Fri
Apr 29 2011 2:10pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 6

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 5 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 10 (“Jon”) and 11 (“Daenerys”).

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

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 10: Jon

What Happens
Jon goes to see Bran, dreading confronting Catelyn, who has not left Bran’s side since the accident. Catelyn orders him to leave, and threatens to call the guards, but does not follow through when Jon refuses. Jon apologizes to Bran, weeping, and begs him not to die. Catelyn suddenly confesses aloud that she had prayed for Bran to stay with her, and now her prayers are answered. Jon tries to comfort her, which she rejects viciously. As he goes to leave, she stops him and tells him “It should have been you.”

Jon meets briefly with Robb, and lies to him that his mother was kind when Jon went to see Bran. Robb tells him Benjen is looking for him, but Jon tells him he has one more goodbye to make first. They exchange warm farewells.

Jon finds Arya repacking her trunk with help from her wolf Nymeria. Arya is ecstatic to see him, and Jon tells her he has a present for her: a sword made especially for her, slender but deadly sharp. Arya is delighted, but worries that Septa Mordane will take it away; Jon tells her she must keep it a secret, especially from Sansa, and find someone in King’s Landing to practice with. Arya is sad to see him go, but he cheers her by telling her the name of her new sword, a joke that delights them both: Needle.

Commentary
Okay, Jon is officially my favorite character in this series as of this moment, and possibly in my top ten for favorite characters ever. I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George, for reals.

You guys. YOU GUYS. He gave Arya a sword. That he had made special. For her. That is seriously the sweetest most awesome thing EVAR. I might possibly have little glistening anime hearts in my eyes right now. It’s kind of disturbing.

Trust me to get all girly and sigh-y over a sword, y’all. My priorities, let me show you them, eh? What can I say, I love me a nice shiny lethal weapon. I should probably be studied.

But seriously. A sword! Called Needle! For Arya! How perfect is that?

Perfect enough to almost make up for the scene before it, anyway. “Almost” being the operative word, because wow.

I think I saw it mentioned that Catelyn is one of the more polarizing characters in the series, and I can well believe it after this. Her behavior toward Jon was nothing short of despicable in its misguided cruelty, and certainly there is no other character we’ve met so far who deserves such treatment less than Jon Snow, in my opinion.

On the other hand…well. This is a woman who’s literally seen her child shattered before her, and who partially blames herself for it. Grief and guilt together, in such magnitude…I don’t think anyone operating under that burden could really be considered completely sane.

I know a little about grief; not anything near on this scale, perhaps, but enough to know that it does funny things to your brain. It’s almost like being drunk, in a very weird way, in how it can allow you to ignore socially-imposed inhibitions. People who are intensely grieving can say and do things that they would never in a million years say or do otherwise. And unfortunately the instinct to lash out, to try and make someone else feel as terrible as you do, can be very strong. It’s not right, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I guess the question, then, is whether you think that’s a good enough excuse in Catelyn’s case. I…kind of think it isn’t, but at the same time I hesitate to judge her for it, in the same way I hesitate to judge someone for what they do when they are three sheets to the wind. Neither case is featuring a person in their right mind, in my opinion.

Doesn’t make it suck any less for the recipient, though.

Sigh. I’d hope that things get better for Jon up at the Wall, but I don’t think I’m reading the right series for that. At least he’s independently awesome.

(A sword! For Arya! *clasps hands*)

 

Chapter 11: Daenerys

What Happens
Forty thousand Dothraki warriors and their women and children have come to Khal Drogo’s wedding, making the city nervous. Viserys is impatient for Drogo to get on with getting his crown back, but Illyrio and Ser Jorah Mormont advise him not to push the khal. Dany dreams of dragons and her brother beating her that night. The wedding is huge and barbaric and frightening to Dany, with both public sex and duels to the death being standard entertainment fare. Viserys is incensed that he is required to sit below Dany and Drogo. Dany feels her dread increase until sunset, when it is time for the gifts. Viserys gives her three handmaids, Mormont gives her books, and Illyrio presents her with three huge beautiful eggs:

“Dragon’s eggs, from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai,” said Magister Illyrio. “The eons have turned them to stone, yet still they burn bright with beauty.”

She ritually refuses the gifts of weapons so that they go to Drogo instead, and Drogo gives her his own gift: a magnificent filly. Dany is afraid that her horsemanship will not be adequate, but riding the filly proves to be exhilarating, and she boldly gallops the horse through the camp, ending by leaping a firepit. She asks Illyrio to tell Drogo that he “has given me the wind,” and Drogo smiles for the first time. Surreptitiously, Viserys threatens her if she does not please Drogo, and all Dany’s pleasure disappears.

She and Drogo ride out together to consummate their marriage, and when they reach their destination Dany begins to cry. He surprises her, though, by his tenderness and attention to her own pleasure, and in the end she goes willingly to him.

Commentary
Hoo boy.

Um. Well, that was…a lot.

But I’m…glad for Dany? I think?

Yes, okay, I am, mostly. I mean, the Dothraki are clearly not going to be earning top ranking in the human rights arena anytime soon, or non-human rights for that matter (a gown made from a thousand mouse skins? Holy hell), but…well. I can’t help but get the overwhelming impression that for Dany, living with Drogo is going to prove to be about a thousand percent improvement over living with Viserys.

Granted, this may qualify as damning with faint praise, but whatever. I am very proud, though, that Dany herself seems to have at least partially paved the way for this improvement by impressing Drogo with her riding stunt.

Imagine it though, that the slim possibility of your happiness hinges on what amounts to Russian roulette—taking the shot and just hoping that the guy you’re forced to marry is at least a halfway decent human being instead of, well, Viserys. Except the way these things go, instead of five empty chambers and one asshole bullet, the odds are the other way around. I really don’t see how anyone couldn’t find this system horrifying, even in the abstract.

Well, but Dany lucked out, yay. (Sigh.) Or at least so it seems at the moment, anyway. God knows it certainly all could change.

Anyway, let’s talk about the other thing that got dropped in here oh-so-casually, which maybe I’m totally wrong about this but as far as I am concerned at the moment has Chekhov’s Gun written on it in LETTERS OF FIRE, and that is Illyrio’s stone dragon eggs he gave to Dany as a wedding gift.

“Stone,” my ass.

Seriously, I know this series is very magic-lite and all, but if those eggs don’t hatch at some point I will seriously eat my hat. Even though I don’t wear a hat. I will go out and buy a hat and eat it, okay?

Because, just—no. You do not give fossilized dragon eggs to a girl who is supposedly literally descended from dragons and who keeps dreaming about dragons and reminding herself about being descended from dragons and dragons dragons dragons, and have nothing happen with them. Sorry, forget it. Even Martin can’t be that deconstructivist.

(Right?)

Well, I’ll find out, I guess.


But not today, for this is where we stop! Have a lurvely weekend, y’all, and see you next Friday!

85 comments
Psionandon
1. Psionandon
Yay for a post!

I love the wedding scene. I don't want to say the end is exactly romantic, because... well just because. But I guess it was tender, which was nice.

Regarding Catelyn, she's definitely pretty polarizing. When we see her POV, she seems pretty awesome, but to Jon she's clearly not all peaches and cream or whatever.

Anyway, great post as ever!
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Leigh - I knew you'd enjoy the Jon chapter, even with Catelyn in it. Think of it as your reward for the Bran chapter last week. A little surprised you didn't mention one of the most popular lines in the whole series: "Stick them with the pointy end." (That was the title of Jo Walton's summary post about GoT last year.) Also Arya immediately guesses Needle "because she is that quick."

Re the Dany chapter -- *whistling*

Rob
Psionandon
3. Pheran
Catelyn is polarizing, but that also makes her interesting, as opposed to Viserys who is just downright obnoxious. Leigh, I'm really enjoying your observations - I'm rereading AGoT myself right now as I watch the HBO series.

Also, minor nitpick with your post, today's entry is part *6*. :)

Speaking of part numbers, it would be sort of helpful if you renumbered your chapters with the Prologue starting at 1, so that they match up with the numbered chapter summaries available at towerofthehand.com.
Scott
4. Shard
I love how in this series characters are so Grey there are very few any who are Black/White. So even though Catelyn is a "Good Guy" she has bad traits to her name, as with many of the other characters. Still I feel for her, all the Starks really. Their my favorite Fantasy family next to the Weasleys.

I think what's cool about Jon giving Ayra the sword is not just that it's for her but it's a real sign of respect that he knows his siblings well and what they really want.
Psionandon
5. krq
GRRM is a master at making us so invested in the characters. I remember feeling kicked in the gut when I read Catelyn's parting words to Jon. I had already loved Jon at this point, and this scene just sealed it for me. I also felt at this point that nothing Catelyn will do from this point on will ever redeem her in my eyes.

I was with Leigh on the "fossilized" dragon's eggs, too. I think my first thought was wondering when would we ever see Viserys try to cradle them. And then I thought that he's too full of himself to care.
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
By the way, kudos to Ser Jorah for his thoughtful giftgiving to Dany.
Jamie Watkins
7. Treesinger
Leigh,
Whenever your life becames less hectic, could you please find it in yourself to do three or even possible four chapters at a time? Most of the chapters in Game of Thrones are only about twelve pages long. Following along at this rate is like trying to use dial-up to watch a video. There is lots of good stuff coming!
Melissa Shumake
8. cherie_2137
i remember thinking the same thing about the dragon eggs when i read through it too...
Mo -
9. Astus
By this stage in the book, I was still rushing from page to page. After Bran's fall, I think I just engulfed a large portion of the book. Haha.
Didn't really pause to reflect until later.
I understand what Cat is going through is hard. Well, I can't even begin to imagine the level of grief but okay, she's broken down.

However, I seriously wanted to peg a a fraking dictionary at her head after she said the last line. I felt it burn me on the inside. Felt so bad for Jon. So, so malicious. It immediately dropped her down a few pegs in my eyes. I didn't mind her at all before but this just kept playing on my mind whenever I saw her from this point onwards.
Psionandon
10. litg
Leigh, try to see things from Catelyn's perspective. She's in an arranged marriage (made at the time for political reasons) with a guy she eventually came to love. He's super honorable, way more so than a lot of purportedly-honorable men in this cruel world. And yet, the one area where he's unable to maintain his honor is in fathering a bastard while away on campaign. Then, instead of having the "decency" to quietly provide for the child's needs while ensconsing him elsewhere out of sight, Ned brings him home! Ned being so honor-bound to support the child but not honor-bound enough to stop shaming Catelyn with him must feel like a slap in the face, and one directed pointedly at Cat, and Cat alone. At a whole heaping spoonful of grief and fear of loss and its a recipe for some really awful things to be said.

It's not her finest moment in the series. It's arguably just the opposite. But I can at least understand where she's coming from.
Vincent Lane
11. Aegnor
Small HBO series spoiler below (no book spoiler...its about stuff covered in this chapter)...




This Daenerys chapter is the one that I think they got completely wrong in the HBO series. First of all, I think Drogo's gift of a horse for Daenerys, and her reaction to it, was a great character moment for Daenerys that was totally missed. But the real disappointment was the wedding night scene with Drogo. It changed a romantic and loving scene between them, into a rape scene. That poisons their whole relationship in the HBO series here on out IMO. With these two changes, it has totally flattened out that whole plot sequence in the HBO series and made it uninteresting.
Marcus W
12. toryx
I love the scene where Jon gives Arya her sword. It's touching on so many levels but the best part of it for me is this: He not only recognizes Arya for who and what she is, but encourages her to do so against all custom and expectation. In a way, it's very similar to what Tyrion was trying to tell Jon. We are who we are, regardless of the notions that other people try to force us into. Jon doesn't really seem to understand that for himself yet, but he certainly does for Arya.

I suspect that a lot of my fondness for all three of these characters, Jon, Arya and Tyrion comes from being quite a bit the black sheep myself. I've rarely met anyone who truly understood that but it's clear that GRRM does. I both admire and appreciate him for that and it's one of my favorite things about his writing. These people are all very, very real to me.

I reacted very badly to Catelyn's treatment of Jon as a result of my sympathies for the Outsider but Leigh's comments about the effects of grief on a person has probably done more to make me let go of some of that anger than anyone else's comments ever have.

There's not much else for me to say to the Dany chapter other than that I'm glad it affected Leigh the way it appears to have. There's a ton of hot and heavy discussion even on Tor.com about this particular scene (the wedding consumation) and I was really curious to see her take on it. It's pleasant to know that we see it pretty much the same way.

I'm seconding Rob's comment about Jorah giving Dany the books. Anyone who gives someone books as a gift is alright in my opinion.
Sanctume Spiritstone
13. Sanctume
Dany's end chapter was the first book I read that shattered my fantasy (genre) innocence when I realize she's only 14 or so with this old man Khal Drogo.
Psionandon
14. icantthinkofone
I've always been in two minds about the wedding night scene. On the one hand, it's an important and moving character moment. And I would rather Dany be happy in her marriage. But on the other hand. . .she's 13. I know thirteen-year-olds got married in medieval societies. Depicting it isn't really the issue. But making the scene so sexy--it raises the specter of child porn. Not in a really horrible anime-ish way, because when reading it's really hard to remember than Dany isn't 16-17, which is a lot less disturbing. But when you stop to think about it. . .it's hard to find it sexy without feeling gross. And yet it is sexy.

And then HBO solves the age problem but ruins the scene anyway! Grrr.
Scott
15. Shard
Since Leigh brought up the subject of "Chekov's Gun" What do people feel about authors doing this, or any other boiled down plot device. Is it a good or bad thing to have these apparently very obvious foreshadowing devices?
janele janele
16. krq
shard@15: I'm not the brightest person out there, so sometimes I miss obvious foreshadowings entirely.

If the author is really good, I don't have a problem with the author trying to hit me over the head with an OBVIOUS CLUE HERE message. Especially if the author is subtle in other ways. If the author is really bad (and I know I won't be re-reading the book), I actually welcome any plot device.

GRRM is also writing from Dany's perspective. I don't recall anyone else in that part of the world reacting to the eggs. So, in this case, Chekov's gun is vital. But it's also been years since I last read the series.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
The reference to "from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai" is another intriguing tidbit. We keep getting these little pieces thrown our way. We had the mention of Valyrian steel earlier and we got to see the Others in the first chapter.
So far, the magic is either old, distant or dormant. I'm with Leigh in thinking that, yeah the Dragon eggs have got to do something.
Brandon Daggerhart
18. BDaggerhart
Yeah, the "consumation" scene on HBO was almost a mockery of this scene in the book. Whether or not the book shows the blossoming of twu luv, it at least had sentimentality, passion, and respect between the two people - HBO had neither. Dany is being done all sorts of wrong on HBO so far. . .
Emmet O'Brien
19. EmmetAOBrien
icantthinkofone@14: It seems solidly established that in that social context thirteen counts as adult in all the relevant ways, so I don't see the presentation there as problematic; if Dany's relationship with Drogo is to be included at all, eliding that side of it would be problematic on grounds that acknowledging a contemporary perspective would be violating the integrity of the viewpoint. Better have it be what's natural to Dany and uncomfortable to us than make it more comfortable to us by giving Dany or anyone else in the book a modern-world perspective on when children count as adults.
Psionandon
20. sixthlight
@litg I think something people always forget about the whole Jon-Catelyn-Ned situation is that in that sort of political marriage, Ned is contracting that Catelyn will be the mother of his heirs and join their families. It's not a romance, it's an alliance. And she gets pregnant and has a son right away - so she must have thought Ned would be thrilled! She's doing her part perfectly! Instead, she gets back to Winterfell and Ned's bastard - who is practically the same age as her legitimate son - is *already there*.

It's massively disrespectful, not just to Catelyn as a person but to Catelyn as the mother of the Stark heirs, as a daughter of an allied family - it's saying, "yeah, so, I know you're my wife, but here's this kid. I may or may not have a rush of blood to the head one day and ask my best friend the King to legitimise him. You don't know that I won't, because I won't talk about him, or his mother. Who might have been someone as noble as you - rumour suggests that, anyway. But just trust me, I respect you and my alliance with your family!"

Jon isn't just the symbol of Ned's infidelity - Catelyn is pretty blase about the prospect of Ned having slept around while at war - he's a symbol of Ned privileging the product of that infidelity along with his legitimate heir. It's not so much about Catelyn's feelings as a woman so much as her responsibilities as a noblewoman and symbol of alliance between two families.

Now, sure, Catelyn put that on Jon, not Ned, the guy who was responsible. But that's....pretty damn human, actually; Ned's her husband, the father of her children, she loves him. Blaming him would sour her marriage, which is also, in this world, her career. Blaming Jon...blaming Jon is easy, and expected. Catelyn deserves way less flack for it than she gets.
Chris Long
21. radynski
I don't know if anyone really likes Catelyn, but she is polarizing. Mostly between the people who detest her and those that don't. I don't exactly love her character, but I think she's is a generally good person and doesn't deserve the shit that gets heaped on her (in the book or by the readers).
Psionandon
22. Dank
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this to you yet Leigh and @14, but you have to mentally add three years to every child character's age in the series. Apparently Martin had never met any actual children, so he was very confused about what they are like at different ages, and you wind up with ridiculous stuff like boys winning melee tournaments at 14, and 8 year old girls dueling soldiers. I'm pretty sure Martin even admitted as much, and said that if he were to do the series over he would up all the ages.
Benjamin Moldovan
23. benpmoldovan
I agree with Leigh just about 100% on these chapters. Totally with you on Checkov's Gun. Giant clue-bat. Dragons coming! (We strongly suspect.)

Leigh said: "if those eggs don’t hatch at some point I will seriously eat my hat. Even though I don’t wear a hat. I will go out and buy a hat and eat it, okay?" I love that. I almost spit my lunch on the computer screen. That was too funny.

#20 et al: yeah, we get all that, we aren't stupid. For the most part, we don't judge her too harshly, considering her circumstances, but it's still hard to have that not effect your opinion of her somewhat.

And finally, it's a shame that HBO is treating Danys' character that way.

Ben
Benjamin Moldovan
24. benpmoldovan
Dank @22: Oh, yeah, that's right. That does make a big difference.
Psionandon
25. sixthlight
@benpmoldovan You might not judge her too harshly, but plenty of people are willing to consign her to whatever version of hell Westeros has based on that one line to Jon alone. Which makes it sometimes hard to believe they *are* "getting all that".
Karen Fox
26. thepupxpert
Aegnor @ 11 - I agree with you on the the Dany and Viserys portions in the HBO series. It seems to me like their characters are not interpreted at all correctly in the series and that was a real disappointment to me. Dany is described as having long straight silver hair and violet eyes and unfortunately the actress in the HBO series just looks like she's wearing a bad wig and in this day and age of contact lenses you would think they'd have gotten the eye color correct. Also, Viserys at no point in the book is as mild mannered and soft-spoken as he has been on the series so far.

As for the wedding consummation scene, blah, I kind of expected something like that, but the wedding itself looked like about 20 extras on a stage with hay.

Has anyone noticed in the beginning scenes outside the wall that no one's breath was condensing in what was supposed to be extremely cold weather? So obviously a stage with no apparent effort to lower the temperature enough to insure a more authentic snow experience.

The lack of these types of details has kind of soured the series for me so far. I hope it gets better from here on out. The opening credits are cool, though.

I guess that is just something any book-fan needs to live with when their series is turned into television or film. It's never as we imagine it.
Emmet O'Brien
27. EmmetAOBrien
sixthlight@25: It's entirely possible to "get all that" and still think "It should have been you" is beyond the pale.

Does anybody else reckon Catelyn might have enough information to figure out that Jon could be Lyanna's son, and why Ned would not tell her, from the get-go ? She has everything we have up to this point in the books except the deathbed promise.
Marcus W
28. toryx
Just a shout out (and people in various places of responsibility can shut me down if they want) but to the best of my knowledge, this is not the place to discuss the TV show. There are multiple threads for those kinds of discussions and this isn't it.

Technically, any discussion about the TV show constitutes a spoiler. It's a spoiler to Leigh and it's a spoiler for anyone else reading these comments who doesn't have access to HBO (or the UK version, Sky whatever).

Dank @ 22: Actually, as I understand it, GRRM chose ages based on the histories. Because, you know, 14 and 15 year olds back in the day actually did take part in tourneys and the like. Given how quickly people aged, their youth and ability to bounce back from wounds were a significant advantage. It was also not at all unusual for very young boys to suddenly have the responsibility of lordships put upon themselves when their parents died (also young). And 12 year old girls often found themselves either betrothed or married off (and becoming mothers before they were 15).

GRRM has expressed regret in making his characters so young, primarily because he has a hard time getting inside their heads. Bran and Rickon in particular are troublesome for him and it's his concern that he's not representing them properly in perspectives that concerned him most. At least, that's what I understood from things he's said to me and other members of the Brotherhood.
Psionandon
29. carolynh
As sad as it was to see the Stark family split up just when I was getting to enjoy the family's interaction, I still like this chapter. Jon is just so awesome. Arya is my kind of girl.

Cat is more difficult, of course. On the one hand, she's a good and loving wife and mother, she's smart and not some wishy-washy overbred princess who's never lifted a finger in her life. And then there's her treatment of Jon. I suppose it's what makes her character so interesting (and so polarizing) but it's got to take some work to dislike Jon so much. Sometimes I think she really does understand that Jon is awesome, more so than her own son Robb, who's always seemed to me a bit of a blank, almost-twit in a nice-ish sort of way. (Does that make any sense? I mean, I like Robb but compared to Jon he's left wanting)

What I love about this series, and the Dany/Drogo chapter exemplifies this, is that I thought I knew how this match was going to play out, and then both characters pleasantly surprised me. Dany shows more than a little spunk with her new horse. Drogo isn't the troll I thought he was going to be.

And then-- spoiler for the HBO series below:




the otherwise excellent HBO series of this novel doesn't use either of the two things that elevates the Dany/Drogo match out of a cliché. On the series, Dany doesn't take off on the horse, and Drogo makes no attempt to woo her.



Spoiler ended above, we now return to non-spoiling commentary.

It was this chapter that made me care about Dany. Before this chapter, I found the Viserys/Dany interaction more tedious than anything. (Get back to the Starks, GGRM, and enough with these other people!). I changed my mind about that, at least as far as Dany goes, because of this chapter.
Psionandon
30. jimmy11
I don't know what you people want. How could you possibly have done the consumation scene right in the show. You would have to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes for that scene alone to not make it look ridiculous. "Oh no, i'm so scared. OTOH he looks kind of hot. Oh, what the hell, lets do it." Spend too little time and the average viewer would exactly this impression. Spend more time and you get a nice and long softcore porn thread on every discussion board. There is no way they could have done it better.
Psionandon
31. cleopatra2525
sixthlight @25: IIRC those in Westeros who worship the Seven also believe in "seven hells". Dunno if that's Inferno-style or what.
Joel Cunningham
32. jec81
HBO Talk:


"I don't know what you people want. How could you possibly have done the consumation scene right in the show."

well, not cutting away on drago ripping the dress of a girl who is crying and saying no, for one. in the book, she says yes. in the show, it looks like she is just being raped. also the bit with the horse could have been taken care of in about 30 seconds.
Michael Pauli
33. Michael Pauli
re: Catelyn

Cat is definately one of the more polarizing characters from the series. I -for one- am not exactly a fan of hers. But this has more to do with her decision making later on in the series, as with her coldness to Jon. For reasons already mentioned by others, I could relate to her enough at this point in the book to let the "Jon hate" slide.

re: Dany

Without going into spoiler territory, I'd like to mention that it's interesting that Dany gets 3 Dragon eggs and 3 handmaidens. Watch out for 3s, when it comes to Dany.
Rob Munnelly
34. RobMRobM
I have to say I agree with Toryx that discussion of the HBO series here is dangerous and probably best avoided.

Toryx - I never knew you were part of the BWB. Cool.

If you are interested in the HBO show, Television without Pity has funny write ups for each episode and, interestingly, has a Completely Unspoiled Speculation forum for folks who haven't read the books. Lots that run far afield but some really are perceptive re what's going to happen ahead. Almost too entertaining for humans.

And, to keep up my personal tradition, here is the counterpart entry from A Blog of Ice and Fire. Again, some nice parallels with Leigh's thoughts.

+++++++++++++++

I was very curious to see how Lady Stark would treat the living symbol
of Eddard’s infidelity. The contrast between the warmth and care she
showed toward her trueborn children and the coldness toward Jon was
huge. I was already wincing when she brushed off Jon’s consoling words
about Bran, but her “It should have been you” is up there on the
harshness rank. She’s essentially telling a young kid with emotional
problems “I wish you were dead.” I realize Catelyn is hysterical because
her son is in a coma, but did she know Jon was two blog posts and a bad
dwarf convo away from slitting his wrists the other night when Benjen
half-rejected him? Then again, Catelyn probably doesn’t care whether Jon
is on the Night’s Watch or suicide watch, as long as he’s gone.When
Jon told Arya that he had something special to give her and to close
the door, I was afraid that the present was more incest, but thankfully
Martin has maxed out on that at this point in the book. Jon gets +10
cool points for giving his little sister a gift that she truly loves,
but imagine Eddard's or Catelyn’s reaction if Arya accidentally cuts off
her hand or decapitates Sansa. It's refreshing and enjoyable whenever
Jon and Arya interact, so I'm disappointed that they are parting.
____________________

Viserys acts like spoiled, powerful prince, but in reality he’s a pathetic kidwho sold the only family he has for a hollow chance at conquest. I find
it hard to believe that Drogo and his khalasar would risk so much to
fight for him. Even if they did, there’s no guarantee of success -- it's
not like the castles in Westeros are going to just roll over. The way
Viserys acts and the brutal traditions of the Dothraki don’t seem to
mesh well. Less “the dragon commands!” and more “please Mr. Drogo sir”
would be wise, but I don't see that happening until someone decides to
slap the ego out of him.Dany is dreading her wedding night. It’s
understandable, as Drogo is a very large man and she is barely a
teenager. We can all do the anatomical math. When the dreaded
consummation finally arrives, Drogo is surprisingly gentle and caring,
and suddenly the entire marriage seems like a good idea for all parties
involved. Who would have guessed that a wedding with twelve deaths and
several rapes would end happily with consensual, romantic, post marital
sex? As for the underagedness, I’m just going to assume thirteen in
dragon years equals eighteen or twenty-one in our century.
Kev Hamm
35. cavynmaicl
Every time I read one of these posts I have a faint stab of "augh" as I've read faster and have foreknowledge that makes any commenting difficult.

Suffice it to say, no matter what you think, no matter what anyone has said, "dun dun DUUUUUUUN!" is about perfect for ever post.

Glad you're enjoying the books as much as I am, Leigh. And yes, the madness of "holy crap!!" moments are intense! Oy!
Elio García
36. Egarcia
@21: Catelyn Stark is my favorite character in the series. There's plenty of people who like her, I think. They're just not so loud about it as those who despise her. It gets tiresome, wrestling with those anti-Cat arguments, especially when some (some, I stress) of the most virulent haterss also seem to be among the more outspoken (and sometimes plain nasty) anti-Sansa and anti-Cersei sorts (not that it's odd to be opposed to Cersei; but "I wish someone would rape her to death" is never appropriate.)

There is a trend, I'm afraid, among a certain segment of the fans of the novels, almost exclusively male, to harp on female characters who are not ... I don't know, awesome misfit fighter girls, or awesome tomboys, or what have you. Any woman that seems to work within traditional gender roles can quickly earn hatred among some. It's an unpleasant realization one gets.

Look at the description we've had of post-fall Catelyn: She doesn't recognize Jon for a moment, her voice is "strangely flat and emotionless", her "hair was dull and tangled", she looks as if "she had aged twenty years." She really is in the depths of a black, bleak depression. She really is not in her right mind. What she says to Jon is a terrible thing, but it's hard to hold her responsible. Grief can make a person irrational. It's not their fault -- it's just how it is.

It's nothing she'd ever said to him before, not even close. We're told by Martin that it's not as if she beat him or verbally abused him. It was abnormal.
Rob Munnelly
37. RobMRobM
Elio/Ran - having you call Catelyn your favorite character in the series is surprising and fascinating, but I can't test the basis for your statement without spoilers. So I'll just remain flabbergasted, if appreciative, of your feedback. Rob
Bill Stusser
38. billiam
I have never liked Cat. I don't hate her but I do not like her. And it's not because of how she treats Jon (although I think her attitude towards him is unfair). I get how much it must suck to have her husband's bastard son living with them.

The reason I don't like her is the decisions she makes. Of course those discussions will have to wait.

For now I will say that yes grief can cause people to say things they shouldn't but that doesn't give them an automatic pass.

One thing about the HBO series to answer @ #26. Martin said in an interview that they tried to use violet contact lenses but that they irritated the actresses eyes and she couldn't wear them.

And about the adding three years to the kids ages. That certainly wouldn't work for Sansa. That would make her 14, well past the age she should be having periods. And why shouldn't 14 or 15 year olds be competing in tournies, not much difference between that and high school sports.
Genevieve Williams
39. welltemperedwriter
A couple of people have remarked on Sansa's age and whether it's realistic for her (or Daenerys, for that matter) to not have reached menarche yet. Actually, it is. Environment, especially nutritional levels, plays a significant role in the onset of girls' periods--one reason that age has been decreasing steadily in the developed world over the past century is that we are better fed than any other society at any point in human history.

In mid-19th century Europe (the earliest for which reliable data is available), the average age of menarche was 17. Even a relatively well-fed person in a medieval society isn't going to have nearly as nutritionally rich a diet as the average person living in the U.S. in the 21st century. So Martin could've aged all the kids up and still had this aspect be realistic.
Psionandon
40. Katiya
Ah, Catelyn...I always want to like her, and then I just kind of...don't. All of her "Oh I'm a mom and it's soooooo hard" nonsense. I'm pretty hard and judgmental on that aspect of her, I guess, and I'm ok with it. I know I'm not a mom, and that I would completely react differently to her situations if I were, but as a young single reader, I can't help but be annoyed by her single-mindedness and bouts of self-pity. Again and again she makes some pretty bad, not-well-thought-out decisions in the name of caring for her children, which even THEY think are kind of stupid, as several people have addressed.

Interestingly, it is this skewed "strong mother" image that I dislike about Cersei, even while I kind of like her as a character. I certainly have more sympathy for her, and that aspect of her is hardly her entire character, whereas that's pretty much all Cat is capable of doing, being a mom. Maybe it's Martin's presentation of motherhood that I take issue with, or just Cat's all-consiming "momness". I'd like to see her with more to do than be a mom, with thoughts other than that of her children and husband.
Psionandon
41. Wortmauer
jec81@32: it looks like she is just being raped. also the bit with the horse could have been taken care of in about 30 seconds.
Strip away a little context, and your post reads so differently.
William Fettes
42. Wolfmage
The presentation of Needle to Arya is one of my favourite moments in the first half of the book. It's just such a nice illustration of the familial love between Jon and Arya - one misfit to another - before the family is separated. Very cool older brother!

Re: The Wedding.

The gift of the beautiful filly and Dany's ride and jump is very cool. It's one of the first signs of Dany's plucky spirit IMO.

However, as for the wedding sex, I think that scene is one of the weakest and most objectionable in the whole book. Even ignoring the age issue - which makes the whole scene rather creepy - the consent was clearly a fudge by Martin to avoid reader alienation. I can accept the revealation that Drogo is surprisingly gentle in the act of consumation, though it skirts rather too close to the noble savage trope for my taste; I don't think it's the kind of nuanced subversion of reader expectations about the Dothraki that critics of the show like to maintain. My main problem is that the scene is written in such a way that her physical arousal is purposefully held forth as a kind of liferaft for modern readers to clutch onto to distract us away from the unsettling nature of the ongoing coercion that is fundamental to how she came to be in this situation, the sexual morality of the khalasar, and the servile power dynamics of her new status as wife of the Khal.

The glipses we get of the subsequent sexual relationship are much more suitably complicated and realistic in their depiction of Dany's predicament, though Martin carefully minimises direct exposition of this reality to shield the viewer again from the uglier nature of this reality. So that's what I thoroughly dislike about the scene, as it's falsely romantic -- with the masterful man ripping off her bodice and she loves it. Critics of the tv show are particularly apt to gloss over this later complexity, and allow this one scene to set a monochromatic romantic gloss which just isn't accurate. IMO Martin should not have blinked at this point - either by writing the scene without such a crutch or stepping back on the level detail, with a pan to the fireside type of presentation, as he does with the subsequent martial sex.
Marcus W
43. toryx
Rob @ 34: Yep, I became a member of the Brotherhood in 2001 and was knighted (with my own sword, mind you) Ser Toryx of the Lamprey Pie in 2002. Alas, I've not been active in several years.
Psionandon
44. D-Mac
"It should have been you"...Damn, thats cold Cat! I mean it would have been bad enough to spit that out when he was at the bed trying to engage her, BUT HE WAS LEAVING...and she STOPPED him just to say that!! Thats something deeper than grief, thats just foul. In that one line GRRM encapsulates Jon's life at Winterfell. Thats the moment you truly understand what Jon's bastardy feels like, i mean you feel the sting of her words visceraly in that moment, I was Jon Snow in that moment because i felt it too. Why did we have to stop? We should have kept on walking.
Maiane Bakroeva
45. Isilel
D-Mac @44:

Thats something deeper than grief, thats just foul.

No, it is actually just deep grief. I am sure that most people who lost a loved one (leave alone a child), particularly in a relatively sudden, unexpected manner have thought something along those lines, though not uttered it aloud.


In that one line GRRM encapsulates Jon's life at Winterfell.

Not at all. GRRM unintentionally mislead us here - he himself subsequently said that Cat never mistreated Jon in all the years he was at WF, either verbally or otherwise. She was distant and tried to have as little to do with him as possible, but that was that.

Personally, I like Cat's character because she is such an unusual protagonist - an adult married woman, mother, etc. and feels very realistic.
But I regret certain choices that GRRM made with her - choices that resulted in large part of the audience outright hating her. According to Martin, it was never his intention.

What doesn't cease to perplex me is that people blame _Cat_ for the whole situation and give Ned a complete pass, when he was the one who created it in the first place and maintained it for 14 years.

Maybe people don't realize that the choice wasn't between raising Jon among Ned's trueborn children, shaming his wife and muddling succession _or_ letting him starve in the streets?
Maybe people miss that Ned himself was fostered out and was very happy with the experience?
Surely, Ned's love for Jon Arryn his foster-father and Robert his foster-brother has been referenced often enough by this point.

Carolynh @29:

Sometimes I think she really does understand that Jon is awesome, more so than her own son Robb

Well, the fear that Jon may be more awesome and Ned/his subjects might see him as the worthier heir is always there, of course. It is part and parcel of the situation.
If Jon had been a bookish lad who didn't excel martially, Cat would have had it much easier. If he had been a girl, their interactions would have been radically different, IMHO.
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
Agree with Isilel that Cat is acting out of deep grief, mixed with guilt and layered over with exhaustion. She's not in a good place here and took her problems out on the easy target.

I'm not a Cat fan or a Cat hater. She has an interesting path, as Leigh will see later in the re-read. Leigh will well understand this from her deep WoT experience - Martin is a good writer and there is a variety of views among fandom as to who likes which characters, especially as the books progress (of course, as of this point in the story, everyone thinks Jon and Arya are da coolest). By the way Leigh and others - Egarcia @36 is one of the co-heads of Westeros.org, the leading Ice and Fire site, and a fellow Tor.com author/blogger.

Ser Toryx - does that mean we need to add the honorific every time we interact with you henceforth?

@41. ROFL!!!

Rob
Psionandon
47. Reader
"Mistreatment" is a loaded word. GRRM recognizes this. So he specified that while Cat never physically or verbally abused Jon before, she had distanced herself from him and had made sure he was treated worse than her own children whenever matters of status were concerned. While I don't think that Cat had an obligation to treat Jon better, it's also clear that Cat's treatment hurt Jon who was only an innocent child after all and wholly undeserving of it.

Why do people blame Cat more than Ned? She didn't deserve having to put up with Ned's bastard in the first place after all. One reason may be that people believe Ned isn't acting selfish with Jon. While he is hurting Cat who doesn't deserve it, he is actually suffering too from the strain in his marriage and his very public shame of having a bastard.

Granted, Cat doesn't act merely selfish with Jon. The rights of her own children are a legitimate concern for her even when it's debatable if her hostile approach to Jon may not have alienated Jon from his siblings to the point where he could have become an actual threat and not only a potential one.

However, I also think it would be a disservice to the complexity of the character if Cat were reduced to the mother who only wants to do her duty and protect her children's rights. No, Cat is also hurting because Ned's unusual treatment of Jon and refusal to talk of Jon's mother let her question the extent of her husband's affection for her compared to Ned's love for Jon's mother. This is perfectly understandable. When her hostility to Jon is influenced by this however -- and I doubt that it isn't when Jon looking more like Ned than his children with her actually hurts her -- it would also be a selfish reason to take this out on an innocent child.

Would it have been a better solution to let Jon be raised elsewhere? It would have been preferable to Cat. But would it have been preferable to Jon, his siblings, his mother or Ned?

Ned suggested that Jon's status as a bastard would be detrimental to him at court. He would certainly not have been treated as well as Ned was in the Vale elsewhere and he probably wouldn't have had close siblings either. As for Jon's siblings, they seem to love/like him. Would they actually have been happier with Jon elsewhere? Would Jon be more or less likely to usurp the rights of siblings he doesn't know and care about?

And what of Jon's mother? It may be unfair to Cat to treat Jon as Ned does, but wouldn't it be unfair to Jon's mother to not treat her son as well as Ned can get away with? And what of Ned? Wouldn't it also have been very hard to be forced to send Jon away to accomodate Cat's wishes? He loves Jon -- and supposedly his mother too -- and so wishes the best for him, which apparently isn't being raised elsewhere in Ned's mind.

In any case, as far as I can see whatever Ned did with Jon someone was going to (unfairly) suffer from it. Ned can legitimately be blamed for unfairly burdening his wife with Jon but I feel if he had actually acted differently he would be blamed even more and with even better reason.
Maiane Bakroeva
48. Isilel
Reader @47:

Would it have been a better solution to let Jon be raised elsewhere? It would have been preferable to Cat. But would it have been preferable to Jon, his siblings, his mother or Ned?

Well, typically bastards have other options than NW, you know. They usually become knights or equivalent. So would it have been preferable to Jon in the long run? Probably. He could have led a normal life and been content.

He would certainly not have been treated as well as Ned
was in the Vale elsewhere and he probably wouldn't have had close
siblings either.

Ned could have fostered him with somebody who would have treated him well. Most bastards are.
Not with somebody as powerful as another Lord Paramount like Jon Arryn, of course, but that would have been only to the good - Jon is not a Stark, he doesn't have the same prospects as one. If he was living with some small lording, he wouldn't have had something he could never have constantly rubbed under his nose.
As to siblings, Ned was as close to Robert, his foster-brother, as to any of his blood siblings. Why couldn't it have been the same with Jon?

Would Jon be more or less likely to usurp the rights of siblings he doesn't know and care about?

But it was only Ned's highly unsual special treatment that made usurpation possible in the first place! That was why Cat wanted Jon to be raised elsewhere - aknowledged bastards that are treated as such are not a threat.

Ned was treating Jon the same as his heir, giving him the same education, his vassals saw this, they became unsure of Jon's place in the scheme of things.
Some might have thought that maybe Jon was the heir Ned always wanted, that maybe he had special reasons for his stance, etc.

And from there, things could have easily spun out of control.
Not to mention that it gave Jon baseless bitterness about his station, which is better than that of the majority of the population, and made him yearn for the prerogatives of a true-born Stark.

So, was Ned acting selfishly re: Jon? You decide.
Pirmin Schanne
49. Torvald Nom
Isilel@45: No, it is actually just deep grief. I am sure that most people who lost a loved one (leave alone a child), particularly in a relatively sudden, unexpected manner have thought something along those lines, though not uttered it aloud.

I would agree with this if Jon was in some way connected to the (at this point of the story, in Catelyn's POV) tragic accident that happened to Bran. If he had shown him how to climb the walls, or where the more interesting places are, or if he had encouraged it in some way, anything that would accrue a sliver of responsibility for Bran's fall.

But as far as we know, there is nothing. Blaming Jon comes, as I see it, out of nowhere; and to explicitly stop him to do it implies that she will lay anything that happens to her children, no matter what, at his feet. That's an attitude of which I do not believe that one develops it just from grieving, but in fact was probably already there all along.
Richard Boye
50. sarcastro
Isilel@48: "So, was Ned acting selfishly re: Jon? You decide."

Ugh. It is so difficult to address this issue without tripping up on some of the material accreted from the latter part of the story, but I for one always thought that Ned knew that he being hurtful to Catelyn, and it should be noted, being rather offensive to House Tully in the process, but he had Jon raised in his own family household (as opposed to, say, having him raised by the Pooles or Cassels [families that are servitors to the Starks inside of Winterfell] ) because he felt he had to keep him close due to obligations to Jon's mother. He could just as easily had him tucked away in some tower and have one of the maids or cooks raise him as a surrogate mother or something, but instead, Jon had rooms with the Stark children, eats at the family table, was educated by the maester and the master-at-arms, was dressed in lord's finery, etc... all of which is very confusing to the vassals and something of an affront to Catelyn - but he had his reasons (whatever they are).
Psionandon
51. Reader
Isilel @48:

I was adressing the advantages of Jon being brought up at Winterfell compared to elsewhere and not him joining the NW or not. He could have been raised at Winterfell without to automatically join the NW. The question is if Ned -- and possibly his mother -- expected that Jon would benefit more from being brought up at Winterfell with his family than somewhere else and if this expectation was reasonable. I think the answer to both questions is yes.

This doesn't mean that Ned couldn't have found a place where Jon would have been treated decently by most. But without the immediate influence of his father around I think it's fair to say that Jon would have had it worse than at Winterfell in many respects. He would probably also not have been brought up with the values Ned wanted Jon to have and with the close bond to Ned's other children.

What exactly made Jon a (perceived) threat to Cat's children? You seem to say that Jon was only a threat because he was unusually brought up at Winterfell and treated equally to the trueborn heir by Ned, thereby leading his vassals to wonder if Ned wanted Jon to inherit. I don't think this is an accurate assessment of the situation.

First, I don't think that a close reading of the text would support that Jon was actually treated the same as Ned's heir. Jon was treated very similar, yes. He was probably given a very similar education for one. However, I don't recall that Jon was given the same status as Robb on official occassions. Indeed, we actually know from GRRM that Cat had made sure that Jon wasn't treated equally to Robb or her other children on official business, ensuring that everybody had to be aware that Jon's status was that of a favored bastard but certainly not of a heir.

"Everybody" would include not only Jon -- who is painfully aware of his status -- but all of Ned's vassals as well as other lords of the realm. I can certainly find no support in the text that many of Ned's vassals -- or any at all for that matter -- were unsure about Jon's status relative to Ned's other children.

Second, the most important factor of Jon being a threat or not was his acknowledged ancestry. As soon as Ned officially called Jon his son Jon was a potential threat regardless of where he would have been brought up. Sending Jon away from Winterfell wouldn't have changed this fundamental fact.

Third, sending Jon away from Winterfell would have lessened his status from favored bastard to simple bastard. This would have made it more difficult to challenge Cat's children in some respects. However, sending Jon away would also have left him more open to influences persuading him to challenge Cat's children in the first place and possibly given him a power base. It would also have meant that Cat's children would have been strangers to Jon and not people he loved.

In which scenario would Cat's children actually be safer? Jon having a very modest chance to usurp his siblings whom he loves and has little interest in usurping or Jon possibly having an even worse chance to usurp but unfettered by his love for his siblings, without Ned's values and more open to the influence of people with grudges and ambitions of their own? One doesn't need universal support to get rid of rivals. A knife in the dark and the willingness to use it would be enough. Me, I think the answer would be very clear indeed which scenario is safer if but for the aspect you raised last: Jon being acutely aware of his lesser status at Winterfell.

If Jon were a different kind of person, if he wouldn't love his siblings and admire his father and try to emulate his father's values as much as he does, being close to being the heir but oh so far away might perhaps constitute as great a danger to Cat's children as having no close ties to his family, but fortuntately Jon is the kind of person he is and Ned made sure that Jon has all these ties.

In any case, it may be somewhat debatable in which scenario Jon would have been a greater threat to Cat's children. I don't really believe it can reasonably be argued that the way Ned has chosen to treat Jon was selfish. He may well have put Jon's and perhaps Jon's mother's interests -- as he perceived them -- ahead of his wife's feelings, but I think that the text would also support Ned thinking that he had to pay a heavy price for his decisions in this matter, invalidating the suggestion that Ned was acting selfishly when he brought up Jon at Winterfell.
Psionandon
52. cheem
As I mentioned before, I like Cat because she's such a unique character to include in a story like this. As I also said, when I was younger, a lot of my contemporaries had a lot of issues with Cat for having such a motherly POV and certain actions she commits really turned them off her. I have to admit that hers is a POV I don't easily identify with -- It's a lot easier to put yourself in Arya or Jon's shoes than it is to put yourself in Cat's, especially when you're young.

But she's a brilliant POV, a person who, I suspect, was once a lot like Sansa, (so we get to compare and contrast between her and her daughter in many ways as the story progresses), but has grown into her own place as Mistress of Winterfell and mother to five children. I think it's a great thing for GRRM to have brought her POV to the fore where most of the time, she'd be in the background.
Richard Boye
53. sarcastro
Reader @ 51

"He may well have put Jon's and perhaps Jon's mother's interests -- as he perceived them -- ahead of his wife's feelings, but I think that the text would also support Ned thinking that he had to pay a heavy price for his decisions in this matter, invalidating the suggestion that Ned was acting selfishly when he brought up Jon at Winterfell. "

I agree. Dancing around the central question, I would suggest that Jon's unusual status in the family with all its implications, both political and personal, caused Ned a good deal of internal stress and he probably would have prefered to not have to affront Catelyn, but couldn't for grumble, grumble reasons.
Bill Stusser
54. billiam
Ned shouldn't get a complete pass for the whole Jon/Cat issue. He is putting considerable strain on his wife, which is unfair. But this is Ned we're talking about here, the most honorable man we know in Westeros. I do not believe that he raised Jon in Winterfell out of selfish reasons but exactly the opposite

We all know that if Ned gave his word that he would raise Jon, then that is what Ned is going to do. I don't think that he has a choice in his own mind. If something I believe to be true is in fact what is going on, then Ned had no choice but to do what he did.
Maiane Bakroeva
55. Isilel
Reader @51:

But without the immediate influence of his father around I think it's
fair to say that Jon would have had it worse than at Winterfell in many
respects.

On the contrary, it is fair to say that Jon could have had it better. He could have had a mother figure who loved him, for one. He wouldn't have been exposed to the whole "so close and yet so far" turmoil. He could have enjoyed his position, which is really pretty good compared to majority of Westerosi. He could have married - somebody from small gentry or even a commoner, but without constant comparison with his trueborn siblings it wouldn't have mattered. Etc, etc.

Re: Ned wanting Jon to be raised with certain values - well he himself wasn't raised by his birth family, was he? He could have fostered Jon with somebody who shared his values ;).

Speaking of the danger an anknoweldged bastard poses to his trueborn siblings - in Westeros strong favor displayed by the father and unusual privileges granted by the same are essential for his chances at usurpation.
I don't understand why people dismiss Cat's assessment - she is 100% right in this. Or is it that many readers _want_ her to be wrong?

However, I don't recall that Jon was given the same status as Robb on official occassions.

Jon's major snit at not being able to sit at the same table with royalty (!) is a big clue that he normally sat at the high table, even when there were Ned's vassals present. Jon treated it as a huge affront, not as something that was a matter of course on certain occasions.

Also, Jon was present together with Robb the heir when Ned was speaking justice and when he visited his vassals. This was periliously close to treating them the same.

He may well have put Jon's and perhaps Jon's mother's interests -- as he perceived them -- ahead of his wife's feelings

If Ned put Jon's interests so highly, why did he make no provisions for Jon's future? After all, life is relatively fragile in Westeros. What if something happened to Ned during those 14 years?
And what mother would want her son to join the Night's Watch at 14?

No, really, apart from whatever we old-timers may suspect, people distribute blame for Jon's circumstances disproportionally. Ned was the one who created this situation, in flagrant disregard of problems he was creating for both Jon and Cat and possibly for northern succession in general.
I dare say that he had his reasons, his fierce love for Jon's mother being one of them ;), but to say that it was entirely to Jon's benefit would go against what we have seen so far, IMHO.
Antoni Ivanov
56. tonka
Re:Isilel :
Without father:
-- On the contrary, it is fair to say that Jon could have had it better.

On the contrary if he was given away to be raised by someone else Jon would have felt abandoned by his father. I can speak from personal experience without going into details my father didn't really abandon me but I've alway missed him, and I felt abandon for most of my teen ages. Another thing is that he is a bastard and being fostered by noble house is out of question really. He is bastard of course. And even if some agreed because Ned is their liege he will never be treated with the love and respect Ned would give him.

Another difference between Ned's fostering with Jon Aryn and what you propose is that Ned was sent there after he had spend first 7,8 years of his life with his family. It is much better be raised by his own father that someone else. Always! Another positive thing is that he spends time with his real siblings. Instead of watching them from afar and resenting them, he creates strong bonds with all his half-brothers and sisters (with exception of Sansa, though they still have some half-cordial-half-brother-sister feelings for each other). No there is not single doubt in me that Ned's decision to raise Jon with his family is the best possible solution for Jon. It was not the perfect one because there was not a perfect solution, not in that age and in that time.



As for Cat. I've never blamed her for her reaction toward Jon. Because I understand it. I hated how she behaved with Jon in this chapter but it was understandable if not logical (because it's not Jon's fault that he is a bastard). And I've always had a huge respect for Cat until err a certain point. Anyway!
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
Note that Elio Garcia has a Catelyn essay posted on Suvudu.com from yesterday. Compares book and tv versions of his favorite character. Very thoughtful (especially for Isilel). Rob
Psionandon
58. Reader
Isilel @ 55:

I think you don't really give enough value to the advantages Jon had at Winterfell. The close bond to his siblings and his father. Instruction by Ned, probably one of the best generals in Westeros, and the best master-at-arms and men-at-arms the Starks could find. Instruction by Maester Luwin, probably one of the best Maesters of the Citadel. A few things might have been better elsewhere, foremost a kinder mother figure, but I think the advantages Jon had at Winterfell are greater. Which is one of the reasons why Ned and his mother probably wanted him to be raised in this fashion. I also fail to see why Jon couldn't have married because he was brought up at Winterfell.

Ned wasn't exclusively raised in the Vale by the way. He was raised at Winterfell before he was fostered with Jon Arryn. Ned also visited his family at Winterfell while he was fostered. So I think it's fair to say that Ned's father had a fair amount of influence on Ned just as Jon Arryn had.

As to Jon's chances of successfully usurping Cat's children's rights being enhanced by being favored by his father, I wouldn't say this is generally dismissed entirely. There is certainly some merit to it as I've stated.

A more thorough evaluation has to take into account other factors which can't perhaps be expected from a (young) woman in Catelyn's position, who is undoubtedly biased to some degree. Of course she is going to rationalize her attempts to send Jon away as nothing more than her duty to protect her children and not a combination of this and her way to deal with the presence of the constant reminder of her husband's infidelity and love for another woman. Cat isn't completely wrong that Jon being raised at Winterfell poses some risks. But neither should readers be uncritical of her conclusions and motives to the point where they fail to see the real benefits of Jon being raised as a loyal friend to Cat's children at Winterfell.

With regard to Jon being treated the same as her children, we have GRRM explicitly stating that Cat made sure that this wasn't the case when matters of their respective status' were involved like the feast we saw in AGoT. So while Jon was usually treated the same as his siblings, he was clearly treated differently in more official matters, making it clear to Ned's vassals who Ned's heir was. Any alleged confusion on this matter isn't found in the text.

As to Ned not really having Jon's interests at heart, I don't think Ned not having any known plans for Jon before he joined the NW or him letting Jon join the NW really lend themselves to your interpretation. For all we know Ned may very well have had plans to give Jon some holdfast when Jon was old enough to rule it.

And we know that Ned was against Jon joining the NW at his age. It were Cat and Luwin who persuaded him, suggesting that Jon's path wouldn't be harder than others'. Besides, the NW was good enough for Benjen and many other Starks and Ned was hopeful that Jon could rise high in the NW despite his bastardy. So I don't think that Ned was really unconcerned with Jon's interests.

As to apportioning blame for Jon's circumstances, I would agree that some readers are too critical about Cat's role. She was undeservedly forced to handle a difficult situation when she was just a young woman. She didn't dishonour herself and fullfilled her obligations to her family and her husband. But neither can she be commended for her handling of it. Living and interacting with Jon for 14 years without to call him by his name even once also goes beyond her obligations to her children. This wasn't merely a result of aggressively securing the future of her children but of a deep personal hurt inflicted upon her by her husband.

As I stated earlier, I think Ned was put in a situation where he was going to be unfair to somebody whatever he would have done with Jon. He chose Jon's (perceived) well-being and the wishes of Jon's mother over his new wife's wishes and also burdened his own life somewhat.

When I think about what Ned should have done differently with Jon and Cat I think it was unwise to frighten Cat and let her wounds fester when she asked about Jon's mother. It might have been wiser if he would have reassured Cat somehow about their marriage, their future as a couple and the prospects of their children together. Perhaps he should have made up some tale if the truth wouldn't have served for one reason or another.

If Cat would have been more sure of Ned's affection and loyalty towards her and her children from the start she might have found it within herself to be kinder to Jon and to protect the rights of her children by assuring that Jon would be a loyal and valuable asset to them.
Richard Boye
59. sarcastro
Reader @ 58

Slight nitpick -
"And we know that Ned was against Jon joining the NW at his age. It were Cat and Luwin who persuaded him, suggesting that Jon's path wouldn't be harder than others'"

Catelyn specifically reserved comment on this subject (we are in her POV when it is discussed) and even thinks that it has nothing to do with her and that it is not her place to say anything. Ned's allowance regarding Jon and the NW cannot be attributed to Catelyn's persuasion.
Psionandon
60. Reader
sarcastro @59:

I was actually aware that Cat had stayed silent. Since Luwin did the active persuading it would be unfair to say that Cat pressured Ned to send Jon to the NW but in a way, one might also say that Cat keeping her tongue was actually her passive way of ensuring that Jon actually joined the NW. She really wanted it but also knew that if she spoke up in favor of it Ned might be inclined to dismiss the idea because it came from her and concerned Jon. So she certainly played her own part in Ned's decision beyond refusing to have Jon at Winterfell, even if only a passive one.
a a-p
61. lostinshadow
Hi all - so I was visiting my friends in London (and no not for the royal wedding) and there in his personal library (which is wayy better than many a bookstore) was the full series of ASoIaF.

Knowing that Leigh is doing a read of the series (and despite his claim that I've already read the first book many years ago) I've borrowed the whole lot and will try to follow along.

I've already finished Game of Thrones and took a breather to catch up on the read.

Leigh, have to say great job, I'm really enjoying your commentary and your commentary on "Bran" certainly did not disappoint ;)

Have to say, not quite a convert to the series yet but we'll see how it goes, Leigh's commentary is certainly spicing it up.
Psionandon
62. Teka Lynn
Regarding "a gown made from a thousand mouse skins", IIRC that was taken straight from the Huns. They might have been jerboas. Small field rodents of some kind, anyway. I can't imagine what fiddly work it must be to tan and sew together all those tiny hides, but such garments were quite real.
J Brons
63. Doc Bronze
Nice post!
Though I regret they remain half-length compared to the WoT reread.

However. No offense to anyone, but I find the comments here disappointing. Do we really need walls and walls of text nitpicking over some character's moral choices and wheter this does or does not justify disliking her? For a bit I thought I had wandered into a bible studies group.
Maiane Bakroeva
64. Isilel
Tonka @56:

On the contrary if he was given away to be raised by someone else Jon would have felt abandoned by his father. I can speak from personal experience

But that's the crux of it - you live in a very different society, with very different expectations. In Westerosi society primary father-figures often aren't biological fathers even for the true-born. It is quite normal, just as it is normal to send young boys aged 7+ or in some cases even younger, away from their homes for years.

And noble fathers don't personally raise their bastards. As long as Jon had a good, loving father-figure, I really don't see any emotional negatives for him not being raised in WF and a lot of positives.

Another thing is that he is a bastard and being fostered by noble house is out of question really.

You are flat-out wrong about this. I'd go so far as to say that that's what normally happens .

Reader @58:

Which is one of the reasons why Ned and his mother probably wanted him to be raised in this fashion.

But we don't know what has mother might have wanted, do we? We can only speculate. Personally, I am fairly certain that Jon's mysterious mother wouldn't have wanted him to join NW at the age of 14 or ever. But it didn't stop Ned from sending Jon to the Wall.

I also fail to see why Jon couldn't have married because he was brought up at Winterfell.

Because Jon having a family would have compounded the conundrum of where Jon fits, how should he be treated, what his rights are, etc. Like, where should his wife and children rank? Jon himself is terribly offended by not being able to sit at the same table with royalty - what about his wife and children? How would his brothers' wives react to Jon's family sharing the high table with them? To Jon, instead of their husbands, being Robb's right-hand man? Etc.
Aren't they likely to have the same reaction as Cat, only even more so, because Jon as an adult with entrenched priviliges and habit of command would look even more threatening than a beloved young bastard of your husband's? Etc, etc.
Really, you could very easily end up with the "good" version of Richard III versus his sister-in-law and nephews, where both sides have a good reason to feel threatened and somebody decides to act pre-emptively...

But neither should readers be uncritical of her conclusions and motives to the point where they fail to see the real benefits of Jon being
raised as a loyal friend to Cat's children at Winterfell.

Oh maybe we shouldn't uncritically assume that Ned made the best choices for Jon, taking into account the society they live in, rather than the readers' modern sensibilities?
That maybe Ned didn't think the things through far enough to fully realize how many problems he was creating for everybody, _including Jon_ by his unusual treatment of him? I don't dispute that he was well-meaning, but it is a long way from being right.

For all we know Ned may very well have had plans to give Jon some holdfast when Jon was old enough to rule it.

And would Jon be able to enjoy his small holdfast or would it feel poor and paltry exile to one raised among the Starks of Winterfell, rulers of the whole North, one step below the king himself? This is my point - something that could have made Jon genuinely happy and content if he had been raised differently might be a poisoned gift to Jon as we know him.

And such a provision doesn't exist anyway - otherwise Ned could have just sent Jon there early, with a couple of trusted men, instead of sending him to NW at 14.
The fact is, that from what we have seen in these chapters, Ned didn't have any provision for Jon's future, which is pretty bizarre, if you think about it, after all the customs he had broken in that matter.

Well, it is my last word on the subject, since discussing it in more depth would require going into spoiler-country.

I just think that the readers shouldn't follow their sympathy for Jon and consider Cat to be apriori misguided and Ned to be apriori right, because he is a dad who took responsibility for his son in a way catering to our modern sensibilities.
For their society what Ned did may very well _not_ have been for the best, even for Jon, leave alone for the rest of his family.
Valentin M
65. ValMar
I'll add my opinion belatedly.
Re: Jon's upbringing I agree with Isilel. I can't really add anything further to the case. Some of the thinking here has been rather naive. Things might have worked out for the best- Jon is a good guy and/or he might not have had an opportunity to cause trouble for Cat's children. But in the context of the Westeros society it is clear why Cat would've seen Jon as a threat with the kind of upbringing he had.

We still don't have complete info on this issue so we can't completely judge why Jon was brought up as he was. As it is Cat's general feeling on the matter seem understandable to me.
Psionandon
66. Reader
Isilel @64:

While it's conjecture at this point I do think it's more likely than not that Jon being raised at Winterfell by Ned is what Jon's mother wanted. Jon joining the NW is a different matter alltogether.

While Jon marrying and having kids might have led to its own problems I still don't see why being raised at Winterfell would necessarily have prevented Jon from marrying. It would have been perfectly reasonable for Ned to arrange a marriage of Jon with some lesser nobility and give him some holdfast to rule somewhere in the North. Jon didn't have to stick around at Winterfell forever.

Though I think you also exaggerate the problems which Jon and his children still being around at Winterfell would cause. In particular when it were to become clear to the families of his brothers' wives that Jon is an able ally who is loyal to his siblings and when Jon marries somebody who is politically insignificant. I don't really think that the children of a bastard and Jeyne Poole for instance would be seen as political rivals by Mace Tyrell or Tywin or Doran Martell. The wives might even have been glad that Jon is around to support their husbands and children if Jon would have remained at Winterfell.

While I can well see that some bastards who were brought up with privileges might perhaps have felt demeaned if they would have been given some lesser lands to rule instead of great castles I don't think this applies to Jon. When we meet him he felt that he had no rights or prospects for the future -- to the point where he wanted to join the NW to make something of himself. So Ned giving Jon some lands to rule might well have been an improvement and a pleasant surprise for Jon.

And while Jon may have dreamed of being Ned's heir this doesn't mean that he couldn't have been happy with less either given his very low expectations. When we first meet Jon he even volunteers to forego a pet of his own so that his siblings can have theirs'. This isn't the action of somebody who couldn't be content with lesser lands just because he was raised together with his father and siblings.

On the other hand, if Jon would have been raised elsewhere he mightn't have been as loyal to his siblings and as capable as an ally to them when one thinks that being trained and instructed by Ned, Luwin and other picked instructors at Winterfell was very likely a better education than Jon would have received anywhere else Ned could reasonably have sent Jon.

In any case, for all the real, potential and perceived advantages of Jon being raised elsewhere some readers come up with I still think there existed greater advantages of Jon being raised at Winterfell with Ned and his siblings. Though admittedly more for Jon than for Cat.

I will say that I would like to learn of Ned's plans for Jon before he let Jon join the NW. Though just because we haven't yet learnt of them doesn't mean that none existed. Perhaps Ned genuinely believed that the NW -- and eventually becoming a high officer or commander -- wasn't a worse career choice for Jon than being a lesser lordling would have been when Jon actually wanted it. The Starks clearly have a better opinion of the merits of joining the NW than others in Westeros -- or some readers -- justified or not.

I will agree that readers should beware of following their sympathies when critically evaluating the choices of characters. Though I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many people think this sort of advice is more appropriate to others than themselves. ;)
Psionandon
67. Reader
ValMar @65:


As it is Cat's general feeling on the matter seem understandable to me.

This is part of the difficulty of judging the merits of Jon's upbringing. When one is able to emphatize with Cat and can understand where she is coming from it's not so easy to recognize where political reality ends and biased personal feelings begin in her thoughts.

Cat may genuinely think that her assessment of Jon's upringing is an accurate reflection of the reality but we as readers shouldn't forget that the information she processes as well as the conclusions she draws from them are filtered through her personal knowledge and attitudes.

In other words, it shouldn't surprise that she is going to dismiss or at least de-emphasize any reasons why it might not be such a bad idea to have Jon at Winterfell as she wants to think when she wants to get rid of Jon's presence for reasons which clearly go beyond legitimate dynastic concerns to deeply personal matters. And while one can certainly understand Cat not wanting a constant reminder of Ned's betrayal and lost love around -- as she probably sees it -- this kind of reason shouldn't be placed above the welfare of a child.

In this matter, Ned has a different attitude than is usual in the setting because he is willing to risk offending his wife and his wife's powerful family for the sake of a child and perhaps the obligations he felt he had towards Jon's mother.

This attitude of Ned's, being willing to act personally and politically inopportune by burdening his marriage and offending his wife's family for the sake of what Ned probably thinks is the honourable course of action, here by giving Jon his presence as a father and also a formidable education is something one may justifiably admire in Ned. But doing the honorable thing instead of the opportune one also has its costs and these costs are sometimes paid by others too. Here it's Cat as well as Ned who has to pay the price. It's also worth considering if honorable but inopportune choices can be admirable in a mere father but less so in a ruler.
Antoni Ivanov
68. tonka
edited because I forget it's non-spoiler.
If someone has burned.Sorry!






Psionandon
69. Reader
While Isilel is mistaken about some things, she is right that noble bastards can be fostered by noble houses. Edric Storm, Larence Snow or Mya Stone would be some examples.
Maiane Bakroeva
70. Isilel
You are going deep into the spoiler territory, folks. I suggest that you edit ASAP. We have said all we could without spoiling, alas ;).
Tess Laird
71. thewindrose
63 Doc Bronze - However. No offense to anyone, but I find the comments here disappointing. Do we really need walls and walls of text nitpicking over some character's moral choices and wheter this does or does not justify disliking her? For a bit I thought I had wandered into a bible studies group.


I think people are down to nitpicking, as it is hard not to post spoliers. So we get long walls of text about why Elayne was wearing the red dress when she is really a green... opps wrong thread;)


But really, it is hard not to start speculating on who, what, where, when and why even for me, and I just started this series. That is why there is the spoiler thread, where I think you will find that people are not getting into excruitiating detail about what may or may not be going through Catelyn's mind during this chapter.

It is hard to see how Catelyn treats Jon in the little we have seen of these charactes thus far.(Which says a lot about how good the author is to feel this much in what 10 chapters!?)

I really like Ned, but I think he did a disservice to Catelyn by never telling her the truth of what actually did happen 15 years ago. I have a feeling that GRRM has included this in some sort of promise that Ned made to never tell anyone, and the thing about Ned is that his word is his honor, and he never breaks it. To only see black and white can be very harmful to others and himself.

It is said:)
Psionandon
72. Reader
@ 65. ValVar


Some of the thinking here has been rather naive. Things might have worked out for the best- Jon is a good guy and/or he might not have had an opportunity to cause trouble for Cat's children. But in the context of the Westeros society it is clear why Cat would've seen Jon as a threat with the kind of upbringing he had.

Jon has turned out to be a good guy, yes. That's sort of the reason why Ned had made a good decision not only for Jon but for Cat's children too when he raised Jon at Winterfell. Ned's paternal influence and Jon's close bonds to Cat's children are the very reason why Jon has become less of a threat than he might have become if he would have been raised elsewhere.

What do we think the bastards who tried to usurp their siblings thought about the righteousness of it? What did they care about righteousness in the first place? What kind of relation did they have to the siblings they tried to usurp and probably murder?

Ned couldn't change Jon's blood which made him a potential threat in the first place. Ned also wouldn't have been expected to deny Jon a reasonable education somewhere else -- reading, writing, martial skills, etiquette, etc -- which _already_ would have made Jon's personal characteristics somewhat acceptable to become an overlord to the nobility of the North except from his bastardy. But what Ned could and did heavily influence was that Jon turned into the sort of person who simply wouldn't usurp the rights of his siblings because it would be wrong and because he cared for them.

Mind, I'm not saying that Jon was guaranteed to become a good guy at Winterfell -- and if he wouldn't have become one he would have been a greater danger than if he would have been raised elsewhere for the reasons which habe been put forward -- but the actual chances of Jon becoming a good person who also cares for his siblings was surely much greater at Winterfell.

That's something Cat has great trouble recognizing, possibly because it would mean that she had to admit to herself that Ned's son with another woman is a decent boy who wasn't much of a real threat, which in turn would have made it much more difficult to justify treating him as she did and to continue to try to send him away.

Cat isn't a cruel or even unkind woman by nature. She simply needed a less self serving reason to treat Jon as she did than her hurt feelings. So she exaggerated a somewhat legitimate and less self serving reason beyond what is reasonable. It happens all the time.
Valentin M
73. ValMar
Reader @ 67,72

Firstly, I was referring to Cat's general coldness towards Jon, not specifically her reaction at Bran's bed.
Political reality and biased feelings may be one and the same here.

I may be mistaken, but one of the points Isilel was making is that it's not only up to Jon himself how he could affect negatively Cat's children. However honourably he acts, the Starks' vassals would see him up there with Robb and the others. Jon appears to be very impressive lad. By merely doing what an average lord does and sharing duties and table with Robb he could have had an effect on his friend's authority.

But quite simply Cat is a product of her environment and Westeros is one cynical land.
Psionandon
74. Reader
@ 73. ValMar:

I didn't think you were only adressing Cat's reaction to Jon at Bran's bed.

As to Jon having a negative effect on Robb's authority, well, not any more than any similarly competent legitimate brother would have had. Probably less even, because a legitimate brother would have had a higher status than a bastard. Most Westerosi nobles are more likely to take trueborn advice and commands than bastard ones.

In any case, I don't see many people including Cat fearing Bran's or Rickon's eventual effect on Robb's authority or the threat they pose to Robb. And _they_ actually have a legal claim to Winterfell and certain rights which Jon clearly doesn't have as long as he is a bastard. Besides, while Jon is competent it's not as if Robb weren't competent himself.

Moreover, whatever one may think about Robb's authority with Jon around, having a competent and trustworthy ally can also be a great benefit in times of turmoil. I'm sure Westerosi history has its fair share of bastards who were valuable allies of their trueborn siblings/relatives. The more likely when there were close ties between the bastard and his legitimate relatives, the less likely when the bastard could hardly care less about them. So Ned's approach to let Jon become close to his siblings looks quite sensible in this regard.
Psionandon
75. Gorgonzo
C'mon, Dany's wedding had 12 deaths. Twelve! That's some serious matrimony.

As for Catelyn, she constantly makes rash decisions, in both her choices and her words. In some ways, she's as selfish as Cersei, although Catelyn's selfishness is not nearly on the scale of a Lannister.

And the "stone" dragon eggs? That's a literary device called 'foreshadowing.'
Maiane Bakroeva
76. Isilel
Reader @72:

Ned's paternal influence and Jon's close bonds to Cat's children are
the very reason why Jon has become _less of a threat than he might have become if he would have been raised elsewhere._

Look, you may greatly sympathise with Ned's decision, but you can't shore it up with something that is the opposite of what is in the books. Conventional mode of raising anknowledged noble bastards exists for a reason - and it works. The only ones who were able to cause trouble in the past were those like Jon, who got unusual favor from the father. Them's the breaks.

As to why favored bastards are considered dangerous and legitimate siblings aren't (on the whole) - well, discussing this in detail would require a lot of spoilers.
Generally, I would say that it is mostly uncertainity of their position. A legitimate sibling has clear social niche, with it's rights and obligations, while a favored bastard depends on favor alone and can be dropped at a moment's notice.
Also, favor to a bastard indicates, to him and everybody else, that the father is not entirely content with his legitimate heir(s).

Anyway, Reader, Tonka, let's drop this - we have stated our positions, we had an enjoyable discussion and we can't discuss in more depth without spoilers.
Elio García
77. Egarcia
Jon may be less of a threat. Jon's children? We're talking dynasties here. All it takes is one capable, bad-intentioned son of Jon "Almost a Stark, Raised Practically as an Heir" Snow to cause trouble, one person who feels that the accident of his father's birth was all that kept him from being in line to be a great lord...

One can say the chances are remote, but then, five generations of Blackfyre Pretenders (and tens of thousand of deaths) remind us that there can be very real consequences.

Catelyn's issues with Jon are complex. They aren't, exactly, with him -- she even acknowledges this. But it's the idea of him, and what his upbringing means (in terms of her relationship to Ned, and Jon's relationship to her children and Winterfell), that's the real concern.
Psionandon
78. Reader
@ Isilel 76:

I think you're misrepresenting or not penetrating which circumstances led to noble bastards becoming threats in the past of Westeros. I won't go into more detail because this would be spoilerish except to say that there are very great differences between Jon's status at Winterfell and the way Ned raised him on the one hand, and the specific case(s) you're probably thinking of on the other.

I will also disagree with you as to the reasons why bastards are usually not raised with their legitimate siblings. A significant part of the reason concerns the feelings of the wronged wife and more importantly her family. When marriages are mostly arranged political alliances then not offending the bride's family just for the sake of some bastard child would be seen as the sensible way to act by most in this society.

In this regard it's noteworthy that female bastards don't seem to be treated differently than male ones although the male ones would seem to be a far greater threat. I would suggest that this can be best explained when the main reason for letting bastards be raised elsewhere is to not offend the wives and their families.

That's not to say that some don't feel that raising bastards elsewhere may also serve to protect the rights of the legitimate children. But I daresay that if not for not wanting to burden one's marriage and offending one's wife and her family many more noble fathers with bastards would probably find it preferable to raise them themselves, and not least because that way they could prevent that their bastards are exposed to bad, unmonitored influences and no feeling for their siblings which in turn could make them truly dangerous.

I will further say that I've yet to see anybody successfully refuting what seems common sense to me: That when you've a potential threat in a bastard and you don't want to kill him or deny him at least a reasonable education then turning him into the sort of moral person who wouldn't usurp the rights of his relatives because it would be criminal and evil and because he loves them is a much more effective way to ensure no usurping will take place than leaving it more to chance.

At least as long as some common sense is applied by the father to the whole situation, meaning that it wouldn't have been a good idea for Ned to give the impression that Cat's children may be bastards themselves and that Jon would be his preferred heir, to try to get Jon legitimated, to alienate Jon from his siblings, to exclude Robb from official business or to gift Jon with an ancestral status symbol like Ice for example.

If Ned would have acted in this fashion _then_ raising Jon at Winterfell would indeed have led to severe problems. However, he didn't, so that there simply isn't any meaningful confusion about Jon's status.

In any case, you're probably right that this discussion has run its course without to go into spoiler territory.

Egarcia,

I would have more sympathy for Cat's point of view with regard to Jon and his potential descendants if Jon's situation wouldn't have been so very different from Daemon Blackfyre's in crucial points. If Ned would have acted like Aegon IV. then I would've cheered Cat on instead of questioning her motives and reasoning.
Maiane Bakroeva
79. Isilel
Reader @78:

...their bastards are exposed to bad, unmonitored influences and no
feeling for their siblings which in turn could make them truly
dangerous.

Except that there is not a single example in the books where conventionally raised bastards were dangerous to the family. On the contrary, they sometimes come to serve the family as adults and are seen as reliable household knights, etc.

Re: female bastards, you have a point, to a degree. But it is also notable that a noble father aknoweldging a bastard daughter seems to be a rarer case anyway. Most just aren't as interested in girls as they are in boys...

I'd also point out that noblemen who are widowed and have legitimate children don't normally fetch their bastard children to their homes either, so it can't all be about the wives' feelings.

Regarding "evil and criminal", well, this is not a black and white world. We shouldn't assume that those precedents of bastard interlopers were necessarily evil people.

Anyway, it is a disservice to Cat's character that those precedents were touched on by GRRM much later into the series and in the Dunk and Egg spin-offs. Without seeing these examples, a lot of readers just condemned her fears as irrational from the get-go...

And look, you really should stop posting spoilers, however tangential they are to the main plot. This is a no-spoiler discussion.
Psionandon
80. ksh1elds555
*sigh* lots of thoughts on Cat vs. Jon here... just wanted to add something NOT that...
I loved the scene where Jon gives Arya the slender dagger called Needle.
I thought he is making an inside joke with her due to the fact that her in more female arts of sewing, needlepoints, etc, she compares herself so poorly to Sansa. But now she has a Needle just for her, for her personality, with which she may far outdistance her sister in talent. Anyhoo, just a little metaphorical joke, but I thought it was clever and so fitting in that warm moment between Jon and Arya. It really makes me hope that Jon and Arya will see each other again.
Psionandon
81. Reader
@ Isilel 79:

I can think of a conventionlly raised bastard who invites suspicion that he is in fact a danger to his family.

I don't think we have enough data to say what widowed noblemen with legitimate children usually do with their bastards, and in any case, while the wife may be dead, her children and their maternal family would still be alive to take offense on the children's mother's behalf.

As for the historical bastard who was unusually treated and who became a threat, I think it should really be noted that this apparently was a very rare case and also under circumstances which were very different from Jon's situation. So I'm very unsure if an earlier introduction would have significantly changed the way Cat is perceived.

In fact, when I learned what Cat's fears were based upon I lost some of the sympathy for her point of view which I previously had because a) usurping bastards seem rarer than I had believed in the setting and b) Jon's case is so very different from the historical precedent.
Philbert de Zwart
82. philbert
@Leigh
Your acceptance of the consummation of the marriage scene kind of surprised me TBH. Regardless of whether she liked it in the end, she never had any choice in the matter of whether or not she was going to have sex with this man, and then there is the age thing.
Personally, I would have expected you to go off your rocker about that...
Psionandon
83. Wortmauer
twitch

Looking forward to a new post so we can maybe talk about something other than raising Jon at Winterfell. (:

twitch

[Also, my first try posting this, I got a captcha with a word that looked like "???????". No fair! I don't have a Greek keyboard layout! I tried to type "dikaios" but it didn't take it. Probably because I missed the accent over the iota.]
William Fettes
84. Wolfmage
philbert @ 82

Yes, but it's not too surprising for a first time reader given how Martin holds forth that ‘yes’ of Dany's arousal like a life raft for the drowning reader. Many people understandably don’t examine this proxy too closely because conflating a 14-year-old's arousal within a post-marital arrangement she has no option to reject (and which she herself would subjectively accept as entailing sexual submission) with real consent is much easier than confronting the supremely uncomfortable reality here.

Hopefully future sexual encounters will trigger Leigh to examine this issue more closely.
Morgan Senkal
85. TaisharMorgan
Because, just—no. You do not give fossilized dragon eggs to a girl who is supposedly literally descended from dragons and who keeps dreaming about dragons and reminding herself about being descended from dragons and dragons dragons dragons, and have nothing happen with them.
I seriously snorted and had to slightly implode to keep from LOL'ing as I am currently in a non-LOL-friendly environment.

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