May 20 2011 2:19pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 9

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 8 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 16 (“Eddard”) and 17 (“Bran”).

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

And now, the post!


Chapter 16: Eddard

What Happens
Ned’s steward Vayon Poole informs him that Arya has been found after four days of searching, and taken directly before the king at the queen’s order. Furious, Ned orders Sansa to be brought to the audience chamber of the castle they are housed in (Ser Raymun Darry’s, a former Targaryen ally, and not a friend). Ned hurries to the chamber, and Arya falls into his arms, sobbing apologies. Ned demands the meaning of this of Robert, and Cersei demands justice for the injury done Joffrey, saying that Arya and the butcher’s boy Mycah beat Joffery with clubs, and then set Arya’s beast upon him. Arya denies this loudly, calling Joffrey a liar, and Robert roars for silence. He commands Arya to tell her version of events as Poole enters with Sansa; Arya does, and Renly Baratheon finds the story hilarious. Robert kicks him out, and has Joffrey tell his (very different) version of the events, and proclaims himself bewildered by the differences between the two.

Ned calls Sansa forward, but she claims not to remember what happened; Arya flies at her sister in a fury and has to be hauled off. Cersei declares that Arya must be punished, but Robert decides to let Ned discipline Arya, to Ned’s great relief. Furious, Cersei then demands that at the very least the direwolf must be put down, but Jory Cassel points out that Nymeria has not been found. Robert is relieved, but Cersei taunts him for his failure to bring her the wolf’s pelt, and demands the skin of Sansa’s wolf instead. Robert shrugs and acquiesces; Sansa is stricken, and Ned begs Robert to relent, but Robert only curses Cersei and leaves. Ned then declares that if it must be done, he will do it himself.

After it’s over, he tells Jory to send men to bring Lady’s body to Winterfell for burial, determined that Cersei will never get her pelt. He meets Sandor Clegane’s party returning from a search, and Clegane shows him the butcher’s boy Mycah’s body, cut almost in half. Ned observes flatly that they rode Mycah down, and Clegane laughs and agrees.

In which we confirm that Cersei does indeed suck just as much as her twin brother, not that this was really in doubt. Man. Forget kicking the dog, how about having it freakin’ executed? Congrats, woman, your Total Bastard certificate of authenticity is in the mail. Sheesh.

(Warning: do not click the above link unless you have a lot of free time on your hands. Seriously.)

Why, why, WHY is it always the dog, man? Yeah, yeah, direwolf, whatever, my point stands. I haaaaate when they kill the animals, y’all. I think the only reason I’m not more upset about it is that I’m refusing to really dwell on it enough to let it sink in. I know how I am about this stuff; Steinbeck’s The Red Pony practically sent me into a fugue state when I was forced to read it by my EVIL HARPY of a 6th grade English teacher, and I have made a command decision that I will not be doing “massive depression” today. So There.

All averted trauma aside, though, I have to be kind of in awe of a chain of events that leads to the one, er, entity in this drama who wasn’t even there being the one that gets punished for it.

Well. Other than Mycah, of course. Poor boy. Clearly, hanging out with the Starks is rapidly becoming a high-risk venture.

Sansa: the sad thing is, I was actually surprised she merely wussed out on her testimony, because I was honestly expecting her to fully embrace the Stupid and support Joffrey’s bullshit version of events in some pathetic attempt to get back into his good graces.

Although, the path she did choose may be the stupidest of the three, really, because (setting aside all questions of decency and ethics) if she had supported Joffrey’s story, Lady would probably still be alive. If she’d supported Arya, Lady’s fate might have been a little more uncertain, but there would be a better than even chance, because I’d bet Ned would have gone much more strongly to bat against Cersei’s demand if both his daughters gave the same story.

But instead she supported neither, and now she has nothing.

I suppose the only good thing to hope comes of this is that Sansa might finally see Joffrey for what he is, and get past her (frankly dangerous) crush on him. Of course, considering I’m pretty sure she still has to marry him anyway… well, let’s just say I am clearly going to have to make some relative adjustments on my “good/bad” scale. Not that I didn’t already know that, too.

Well, at least Renly’s still kickass:

[Renly] bowed to Joffrey. “Perchance later you’ll tell me how a nine-year-old girl the size of a wet rat managed to disarm you with a broom handle and throw your sword in the river.” As the door swung shut behind him, Ned heard him say, “Lion’s Tooth,” and guffaw once more.

Heh. Awesome.


Chapter 17: Bran

What Happens
Bran dreams that he is falling. He speaks with a crow, who tells him he must fly if he wants to live; he will die if he hits the ground. Bran remembers a golden face, and screams, but the crow tells him to forget that, and look down, and Bran sees the whole world. He sees the tree in the center of the godswood look at him, and his mother on a ship racing toward a storm. He sees his father and Sansa and Arya, and that they are surrounded by shadows. He sees dragons in far-off lands, and Jon growing cold at the Wall. He looks beyond the wall, and is afraid, and the crow tells him this is why he must live, because winter is coming.

The crow has three eyes, and tells him to fly or die, and Bran flies. He is delighted, and then the crow stabs him in the center of his forehead, and he wakes to see a serving woman, who shrieks and runs out of his room, shouting that he is awake. Bran tries to get out of bed, but nothing works. His wolf jumps up on the bed with him, and when Robb dashes in, Bran tells him the wolf’s name is Summer.

YAY BRAN IS AWAKE *dances around*

Crippled, yes. But awake!

I didn’t even bother, by the way, to try and capture the feel of this chapter in the summary, because it really can’t be done without just going and reading the original, which I highly recommend you do, because it was pretty darn cool.

Sooooo, Bran is apparently a Seer now? Or was that just a one-time vision quest thingy?

Well, either way the significance of the crow was really nicely done. It ties back to what Bran was originally doing when he was pushed—going to feed the crows on the tower—and more generally links into the common recurring symbolism of crows and ravens being both harbingers of/bridges between life and death, and repositories of wisdom and knowledge not readily available to ordinary people. The Norse god Odin (who is strongly associated with the crows Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory) sacrificed an eye to gain wisdom; I don’t know whether Bran will feel that his spinal cord is quite as fair a trade for becoming a visionary, but the association is unmistakable to my mind.

That the crow is three-eyed only strengthens the symbolism, as “the third eye” is a well-known representation of psychic abilities. It’s also why I thought it’s possible that Bran’s vision will turn out to be a one-time deal, since the crow stabbed him directly between the eyes to wake him up, which is where the third eye would symbolically be. So maybe Bran’s “third eye” is pecked out now, I dunno. We’ll see, I guess.

This is the bit of the actual vision that caught my eye, heh heh puns are funs, when Bran was seeing his father and sisters:

There were shadows all around them. One shadow was dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.

The first two “shadows” are pretty easy to identify: I’m about 99% sure that they represent Sandor Clegane and Jaime Lannister, respectively. But the third—the stone armor guy—I can’t make out at all. I’m going to assume the giant represents either something more esoteric than a single person (like maybe the conflict as a whole?), or he’s someone I don’t have enough information to identify yet. “Black blood”—something inhuman, or just old, dried blood? Huh, no idea at this point.

The point of it all, though, seems to have been a warning: that winter is coming. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess “winter” means more than just a few blizzards in this context. I’m thinking it means FROZEN ZOMBIES. Dun!

(Is it, uh, weird that that phrase still completely delights me? Because c’mon, it’s awesome. Try it: FROZEN ZOMBIES. Yay!)

(I may need help.)

Speaking of winter, I assume someone’s going to explain at some point what the deal is with seasons lasting years or decades or whatever it is instead of months. I’d noticed the mentions of this throughout the chapters I’ve read so far, but I’ve been putting off saying anything about it until it gets explained better. Or, you know, at all. So I guess we’ll come back to that!

And the wolf has a name, yay! A name which is NOT SIGNIFICANT IN ANY WAY, I AM SURE. Nope, naming your direwolf “Summer” right after being told by your magical spirit guide crow guru dude that your survival is the key to heading off the FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE, that’s not symbolic or fraught with meaning at all.

(Okay, so I’m projecting a little with the assumptions here, but it gave me an excuse to say FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE, so I don’t care. Whee!)

All right, that’s clearly enough outta me. Have a delightful weekend, kiddies, and I’ll see you with more next Friday!

Dorothy Johnston
1. CloudMist
Must ... not ... spoil! Must ... not ... spoil!
Marcus W
2. toryx
This Ned chapter broke my heart. I'm a sucker for dogs and I hate it when a writer kills a canine off (or in this case, kills one and drives off the other). Bran getting thrown off a tower was bad enough but this killed me. I still can't read this chapter without getting all teary eyed.

Damn it! Damn the writer and damn those fucking Lannisters.

The following chapter with Bran was actually fairly brilliant. Not only was it incredibly well written and really freaking cool (third eye!) but it ends with a warm fuzzy wolf who suddenly has an awesome name: Summer. So I ended up exchanging tears for grins.

Frozen Zombies! I can dig it.
Marcus W
3. toryx
Oh, and while we're at it, damn Robert too. What a spineless bastard. How can a guy who took on an entire kingdom be so weak? If I didn't think much of him before, this is the point where he really disgusted me.

Poor Lady. And seriously, poor Nymeria. I can picture her reaction to Arya's efforts to drive her off way too well.

While we're at it, let's damn Lassie too, because that show made it easier for me to picture that scene.
4. Chosen
NOOOO! Not TV tropes! The most vile and vicious time suck to ever setup in these inter tubes.

Xanitos Gambit, that looks intresting....
5. Franklyn
First post ever here. Like you, Arya and John started off as my favorite characters, but this is where Bran started the path to eventually become mine.

And the Lannisters continue to be my favorite/most hated villains of all time. I think this is the chapter where I first threw the book across the room in disgust and stomped around for awhile. It's strange, Bran gets thrown from a tower and I think, 'Wow, those Lannister's are bad news' and kept on reading. When Lady died though, it came as even more of a shock. 'Martin you *@#$^%%#$#!'

Maybe it's just a matter of expectations where I knew some of the Stark kids were in trouble from the beginning but I thought all the symbolically significant direwolve pups would be there to the end.

Anyway, loving the reread and keep up the good work!
Steven Pattingale
6. Pattingale
These are two awesome chapters, it is good to read your read on them. Poor Lady & Nymeria indeed! :( Huzzah for Bran's re-awakening though. Good work GRRM on balancing the sad and the glad.

Click on TV Tropes link... nah. I'd rather not lose the whole afternoon thanks! :)
7. Pheran
Leigh, I'll give you a warm fuzzy anecdote somewhat counteract Lady's execution. While this refers to the HBO series Game of Thrones, there are no book or show spoilers here. In real life, the actress that plays Sansa on the show decided to adopt the dog that portrays Lady after they were done shooting Lady's scenes. Pretty cool eh?

Also, I definitely think FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE should be a movie. :-)
Bill Reamy
8. BillinHI
In the little we have seen of him so far, it's pretty clear (to me, anyway) that Robert is most definitely NOT King material. Charlie Sheen, maybe, as he loves to ride both horses and women.

This is my first read of the series and I'm not at all sure I will be able to finish it. If Martin didn't stick in chapters like the most recent Bran, I'd be pretty depressed already.
Janet Hopkins
9. JanDSedai
Well, we don't ever get an explanation of the "seasons" that last for years. My best guess is that it marks the magical waning and waxing of power of whatever Bran saw in the extreme north.

The Crow Dream seems like an old magic come again; even older that dragons. This is the chapter that made me realize that this story was not just some alternate history, but a real fantasy with magic and mystery.
David Thomson
10. ZetaStriker
Bran's dream is actually what sold me on RR Martin as a writer. Poetic and beautiful, the entire section was as close to perfection as I've ever seen in the description and pacing of a scene in a novel. Another chapter later in the book, with another character, also stunned me with this effect . . . although I can't recall anything in the succeeding novels that wowed me as much as those two scenes.
11. carolynh
First off: I could never figure out the moons on Westeros or the winters that last years in these novels either. It sounds cool, but don't try to make sense of it. I just revel in the idea of a winter that lasts years. (And I try to avoid thinking about summers that do the same-- a true vision of hell for me--although an autumn that lasted years might be kind of awesome)

Anyway, enough of that.

The killing of Lady just made me so mad when I first read it. Poor Lady had nothing --NOTHING--to do with this whole event but she's the one who gets killed. Frankly, Mycah had nothing to do with this either, except to try and stay out of it, and he got killed too. And Nymeria, off by herself, no pack to take her in. It's just so sad.

Why Robert didn't tell Cersei to take a flying leap is something I will never understand. Renly really hit the nail on the head with his comment, didn't he? That's what Robert should have said and done. I mean, it's not as though Robert is mollifying Cersei because he likes/loves her, now is it??

The Bran chapter was outstanding in virtually every way, including when the woman ran screaming out of the room when he awoke. I could just picture that one, shouts echoing down the hall, growing dimmer as she got farther away. Great stuff, that.

And of course the name of the direwolf, Summer. Perfect and eerie all at the same time.
Kent Aron Vabø
12. sotgnomen
I always read the stone giant as the king. The giant warrior king watching over them all, but there is nothing left inside him but darkness and dead blood.
@7 Pheran: For FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE the movie, I recommend Dead Snow. Downside: it's Norwegian, so subtitles. Upside: They're frozen NAZI zombies.
13. carolynh
sotnomen: I've always wondered if the stone giant wasn't the Wall. I'm not sure why, since the giant acts like a person (opening the visor and all). Even though the Wall is an ice giant, not a stone giant, the giant struck me as more like the Wall than anything.
Tony Zbaraschuk
14. tonyz
Scale of Bad Guydom:

Kicking the pretty girl's dog: bad.

Killing the pretty girl's dog: very bad.

Making the pretty girl's daddy kill the pretty girl's dog: so far off the scale on badness that we have no sufficiently descriptive words.
15. TheGolden
I don't think this is a spoiler, because there has been no confirmation as yet, and you can infer it based on what you have read:

The figure in stone armor is The Mountain That Rides.
Andrew Foss
16. alfoss1540
Billin - Charlie Sheen is a whack-job addict. Robert seems to be just a spineless philanderer and a major tool of the past that has been hung up in the garage for the real leaders (read this Lannisters) to ignore and control. Bringing Ned Stark in must be a serious fly in the butter dish of the Lannister's plans.

Loved Renley mocking Joff. How long is Mommy going to wet-nurse him?
17. ecthelion
believe it or not, my actual name is Ben Stark. How cool is that!?! I never knew I would be a character of a book! I'm reading Game of Thrones for the first time (thanks to Leigh), and I'm glad I did. You really feel like a part of the story when your last name (and particularly the first) is a major part of the plot.
18. Pheran
@15: How the heck is she supposed to infer something about a character who hasn't even been introduced yet at her point in the story?? Sounds like a spoiler to me.
swingset acid
19. swingsetacid
@toryx @tonyz Think of Robert's reaction from his viewpoint: He's the king of several kingdoms, he's worried (or will be) about a potential invasion, his right-hand man has just died, not to mention he's been traveling for weeks in order to convince Ned to come back with him and, basically, keep him alive.

Now, his brat of a child is either 1) a liar or 2) (worse) just got beat up by a girl. He hates his wife enough *without* her screeching in his ear about vengeance. He can make these smaller problems go away by having a direwolf killed, which, in all honesty is NOT a dog. The current TV series portrays them as regular wolves, likely for budgetary reasons, but they are *giant* wolves that have a nasty habit of eating human-sized creatures. Seems like a pretty pragmatic trade.

You know he's already done way worse at this point in his life. What's a direwolf? It's not cowardice. It's prioritization. Morally questionable? Yes. Would I make the same decision? No. Important skill for leaders? Yes. Required skill for survival in this world? Absolutely.

My guess is that by the time Robert has walked out of the room, he's probably forgotten all about the dog and has moved on to bigger things. I'd also bet that when Robert shrugs and gives into Cersei, he just expected a random henchman to go kill the dog. It was *Ned* that felt honorbound to do it on his own. He was probably more annoyed than anything that Ned had to and make a big honor-iffic deal out of something, in Robert's mind, was a simple matter of justice served.

My favorite aspect of Martin's characters is that there are rarely instances when someone does something completely out of character or lacks some sort of rationalization. He's a master at shades of grey.
Marcus W
20. toryx
Pheron @ 7: I thought that it was awesome that the dog playing Lady got adopted like that. There's a great picture out there of some of the cast hanging out with her far away from the set. Not that Leigh will want to see it at this point of time.

Frozen Zombie Apocalypse: The new Wes Craven movie opening December 21st, 2012. I can dig it. I just need to get started on that screenplay right now...

ecthelion @ 17: Nice! I've been rather pleased to have the last name of Weir, like the weirwoods. What's even neater is that I've got red hair to match the red leaves (though not quite the color of blood).

Re: The seasons. Frankly, if I can suspend my disbelief enough to consider dragons (i.e. Massive, extremely heavy reptiles that fly and breathe fire) I can easily dismiss really odd seasons.
Dana Bass
21. krimsen
Hi, first time posting here, though I've read the books several times. Both the girls losing their wolves just struck me as Not a Good Thing the first time around. When Jon finds the wolves, he tells Ned that his children were meant to have them, and I was so frustrated when Ned didn't remember that and try harder to save Lady. We've already seen how Bran's wolf saved his life, and I remember thinking that Sansa and Arya are going to need them! You don't go around killing off a gift from the gods...
Marcus W
22. toryx
swingsetacid @ 19:

I can see your point. Only, that isn't the way that Robert was portrayed in that chapter at all. Nor, for that matter, has he yet been portrayed as a King whose reining duties lie so heavily on his mind that he can't spare a few minutes to deal with a fight between his child and his Hand's. If anything, it's only keeping him from his regular regimen of drinking and wenching.

Robert struck me in this chapter as a guy who didn't want to be involved because it meant dealing with Cersei. He'll do whatever it takes to shut her up, regardless of whether it's appropriate or not. Like an overwhelmed father, he isn't interested in justice; he just wants quiet. Not a good quality in a King. It isn't good parenting either. I have no sympathy for him whatsoever.
Rob Munnelly
23. RobMRobM
Sansa's tale. Keep in mind her predicament: Ned informs us she already told him the truth of what transpired. Obviously, he expects she'll tell the truth when called upon. But she's ask to defy her betrothed and anger her upcoming monster - I mean, mother-in-law. Almost a classic definition of a no-win situation. So she takes what she thought was the only safe route, satisfying neither, and gets burned for it. Classic GRRM: hard moral choices, no easy answers.

One thought question - if Renly hadn't publicly humilated Joff, would Cersei have been so hell-bent at getting some retribution from somebody to even the odds? I think not.

Re Robert: killing his friend's daughter's dangerous pet versus avoiding days of harping from Cersei about his lack of a spine. Easy answer for him but it proves how spineless he is in truth.

Re Arya, keep in mind: she hid for 4 freakin days. Isn't she cool?

Re Bran - excellent chapter. Love the golden face references (meaning Jamie) that the crow won't let him focus on and the many dead bodies that weren't able to fly. Also, if we accept that all Bran viewed from above is true (mother in boat, father and Sansa with her crying, Jon cold at Wall), then there are at least some dragons still alive in the Far East and there is some really self-evidently scary stuff up north. Cool in almost every respect.

Sky Thibedeau
24. SkylarkThibedeau
I was more sorry for poor Mycah than Lady or Nymeria. He was just a little kid cut to pieces by the Hound. Life is hard, cheap, and short for the common folks of Westeros.

It took a long time for me to forgive Sansa for betraying Arrya. Cersei's killing of Lady would have been a good comeuppance but i like you was tramatized by the Red Pony. Animal deaths are as hard to bear as child ones.

I was very very happy when Bran woke up.
Joseph Kingsmill
25. JFKingsmill16
1st– I always believed the giant armored in stone was either the Red Keep or Kings Landing

2nd– This is my fourth time reading this book and I think that there is more behind the reason that Lady was killed. I firmly believe that Sansa was punished for betraying her family for not speaking up. Let’s face it; those wolves were sent for a reason, to protect the Starks. When she wouldn’t back Arya, she lost the protection of whom/whatever sent the wolves to protect them. There are other examples I could give but they would absolutely be spoilers.
26. Gentleman Farmer
As we've seen already in these books, the identity of the narrator can often affect the reality of events. That said, I've always been pretty trusting of Ned's viewpoint, and don't think we've been given any reason to believe that Ned, man of Truth and Honor, lies to himself any more than he would lie to anyone else.

So in discussing the killing of Mycah, the butcher's boy, is there any reason, at this point, to doubt that he was killed by Sandor Clegane? I don't see any room for ambiguity in that is there?

Rob Munnelly
27. RobMRobM
Leigh - re the Winter length issues, there is a lovely article analyzing that very issue on our very own website by Elio and Linda, who run the most prominent ASOIF site ( ... but it has some spoilerific info, so NOT FOR YOU. Sorry about that. You can rest assured you are not the only person who has questions re that subject.

Re Mycah and the Hound: "He ran, but not very fast" is one of the most bad-assed lines ever. There's also the "I caught your daughter's pet" line that Ned assumed meant Nymeria but, instead, meant Mycah. Yet another bad-assed line. Woof.

28. pratprak
Seeing your reaction to the death of the direwolf, I can definitely recommend that you not read Quicklsilver by Neal Stephenson - that is not a book for dog lovers!

I'm surprised that you came down so hard on Sansa for thinking that this was the stupidest path,using the fact that Lady might be alive as one of the factors. That shouldnt have been one of the considerations, I think, when making that choice (i.e. between the three alternatives), because I just cant see such a decision coming out without the help of hindsight. I'm guessing Sansa thought that path would be best, because she thought it would get the least number of people mad at her. But then again, I guess strategy isnt her forte. (And no, I dont know which of the three was the best choice, or why; I think thats quite open to interpretation, and will differ from person to person, depending on what they want)
29. Edgewalker
love the anger about the dire wolf, but none about Mycah.
Sky Thibedeau
30. SkylarkThibedeau
Well she said in the review Sandor's party which if he was in command he was responsible for the murder whether or not it at this point in the story mentions his sword was the one that carried out the deed or not.
Rob Munnelly
31. RobMRobM
And here is the latest excerpt from the Blog of Ice and Fire. The line re the name of Bran's wolf is outstanding:


A wise man once said, "thou shalt not lie, for the Queen shall kill
thy pet direwolf." Perverse karmic justice is served when Lady is
executed as a direct result of Sansa’s actions. The significance is
obvious: Sansa ceased being a Stark in spirit when she chose Joffrey
over her family, and her symbolic connection with "northness" was fullysevered with Lady's death. If Arya-vs-Joffrey was a character test forSansa, she failed in every way possible way. She betrayed her sister,
lied to her father, and upset her future husband and family. Even though
she did Joffrey a favor by lying, all she received in return was her
innocent wolf’s corpse.
After you strip away
all the royal titles and family pride, this was just kids getting into a
stupid fight and receiving with a few scars and bruises. It's not like
Arya pushed Joffrey off a window ledge or sent an assassin to kill him
in his sleep. Despite this, Robert lets Cersei have her way because he
was too cowardly and lazy to argue with her. Even though Robert is king,
his life still sucks tremendously. He’s in love with a dead girl, his
son is a wuss and a jackass, and his wife would rather sleep with her
brother. Also, supernatural ghost men invade from the north and the
Scorpion King raises an army across the sea. Lastly, he’s become
embarrassingly overweight. Robert’s going to be the first king who
commits suicide out of depression.

I have two final thoughts about this chapter. First, the Hound is a
pretty badass cowboy with his “he ran, but not very fast” line. Second, I can't believe Martin killed off one of the direwolves so early in the
book, because I felt very attached to them already. When it was revealed that Mycah was in the body bag and not Nymeria, I was relieved and happy. Repeat: I was happy that an innocent child was murdered insteadof a guilty pet wolf.

I spent an inordinate amount of time and words on that last chapter
because there’s hardly anything to say about the next one because it's
six pages of Bran tripping out on LSD, where he converses with a
three-eyed crow and possesses the power of flight. Then he wakes up
names his wolf “Summer,” when “Fall” is clearly the more appropriate
name, as it signals winter is coming and conveniently summarizes why
he’s crippled.
Steven Halter
32. stevenhalter
Sansa is fairly useless here. Her non-choice does seem like the worst one she could have made.
Arya does indeed rock. It's too bad no one is believing her. And, yeah, it's bad that the wolf was killed, but Mycah didn't do anything wrong at all and ended up just as dead--and he was a person. So, no justice at all in this scene.
Chris Chaplain
33. chaplainchris1
Awesome, awesome, awesome, Leigh! And I totally missed the connection between Bran feeding the crows before his accident...nice!

And...that's all I'm saying, because MUST...NOT...SPOIL...
34. Lsana
We should take a minute to feel really bad for Mycah here, since that is all he will have. Westeros is not a world where there is any justice for butcher's boys.

Also, I'll admit to being curious on this point for a couple of weeks: of all those who said that Cat should never be forgiven for her "it should have been you" comment feel that the Hound deserves the same condemnation for killing a child?
35. EvilClosetMonkey
Lady's death was hard to read but watching it on HBO actually made me cry. I've decided that I don't care that I should be more outraged with the Hound killing Mycah than Ned killing Lady; I'm not and if that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

As far as the seasons goes, don't worry about the mechanics of it. If you want slightly more info, but nothing I consider spoilerish here is some white text for you:

GRRM has said not to try to apply astronomy or any other science to the Westerosi seasons because there is a magicky explanation.

I white texted just in case because some people seem to consider things like this a spoiler. The white text does not contain any info we get later in the books, just a short answer that GRRM gave in regards to a question about the seasons he received.
Joseph Kingsmill
36. JFKingsmill16
@34. Lsana - I wish I could discuss my reasons why I still think Cat is hated more than the Hound "overall" but spoilers stop me.

I will agree that he should be by far the most hated character next to Jaime "at this point" in the story.
37. EvilClosetMonkey
Also, as others have said before me, I bet the baker's and chandler's kids are no longer allowed to play with Arya.
Drew Holton
38. Dholton
"Forget kicking the dog, how about having it freakin’ executed?"

Ah, Leigh, has anyone told you how much we luff you?

Seriously, your reactions as a first time reader are the ones I dream of being able to share when I give a favorite book or dvd to a friend to try.

As for Lady being killed, terrible as it was, the thing I found most soul crushing was Arya having to "betray" Nymeria's love by driving her away with rocks.
39. sofrina
didn't leigh mention in a previous post that queen cersei had vowed to never let the direwolves come to the capitol? so all she really did was capitalize on the opportunity to get rid of one of them.

no one here really expected any mercy in the first place. mycah and arya split because they knew that messing with the prince was serious business. arya may be little but she had the sense to drive her wolf off rather than see it slain. robert tried to throw some leniency to his friend, but his wife is not brooking any insults to her future king. they all knew this would end badly.
Stefan Mitev
40. Bergmaniac
I started my reread a few days ago and went past this point in two hours, even though I didn't really intended to read it so fast. It's just a gripping read even on reread, I am amazed that Leigh has managed to read only 2 chapters per week, especially given how short they are at the start.

Anyway, I've never cared much for dogs, and even less for wolves, so the killing of Lady didn't move me much. Mycah's death was far more tragic for me.

To be fair to Sansa, she was put in a really difficult position by his father who should've known better IMO.Ned should've prepared a more diplomatic lie with his daughters - he knows who he's dealing with, unlike his daughters.

Bran bores me to tears (though less on this reread than on previous ones), I have to say. As cruel as it may sounds, I think the books would've been better if he had died after the fall.
Scientist, Father
41. Silvertip
Unless you make the seasons different in source from ours, there's no good way to make decades-long winter cycles work ... the length of an orbit around the sun increases in a simple way with distance from that sun, a fact that goes back to Kepler. By the time you're far enough away for that to work, a planet circling any reasonable star is frozen anyway. (Le Guin ran into this same conundrum in her early Planet of Exile, and she ignored it too. It's too good of a dramatic device to pass up, I think.). I'm with those who are content to say: It makes the books work, and it's magic, so deal.

Maiane Bakroeva
42. Isilel
I always found Ned's decision to drag Sansa into it and make her testify against her betrothed (who'd have her in his power after they marry) rather problematic. I mean, he himself was quite critical of Cersei's enduring loyalty to her birth family, since in Westeros a wife is supposed to cleave to her husband's family over her birth one. Yes, yes, betrothal is not quite a marriage and can be dissolved... but Sansa, being only 11, saw it as a done deal, and there is a cultural imperative at work there.

Also, Arya may be awesome (indeed I think that she is), but Mycah's death resulted from her actions. If she'd just followed Mycah's lead, he would have been alive.

Re: Lady, Cersei has been convinced from the beginning that the girls' direwolves would be a danger to her kids (IIRC she talked about it during her breakfast with her brothers in WF). She wasn't just being evil - she saw her fears in that respect proving true and jumped at a chance to remove the threat. If Sansa had testified against Joff, Cersei would have tried to eliminate Lady in a different way.

Re: the Hound - well even here people find him a bad-ass. So slaughter of innocents will be forgiven him.
But some woman mouthing off to the teenage hero? How dare she forget her palce?! Burn her forever!
Marcus W
43. toryx
Isilel @ 42:

Ned believes in honor and honesty. I don't think it'd ever really occur to him not to be honest about what happened, and since Sansa is his daughter he expected the same of her. I didn't expect her to put either her family or her affection for Joffrey before the truth. It's just the way he is.

As far as Mycah goes, he only existed in the mind of the reader for about two chapters. He's not given a point of view and the reader has no real reason to attach any emotion to him. It's fairly natural for people to feel a stronger emotional connection to Jon or the wolves than to Mycah. The butcher's boy is simply less real in the mind of most readers.

By and large, emotions rule over reason when it comes to the average reader's experience. For myself, I definitely disliked the Hound far more than I did Catelyn, even though Catelyn's actions pained me far more when she said those things to Jon than the Hound did when he rode Mycah down.
Max Lybbert
44. maxlybbert
I'd assumed the "seasons" were simply multiyear weather cycles. I base this partly off of an upcoming scene where an adult realizes that certain youngsters have never experienced winter and thus don't believe that snow can fall in certain areas, or not thaw for several months.

So they have what we call seasons: warmer months and colder months. And they have what they call seasons: multiple years where the cold months are colder (and the warm months are colder), and other multiyear stretches where the warm months are hotter (and the cold months are hotter).
Ian Johnson
45. IanPJohnson

(Wow… surprisingly cathartic.)
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
Isilel (and Lsana too) - no one is forgiving the Hound for his slaughter of innocents or attributing him less moral blame than Cat at this point in the story (At least I'm not). Bad-ass in this context means jaw-droppingly cruel, not cool. But we expect the Hound to be cruel so there is no expectation of good behavior. Thus, there is nothing to talk about. With Cat, we have high expectation of good behavior, and her conduct has fallen short of that - hence, criticism.

However, Isilel made a really good point about whether spouses/betrotheds are expected to support husband or her own family, as it related to criticism of Cercei. Our problem is that the Lannisters' behavior so far been so execrable to cause the point to be lost but it is a real one. It is not clear what Sansa SHOULD have done in this circumstance when she knew her betrothed and his mother would be beyond wroth if she had told the truth. I have great sympathy for Sansa in this scene.

Toryx makes a good point re Mycah - we've been living with the direwolves for a dozen chapters, so their loss means more to us from a story perspective. Mycah, we hardly knew ya.

@37. Well played!
47. Jack Stark
I barely felt bad about Lady. I don't know, at this point in the series, the wolves (outside of Ghost) barely had any "personalities", so the killing of one of them in the same chapter we learn about the murder of a child barely registered for me. For the people saying the Hound was "badass"... really, a guy that can kill a butcher's child is badass? My, what a feat that must've been!

Reading this reread makes me remember how much I hate Westeros' social structure and production system; when the FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE happens, I'll definetily be rooting for the zombies.
Scott Terrio
48. Renegade248
I have just finished the first book and am starting the second now. Seriously Leigh, I do not know how you can only read 2 chapters a week. I tore through the first book and am about 1/3 of the way through Clash of Kings.

Great chapters here, and this is when the story really grabbed me along for the rest of the ride. Ayra is one of my favorites, and also Bran. I kind of had a feeling when Sansa was called in front of the king, that something bad would happen. I did not expect one of the direwolves would be dead by this point, as I thought that all of them would be here throughout the story as they are the sigil of House Stark and you can tell the wolves are there to protect the children. The execution of Lady and then the Hound with Mycah was really depressing. So glad we got bran waking up in the next chapter to kind of offset the gloominess of the preceding chapter.

Anyway, enjoying your read through of this and am looking forward to the rest of your read.

PS. If i got this figured correctly, will take another 24 weeks or so to get through the rest of this book if Leigh continues with 2 chapters per week, and should just be in time for season 2 on HBO. :)
Noneo Yourbusiness
49. Longtimefan
so if killing a dog makes you a villian does that mean Dee Wallace was playing the villian in Cujo? or indeed Tommy Kirk in Old Yeller?

There have been a lot of changes in the emotional culture over the years and I am not sure if making sure a villian has to kick a dog or indeed kill one is a trope that need to be continued.

I only mention this because I recently watched Young Victoria and in the moive the "villian" made some imperious demands and then stormed out of the room and kicked the dog on the way out as if to make a theatrical point that this person was indeed a villian.

Sometimes dogs should just not be involved in general.

As to the chapter at hand Martin made quite sure that the readers empathy was with Lady as the Direwolf was discribed as being as dainty and well mannered as Sansa herself and obviously no threat to anyone for any reason. (as unrealistic as that is about any wild animal no matter how well a person believes it is trained)
So it was compounded emotional cruelty because of how well behaved Lady was, the fact that her name was Lady conferring a human status, and that she was always discribed in radiant and glowing tones as would befit a beauty that one would regret losing.

A writer plays with people's emotions. If one reads one must decide how much one lets a writer do that.

Martin intends to work over every freaking emotion anyone could ever have so gird oneself appropriately or be prepared to have book sized holes in the walls as the previous chapters have clearly shown.
50. jcfocarino
Even having read all of the currently released books, I STILL don't understand why GRRM decided to kill Lady off. I mean, every other sibling has their direwolf except Sansa. To me, it just seems a bad...balance, almost.
paul Hend
51. tugthis
Sansa's choices are tough but she makes the right one. It sucks that the right one means that she basically is amde to look like an air head, but there it is. She can not bear witness against Joffrey, who she maybe bethothed to, nor can she bear witness against her own family. So she has to go all Sargent Schultz here.
Sansa is my least favorite character because she seems so one dimensional, but here at least in a tight spot it shows that she has been paying attention to all those lessons taught by the maesters.

Incidentially, one of the things I like about Martin is that he allows you to identify with a character and then kill him off. In a way it serves to remind one that although we all like to watch the dancing elephants we can forget that the mice underfeet oft get crushed. and the mice are worth noticing too.
52. Lurking Canadian
Interesting interpretation about the crow "pecking out" Bran's third eye. My interpretation of that scene was that the crow pecked his forehead precisely to open his third eye, which had heretofore been covered by forehead tissue. On sober reflection, your metaphor makes more sense than mine.

And as for Winter, I think Westeros just has not-infrequent mini ice ages. How, you ask? A wizardidit.
53. Hirgon
I'm actually kind of saddened by this post and the comments. The worst thing that happened in Eddard's chapter is that Joffrey's bodyguard slaughtered a child, admitted to the second most powerful man in the kingdom that he slaughtered a child, and no one (in the book) cares. Martin establishes here that his world is cruel, and that no one cares about the peasants.

Re the changing of the seasons: it's purely magickal. It is known.
54. EyeOfTheNeedle
Firstly, I cannot understand why people are trying to understand the seasons of Westeros by applying our own natural laws to a world that, although similar to our own, is obviously completely different (in a seasonal sense). I like to use my imagination when reading fantasy, and explain this phenomenon to myself by imagining the planet, which contains the continent(?) of Westeros, orbits it's star in an eratic way, thereby causing uneven seasonal change.

Secondly, is the question around the death of Lady and the speculation that the God(s) are cutting Sansa off from the North due to her, in my opinion, understandable cop-out when asked to testify on the Joff incident in front of a gaggle of nobility and the King. I think Lady helped save Sansa by opening her eyes to Joff's true personality and ultimately gives her a new decisiveness in this respect, which may or may not end up saving her life.
55. DarrenJL
We're led to believe that Sansa is more a Tully than a Stark, or at least more a Tully than the rest of the Stark children. At least, going by Cat's obvious favouritism of Sansa over Arya so far. And yet the Tully words are Family, Duty, Honour. Sansa chose none of those, when she lied. I used to think the House words were just decoration in the appendix, but I no longer do. She betrayed not only her family, but herself, really. At least, her Tully self. And lost her Stark self (Lady) as a result.
Tricia Irish
56. Tektonica
Of course I hated Lady dying for Joff's ridiculous lack of manhood and honor. (I could not watch Lassie as a child, have never seen more than a few minutes of Bambi, nor have I watched Black Beauty.)

But as for Lady taking the punishment for the whole Arya/Joff debacle.....
I assumed it was Cersei punishing Sansa for not standing firmly behind Joff, because it was a total misplacement of justice. There had to be a message delivered there....."Someone will pay for hurting my dear Joff, and you, my dear Sansa, should have his back as his queen to be. You need to know you are no longer a Stark." Ug. What a bitch.

And then there's poor Mycah. Arya is going to have a hard time finding playmates.

TheGolden@15: That's what I thought too. Bad.

ecthelion@17: Wow....great name!

Seasons: There are certain things you just have to go with. I assume there will be some sort of explanation down the road, but in the meantime, it just is this way in this world. Magic?

Loved the Bran chapter! I assumed the crow pecking his forehead was opening his inner eye, as his eyes then flew open. Much good symbolism in his dreams.....

Thanks Leigh! I'm so enjoying your take on this book.
57. ldk
Re: mythamolology.

That's a good point, bringing up Huginn and Muninn. Corvids're a pretty inexhaustible font of mythological substance, featuring in tales as disparate as those of the Japanese tengu, the god Raven of North American plains tribes, Biblical and Quranic scriptures, and the Norse legends you alluded to yourself. Don't forget Bran's own namesake, though. It's about as transparent as George Martin ever gets in his mythical influences.

I think you contradicted yourself slightly in first explicating that Odin sacrificed an eye to obtain insight, then drawing the conclusion that piercing the forehead at the point where a spiritual third eye is traditionally placed would blind it.

Pish-posh; we shall see.
58. Calliope66
I haven't started reading the books yet but did just marathon 5 episodes last night (totally hooked!). Have to confess I broke down like a baby over the direwolf execution. I mean I was crying so loud and hard that both my dogs dove into my lap to console me, which of course just made me cry even harder. Cersei needs to go down and I hope Arya (my fav character!) is the one to do it!
59. Andrew Gelos
In truth, when I first read these chapters, I felt sad for everything that was killed or driven off. True, I was more attached to the direwolves than to Mycah; but that didn't stop me from exclaiming how much of a bastard Sandor was for killing the butcher's boy. That said, I do think there have been drastic misinterpretations of the use of the term "bad ass." Like many words or phrases, this one can and does have multiple, contextual meanings. Here, I believe most posters mean it to imply extreme ruthlessness in a power driven mind. This wasn't just killing an innocent boy, this was running the child down with a horse and then killing him for no other reason than bringing him back alive would have been slightly inconvenient, and for Sandor, it was what qualifies as "fun" in a sociopathic mindset. The Hound is broken. This much is obvious from what little we've seen of him so far. Just how broken he is, we can't discuss without going into spoilers, so... another time.

As for Cat... I see both sides of the argument over her treament of Jon, and I feel that those opinions are colored by how close one is to Jon. I love Jon, when I read the series aloud with my family, Jon's voice is my own more than any other character; so I'll admit, I came down hard on Cat for her words to him. That being said, she was absolved of her previous transgressions in my mind by her standing against an armed man threatening Bran's life.

Leigh, great read as always.
60. dogshouse
pratprak- Yikes, I'd forgotten about the Royal Society "experiments" in Quicksilver. Sometimes hard to tell Science from nasty boys pulling the wings off flies (or much worse). The dietary preferences of the Lewis and Clark expedition are also questionable for dog lovers. Dudes! You can get all the salmon you can eat, and you buy WHAT?

Just finished the audiobook of The Game of Thrones, so its great being able to read Leigh's impressions so soon after forming my own.
61. ldk
dogshouse - I never knew! That is some severely chilling sh*t. At least Clark "could not bring himself to eat dog meat." Clark...rhymes with Stark...nah.

I, a frequent rereader of the series, wanted badly to inculcate one particular friend with little rec. reading time into its gelidly incendiary goodness. Alas, ep. two will be the deal-breaker. She cannot abide dog damage, and is apparently not alone, according to George's somewhat surprised sounding blog post, as though it had never occurred to him that series loyalty cometh easier when the story's next events arrive at the turn of a page rather than leave the devotee to stew for a week on some shocking turn. Odd that Bran's tower dive did not similarly stir up viewer opposition.

And, having written all that, it occurs to me that I may have been discussing the television program in too much more meta-analytical a way than general comments--e.g., "Yikes, I hated seeing that part!" Sozz. I'll post & await the wrath of the moderators, if it's incurred. One way to find out, but I'll try to stay away from aught that might spoil the series, when you get to it, through critical commentary. I hope this observation hasn't done so.

Furthermore, Leigh, GRRM's blog may contain spoilers, although he has begun an initiative to contain the discussion, lest new viewers find their way to his site. Be warned!
Marcus W
62. toryx
Hirgon @ 53:

Well truth be told, historically hardly anyone ever really cared about the peasants. Martin's world is not any harsher than our own in that regard.
63. Wortmauer
Hirgon@53: Re the changing of the seasons: it's purely magickal. It is known.
It is known.
64. BMike
To play Devil's Advocate for the Hound: he is Joffrey's sworn protector, and a vassal to House Lannister in general. Therefore, it was his duty to believe Joff's side of the story, which means that as far as Sandor is concerned Mycah attacked the heir to the throne and the very BEST he could hope for was to lose a hand. In modern contexts, you would never hunt down and kill a kid, but this is not a modern context. There's no trial: Cersei is queen, and if she says he is guilty, he is guilty, and if he says Mycah should die, then he dies.

(and to emphasize the point, DEVIL'S ADVOCATE)
65. David B
I don't think there was anything more chilling than Cersei's "We have *a* wolf." - certainly not up to this point. Even Jaime's "The things I do for love" line doesn't come across with the same sort of calculated cruelty in her one line.

I have to admit, I was anxiously awaiting for you to get to this chapter, to see your reaction. With everything else that happens (fake-spoiler: A lot else happens), it's this chapter that marked a turning point in how I treated the series; as something more than "typical" fantasy.

As for the seasons, heresay has it that Martin's explaination for why they last so long is "Magic". I do not feel it a spoiler if I say that (so far) he makes no in character attempt to "scientifically" explain why the seasons last so long - at least not in a way that explains it to the reader.

Whee! I feel like I should go back and keep up with you on a re-read...but stopping at two chapters a week is too rough for me.
66. Joel Prophet
As to the wierd seasons there can be a semi scientific explanation. The tilt of the earth axes is what controls the seasons here. If the fictional planet had an unstable tilt (wobbles as it spins like a top) it could result in short and long seasons of varible length and intensity.

That's the best I can do....or it's just an advanced technology above our abilty to understand it....magic
67. AdamOndi
Robert is an amazingly flawed character. He is the classic example of Be Careful What You Wish For, Because You Just Might Get It. His entire motivation for the civil war which led to the killing/exiling of all living Targaryens was revenge for the his perceived treatment of Lyanna Stark and the deaths that resulted from his reaction to that. So he embarks on his campaign of rebellion and death and ends up succeeding. But what does he have when all is said and done? He doesn't have Lyanna back, doesn't have any actual happiness in the result of his rebellion, and is saddled with a toxic bargain that got the Lannisters to support his rebellion and his bid for the throne. He is now living out his horrible, miserable life living with the consequences of seeking revenge above all else.

He is a terrible kind precisely because he never actually wanted to be king in the first place. He acted rashly and probably didn't think of what exactly he was going to do if he actually brought down the Targaryens in the end. The Lannisters are systematically destroying everything he loves and brings close to himself in King's Landing. And now, oblivious through drink, food, and whatever else he is using to try to feed his depression, he has brought Ned Stark and the whole House Stark into this horrible situation to be surrounded by Lannisters.

The sad thing is that Robert gets no sympathy. Everyone hates him as a character because he is so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't care what havoc he wreaks on his friends through his own self-desctructive behavior. We all hate the Lannisters and other monstrous characters in this story, but Robert gets hated simply because he is impetuous and allows himself to be driven entirely by his passions and feelings at all times rather than strategy, cunning, honor or truth.
68. iamnospam
" FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE " somebody call SciFi wait I mean SyFy they will make a movie about anything.
Marcus W
69. toryx
AdamOndi @ 67:

I agree that Robert happens to be one of the more tragic characters in the series. But I think the reason he is disliked isn't simply because he's impetuous (Arya's impetuous too, but we love her for it) or because he is driven by his passions. It's the reckless irresponsibility he keeps displaying that bothers people.

It's plain from the first time we meet Robert just how seriously he takes his responsibilities as King and if his judgement of the conflict between Joffrey and Arya is any indication of his qualities as a ruler, the reader has plenty of cause for concern.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
70. tnh
It's hard to feel sorry for someone who's so thoughtless about the privileges that come with being king. Robert may have lost his heart's desire, but he hasn't denied himself many desires since. His lack of kingliness has to be feeding the Lannisters' ambitions: "If Robert can be king, anyone can; and if anyone can be king, why not me?"
71. Wortmauer
AdamOndi@67: Robert is an amazingly flawed character. He is the classic example of Be Careful What You Wish For, Because You Just Might Get It. His entire motivation for the civil war which led to the killing/exiling of all living Targaryens was revenge for the his perceived treatment of Lyanna Stark and the deaths that resulted from his reaction to that.
Wait, where do we learn the "entire motivation" for the rebellion against House Targaryen? I just reread the two passages where we learn about the rebellion (in the crypt, and later on a pre-dawn ride near Winterfell, both private conversations between Robert and Ned). I didn't see anything about what sparked the rebellion. Robert certainly felt strongly about Rhaegar's treatment of Lyanna - he killed Rhaegar and thought of it as revenge - but I don't think the entire war was that simple. Ned in particular doesn't seem like the sort to launch (or support) a rebellion against the crown based solely on the personal actions of the crown prince. Even with his sister involved. There had to be more to it.

That being said, Robert is still fixated on Lyanna these many years later, so it may as well have been the whole point. And yes, he could take a little more thought to the responsibilities that go along with the privileges of being king. When he tells Ned, "I am planning to make you run the kingdom and fight the wars while I eat and drink and wench myself into an early grave," it's pretty clear he's not really joking. (Also, that's a great line. I'm glad the HBO scriptwriters kept it.)
Dorothy Johnston
72. CloudMist
For Ned, it wasn't just how his sister was treated by the crown prince that sparked his rebellion. Remember, Ned's father and brother were both executed by the Mad King.
Rob Munnelly
73. RobMRobM
By the way Leigh, one of the best chapters in the entire book is waiting for you in the chapters teed up for Friday. Consider it your cookie treat after sitting through so many downer chapters.

74. Fredweena
Um @ a number of you.. I'm reading along with Leigh, and at this point we don't know what happens to Nymeria, only to Lady.

In my mind Lady dying = very very bad news for Sansa.

Also, for me another reason to like Ayra is that she stands up for her sister and Lady, directly after hearing her lie about what happened.
Anthony Pero
75. anthonypero

Really? try looking at the soil records between 14,000 BC and 4000 BC, and what they have to say about the climate at the end of the last Ice Age. Very similar to what GRRM has set up for Westeroes. Although I think another, more magical machanism is it work here.
Brett Dunbar
76. Brett
The ice ages are related to a number of rugular long term variations in the earths orbit; the Milankovitch cycles. These are both too slow and too regular to work on Westeros.

A different possible source of variation is the output of the local star. The Sun has an eleven year sunspot cycle with the output during the sunspot maxima significantly higher than that during the minima, however this has little effect on climate. Superimposed on that is an irregular variation in the intensity of the sunspot cycle with the periods with almost little sunspot activity such as the Spörer Minimum (1460-1550), Maunder Minimum, (1645-1715) and Dalton Minimum (1790-1820) correlate with periods of relatively cold climate. These variations are relatively small. If the star is an irregular variable star with relatively large changes in output over a fairly short period that might produce fairly severe climate fluctuations over a five to thirty year period, which is what the text seems to indicate.
Brett Dunbar
77. Brett
Another possible cause would be something like the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation. A chaotic switch between two or more distinctly different weather pattens.
Anthony Pero
78. anthonypero
You're talking about the cycle of ice ages, I'm not. I'm talking about the meltdown of the last ice age. There were periods of dozens to hundreds of years of temperate weather, followed by another freeze (winter is coming), followed by years of temperate weather again. Summer is not described as particularly warm in Winterfell (summer snows). The seasons of temperate weather at the end of the last ice age were somewhat random and unpredictable. That's all I was saying.

The point is moot anyway, since others have pointed out that GRRM has said there is a magical source to the seasons. I was just trying to point out a period in our prehistory that climatologists describe is analogous to ASOIAF
Antoni Ivanov
79. tonka
People call it "Robert's rebellion" but it was Jon Arryn who started it first.
I mean that after Aerys II demanded that Jon turn his wards, Robert and Eddard, over for a likely execution, Jon refused and raised his banners in revolt.It was only then that Robert went to raise the Stormlands and Eddard the North.
80. mazza313
i'm totally with @toryx (#2). the bran falling scene made me tear and sniffle, the killing lady scene made my eyes sprout like a geyser (i had to close the book and gather myself).

and with the imagery that bran sees, re: ghostly spectres - i assumed that the giant in stone armor represents robert. stone means implaccable and unchangeable, stone armor means something is hidden, and the blackened face means that he is dead inside (all of this, i think, applies to robert). add the foreshadowing in the first bran chapter (direwolf killed by antler (stark killed by er, whatever robert's last name is)) and i think the great evil is obvi the king.
81. mazza313
ps - hi leigh! this is my first time reading this series too and i just read these two chapters last night, so yay from this point forward! while i started reading this series on my sister's recommendation (and because i want to watch that dang hbo series but i refuse to watch something if i know that there is a book that i should read first), i am v thrilled that i am back to getting two leigh injections (heh, also eww), on a weekly basis (wot reader. wee!).

pps - am also quite a fan of robert's younger brother, who ned previously (mildly) derided. it seems as though the younger, maybe foppish, brother is now the better one and the old friend is a total schmuck. am totally hating robert, want to punch his paunch.
Michael Maxwell
82. pike747
punch his paunch
Hillarious alliteration!

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