40 - It's still a spoiler; it refers to things upcoming and quantifies at least one. If it hasn't happened yet, don't mention it here.

Fiddler @30 - While it's difficult in the first few posts, one would think that after a month or so there should be some things which would create a discussion without needing spoilers. The big questions are: Will people stay with it long enough to get there? and Will people be able to stop showing off how much they know?

As an example, the vast majority of the (so far) 55 comments on this thread have been spoiler free, and there has already been opportunity to discuss issues and characters. And it's only the second post.

(Side note for those here who know me and might actually care... (skip if you don't know me or don't care!) This post has clearly confirmed for me that I will never willingly read this series. Not sure if I'll continue with the read-along or not; probably depends on how bored I am.)
Tricia Irish
57. Tektonica
FWIW, I haven't seen Rob mention anything that wasn't already mentioned or hinted at in the text. He is being very careful. In fact, he's one of the BIG proponents of no spoilers. Read between the lines.

I do indeed hope that people will stick around long enough that we can reflect back on chapters and have more indepth discussion. Right now it's hard to say anything except "nice post", or agree, or point out hints that shouldn't be missed that were made by the author. There's quite a bit of meat to be devoured here.
B H
58. Greyhawk
Wet@56 - I have read both WOT ad ASoIF. Both are enjoyable, although overall I prefer Martin's series. It is a harder read, both because of the prose itself and because of the "realist" approach Martin has adopted (Erikson's Malazan series takes it further in some ways and adds in a more explicit concept of magic and adds a crazy sense of histocrical scale). Personally I think that makes for a more engrossing story with characters who are more real and relatable as opposed to caricatures. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to stop and take a breath after Jordan has another female character fold her arms under her breasts, tug on her braid, declare a man to be woolheaded, etc. Some think it was Jordan making a point about the role of gender in society, I think it was annoying and took away from the story as it took me out of the story. That being said I read the series for the story itself and have found it enjoyable enough to want to see how it ends.

I have read your posts in WOT and know that you are a careful and very thoughtful reader (especially regarding the relationships between and among characters and their various motivations) and because of that, I think that GRRMs' series will actually appeal to you. However, I found your bored comment to be offputting and mildly insulting. I can understand if as a matter of personal taste the realist approach to fantasy is not your thing, but to state on this forum that the only way you will only continue reading is if you are bored enough--well, my response is, please don't bother. If you want to give a different fantasy series a chance becase of the good things almost everyone who reads it has to say about it then great--just don't act or comment like it is some favor to the bloggosphere.
Alice Arneson
59. Wetlandernw
Off topic, really...

Greyhawk - No insult was intended to those here; I simply don't really think that reading along with a series only by recap is terribly likely to be interesting as a way of passing time. So... if I'm bored (meaning, too lazy to go do something else, which would obviously be my own fault) I will mostly check in for the comments. As I said, my note was intended for "those who know me and might actually care" - in other words, those with whom I've had lengthy discussion of this (and other) series, and have expressed some interest in persuading me to try this one.

My reasons for refusing to read GRRM are, of course, my own. I will share only one of them here: I cannot find that scenes of rape, torture or abuse are in any way entertaining to me. Complexity of world-building and skillful wordsmithing are great, but when the events told are too distasteful, I am unable to enjoy the whole story. I make no judgement about those who find them less distasteful than I; we all have our issues and priorities. In fact, I realize that a large part of my dislike is that I have a far more visual and retentive memory than most people; the better an author is able to convey the horrors of such a scene, the more clearly I see it and the more persistently I remember it. I find that real life has enough challenges of its own, without filling my mind with profoundly negative images such as some of those Leigh quoted. If his admirers are to be believed (and I see no reason to doubt the word of my friends from the WoT reread), Martin is quite able to make his fantasy world all too real in the imagination. Combine that with his taste for "gritty" (what a euphemism that is!) language and interactions, and it's not a good fit. For me.

Obviously, your mileage varies. I'm sure you'll enjoy the discussion here, and I'm equally sure no one will miss my presence in it. (After all, the only things I've said so far have been the verbal version of kicking people in the shins for posting spoilers. Who needs that every week?)
stefan warsink
60. grubber
love it!
I just started a few days ahead of you leigh, and because I'm at home with a broken foot and a lot of free time, I've powered through the first 2 books already :)
I'll probably lurk here mostly, just as in the WoT-threads, but the effort is very much appreciated!

keep up the good work
Peter Stone
61. Peter1742
Everybody,

You have to be really careful to avoid spoilers here. When I first read the prologue, I believed that the Others were zombies. In fact, I just reread the prologue, and from the prologue, I don't think it's entirely clear whether they are or not. It will become clear the next time we see the Others (and no, I don't believe the fact that they reappear is a spoiler).

I don't think there's any harm done in this case, but GRRM is at times a very subtle writer, and there will be other cases like this. For example, several times we see people who we've seen before, going under a different name. If you are reading closely, you can recognize them by their description or mannerisms, but most readers don't. Please don't give these away. They're still spoilers, even if they can be deduced from the text we've already read.
Edgewalker
62. cheem
Regarding Catelyn:

One of the things I recall about when I first read aGoT (almost 15 years ago) was that Catelyn was one of the more polarizing figures in the circles that I hung out with (mostly teenagers, heh). I never quite understood why people felt so strongly about Cat back then, but upon rereading, I figure it's down to the infodumps in Cat's chapters.

Unlike many other infodumps, they tend to be dumps of information pertaining to recent history (you know, stuff within the last generation). Some people find it tedious to read through pages of reflection on this or that event. But more importantly, the infodumps are from Cat's perspective and a lot of teenagers don't really relate to a character like Cat very well. She's "older" and a mother to boot.

Rereading aGoT now, I wonder whether Cat is as polarizing among the general public. Having no children of my own, I still don't really relate to Cat's perspective as a mother (and, let's face it, motherhood plays a much larger role in aSoIaF than in most other fantasy series) but I'm more sympathetic to her at least.
Rob Munnelly
63. RobMRobM
ksg - I'm trying really hard not to spoil and don't believe I have. Please point to specific posts of mine that raise your concerns and identify the points where you believe I have crossed the line.

Couple of points from the chapters, now that I have the books in front of me. Ned: "Where are the children"? Cat to herself: "He would always ask me that." Nice character point re Ned.

Saying that Rickon needs to face his fears re the direwolves at age 3. Yes, 3 year olds have to face their fears re giant wolves and 7 year olds have to watch executions and not look away. The Starks, they be reallly bad.

Hold for future reference the family members noted here - Ned's brother Ben at the Wall; Cat's Uncle Brynden with the Arryns.

Note again the direwolf with antler in throat reference that raises dread in Cat.

For all of Viserys' talk about dragons not mating with lesser folk, note that their older brother Rheagar, married Elia of Dorne.

Note Illyrio's deft handling of Viserys in his anger. Clever guy.

EDIT - Also, in reference to Leigh's desire to keep track of the religions of ASOIF, note Illyrio's invocation to the "Lord of Light."

Rob
Edgewalker
64. lemonjenny
About the pronounciations...

I think there is confusion because Roy Dotrice (who reads the audiobooks) pronounces it different than both the narrator of the 4th book AND the HBO "official pronounciation".

Roy Dotrice pronounces it "eez", and HBO "iss". Drives me nuts, honestly!
lawrence henderson
65. justinius23
small point, but i don't think i've ever HATED any character as much and as quickly as viserys.

i'd love to punch him in the back of the head :P
Theresa Sumrall
66. smaller
On the Ned for Edward bit:

The reason I read once (on the Internets, so it must be true), is that Ned as a diminutive for Edward results from the familiar address of "mine Edward". With that you get "mine Ed" and thence "Ned". I can figure that "mine Eddard" might follow the same little linguistic path.
Jonathan Levy
67. JonathanLevy
30. Fiddler

I agree with every word you've said. The current policy will have all the difficulties that reviewing New Spring without spoilers for TGS and TOM would have. That said, we're all going to play along with it.

Re: William to Bill
If "William" is pronounced "Villiam" then the distance to "Bill" is not that great. The Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1086) has "William" written with two Vs at the beginning. This can clearly be seen in several places, once where the W is actually split into two Vs, and also towards the end of the tapestry, where the letters are written in alternating colors, and each V gets its own color.

Look for "V Vilelm" on the left part: http://hastings1066.com/bayeux26.shtml

Look under 'hic est' on the right part:
http://hastings1066.com/bayeux32.shtml

Hopefully the links will survive the spam filter.
Edgewalker
68. Innbranna
I'm halfway through my first read ofASOIAF now, and the first chapters are still fresh enough in my mind that I remember how confused I was by all the information, while at the same time being sufficiently immersed in the story and the atmosphere that I didn't really care about not understanding it all. I'm really enjoying following your read and comparing notes.

How writers treat their female cast is always something of a benchmark for me, and I remember being very impressed by the way GRRM chooses his POV characters. When I saw Catelyn introduced in chapter 3 (the second main character to be introduced!) as a POV character – a character which in almost any other fantasy series would be relegated to the status of a necessary but uninteresting wife-and-mother-charicature lurking around in the background – that's when I knew I was going to love this series.
Edgewalker
69. Passenger
Nice post. Good to read it just before a GoT comes to screen.

About brain damage and incest: consanguinity increases the chance that your children will have a genetic transmitted disease, some of which may cause mental retardation.
Rob Munnelly
70. RobMRobM
And, of course, it's always fun to quote from the Blog of Ice and Fire:

Catelyn
is Eddard's wife, who used to live in a nice warm castle in the South
where there were happy girly gardens. Instead, she married into a
household where it snows during the summer and her backyard is straight
out of Pan's Labyrinth. More
Stark badassery: when Catelyn talks about how their three year old is
fearful of his new wolf pet, and Eddard responds "then he must learn to
face his fears." Apparently, the Starks are training Rickon to be
Batman. Arya and Sansa are Eddard's daughters, and even though Jon
mentioned they existed in the Bran chapter, I was still half expecting
Martin to tell me in true Chuck Norris fact fashion that the Starks have
no daughters, only sons.

We find out that the Other sighting is
kind of a big deal, as they have never been seen for 8,000 years*. It
could be a "those who see them are already dead" kind of deal, but Gared
got away just fine, and could have told the story. Maybe nobody
believed him. As for the rest of the chapter, I had a hard time focusing because there were simply too many names being thrown around. We learn that an old Lord who saved Eddard's life is dead, and his widow is Catelyn's sister. Also, King Robert is coming and he's bringing his Lannister in-laws, who are cowardly and come from the south (read: wussiness^2).

*
8,000 years? Really? Right now we're on year 2009 and we have the
Internet and space shuttles while poor King Robert travels by covered
wagon.
____________________

I was terribly confused at the
beginning of the next chapter. My first thought was that Dany was a
Lannister, since she was described as a princess. Instead, she and her
brother are far away in never never land, a place where it's okay to
grab your underaged sister's boob and refer to yourself as a dragon.
Viserys has decided, in his Dr. Evil-esque plot to conquer the world, to
not marry his sister, instead
choosing to sell her off to a guy who may or may not have a taste for
"boys, horses, and sheep". Dany is predictably terrified when meeting
this Khal Drogo, who I assume looks exactly like the Rock in The Scorpion King.
Can you smell what the Khal is cooking? Statutory rape of your
13-year-old wife! Viserys wants his army though, and has no problems
letting between one and forty thousand guys use his sister.
Congratulations Martin, three chapters in and I already see why your
series can only be made on HBO.

PS - Magister Illyrio has one of
the best gangster (or rapper) names ever, and he's already in the
business of human trafficking.

+++++++++

Enjoy.

Rob
Tricia Irish
71. Tektonica
That was great Rob...thanks for posting that...good humor about serious subjects.

Khal Drogo as The Rock in the Scorpion King = Perfect! ;-)
Thomas Keith
72. insectoid
Time to weigh in, better late than never.

Catelyn: I've always liked Cat's chapters.

Daenerys: Excuse me a moment... ::headdesk:: ::headdesk:: Ow.

Let's see. When I first read AGoT, I was startled (but not unsurprised) at the language and the brutality, and the in-your-face-ness of it. (Trust me, Leigh, when I say this is only the tip of the iceberg where that is concerned!) Of course, I took a dislike to Viserys, and sympathized with Dany's situation, almost immediately.

Not much else to say.

justinius23 @65: I second that motion! ;)

Bzzz™.
Edgewalker
73. Elfy
I know other people have commented on this, but the Ned for Eddard never struck me as odd. Eddard is basically the Westeros equivalent of Edward, which is regularly shortened to Ned and Ted. No idea why the extra letter, but there you have it, how do you get Peg from Margaret or Kit from Christopher? I also think Ed doesn't suit the character, it's just too, for want of a better term, fratboy.
Rob Munnelly
74. RobMRobM
One interesting nugget from the books. Take a look at the noble families that Viserys names as having no love for King Robert that might join his return. One of the family names is one you've heard before....

Rob
Julian Augustus
75. Alisonwonderland
Cheem @62:
I never quite understood why people felt so strongly about Cat back then, but upon rereading, I figure it's down to the infodumps in Cat's chapters.

How much of the series have you read? If you have read all the published books so far, then I wonder why you would be surprised that Cat is a polarizing figure among fans. She is central to many of the major events that happen in the series. People see her actions as precipitating events that influence the course of history, for good or bad. So she will have her supporters and her detractors. That has nothing to do with her status as a mother. What a quaint notion!
Steven Halter
76. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@70: That's pretty much how I picture Khal Drogo also.
Edgewalker
77. Giro
I'm actually pretty disappointed with this read so far. While I understand that as a first time reader, she can't appreciate what will happen to characters, it feels like she's phoning it in - there's no real description of what her reaction to characters is. How does she feel about Catelyn? About Luwin? What Illyrio (sp)? Even Dany doesn't get more of a mention that the usual feminism rant (which already got old in WoT rereads btw)

Hopefully as the read proceeds, she actually appreciates the story more so that this isn't just a chore for her.
Abhinav
78. Bhat
Has the spoiler policy been abandoned? Cos I don't really see anyone following it!

and @77 agreed - but it doesn't take much of my time to read it (it's WAY shorter than some WoT posts!) so I can accept crappy quality and nonsense language like ICK and *HEADDESK*. Besides, like GRRM, Leigh isn't your bitch - she doesn't have to post these read/re-reads but she takes time out of whatever job she has to do so.

As for phoning it in - give her more time. She's just getting orientated, after all.
lawrence henderson
79. justinius23
well said, batt.

leigh has read, what four chapters? the fun is only starting!
Tricia Irish
80. Tektonica
Leigh is in the middle of a cross country move. Cut her some slack.
She'll get into it, I'm sure!

I haven't seen any spoilers?
Rob Munnelly
81. RobMRobM
Count me in as one who is enjoying the re-read. Way to go, Leigh.

@78 - I'm honestly puzzled by the repeateded references to spoilers in your post and in some earlier ones. We had a couple of blatant ones on the last post (such as someone talking about a scary character who doesn't show up until much later in the series) but we seem to have settled down on this one. If there are some specific posts that raise your concerns, point them out so we can discuss appropriate line drawing.

Rob
Rob Munnelly
82. RobMRobM
"I suppose that’s somewhat inevitable at this early stage, especially since it’s completely obvious already that Martin has an extreme case of MY TANGLED WEB OF CAST OF THOUSANDS, LET ME SHOW YOU IT. "

Leigh might find it amusing that GRRM posted a week or two ago that the audio reader for Book 3 in the series (Roy Dotrice) just made it into the Guiness Book of Records for the largest number of distinct characters voiced in a book on tape.

Rob
Edgewalker
83. Lsana
@ 75,

Plenty of other characters have critical roles in the historical events mentioned without becoming nearly so polarizing. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that her role as wife/mother is a big part of why she has.

Disclaimer: Catelyn is my favorite character, not only in SoIAF, but in all of fantasy, so I'm extremely biased in her favor. I'm not blind to her flaws, but all of them make sense within her character, and I will defend her to the death. So take my opinion for what it is worth.
James Whitehead
84. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@83Lsana, I've always liked Catelyn as well (although she isn't my favourite in all fantasy; I mean, she is going up against Winnie-the-Pooh, you know) & was shocked to met readers who didn't.

If she didn't have her flaws then she'd simply be some two-dimensionsal background character wife/mother; and it's obvious from this first chapter with her that she isn't. She's a match for Ned & he's glad for it.

We might want to 'table' a more detailed discussion of this topic for now however, no? ;-)

Kato
Valentin M
85. ValMar
I'll just pipe in quickly to say that I too have had a big sympathy with Catelyn from early on.
William Fettes
86. Wolfmage
Giro@ 77

"I'm actually pretty disappointed with this read so far. While I understand that as a first time reader, she can't appreciate what will happen to characters, it feels like she's phoning it in - there's no real description of what her reaction to characters is. How does she feel about Catelyn? About Luwin? What Illyrio (sp)? Even Dany doesn't get more of a mention that the usual feminism rant (which already got old in WoT rereads btw)Hopefully as the read proceeds, she actually appreciates the story more so that this isn't just a chore for her"



Excuse me, but what feminist rant? Leigh simply observed that Martin's approach to the depiction of women was an unflinching representation of their dependent status in the medieval-like world of Westeros. She didn't take offence at the confronting nature of these scenes or label them gratuitious perversity (though I personally think sometimes Martin does walk this line). She only stated that she is reserving her opinion about how this will work holistically, and expressed her hope that Dany's character gets to move beyond the current mode of victimisation. For a supposed rant, it was measured and mild as milkwater - after all, these are highly confronting scenes and they certainly deserve commentary.

I do agree that more general commentary about the characters would be welcome, but we're not even onto chapter 4 yet. Give her a chance to get a sense of them.
Tyler Durden
87. Balance
Just got my books today. Like a lot of you, I'm jumping over from the WOT reread. On my editions, on the very top of the back cover, is a quote of praise from Robert Jordan. I like that.

With this all being fresh with me its nice to follow along with a new reader. LB's style and humor has always apealed to me. Of course, I don't post much, but I know most of you black-names from other threads. It's nice to follow along with you too.

On the issue of spoilers, this post was much better than the previous one. I had to stop reading that one after a bit. The best part of reading a book is the first time. Like seeing a new movie before the internet was big. Granted its my full responsibility to decide which posts to read. But, for those of you who have read ahead, I think Rob has the right approach. From what I see he hasn't dropped spoilers. He simply *coalaits (spelling I know, Word is fudged, srry) available data that the author has given up to those points. His geography thing on this post really helped me. My idea of a spoiler is up at #15. Now I have a preconcieved notion of how all the women characters are gonna act. I like #13, better safe than sorry.

Anyways, here's a toast to some good posts. I like what I've read of GRRM so far. Lets see if he is worthy of RJ's praise.
Edgewalker
88. Galadriel
Ok, this is my first reread/read adventure. I am not, however, new to ASOIF (did I get that right?). I adore this series and have read it many times. I am realizing that I do not get all the same things that others do, and really like the insight to which I am being exposed. This of course is only the second post and I do get the feeling that the people who will stick it out will keep spoilers to the spoiler thread and let the rest of us enjoy Leigh's newbie perspective. I doubt that I will do much posting, given the fact that I just spent the last few minutes typing about a not important topic only to realize that it would be a bit of a spoiler. LOL Good thing I caught that. Well anyway, Leigh, I think you are doing a lovely job so far and I am enjoying the posts.
Galadriel Johnson
89. GaladrielJohnson
Oops, I wasn't logged in properly. So for future, and this is mostly for my benefit, I am #88 Galadriel. Sorry I am having a hard time manuvering around this website. Is there a way to add this blog to the things I am following?
Thanks for any suggestions.
tatiana deCarillion
90. decarillion
I grabbed the feed for this page but it apparently is the feed for the site? So I just bookmarked this page.

I always saw the word, 'visceral,' when I read the name, Viscerys, and that's what guided the pronunciation (in my head).

I did a little searching on the names, to see if there was any etymology available: I looked up Daen and Erys, specifically. I won't say what they mean--you can look them up--but I wonder if the meanings can be construed as a clue.

I do wish the re-read was moving a BIT faster, say double the number of chapters. That would cut down spoiling some, I think, because there would be more fodder for discussion, overall.
Benjamin Moldovan
91. benpmoldovan
I'm finding it even harder to put back down past ch 10 or so. I'd forgotten how good it was overall.

re: Catelyn: I don't exactly DISlike her, but her first POV was relatively low on the "interestingness" scale, aside from the background info provided. To me, anyway. Enough so that I wasn't terribly looking forward to more of her POVs. I didn't have real high expectations for them, but they got better. This is all just IMHO, YMMV. Her treatment of wasn't exactly endearing to me as the reader ....
Ben
Benjamin Moldovan
92. benpmoldovan
I can't spoil the series overall, but I could the first quarter of the book or so, and I do have vague recollections of some of the events I haven't gotten to yet.

It's pretty hard not to talk about these things. But I'm way too early into the series for the second time, to go to the spoiler thread. Oh well, what can ya do?
Benjamin Moldovan
93. benpmoldovan
Shoot. Ironically, considering my post @92, I had a teensy bit of a spoiler in 91, which I edited out.
Maura Gaffney
94. maura
Thank god for the company provided by this group or the "info dump" might have scared me off already. I never know what to do with chapters like "Catelyn". Try to absorb all the details as best I can or just let the data wash over me retaining just the "voice" and the "flavor" of the details. I assume that if a detail pops up in a future chapter that I didn't grasp this time around a veteran of the series will point it out.

For what it worth to Kindle readers, my version does contain two maps at the front of the book. Reading on an iPad where zooming is possible, these maps seem adequate so far.
Marcus W
95. toryx
Maura @ 94: The infodumps generally aren't a case of, "Remember this or you'll be confused for the rest of the novel!" GRRM has a particularly good way of handing this kind of thing that you'll see as you continue the read.
Tricia Irish
96. Tektonica
Sorry, I don't have time to read all these comments, so I don't know if this has been posted but....

Suvudu is having another cage match. Currently, it's vin vs. Jon Snow. If you are a true GRRM fan, get out and vote for Jon!
Carl Templeton
97. kenderthane
For those with an issue with the ages of some of the characters, in medieval ages, the legal age of marriage for girls was 12, and for boys 14. Most commoners married later than that, but the nobles averaged right around that age because of the advantages gained, both material and political. Also, in that time a marriage was not considered legal until consummated. Medieval law-makers tended to place the boundary between childhood and adulthood at puberty, coventionally 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Since the GRRM's world is very similar to that, then the ages are about right. We just have to remember that the maturity levels were different then now, which is to be expected when the average life expectancy was 30.

In the present, the boundary is much later, and in my opinion, is still shifting. Comparing the maturity level of an average 18 year old 20 years ago to an average 18 year old today and you will see a difference.

I'm enjoying seeing this "read through" as I'm a big fan of the realism of this series. I am looking forward to watching Leigh's reactions to the series as she progresses, and the discussions that will sprout up. As I'm currently re-reading the series myself in preparation for the next book coming out, being spoiler free shouldn't be an issue with me.
Corkryn Williams
98. MadCow21
Wow. A lot of Cat fans here.

I found her chapters to be the most difficult to enjoy, and in fact would usually decide to stop reading whenever her named cropped up at the top of a page....which I suppose isn't all bad considering I wouldn't have put the book down otherwise.
Edgewalker
99. Spiegel
Regarding the age of the characters, I wondered at the beginning if their year was longer than ours. But I don't think that explanation works for all the children.

shalter @6

When Ned was dismissing the Others as either fancifal or extinct to Catelyn, I had the same reaction as Leigh. I was also thinking, "Gee, maybe if you hadn't cut the guys head off so fast you could have learned a few things."

Could he really? I got the impression that Gared stayed away from the confrontation in the prologue, which enabled him to stay alive, but would make him a rather vague witness. I don't have the book in front of me, so I could be wrong. (This is aside from the matter of his story probably being similar to any number of legends that have always been told about the North).
Valentin M
100. ValMar
I said that I like/sympathize with Catelyn, not that I enjoyed reading her chapters. Frankly I don't know what I thought chapter by chapter. Just my overall opinion on her character.
Just to clarify my position since there seem to be 2 paralel opinions here- about Cat's character and the chapters.

And a hunny, without actually trying. I am awesome. Fact.
Alice Arneson
101. Wetlandernw
Tek - thanks, I'll go right over there and vote for Vin now... :p
Rob Munnelly
102. RobMRobM
Wet - LOL!! Well played. Except ... I believe the match closed at 5 p.m.

ValMar - or, as Karsa says in the Malazan books, "Witness!"

Maura - Maps are a good thing. Only Westeros, north and south, are included in the books. (Visyrs and Dany-land is off the map to the east.) It's worth it to try to read and get a sense of the places as they are mentioned. These chapters mentioned the Wall, Winterfell, Kings Landing, Dragonstone, Casterly Rock, Riverrun, Dorne .... And you'll get more next chapter. Take a look at the locations every once in a while. You'll get to know them better as the books proceed.

Ben - thanks for snipping.
Alice Arneson
103. Wetlandernw
RobM - I didn't actually even check; it was just too good to pass up. :)
Maiane Bakroeva
105. Isilel
Kenderthane @97:

Medieval law-makers tended to place the boundary between childhood and
adulthood at puberty, coventionally 12 for girls and 14 for boys.

Not wholly, IIRC. A noble who became orphaned before 18 or so still required a guardian in most countries (and usually once they got one, they couldn't ditch him until after 21) and of course knighthood was also only available after that age unless one was a crown prince.
And in praxis, people who really ruled and led troops before their twenties were rare. They provided the figureheads, sure, but most of the work was normally done by somebody else.

Among the artisans and merchants a 14-year-old would be still an apprentice, too and not enjoy the rights of wholly adult status.
Marcus W
106. toryx
RobM @ 104:


Vin won.


Dammit.
And now I've got to go support Perrin.
Benjamin Moldovan
107. benpmoldovan
Personally, I think these cage matches are just silly, more of a popularity contest than anything. I can understand voting for a character / series you like. I like John Snow, for example. But really, do people actually even consider the likelihood of someone winning a matchup? Vin, honestly… If she has her metals operative, especially if she has even a little atium, very few would have much of a chance at all. And come to think of it, she’s pretty bad even without metal.

Ben
Edgewalker
108. ksh1elds555
The boardgame "Game of Thrones" gives you a really good idea of the Westeros continent, and is actually really fun if anyone is interested. I don't recall ever seeing a map of the continent where Dany is currently located.
Gregg Sivyer
109. Destroyer
First time reader here via the WOT re-read.

Like some others, I found those tables of the Houses at the back of the book incredibly helpful for understanding the relationships between everyone. I was lost trying to remember everyone's relationship to everyone else.

Enjoying this so far. I haven't noticed any obvious spoilers in the comments, so long time readers must be doing something right.
P. D. Landis
110. Hirgon
Not leaving spoilers is going to be tough, but I think I'll manage by just not saying anything other than that I liked the post.

Leigh's comments on the portrayal of women in fantasy were thoughtful.
Edgewalker
111. Mouette
MY TANGLED WEB OF CAST OF THOUSANDS, LET ME SHOW YOU IT

It's been a day since I read this post, and I'm *still* cackling with mad joy over this line. You rock.
Edgewalker
112. JLD
Eddard is a form of Edward for which Ned is a common nickname.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment