Apr 8 2011 2:14pm

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

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 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 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!

1. chrisg1809
Thanks Leigh - it's fun to watch you discover the series and see your reactions - it's fun to know which of your guesses are right on the money and which couldn't be more wrong - you'll have to come back and look at your commentary once you're done with the existing books.

Thanks again
2. AnicanPyre
Thanks for the synopsis, Leigh! You've piqued my interest enough for me to finally go out and get a copy of "A Game of Thrones" for myself, to start on yet another fantasy epic.
Marcus W
3. toryx
When I first read about Ned not wanting to be the Hand and the way he pretty much had his options taken from him, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. By this point of the novel I'd already gotten a pretty good idea of what kinds of folks the Starks are, especially Ned. Politics is not a game for men who don't fuck around.

It's like the bloody Game of Houses from WoT all over again. I have no more patience for such things than Ned does and I know I'd not do well in such an environment.

Catelyn also kind of reminded me of an Aes Sedai. She knows the game much better and if it weren't for the unfortunate reality that women can't actually do anything in such a medieval structure (which GRRM really does a great job of showing the injustice of) I thought she'd probably be a better choice for the job.

On the other hand, I was boiling at her treatment of Jon, even though I understood where it was coming from.

I loved the relationship between Arya and Jon that's been portrayed here. Her love and admiration for him is like Bran's but tempered by the knowledge that they're both misfits. I also liked how astute Jon is and appreciated how quickly Arya soaked in that information. She's young but already I could sense she's got a lot of potential in her.

I couldn't help but laugh at the idea of Bran and the other little prince waddling around with all that padding. Cracked me up.
4. andNowMyWatchBegins
Interesting to see your reaction to Catelyn as (like a couple of others) she polarises opinion.

Cant wait to see your reactions as they come up and how you see the characters as they develop.
5. ftbleighjkjk
Wheeeee!!!!! These posts are fun. Your newbness is both refreshing and amuthing. Keep up the good (the great, really) work.
Ken Stankiewicz
6. Kenjs
Great tangent, I mean analysis. Thanks for starting this series Leigh. I have owned the book for about a year, but only got motivated to start so that I could follow along with you.
7. carolynh
It IS fun to see what Leigh thinks as a first time reader, since I've read and reread this series maybe not quite as many times as she's read WOT. I liked Arya from the moment I met her. How can you NOT like a girl who hates needlework or ever like the older sister who does everything so perfectly (and is pretty, to boot).

The idea of the little boys in all their padding whacking at each other with play swords is a great image. Robb IS a bit thin-skinned or naive or self-righteous or, well, something like that. That's the difference, I guess, between being the insider son and the outsider son.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
I thought it was interesting how in the second Catelyn chapter we again see how she isn't quite fitting into her role in the north. Her roooms are the warmest--she isn't part of the cold north.
Then, I'm with Leigh on not liking her attitude on Jon. Blaming the son for the father's mistake isn't a likeable part of her personality.
So, Catelyn's chapter was mostly negative coloring for her, for me.
On the other hand, I really (and immediately) liked Ary. She really seems like someone I could relate to.
Will Drewen
9. VaeVictis45
I always forget how early in the book it is that Jon is sent to the Wall. Hope he packs his thermal underwear!

Loved the tangent. Also, I wonder if Leigh will be doing a reread of her read in a few years.
Joshua Starr
10. JStarr
Also glad that nobody's spoiling this for Leigh, however "cryptically," like some were in previous posts. I like getting this new perspective, since I've gone over and over the information about these books in discussions for years now. This is a really fun vicarious experience.
Delos Rifenburgh
11. KaijuGamer
Leigh, I can't wait until you to the later books! You are very perceptive and I really enjoy your commentaries and speculations. I'm especially interested to see your view when the rest of the cast of characters is rounded out.

As for the women of aSoIaF, I so heartily agree with you. But I'm sure you be both pleasantly surprised and totally outraged by what's coming down the road. Enjoy! :-)
tatiana deCarillion
12. decarillion
Home Ec--you're right about it being a pretty useless class. I took it a LONG time ago (I'd bet I'm way older than you are, Leigh!), but I remember the learning how to sew bit. That was the only 'crafty' thing we were taught, though. The rest was about cooking/baking. Everyone liked taking it, though, because we got to eat what we made LOL In fairness, we also had to take woodshop, where I made a windvane shaped like a goose or a duck or something.

On to the book--I'm not sure I can empathize with Catelyn re: her treatment of Jon. Yes, he's an obvious sign that hubby cheated on you but-=-he was a child when he came to them, and I can't imagine 'hating' a child, especially a young one, that was brought to live in my home. Of course, Catelyn didn't have a say in the matter, I would imagine, so that would probably piss me off some, since I am a bit of a control freak :P

In other cultures--hell, even in ours in the US--it's been documented time and time again about the hatred that a step-parent has borne against the child of his/her predecessor, even to the point of abusing/killing said child. (Not a spoiler, just a fact of RL) Sad, really...
13. Tapley
While overall I like Catelyn, I was more bothered by her treatment of Jon than I was by the fact that Ned had cheated. I'm definitely not a fan of adultery in general, and certainly not the whole "men do it, just deal" theory, but given that Ned hadn't married Catelyn for love in the first place is, I think, relevant. I am more sympathetic to someone succumbing to outside attractions if they are in an arranged marriage, and Ned's indiscretion happened in the early days of their marriage, possibly before true affection and respect had had a chance to grow.
Alice Arneson
14. Wetlandernw
toryx @3 ...especially Ned. Politics is not a game for men who don't fuck around.

Ironic choice of words, given Leigh's comments on adultery... (Which are oh, so true, btw.)

Leigh - on that sewing thing... when you're taller than women are "supposed to be" the ability to make your own clothes comes in pretty handy! (Well, really, if you're any other shape than what the fashion industry considers "normal" the same is true.) Sewing can be a good skill; designing is convenient too. Then again, my dad taught me about mechanics & electronics at the same time my mom taught me about sewing & cooking, so... I was a lucky one.

Tapley @13 - Whether someone married for love or politics, the effects of adultery are no less real. You may be more "sympathetic" to Ned's behavior because he wasn't in love with his wife at that point, but the long-term effect on the kid still reek, and the effect on the wife isn't much better.
15. Shard
Is it permissable to post theories?
Brian Vrolyk
16. vyskol
"Clever Lysa, for that matter. I look forward to meeting her."

lol, I look forward to you meeting her as well. ;)
Genevieve Williams
17. welltemperedwriter
Actually, to continue that digression...I don't necessarily wish I'd taken home ec in high school, but I do actually wish I had learned to sew, and more about cooking, when I was younger. I don't know a French seam from...uh, another kind of seam, I guess, but it'd be nice to be able to sew a button back on or take in a pair of pants. And I didn't really start learning to cook until a year or so ago. (My husband is teaching me. HE learned from his mom.)

Yes, I can pay someone else to do it, just like I pay someone else to fix my car even though I took auto shop in high school. But knowing the basics means I CAN do it myself if I need to, and talk intelligently with whoever I'm paying to do it for me.

I also think home economics should include things like budgeting and finance, I mean it's right there in the name of the class for god's sake.


It always bugged me, too, that Catelyn basically blamed Jon for his existence. I kind of get why--it's a very human thing to do, and one thing Martin is really good at is making his characters feel very real--but it does suck, and predisposed me to not like her and tend to think poorly of her almost from her first chapter.
Francesco Paonessa
18. ErrantKnave
I agree with chrisg1809 @1. It's so much fun to see which theories are right and wrong. (And oh so wrong.) Heehee. Loving this read-through.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
Quick thoughts
- loved the badass side of Cat - just after fooling around with husband, gets up buck naked in front of the Maester, shocking both of them.
- Cat's comment about wanted more kids seems strange until you realize she's only in her early to mid-30s (as is Ned). Kids aren't the only ones young in this tale.
- Love the continuous head rumpling. Jon rumples Ghost, Ben rumples Jon, Jon rumples Arya. Touching.
- Jon's comment about equality of Baratheon and Lannister arms on Joff is perceptive as usual - remarkable bit of chutzpah when you think about it.

J Brons
20. Doc Bronze
Wetlandernw: How would you feel if you were forced encouraged to marry for political reasons... oh, and you stand a good chance of dying in battle tomorrow, and tonight you can be with someone you actually do love for the last time?

Catelyn is an excellent and perceptive POV character with very informative internal monologue, but they way she puts her own offspring ahead of absolutely everything else makes me loathe the character. Reading between the lines, her primary reason to encourage Ned to accept his new job is to further the future careers of her kids.
21. trench
Its so wierd, I have in my adult life actually lamented that I never took a home ec class, sure i took shop and can intelligently discuss cubic displacement and make a lamp, but I still can't cook to save my life. Im not trying to knock Liegh's rant, its true and all, but I have an oven and I never use it.

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

you have no idea, yet.
Marcus W
22. toryx
Shard @ 15:

This is not the place to post theories. Those go in the spoiler thread. You'll find the link above in Leigh's introduction to this post.
23. Gentleman Farmer
I liked how the different characters perceive things as shown in these chapters.

Sansa, Septa Mordane and Catelyn see the positions people hold and make assumptions about them accordingly, without seeing the actual person. (e.g. Septa Mordane's praise for Myrcella's stitching; Sansa mooning over Joffrey and Catelyn reminding Ned that Robert is not a friend, but a king).

Ned, Jon and Arya see the people behind the positions, albeit sometimes to the detriment of recognizing the power inherent in the positions held (e.g. Ned not thinking how the king would take a slight, since it's just Robert; Arya's opinion of Myrcella's stitching; Jon's opinion of Joffrey).

So far, these perceptions seem to be extreme to one side or the other, and (as Leigh noted) will be interesting to see how they play out in the Game of Thrones.

It will also be of interest to note which characters are most observent of the reality of people and a situation (e.g. Tyrion's comments about dwarfs and illegitimate children) and which characters look through their memories or see what they expect to see (e.g. Ned trying to juxtapose his memory of Robert with the man he sees today).

Lysa's lens is an apt analogy, not only to help us see, but to remember that one must look deep and closely to see the truth of a matter.

Once more, Martin does an excellent job of adapting the narrative for each of the various characters' perspectives, and informing us as much about the characters themselves as what they're looking at.
23. Qtip6
This is also my first time through these books, since the short story in Legends was far less hopeful and optimistic than I generally look for in fantasy. I was also turned off by Catelyn's treatment of Jon, moreso that she recognized the injustice but continued anyway. I am also curious about the specifics of Jon's conception, because Eddard seems far too honorable a man to succomb to the weaknesses of the flesh.
James Whitehead
24. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@20Doc Bronze, mothers are like that. They put their children ahead of everyone else's well-being, including their one. That said, Cat was quite perceptive when she advised Ned to take the job of King's Hand when he doesn't want to.

Defying Robert on this quite possibly would've caused the end of the Stark family right then & there.

@22toryx, if Shard is a newbie like Leigh is, I would think this would be the place to discuss theories. If not, then the spoiler thread is the best place.

25. peachy
Boy, it's tough to comment without spoiling. Er, um. How about so - Robb is, I think, very much in the straightforward Stark mold. Give him a problem that can be solved with a sharp sword and plenty of courage, and the kid will do fine. Ask him to manuevre in a snake-pit like King's Landing... well, maybe not so much. If there's a difference between Ned and Robb, it's that Ned is all too aware of this issue, whereas Robb may not be yet.

The key, I think, is in the geography - the Northerners have the luxury of being isolated, not just from the rest of the world but even from each other, whereas the southern families and kingdoms are jammed in tight together (especially through the arc Highgarden/Casterly Rock/Riverrun/King's Landing.) When your normal problems involve vile weather, wild animals and the occasional raid by wildlings over the Wall, there's not much need for subtlety, yes? And subtlety is one of those things that probably doesn't develop when it's not required. (Jon has it more than his siblings, but then he's not a Stark in the way they are, so he does require it.)
Marcus W
26. toryx
Wetlandernw @ 14:

I know. I selected my words with great care. :)

I also agree with Leigh's feelings about Catelyn's sense of betrayal at the discovery that Ned had a bastard. I was quite offended myself at the reading of this chapter my first time through. There I was, thinking that Ned is noble and honorable and all that and it turns out that he went and sired a bastard so soon after committing himself to Catelyn! It was very disappointing to me.

On the other hand, as an outsider growing up, I sympathized with Jon more and I couldn't quite forgive Catelyn punishing him for Ned's mistake.

RobM @ 19: I'm glad you brought up how young Ned and Catelyn are. It's one of those things that's easily missed but very true. One of the gritty realities of this series is that most everyone is forced to grow up very quickly. Ned would have been very young when he suddenly found himself betrothed.
Alice Arneson
27. Wetlandernw
Doc @20 - Well, I have a fairly high regard for vows, marital or otherwise. If you've made a promise, you should keep it whether it's convenient or not. If you can't keep it, you should probably not have made it in the first place, but once made...

I suppose it depends on what your (or in this case, their) culture includes in those vows, but in most cultures marriage vows include sexual fidelity. I know nothing about Jon's mother, and whether Ned was in love with her or not, but if he was, it was his responsibility to acknowledge that with his vows to Catelyn, he set aside any possible romantic or sexual relationship with any other woman. Since he didn't, you get... Jon, who is despised by his father's wife and denied the privileges his half-siblings hold. Stinks to be Jon - and not one shred of his position is his own fault. The fault belongs solely to the father who wouldn't deny his "needs" desires when things got tough. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for him.

Still, I would think more highly of Catelyn if she took it out of her husband's hide instead of his son's.
Marcus W
28. toryx
Kato @ 24:
@22toryx, if Shard is a newbie like Leigh is, I would think this would be the place to discuss theories. If not, then the spoiler thread is the best place.

Good point. I was too busy heading off the possibilities of more spoilers that I hadn't considered that. I suspect it'll be very trying for old hand readers not to respond too much to theories but I think you're correct.

Edit to Add:

To those who are finding themselves having trouble responding without spoilers, a suggestion:

All of us were first hand readers ourselves once upon a time. Think back to the first time you read these chapters, ignoring everything else that follows, and post your thoughts as they might have been or as they were if you've got a good memory, like me. You can still discuss the events as they're occurring without referring to what follows after. It just takes a little caution, is all.
Eli Bishop
29. EliBishop
On the adultery/bastardy thing: I agree that Cat's antipathy to Jon is really misplaced anger toward Ned, but I think it's about something more specific than adultery.

Cat takes infidelity in certain circumstances for granted, because that's a conventional view in her culture; but that depends on rationalizing it as a temporary lapse that men can't avoid-- he was thinking with the wrong head, that's just how they are. The problem with Jon is that Ned brought him home and raised him as a son, which just is not done. That suggests that it wasn't a temporary lapse, it was something Ned felt deeply about, and he's in effect rubbing her nose in it every day.

And I think Cat can't put the resentment directly onto Ned because (a) the marriage is too important to her, and (b) she's perceptive and fair-minded enough to know that he's not actually an uncaring asshole, and that as weird and frustrating as his behavior is, there's something well-meaning behind it. She just isn't able or willing to extend that understanding to the kid; he's outside of the circle of people she feels she can reasonably be asked to be loyal to and make allowances for.
Antoni Ivanov
30. tonka
It takes more than a little caution, you cannot change what you know and your thoughts are always influenced by your own knowledge no matter what you do.

I find these reads quite interesting. Following Leigh's first perception of the events reminds of my own and it reflects on it with my current understanding after reading all four books. I am rereading the chapters with Leigh - 2 chapters every week. Slowly, savouring savoring every page, every nuance.

But I would not mind if it was a bit faster. I remember the beginning of WoT Reread - this crawls in comparison. I will have to wait whole 2 weeks to see Leigh's reaction to one of the most significant and interesting chapter in the series. But anyway surely it will be worth the wait - the things I do for love. And I love this reread, don't I.
Vincent Lane
31. Aegnor no new post for two weeks? But I read ahead to the next chapter and I soooo want to talk about it. Had to put the book down for a while after that.
32. ksh1elds555
@Peachy 25- Very perceptive and I'm glad you brought that up. It really seems to characterize the Stark's (I think of Stark like stark, bare, cold = north). The Lannisters and Baratheons have had to do that political dance and maneouvering all their lives, while the Starks have been relatively free to rule their lands according to conscience, not political games. Also re: Jon the way Martin writes about his mysterious mother, with no details, it does seem like Ned is deliberately hiding a secret about his parentage that will be very important later. I don't know this since I haven't read on, but that is what I sense from the situation so far.
33. Shadow
I think that Martin does an excellent job with his characters and I find his characters to have very human emotions.

I understand why Catelyn feels upset at Ned and at Jon, but at the same time they have been married for like 15+ years (I can't remember exactly how long) and by all accounts this was his only indiscretion throughout their marriange.

The thing I find sad is that you already realize that this is a thorn in their marriage that is will never go away. She will never fully get over this and there is nothing that Ned can do to make it up to her.

Her bitterness of the past is preventing her from fulling appreciating the many ways that Ned is amazing.

I really appreciate how Martin has handled this relationship because almost immediately you have a good understanding of Ned and Catelyn's relationship.
34. BMike
A clarification on Ned and Cat's marriage - all this information is in the chapter, but it might be helpful to spell it out.

Cat had been betrothed to Ned's older brother, who was killed. Enter Ned, who suddenly has to marry Cat in his brother's place. They have the wedding, and in a very short time - just a few days is my impression - Ned is off to war. A year or so later, he comes back with baby Jon in tow. Make of this what you will.

With regards to character's ages, I find that I always have to mentally subtract a number of years from how I picture characters. Ned, Cat, and Robert all feel like they should be in their 40s. At some point in the series, a minor character comments that his father is an old man, who can't lead his men in battle anymore - the man described as "past 40."
35. ksh1elds555
Oh yes, now I remember what I was going to say earlier-

3 of us played Game of Thrones the other night. I played the Starks like I normally do... I like to sit up there and consolidate power and supply and build ships. The Lannisters and Baratheons beat each other up, we had a few Wildling attacks where they lost forces. Then I swooped down to the Eyrie and took that and then Seagard and won the next round. If I had the Greyjoy's on my flank though, I would not have been able to do that. But that was the first time my passive-aggressive strategy worked. Now if they only would out with a Malazan game.... I would love to try that one!
Rob Munnelly
36. RobMRobM
More stuff -
- got my goodies from my industry contact. Three GoT tee shirts (title plus a sword), the GoT Board Game (wonder if same as @35?) and the advance review copy of Episode 1 (which apparently covers events through the end of the next chapter). So proud.
- Love the Ned/Cat byplay. Cat uses logic to explain why Ned has to take the offer to become Hand; and Ned uses logic to explain why Bran has to go with him. Point/Counterpoint - bam.
- After reading the Arya chapter, pretty clear to all Cat's comment that it is past time to send Arya for some training in Southron courtly manners is a significant understatement. Good luck with that, eh?
- BMike has the timing right. Ned and Cat married just long enough to father Robb, then he goes off to war - and comes home a year or so later with Jon.
- "Again, Jon wins points with me for recognizing Arya as a kindred spirit, misfit to misfit." Not just kindred spirits - they both are the only ones who look like Starks as opposed to Tullys.
- Enjoyed Arya getting the humor of trying to mix Stark and Tully arms (a wolf with a fish in it mouth). She didn't pick up on the similar potential humor in a lion and deer on the same arms (a la Joff).
- Not to spoil anything but.... things are gonna happen in the next two chapters. Fair warning that it is a good idea to find a comfortable place away from sharp objects before settling in if it is your first read through.

Dawn Boyall
37. deebee
It`s not just Ned who has to marry Catelyn, she doesn`t seem to have had any say in it either.
I wonder if part of Cat`s problem with Jon is that he doesn`t just represent her husband`s past indiscretion. As long as Ned refuses to tell her (or anyone else) how he came to be conceived, it implies that to Ned this is not something in the past, he has a current desire to protect the mother of his child. It`s not just his past indiscretion which is the problem but his continuing refusal to explain even to her what happened.
Rob Munnelly
38. RobMRobM
And, to keep up the tradition, here is the relevant post from the Blog of Ice and Fire:


Catelyn has her own personal spa in Winterfell's hot springs, but Eddard rarely joins her because he is the personification of winter, right down to his business-like performance in bed. We learn a bit about Lord Stark''s history and why he's so serious: it's hard to smile when your sister, father, and brother are all dead before their time. Ned sounds like he really needs a vacation. He needs to enjoy his southern hottie wife and badass children, especially after a long day's work of executing deserters and refraining from laughing.Via secret letter, we learn that Queen Lannister murdered Jon Arryn. I had to look up who this guy was in the appendix. Lord Arryn was the former King's Hand, and thus his death is why King Bob came north to offer the position to Ned. To get to the bottom of the murder, Ned decides to accept the King's offer. Eddard also decrees that Catelyn must stay in the north. How many Jon and Jane Snows will he bring back with him this time? His affair makes sense though, because someone who is so intense and emotionless all the time must be prone to sudden and major lapses in discipline. Without this flaw, I would have predicted that Martin would soon reveal that Eddard Stark is actually a robot. Ned decides to take his daughters to court, while Robb and Bran stay at Winterfell with Catelyn and Jon Snow goes north to fight Zombie Waymar.Lastly, we learn that Catelyn hates Jon Snow, and it's hard to blame her. Jon is a constant symbol of her husband's unfaithfulness, he's got an annoying matyr complex, and he makes friends with ugly Lannisters while getting drunk at Winterfell social events.Arya's chapter is easily my favorite so far. Her personality is perceptive and hilarious, delivering several quality zingers throughout the chapter. She has some serious Ashlee Simpson-esque jealousy going on, but only because she is too young to see that her skills in math and horseback riding are far more awesome than Sansa's dancing, singing, and sewing. She named her wolf appropriately (Sansa named a wolf "Lady", what the hell), she treats Jon with respect, and she wants to go fight with the boys. I can't think of anything I dislike about her.We also learn that Prince Joffrey predictably sucks at swordfighting and that he and his men are huge assholes. This doesn't bode well for Sansa, but it could be worse -- at least he isn't a gigantic Khal three times her age or an over-the-hill King who is still in love with a dead girl. Ned and Catelyn seem to have the only healthy, loving relationship, and even theirs is characterized by duty and adultery.
39. Benni
I'm not sure I've ever counted how many times I've needed to repair my car and how many times I've had to repair an article of clothing, but I thought I should defend the usefulness of sewing! Maybe not necessarily a French seam, but at least hand sewing.

And Catelyn's hatred for Jon is my main qualm with her character.
40. FredWilliamson
Getting real sick of every post being centered on "what are the women's rights issues here?"

Bout ready to stop reading.
41. BMike
@ FredWilliamson 40 - You might as well stop now. If you haven't look at Leigh's Wheel of Time posts, you should know that women's rights are a big thing in her posts. They're an appropriate thing to discuss with aSoIaF anyway, since GRRM does such a good and careful job with the women in the story.

And of course, Leigh makes very clear that she's going to write about what she finds interesting, and if you don't like it, that's ok, but don't expect her to change because you don't like reading her stuff. Most of us enjoy it.
Eli Bishop
42. EliBishop
@Fred 40: Have you read the book? The chapters Leigh is talking about happen to be about characters for whom gender roles are a really big deal and a major determinant of their life circumstances. I don't know how anyone could discuss the things Daenerys, Catelyn, and Arya are dealing with without talking about that.
Peter Leventis
43. PL1
While I agree that Cat's treatment of Jon isn't great, look at things "in world". Highborn bastards are normally sent away to be raised, rather than stay in their father's home. So while Cat may be able to live with Ned's bastard being around somewhere, the fact that he is in her house in unusual -- it would seem to someone in Westeros that they are having the bastard rubbed in their noses, as it were. And of course it's a bigger deal to the reader because we've been shown a Jon who is a very likeable character.

Anyway, the first 8 introductory chapters have been quite great to relive through Leigh's eyes. Of course, I went and read the whole book... I've left the book out so that I can reread the two chapters right before Leigh's posts.
Eli Bishop
45. EliBishop
RobMRobM @36: I haven't been one of the ones who thought the vague hints in your posts were spoilery, but I do think the last item on your list here is... maybe not spoilery, but pretty obnoxious. If a big upsetting thing is about to happen that I don't have a clue about, and someone tells me "Get ready for a big upsetting thing to happen any second now!", even if they don't tell me what it is, then they've somewhat prevented me from experiencing the thing with fresh eyes and I'm likely to be pretty annoyed by that. It can't possibly help Leigh-- all it does is amuse you. (That is, unless you honestly thought she needed protection so as not to be too freaked out by an event in a book; but that would be an incredibly patronizing assumption, so I doubt you meant it seriously.)

I mean, if I go on a haunted house ride, part of my expectation is that some things are going to jump out at me and go Boo, and I'll be surprised and go Eek. If someone's riding with me who's been there before, I don't really want them to keep going "Oh wow, this next part, right around this corner... here it comes... get ready! You're gonna be so scared!!"
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
My apologies, Eli. Edited - The upcoming chapters are very good and I'm perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic.
47. BMike
Hodor @ 44 -

Tricia Irish
48. Tektonica
Re: Catelyn:
.....but they way she puts her own offspring ahead of absolutely everything else makes me loathe the character. Reading between the lines, her primary reason to encourage Ned to accept his new job is to further the future careers of her kids.

This is her job. (Although I abhor the way she treats Jon.) If it weren't for that, I'd really like her, I think, but the furthering of her line (and Ned's) is why she's there!

Home Ec. Ug. As a confirmed tomboy, it was torture. I was forced to make a really ugly skirt that was gathered at the waist which made even a very thin 13 year old look immense....and was completely uncool. I put the zipper in the wrong side and was told to rip it out, at which point I destroyed the skirt. Big blotch on that report card. My mother was an incredible seamstress, so why would I learn? Me of little patience. I'd so much rather read a book!

And yes...a little economics and basic household management would serve ALL kids well.
someone else
49. Naraoia
Leigh, I hear you on Home Ec. I had to suffer through
something similar. Needless to say, my stitches are still as crooked as
Arya's XD Oh well, at least we sometimes got to handle saws as
well as needles. Sometimes. More often, we'd cook something and the boys would come and eat it at the end of the class.


Your newbness is both refreshing and amuthing.

That was on purpose, wasn't it? ^_^


lol, I look forward to you meeting her as well. ;)

That makes three of us :) Then again, I look forward to Leigh's reaction to pretty much everything and everyone in this series :P

Gentleman Farmer@23:

I liked how the different characters perceive things as shown in these chapters.
Sansa, Septa Mordane and Catelyn see the positions people hold and make assumptions about them accordingly, without seeing the actual person. (e.g. Septa Mordane's praise for Myrcella's stitching; Sansa mooning over Joffrey and Catelyn reminding Ned that Robert is not a friend, but a king).

I wouldn't put Catelyn's warning in the same bag as the rest. She's being a lot more sober than Ned in this case, which is the opposite of what the septa and Sansa did. I'd say Ned is actually the one blinded by his expectations.


RobM @ 19: I'm glad you brought up how young Ned and Catelyn are. It's one of those things that's easily missed but very true. One of the gritty realities of this series is that most everyone is forced to grow up very quickly. Ned would have been very young when he suddenly found himself betrothed.

I think they're around 35 at this point, so given that Jon is what, 14, Ned would've been twentyish when all that marrying and knocking-up happened. Not that young.


Then I swooped down to the Eyrie and took that...

No, that can't be. The Eyrie is impregnable! :P


Getting real sick of every post being centered on "what are the women's rights issues here?"Bout ready to stop reading.

If that makes you "sick", man, then I've got to say I won't miss you much.
51. Shard
I did home ec and shop class and I'm a dude, they made us all do both. We didn't have to make clothes but we did bake and sew some stuff. I got to say it is a valuble skill to know how to cook ones own food and sew on missing buttons.

It's so frustrating not being able to go into real detail here. Suffice to say all the Starks are my favs. Hate the lannisters with a burning passion and I think I am going to stop there now.
52. RegCPA5963
Its fun to see the books of this series through someone else's eyes, as they read it for the first time. I have to agree with you about Arya. I read tons of books and to this day Arya Stark is in my top 5 favorite characters!
Genevieve Williams
53. welltemperedwriter
It's been a long time since I read the books, and I'm actually not re-reading them right now because I'm in the middle of some other books (Kelly Link's Monsters at the moment). It's interesting what I remember and don't remember.

Re: the gender a woman and a fantasy reader, one of the things I look at is how a fantasy novel handles women characters and whether they seem like real people. I think Martin does a good job here; I may not particularly like or identify with Catelyn (or Sansa, for that matter, and don't get me started on Cersei) but I do find their actions and motivations believable, and that matters to me.

I think that EliBishop and PL1 have both nailed it regarding Catelyn's treatment of Jon, and that goes to what I said above about understanding where she's coming from even though I don't particularly like her or how she behaves in this respect. Out of sight, out of mind, and I'm sure that were I in her position I'd have a much easier time dealing with the fact of Jon Snow's existence if he weren't in front of me every day, even though I as a reader like his character.

I also agree with Naraoia about Catelyn's perception being in a different class than Sansa's or Septa Mordane's. Whatever else one might say of her, Catelyn understands the politics of the situation in a way that Ned does not. Sansa and the Septa speak from perspectives of naivete. Catelyn speaks from a perspective of experience, in a way that only someone who's spent time swimming in political currents can.
Yuliana Todorova
54. megera23
I only skimmed over the comments, so I may have missed something, but most people seem to forget the other side of Catelyn. Most people only look at the "woman" Catelyn and not at the "mother" Catelyn. Bastards (and even real siblings) have been a cause for controversy more often than not, when it comes to royal families, or just to heritage. And even if Jon may not be a threat to her children, his children may be to Catelyn's grandchildren. And mothers have proven time and time again that they'd go to some extremes to protect their children and what they believe belongs to them.
55. W. Frey
EliBishop@45:I mean, if I go on a haunted house ride, part of my expectation is that some things are going to jump out at me and go Boo, and I'll be surprised and go Eek. If someone's riding with me who's been there before, I don't really want them to keep going "Oh wow, this next part, right around this corner... here it comes... get ready! You're gonna be so scared!!"

Yeah ... "oooh oooh I can't tell you what it is, but the next ________ chapter has something really { awesome / shocking / thought-provoking / sad / upsetting / heart-warming } in it!" may not exactly be a spoiler. But I do find it obnoxious. It's like you're asking for the first-time reader to look back and say "Oh wow, RobbS was so totally right! It really was { whatever he said }! I'm so glad I didn't have a { desk to head / blunt object to bump my head on when I jerked in surprise / sharp object to stab something with / fountain to throw the book into } handy! Thanks so much for the heads-up!"

If you'd just wait until after Leigh posts about whatever event you're so excited about, and then post your thoughts on it, it would seem so much more about the book and so much less about you. And, I mean, you're a GRRM fan, right? Waiting 2 weeks should be nothing.

Hmmmmph. For not actually having that much to say, I sure spent a lot of words saying it. Hodor!
Sorcha O
56. sushisushi
Just sticking my nose in here for a bit (I'm not rereading at the moment, but have ended up following the comments out of interest). The thing about Catelyn and Ned that I didn't quite grasp my first time around is that King's Landing is at least 1500 miles away from Winterfell, if not 2000, and I get the feeling that the job of King's Hand is a pretty permanent post. I think that, in one way, she has real reason to let Ned refuse to go so far away, because she would effectively probably never see him again (particularly if things hot up politically), but she's smart enough to see that they would be in worse danger if he refuses, as pointed out above. Doesn't mean she can't be hurt that he's away off south (I imagine it's something like Leigh's recent move from NY to New Orleans, but in a pre-industrial age), particularly as he's going to bring both her daughters and one younger son with him. I mean, she clearly sees the reasons for bringing the children of or heading for marriageable age south, so they can experience the court and meet prospective spouses, but I can totally understand not liking it one bit.She gets to keep the heir and the baby and the bastard, so there is a believeable chain of thought there for supporting the (almost adult) bastard being sent away somewhere where neither he nor his possible children can ever cause hers trouble. Medieval dynastic politics ftw (not).
Sara H
57. LadyBelaine

lol, I look forward to you meeting her as well. ;)

- Word. This comment made my day :)
Emmet O'Brien
58. EmmetAOBrien
Just been looking back at the first few chapters, and I was able to confirm that by this point in my first read I already had all the information that led me to an alternate Jon hypothesis, which seemed worth pointing out here in a thread full of people being disappointed with Ned.

BMike@34 has half of it: Cat had been betrothed to Ned's older brother, who was killed. Enter
Ned, who suddenly has to marry Cat in his brother's place. They have the
wedding, and in a very short time - just a few days is my impression -
Ned is off to war. A year or so later, he comes back with baby Jon in
tow. Make of this what you will.

We also know that during that year the sister Ned loves deeply dies, that he makes her a promise on her deathbed, and that Robert believes Rhaegar did something to her which makes him want to kill Rhaegar over and over again.

And everything we're shown about Ned and told about him, apart from Jon-related things, presents him as a deeply honourable person for whom breaking marital vows is seriously out of character, and for whom keeping a deathbed promise would be important even if it was hard on him and others.

I think that adds up to strongly suggest that what's going on with Jon is not what Catelyn thinks it is.

(I'm inclined to think that Ned remembering the intensity of the deathbed promise but not what it was is right on the edge of cheating.)
lawrence henderson
59. justinius23
not defending ned's actions in the slightest, but we certainly don't have the full story yet.

why DID he bring back jon and raise him in front of his (non)mother's eyes, who clearly can't stand the sight of him?
Philip Thomann
60. normalphil
Something that I am curious about is what would people's read on the situation be if it were to become clear that Ned had sired Jon first?
Tess Laird
61. thewindrose
I am a first time reader of this story, and I agree that the mystery around Jon's parentage may not be what a lot of peole are assuming(incuding Catelyn). I guess I will go to the spoiler thread to say what I am thinking as it would seem theorizing isn't happening on this thread yet(but I agree with where your thoughts are going.) I will probably find out my idea is like saying Olver is Gaidal Cain;)
Rob Munnelly
62. RobMRobM
Wind and others - looking forward to your spoiler thread posts. I'll take a look and respond if you want responses. Rob
Lisa Schensted
63. heylisarenee

having just started reading this as well, i can tell you that i'm all over the hate-cate train. good to know there's fodder out there for polarized opinions of her. the hubs keeps telling me not to hate on her, but w/e she's a B.

i am loving reading this for the first time with you, Leigh! i must admit i am a bit farther in the book...but not by much! i look forward to meeting Lysa as well.

and ps - Jon and Arya are TOTALLY my faves. Catelyn and Sansa can go suck an egg for all i care.
Bill Stusser
64. billiam
Let me start by saying that I started AGoT when this read was announced and found that I couldn't put it down. I am about half way through ACoK now.

There is so much I would like to talk about at this point, espeacially about Jon, but don't want to risk posting anything that might be a spoiler.

I am afraid of reading or posting in the spoiler thread yet since, like I said, I'm only in the second book and would like to avoid any spoilers for what I haven't read yet.

Guess I'll just have to wait until I finish all the books before I can jump into any discussion.

Love what I've read so far.
Janet Hopkins
65. JanDSedai
Like others, I started re-reading ASOIAF when Leigh started blogging about it. I'm trying to read slow, but the the book wouldn't let me.

But I must say, that this is a very un-natural way to read this! You just want to gallop head-long into the story, and find out the next thing. Instead of pondering the ramifications of of someone's actions or a statement, you just want to RAFO.

Although a little distance from the story can be a good thing sometimes. I don't know how many times I've been surprised by a plot twist, or a character revalation, just because I never took time to *think* about the story. But just because I didn't see it coming doesn't mean that it wasn't properly foreshadowed.

Also, I had forgotten how *fast* everything happens. I remembered whole chapters at Winterfell, but the King is already there, and the Starks are ready to ride out. Already the questions of who to trust (Robert the king or Robert the friend) are beginning to come into play. And the title of the story, A Game of Thrones, leads us to consider who is is playing and who is a player. Baratheon, Stark, and Lannister have been heard from so far...
Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
billiam - consider checking out the Tower of the Hand site. I believe the articles on relevant subjects can be tailored to disclose spoiloers only as far as the books read by the reader. So you can put your settings at GoT and dive in on some relevant questions with safety.

Agree that the spoiler forum here is dangerous - we've discussed matters close to the end of the series.

67. Tanatie
I'm doing a reread on my site as well...started with a chapter per day, but I had to slow down to one every other day or so. Just wanted to let you know I love reading about the reactions of the first time readers, thanks.

and I think no-one has spottet this little detail in your recap, Clegane is a last name, he is not a Lannister...doesn't really matter at this point but it might confuse you later if you mis-remember it...
68. Mighty Chin
This book and series is evil. My first time reading it made me nauseous. It is devastating!

Boy is it ever good.

Once I finish my current book I'm gonna tackle a re read.
someone else
69. Naraoia
Mighty Chin@68:

It only gets more devastating the more times you read it (this is my fourth read, I think). Somehow, knowing what's gonna happen makes it worse. (Well, it does for me.) And then you read on anyway, because it's written so damn well. Evil indeed. ^_^
70. D-MAC

Just a little fyi...If you loved this book, and would like to experience it in a different way...GET THE AUDIO BOOK!!! The unabridged dramatic reading by Roy Dotrice is unparalleled in the realm of audio book narration, and i'm one who knows audio books. He does such an amazing job at giving each character a distinct voice, and presents GRRM's story in such a compelling manner it BLEW...ME...AWAY! WOT's audio voice of Kramer/Reading? no comparison, not even close. Harry Potter's audio voice Jim Dale is an excellent narrator, but still has NOTHING on Dotrice. I got the first 3 books on cassette a few years ago, they are hard to find now, but i'm sure with the new HBO series, they'll re-master them on CD soon. The 4th book is available on CD, but because of scheduling conflicts another narrator did the 4th, and while he's good, it cannot compare to Roy Dotrice, but i've heard they've signed him up for the 5th book coming out this summer!
Rob Munnelly
71. RobMRobM
I just saw the full Episode 1 of the HBO series - got the disk from a cable industry contact (and will have to send it back to be destroyed - the individual number of the preview copy stays in the top right hand corner throughout the show). I won't spoil anything, other than to say that the set up heavy episode deviates in very substantial details from the book but remains true to the spirit. I'll give a few more spoileriffic details in the spoiler thread.

72. irkedsalesman
My take on the plight of females in aSoIaF is that Martin has kept to medieval gender conventions while worldbuilding. At least, that's how I always saw it.
Genevieve Williams
73. welltemperedwriter
EmmetAOBrien: I'm pretty sure I know what your theory is, because I happen to hold the same opinion. Seems a bit early in the game (so to speak) to discuss it, though.
Maiane Bakroeva
74. Isilel
DocBronze @20:

but they way she puts her own offspring ahead of absolutely everything else makes me loathe the character.

Isn't it what a parent is supposed to do? Also, it is not quite true in the case of Cat, IMHO.

Reading between the lines, her primary reason to encourage Ned to accept his new job is to further the future careers of her kids.

Which is how their world rolls, though. Good alliances are extremely important - they can be a matter of life and death, even. The only reason Ned won in the previous war was because his family had very strong alliances, for instance.
And Joff looks OK on paper - at least he isn't an old man who could have been Sansa's grandfather and of course he is son of Ned's friend, too. In addition, the kids would have time to get to know each other before the marriage takes place - which is also a boon that a lot of/most nobles don't have.

Toryx @26:

On the other hand, as an outsider growing up, I sympathized with Jon more and I couldn't quite forgive Catelyn punishing him for Ned's

That's not what is going on there, IMHO. Cat thinks right out in this chapter that she considers Jon to be a threat to her children's inheritance. I am pretty sure that the situation would have been very different if Jon had been a girl.

If we look at it without Jon-colored glasses, then:

Jon looks like Ned, while his true-born sons don't

Jon gets an extraordinary treatment, being raised as a true-born, going along with Ned and Robb to visit Stark bannermen and witness judgements, etc. - people are bound to wonder why and to think that maybe there is something about Jon that makes him equal to a true-born, a heir even, in Ned's eyes. That maybe he is the heir Ned would have wanted, rather than the ones he has.

Jon is accomplished at traditional nobleman's pursuits like fighting, hunting, etc. Well, luckily, Robb is his equal. But what if he wasn't? And as to younger boys, leave alone girls, Jon certainly looks superior to them.

Jon is nominally younger than Robb, but who can say, really? And all the secrecy is hardly helping his case, particularly since rumors tie him to Lady Ashara Dayne - a noblewoman whom Ned met before Cat. Who knows what kind of shenangians went on there? Ned is honorable, sure .... but even so there could be some complications re: previous understandings, etc.

And finally, bastards can be legitimized.

So, of course Cat is relieved when the notion of the Night Watch comes up - but even so she thinks that Jon would have a relative to look after him there. She is not indifferent to his well-being, she just can't deal with the threat he represents.

Wetlandernw @27:

Stinks to be Jon - and not one shred of his position is his own fault.

But it doesn't stink to be Jon - he just doesn't realise it. What is he miffed about? That he can't sit with the royal family, but must be with the squires - themselves youths of noble/gentle birth? That he can't spar with a crown prince?! That he can't be equal in status to his half-siblings, who belong to one of 7 most powerful families on the continent the size of South America?
For all that Arya is a true-born, she is in a worse situation - she can't openly do things she enjoys and will likely be traded to somebody in marriage for her House's advantage, with no to little say on her part.

Anknowledged bastards of powerful noblemen have it better than 95% of the population - certainly vastly better than true-born peasants. The father usually has them fostered somewhere where they can get gentle education and martial training and they become knights or equivalent.
Ironically, it is Ned's extraordinary treatment of Jon that causes most of Jon's problems.
75. summersong
If Ned didn't treat Jon generously, then he wouldn't be Ned. But the fact that Ned does treat Jon as he does his true-born sons would only reinforce to Catelyn that he is indeed a potential threat to her children's and grandchildren's claim to Winterfell. It's as though Ned is deliberately trying to rub Catelyn's nose in his adulterous affair, even though that wouldn't be his intention. But having said that, though, I feel that Catelyn's attitude is unfair, and would certainly be hurtful to Jon.

I also found Arya charming when I first read the books as well, definitely one of my early favourites.
76. JimmyJimmy
If there will be no ASOIAF read next friday and the series starts on the following monday, will this turn into a "re-watch-read" or is Leigh not going to watch the series?
Tess Laird
77. thewindrose
From Leigh's first post saying she was going to take on aSoIaF:
Q: Do you know that HBO is premiering an adaptation of the series on April 17?
A: Yes, I am aware. It looks pretty cool from what little I’ve seen.
Q: Do you plan to watch it?
A: Eventually, absolutely. As it airs… probably not. I’d like to, but without knowing how (or whether) the events of the show will outpace or differ from that of the original series, I’d rather wait and avoid the possibility of confusion and/or spoilers.

I am extrenely confident that there will be someone to blog about the HBO series though. So no worries:)

RobMRobM - I shall try to dip my feet into the spoiler comments, it will be a bit different then WoT where I may know a thing or two;)

Isilel - Thanks for the very concise view of Jon's standing, and how some of the others(teeheeOthers) see him. I agree and now I can return to my read...

Rob Munnelly
78. RobMRobM
Isilel - nice analysis. One question: "And all the secrecy is hardly helping his case, particularly since
rumors tie him to Lady Ashara Dayne - a noblewoman whom Ned met before
Cat. Who knows what kind of shenangians went on there?" Is there a text basis for that claim? I wasn't aware of that.

William Fettes
79. Wolfmage
Isilel @ 74

Those are some good points about Jon’s relatively privileged life. Compared to real lowborn commoners and women he has it really good, notwithstanding that it would be emotionally difficult growing up with Catelyn’s hostility and his status as an almost-but-not-quite Stark. Obviously that doesn’t justify infidelity in this context or any other, but it does locate his teenage angst within a much broader context of suffering, inquality and lack of social mobility.

Being unflinching about the grim realities of feudal life is one of those things Martin really does exceedingly well. So much fanstasy is IMO romantic, adolescent drivel stuck in a careful sanitised version of Sansa's imagination. So, it's nice to see a portrayal that doesn't flinch away from this, or merely uses a Chosen One-type trope to chop away at the eddifice of injustice, essentially rendering everyone else helpless pawns.
80. Lsana
It's also worth pointing out that Catelyn is not abusive towards Jon. What the text actually says here is that "She couldn't find it in herself to love him." It's not like she beats him or spends all her time screaming at him, she just isn't going to become his surrogate mother.

The second thing I wanted to say is that I think most people haven't thought through the connotations of "political marriage." The reason that Cat's father married her to Ned and subsequently gave Ned a large number of soldiers to fight his rebellion is because he wanted to see his grandson as Lord of Winterfell. Jon, as Isilel pointed out is a threat to that. Cat would be remiss in her duties if she DID treat Jon as one of her children and didn't try to enforce the difference in status between him and the others.
81. MickeyDee
@70 D-Mac
Absolutely, totally agree. For this genre at least (Stephen Briggs with some of the Discworld novels is equally sensational). I'm listening to the audio books whilst driving around during the day and then reading at night. One of my sons is doing the reverse - reading on the way to/from HS and listening to the audio books at night. Roy Dotrice is terrific. This is how audio books should be read.
William Fettes
82. Wolfmage
Yeah, I'm enjoying Roy Dotrice immensely. He's a gifted voice actor, and really captures the nuance of the Martin's clever dialogue and lavish descriptions. If I had one minor quibble it would be Arya's accent - it's a bit too pauper-ish. But that's small potatoes in such a sweeping achievement. There's also a couple of the pronunciations that don't quite mesh with how I say it in my head, but after a while that doesn't matter; I now pronounce almost everything from WoT the same way as Michael Kramer. :)

D-MAC @ 70

Not sure why anyone would waste their time with Jim Dale when Stephen Fry is the obvious choice if you’re going to listen to Harry Potter. IMO Dale is as an alternative for Americans put off by toffy English accents and "Philosopher's Stones", not the erudite denizens of
Rob Munnelly
83. RobMRobM
@74, 78. Isilel. I did some research on the online resources. Yes, Ned had met Ashara Dayne before his marriage to Cat. I won't spoil the details.
Rob Munnelly
84. RobMRobM
On the Cat v. Jon issue, a fair amount of historical info about past conflicts between true born and bastard born children is covered later in the books and in the prequel Dunk and Egg novellas, and would be well known to Cat.
Valentin M
85. ValMar
I'll just pop in to say that the first canon map of the Free Cities is out.
Edit: to remove a bit of text which could be spoilerific.
Tess Laird
86. thewindrose
RobMRobM - with your loose wording of Cat v Jon - it almost sounds like you want to start up another cage match. To bad at this moment we don't know a lot about the characters - we have maybe met or heard of in passing around 1/10 of the chareacters? (I am just guessing on that number.)
I have moved on to aCoK - it is hard to put these books down:)

Rob Munnelly
87. RobMRobM
Wind - reminder that Guiness Book of Records just gave an award to Ray Dotrice for most characters voiced in an audio book for Book 3 (Storm of Swords). So, yes, lots of characters to come. Don't want to even try to estimate how many.

Emmet O'Brien
88. EmmetAOBrien
welltemperedwriter@73: I don't think so. I was mildly surprised to realise how much that is set up this early on in the text, which prompted the original comment; that wasn't matching my memories of previous reads. (I've recently reread the first three, basically in response to the news of hard arrival date for Dance with Dragons; am holding off on Feast for Crows until I can read it and DwD as one thing.)

(I'm trying to talk about this within Leigh's expressed preferences on lack of spoilers; please let me know if I'm failing there.)
Daniel Holm
89. dholm
I have to admit, I cannot help but giggle at the idea of you writing your thoughts on reading ASoIaF for the first time, Leigh. I will start a reread myself soon to prepare for the new book, and reading your thoughts is very interesting to go along with it.

Thanks for taking the time!
Luis Refinetti
90. EdgardSF
When I read Catelyn's chapter I envisioned GRRM saying:

"Ok, now that I made you care about the Starks, let me split them apart and off we go with the story."

Didn't you?
Benjamin Moldovan
91. benpmoldovan
Emmett@58: That never occurred to me. Not directly. I did think that it seemed a bit odd and out of character that Ned would do such a dishonorable thing as break his wedding vows, even to a woman he hardly knew. He’s honorable to a fault. Thinking back to the sign of the wolf and the antler, I have a VERY bad feeling that it’s going to get him into DEEP bubba-sticky. (Perfect Strangers reference, FTW!)

Subconsciously (or semi-consciously) I’ve always wondered about that. I think you very well may be right. It certainly makes a heck of a lot more sense than the explanation we’ve been given to this point.

James Whitehead
92. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@82Wolfmage, my boys have read the HP series & love listening to the Fry version of the audio books. My one son feels that Fry's Dobby is so much better than Dales. ;-)

@90EdgardSF, that thought struck me as well. Just seems to be a not so subtle warning from Martin to us readers that things aren't going to go down as we think they should; especially for a SF series.

93. D-MAC
I hadn't thought about Arya's voice, but you are right. I think thats the challenge of creating so many unique voices. It took him awhile to settle on Tyrion's voice, and Lord Tywin, I think he finally settled on a "Churchill-esque" voice for Tywin.
Did not know there was a S.Frye narration of HP...I love Frye, got turned on to him from the Black Adder Series!! I will now seek it out. Thanks.
Sean Vivier
94. SeanVivier
Here's what I thought when I first read about Jon.

An honorable man thinks along these lines: I will always try to do the right thing. At the same time, I recognize that I am a fallible human being capable of error. I will make mistakes. When I do, I will live with the consequences of my choices and actions without complaint.

So I always saw Jon's upbringing as proof of Ned's honor. He made a life, and he was responsible for it. No matter what.
95. carolynh
SeanVivier: I totally agree with you about Ned's honor because of how he treated Jon. His real concern for Jon was proof to me that he was an honorable man.

All: When I read or reread this series, I always have to remind myself how young the characters are. I seem to automatically picture Jon as someone in his late teens, and it comes as a shock to realize he's only 14 instead. Robb seems a year or so younger than that to me, but still well older than his actual age. I always took their differing maturity levels to be the difference between the insider son and the outsider son. The outsider had to grow up faster, and the insider still has some childish illusions.

Even Ned and Catelyn are younger than I first pictured them, which would be in their early 40's. I remember my reaction when Cat first says she's still young enough to bear Ned another child, and I remember thinking that was probably more pipedream than reality, though it isn't. It's just that my perception of their ages was older than how they are intended.

Also, I am very excited about the upcoming HBO series. I actually subscribed to HBO just so I could see this show. I simply couldn't wait for the DVD.
P. D. Landis
96. Hirgon
Adultery sucks, and creates drama. Drama real life. But what good would a fantasy story be without drama? If not for adultery, the so-far awesome (and maybe futurely awesome, too, but who can tell) character that is Jon Snow never would've been born, and the story so far would basically suck.

...Wow. My intention was not to defend adultery. Let's go with adultery sucks, and authors using things that inherently suck as parts of great stories is awesome.

Your (Leigh's) rant about tomboys coupled with the observation that Jon Snow recognizes himself and Arya as kindred spirits actually made me chuckle, because my mind went down a parallel trail (to the tangent, that is) when I first read about Snow's situation.
97. Louis Theodore Tellman
Hey, all... I haven't actually read the series yet but am planning on it as soon as I get through the other many millions and a half things I need to get through (I'm getting that this is the kind of read you want to spend some quality time with), but I have been kinda cheating a bit and scanning the pre-re-read (entertaining as always, Leigh. I've been thoroughly enjoying the Wheel of Time really-re-read). I did, however, want to point out the lovely reference made on Chuck (the tv show) to this series in season 4, episode 20 (available on hulu). It's at just around 2 minutes in... :)
My only critique is that the reference was made to something that's already happened in the pre-re-read (meaning at the beginning of the book) and Chuck had the book open to what looked like the end of the book. Other than that, I got nothin' else to say but...

Christopher Everett
98. MidwestMedic
Yay! I am so glad you are reading this series. Since I am waiting for the next WoT book, I have been reading lots of random stories. Just recently, I randomly picked out Game of Thrones for my Kindle to download. After a couple days, the little bugger says I am 75% of the way through it. Then, I am on the TOR website today and see you just started reading it too. Yay! I'll do my best to keep up on your posts as they come out. I am just a tad ahead of you, or at least your posts. So, this is going to be great fun for me. Thank you for all your commentary! My favorite characters at this point are Ayra, Jon, Ned, & Bran (seriously, he gets better). I can't mention it yet (spoilers) but there are events in Bran's near future that remind me of a family member of mine and lend him some points. Oh, and given the starting point I think Dany could have a really interesting story long as she does't die. (stressful sigh)

Again, thank you for all your commentary. There are some chapters coming up that kinda bugged me and I am just waiting to hear that you say!! (big excited grin)
Dorothy Johnston
99. CloudMist
Is Tor re-organizing its website again? I haven't been able to get onto the spoiler pages for Game Of Thrones for 3-4 days.

Getting back on topic, I have to say that my opinion of Sansa has improved tremendously the further into the series I go.
Michael Maxwell
101. pike747
@52.RegCPA5963 It’s fun to see the books of this series through someone else's eyes, as they read it for the first time. I have to agree with you about Arya. I read tons of books and to this day Arya Stark is in my top 5 favorite characters! I just read AGoT for the first time and she jumped right onto my top 10 list immediately! And I don't even hate Sansa. @65.JanDSedai Like others, I started re-reading ASOIAF when Leigh started blogging about it. I'm trying to read slow, but the the book wouldn't let me. What you said! I devoured it in three days.

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