Jun 10 2011 2:24pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 12

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 12 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 22 (“Arya”) and 23 (“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 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 22: Arya

What Happens
Arya can tell her father has been fighting with the council when he comes in to dinner. Jory brings up the rumor that there is to be a tourney in Ned’s honor, and Ned replies that it is the last thing he wants. Sansa is delighted, though, and begs to be allowed to attend; Arya opines that she doesn’t want to go, and she and Sansa snipe at each other until Ned reprimands them sharply. He leaves soon after, and Arya desperately misses the dinners and company they used to have back at Winterfell. Now, though, she resents Jory and the rest of her father’s guard, for not doing anything to help Mycah or Lady. Feeling sick, she runs to her room, ignoring Septa Mordane’s orders to come back.

She pulls out Needle from its hiding place and berates herself for asking Mycah to practice with her, and contemplates running away. Her father knocks on her door then, and she lets him in before remembering to hide the sword. To her surprise, her father is only mildly exasperated by the revelation that Arya has a bravo’s blade, and tells her she has a touch of the “wolf’s blood” in her, just like her aunt Lyanna and uncle Brandon. He warns her, though, that both of them had died young.

Arya confesses that it was her fault Mycah died, and cries, but Ned tells her the blame lies with the Hound and the “cruel woman he serves.” Arya further confesses that she made Nymeria run off, which doesn’t surprise Ned at all. He tells her there are some hard truths she must learn: winter is truly coming, and they are surrounded by enemies. They cannot afford, therefore, to be fighting among themselves; she must put aside her differences with Sansa and begin growing up. Arya promises she will.

Three days later she is summoned to the Small Hall, where she meets a man named Syrio Forel, who introduces himself as her “dancing master,” and begins teaching her “the bravo’s dance, the water dance, swift and sudden,” with wooden swords.


I have such a thing about this. I have always, always wanted to learn sword-fighting, but I’ve never really been able to make it happen, either for financial or scheduling or simple logistical reasons. Turns out sword fighting is kind of a niche industry in the twenty-first century, I can’t imagine why.

Anyway, it is AWESOMECAKES that Ned wasn’t a dick about Needle, and that he is open-minded enough to let Arya try to be her own person instead of fitting into some girl-shaped cookie-cutter… er, thingy. You know what I mean. Even if he views it as frivolous indulgence to keep her out of trouble, because hey, I’ll take what I can get at this point.

It’s interesting that from what I’ve seen so far I think Ned is, quite by accident, a better father to his daughters than to his sons. And it’s weird, because I know in his cultural mindset he probably would think the exact opposite. Or not the opposite, exactly, but certainly he wouldn’t agree. From my point of view, though, it’s completely the case.

It just seems like he gives Sansa and Arya leeway and forgiveness and affection because to him they’re (weak) girls who need mollycoddling and indulging (up to a point, anyway), and (from what little I’ve seen so far) he’s much harsher and more unyielding to his sons because he thinks they need to be Manly Men and all. Like that business earlier, where he got upset because his three-year-old son was scared of wolves (sheesh). And, I get the distinct impression that he would think it’s the girls who are getting the short end of the stick by this, whereas I think it’s actually the other way around.

Because maybe this is all way too Oprah of me, but I tend to think that if you want your children to be strong, having a foundation of love and support and acceptance for them to build their characters upon is going to go a hell of a lot further than the so-called and disgracefully overrated “school of hard knocks.” Children get plenty enough “hard knocks” from everyone else in their lives; they don’t need them from their parents, too.

Then again, I’m not training my hypothetical sons for a wintry apocalypse, so maybe I just don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m just saying, though, that sometimes I get very tired of this idea that tenderness and affection are antithetical to fostering strength, because they’re really, really not. Arya’s going to be a stronger person because of the care and tolerance her father showed her in this chapter, and I don’t just mean because she’s getting to learn how to wield a sword. So why can’t the boys get some love, too, eh?


Chapter 23: Daenerys

What Happens
When the khalasar reaches the edge of the grass plain called the Dothraki Sea, Dany tells Ser Jorah to command the rest of her party, including Viserys, to wait as she rides down into it alone. She knows Viserys is miserable out here, but he had refused to wait in Pentos for his promised army. Dany thinks of how miserable she had been the first few days of riding, her saddlesores exacerbated by the sex Drogo had with her every night, but one night she dreamed a black dragon bathed her in fire, cleansing and purifying her, and after that the riding and Drogo’s attentions became less and less painful. She began to enjoy the riding, and appreciate the beauty of the land around her, and sometimes to find pleasure in her lovemaking with Drogo.

Now she rides out, and dismounts to enjoy the plain, but Viserys thunders up in a fury that she had issued a command to him. He tries to manhandle her, but Dany shoves him away, for the first time. Viserys is enraged, but then her party catches up, and one of the Dothraki riders takes him down with a whip. He asks if Dany would like Viserys killed or maimed (with her handmaid Irri as interpreter), but Dany says no, and orders that he be made to walk instead, which is the greatest insult to offer a man among the Dothraki. She realizes for the first time how pathetic Viserys is. Viserys pleads with Ser Jorah to punish Dany and the others, but Jorah refuses.

Dany and Jorah talk about Viserys on the ride back, wherein Jorah opines that far from being a dragon, Viserys is “less than the shadow of a snake.” She is shocked by his lack of loyalty, but realizes he is right, and that Viserys will never take back the Seven Kingdoms. She asks what Jorah longs for, and he tells her “home,” bitterly. He tells her she is already home, but when she thinks of home Dany sees King’s Landing, not the plains.

That night she examines the eggs Illyrio gave her, and thinks they feel almost hot, but tells herself it is merely warmth from the sun. She asks her handmaids about dragons; Irri and Jhiqui assure her that all the dragons are gone, but Doreah tells her a tale of how dragons originally came from a second moon, and when the remaining moon kisses the sun, “it will crack and the dragons will return.” When Drogo comes to her that night she asserts herself in the lovemaking for the first time, and the next day (her fourteenth birthday) Jhiqui tells her she is pregnant.


Really, I’m a simple girl when it comes to things that make me yay. Okay, that’s a lie, whatever.

Anyway, seeing people get horsewhipped isn’t generally my thing, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Couldn’t happen to a nicer dickwad, if you ask me. Really, I will be amazed if Viserys survives this book. Hell, I’ll be amazed if he makes it one more Dany-centric chapter, for all that she’s a hell of a lot more forgiving than I would be. Survival skills, he does not have them:

“And if [Drogo] tries to cheat me, he will learn to his sorrow what it means to wake the dragon,” Viserys had vowed, laying a hand on his borrowed sword. Illyrio had blinked at that and wished him good fortune.

Hah! That cracked me up. Seriously, what a tool.

So, not that this wasn’t obvious almost from the get-go, but clearly the threat to Robert et al is not from Viserys at all, but from his sister, who looks well on her way to having three dragons of her very own to play with Real Soon Now. Hot from the sun, suuuuure. And we’ll also have to be on the lookout for an eclipse, I see.

And then there’s all this hoopla:

Magic had died in the west when the Doom fell on Valyria and the Lands of the Long Summer, and neither spell-forged steel nor stormsingers nor dragons could hold it back, but Dany had always heard that the east was different.

Yeah, I have no idea what any of this means. The “Doom”? …Of Magic, I guess? How does that work?

Well. Presumably someone will esplain at some point. (Note: This is NOT a request to explain it to me in the comments. I’ll find out on my own, thanks.)

So I’m still pleased, mostly, I guess, that Dany is settling in to her new life and finding some enjoyment in it, though I could have done without freakin’ Drogo having sex with her while she’s covered in saddlesores, because really? Really? Urgh. (If you’ve never experienced saddlesores or the equivalent, be very, very grateful, is all I’m saying.)

And yet even still, it’s a hell of a lot better than what she had before, no matter that this is a textbook case of damning with faint praise. Man.

I’m not even going to bother, by the way, to be horrified about the whole “pregnant at fourteen” thing, because the Wrongness ship that is this whole marriage has long since sailed by now anyway, so at this point I’m just going with it. I’m guessing, given what we’ve seen of Dothraki culture so far, that she’d better hope it’s a boy, though. Bleah.

“The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends,” Ser Jorah told her. “It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.” He gave a shrug. “They never are.”

I don’t have anything to say about this, I just thought I should quote the eponymous quote for, like, posterity or whatever. Ta da!

And for my next trick, I will end this post! Amazing, eh? Have a lovely weekend, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Joseph Kingsmill
1. JFKingsmill16
I always thought that Ned relented and allowed Arya to get sword lessons was his guilt over Lyanna.
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
"My name is Arya Stark, you killed my sister's direwolf, prepare to die!"
3. wcarter4
Viserys is a very pathetic man male. Such tools rarely survive the wrath of devine justice either in fiction or reality.
I've personally always taken pleasure in reading stories (especially the real ones in the news) where people like him get theirs. It's nice to see Dany just ain't gonna take his shit no more...
someone else
4. Naraoia
Arya + Ned: so sweet. I heart Ned's Daddy persona. His heart-to-heart with Arya is one of my favourite scenes in all the books.

I have to admit I've never noticed a difference between the way he treats his sons and daughters. I don't think he gets much on-screen interaction with his sons at all, except for talking with Bran way back in the first chapter - and I think that conversation is quite similar to this one in a way, with the loving attention and the teaching of Important Lessons.

I think that letting Bran keep climbing ("but don't let your mother see it" XD) and letting the boys take the wolf pups home could count as indulging them in a similar way he did with Arya here. I always thought he was just the best father in the Seven Kingdoms.


Yeah. I love Ned.

Small mistake: Dany's handmaid noticed her pregnancy quite a while later, not on the next day. They were "on the far side of the Dothraki sea" by then.
Kat Blom
5. pro_star
RobM2 - you forgot the Hello. ;)

Leigh, thanks for another wonderous re-read. I'm happy you've finally been introduced to Syrio. He's so many ways of awesomeness. (just so!)

Please don't take that for a spoiler. I'm just saying he's awesome. Maybe even as awesome as Bela. (ooh! what would happen if we had a comixing of worlds..of Bela AND Syrio?!?!? DUNNN!!!)

Okay y'all, I'm sorry, it's a friday, I'm a little loopy!
Sean Banawnie
6. Seanie
I've been enjoying on HBO and the reread.....guess its time to actually read the books. Thanks for the inspiration Leigh. All I say is he better finish the damn series in a reasonable time frame.
Birgit F
7. birgit
It's interesting that Sansa is more interested in the tournament than Arya. Arya should be the one interested in the fighting, but Sansa dreams of fairytale knights and princes. Arya sees that it's something people she doesn't like want and rejects it.
8. Lilly
I just realized that these two chapters follow a common theme. Both involve previously underestimated chicks beginning to come into their own and become, well, totally badass chicks. Arya and Danaerys seem to have quite a few similarities as characters.
Marcus W
9. toryx
What impresses me about Ned is that not only did he find someone to teach Arya; he found the right sort of teacher. It's one thing to find someone to show a girl how to wave a sword around. It's quite another to find someone is is tremendously skilled at the kind of sword she has (and can actually use).

Evidently Jon got more from Ned than his looks.
Richard Boye
10. sarcastro
I have a comment regarding how Ned treats the boys vs the girls but will have to wait... for the yadda yadda yadda scene. Leigh, imho, is onto something. Then again, she is onto everything.
Anyway, Sansa is really into the tournament because it's pomp and pageantry with shiny armor and the horses tricked out in barding and
caparisons in house colors, all the lords and ladies of the court in their finery, etc..... not for the actual joust which is really just knights practicing how to kill one another.
Peter Czyzewski
11. sebastianelgar
If you want to learn sword fighting, try to locate the nearest SCA (society for creative anachronism) group, most of them should be able and glad to help.
Nathan Rice
12. quazar87
Actually, I still don't think Valyria's Doom as been explained.
Jason German
13. naillin
Regarding Daenerys being pregnant at 14: I recall reading a few weeks ago that GRRM said he now thinks he didn't have a good handle on kids and their ages and he probably should have upped the ages of all the children in the books a good three years. For me, rereading Dany's sections thinking of her being around 17-18 makes them a lot easier to deal with. (For a given value of easier, considering the things she has to deal with.)
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Leigh, if you are ever in Rochester MN, feel free to stop by for free fencing lessons.
Marcus W
15. toryx
Since I've actually known 14 year old girls to get pregnant (including when I was 14) it never particularly bothered me. I was certainly not one of the kids who was doing that kind of thing when I was that age but I knew a number who were and I know that it's a lot more common now than in my day (in the 80's) I don't find it at all unrealistic.

Actually, I sometimes think that adults live in a weird fantasy world and the real issue is that GRRM keeps rudely pushing reality onto them.
Fredrik Coulter
16. fcoulter
In addition to the SCA ( or fencing lessons, you could also go more eastern and look for a Kendo instructor.

Given the description of Needle in the book, if that's what you want, fencing is probably probably what you're looking for. Fencing uses more than just Foils. They also use Sabres and Épées, the latter of which seems to be pretty similar to Needle.

The SCA tends to go with the bigger swords, like Ned would use.

I'm not sure Kendo (or Iaid? if you want to go even more essoteric) fits into the Ice and Fire world, but it might be more your speed.

In other words, if you want to learn to stick people with the pointy end, there are several places you can learn. And the time spent learning any of those arts is equivalent to the time you now spend in the gym (or running, or whatever), so it's not even wasted time.

Go for it.

As Heinlein said in Glory Road (to the best of my recollection), you don't have to reload a sword.
Genevieve Williams
17. welltemperedwriter
Re: toryx's comment, I also recall not finding Dany being pregnant at 14 that weird, although for a somewhat different reason (I did know girls who got pregnant in high school but the youngest I knew of was 15, I think). In medieval societies, early pregnancy just isn't that unusual and it didn't strike me as odd.
Marcus W
18. toryx
welltemperedwriter @ 17: Yes, that too.
Kat Blom
19. pro_star
welltemperedwriter@17 - I was of the same thought. I remember going wow, pregnant at 14...this girl's having to grow up fast! but you think of other factors, other things going on in this world...and realize, nope, that's pretty normal. This society seems to believe strongly in the "old enough to bleed, old enough to breed" adage.
Genevieve Williams
20. welltemperedwriter
It makes me wonder what the average life expectancy in Westeros is. We see a few examples of very old people, mostly maesters, but I think one of the reasons for childbearing beginning early in medieval societies is that often you were lucky to live into your 30s (though at other times, life expectancy was much longer, if you managed to survive childhood--and that was another reason to have lots of kids, because you knew that not all of them were going to survive).
Leigh Butler
21. leighdb
shalter @14:

Aw, that's sweet. Thanks!

fcoulter @16:

Kendo is an interesting idea. Thanks for the info!
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
@20 - remember, for all their kids, Ned and Cat are both in their early 30s.

and... Blog of Ice and Fire time. They Arya entry is priceless.


Arya is lonely. Her father is stressed and busy with council meetings, her wolf is gone, her butcher boy is in pieces, and her sister blames her for Lady's death. Even if Sansa would talk to her, they have nothing in common. Arya likes sword fighting, horseback riding, and being awesome, while Sansa's interests include sewing, betraying her family, and reinforcing traditional female gender roles. At dinner, Arya loses her appetite, tells her Septa to suck it, and contemplates running away as she hides in her room. Eddard visits her there, and in true Stark parenting style, allows his eight-year-old daughter to keep a deadly weapon. He also signs her up for sword fighting lessons, presumably because he wants Arya to accidentally decapitate the next poor butcher boy she befriends.

Arya’s "dancing" instructor is Syrio Forel, who apparently graduated from Wise Old Master University along with Pai Mei, Yoda, and Mr. Miyagi, because he has the complete repertoire of unorthodox methods, hidden skills, and a strange way of speaking. In her first POV chapter, Arya received a uberspecial sword. This is her second chapter, and she is already on her way to becoming a ruthless preteen killing machine. I see where they are going with this. In chapter three she will gain the power of flight, and chapter four will have her stopping bullets and traveling back in time.


Dany isn’t having fun. Martin goes into graphic detail about how she rides hard during the day and gets ridden hard at night. It’s so bad that she contemplates suicide, but is stopped by some wacky empowering dragon dream. Soon, she’s beginning to tolerate and even enjoy her new life. As they travel, Dany becomes more confident, more aware of her unique situation, and more like a true Dothraki. The end of the chapter is very significant -- she is symbolically seizing control by becoming the rider instead of the mount. It’s also the first (and hopefully last) time I feel glad that a tiny thirteen-year-old was impregnated through public, animalistic sex with a gigantic horse lord.

Viserys is the exact opposite of his sister, growing more detached and delusional each day. Every time he goes off on one of his crazy wake-the-dragon rants, Ser Jorah and MC Illyrio humor him to his face, but exchange nervous, knowing looks. Amazingly, Viserys thinks it’s completely fine to discipline the Khal’s wife via boob grabbage just as he's done numerous times before. This time though, it’s not the same. This isn’t a king punishing his subject in King’s landing, or an older brother asserting dominance over his younger sister in MC Illyrio’s slave quarters. This is a pathetic pretend dragon offending Drogo's queen. This is a Khalasar crossing the Dothraki Sea, and that means egotistical little punks get choked with whips.
Peter Stone
23. Peter1742
Stormsingers? It sounds like it might be handy to know some when 10,000 Dothraki in boats are trying to cross the narrow sea to attack your kingdom.
24. ryamano

The child mortality rate also is very high. Even though we see that all of Cat's and Ned's kids have survived, in other noble families that's not so. There's a family mentioned at the beginning of a future book where a father has 9 sons, but only 4 of them survive to adulthood. Most peasants as well don't have access to maesters, who seem to be the doctors of this world.
25. Diego Mane
I absolutely love your posts.

I am enjoying your read as much as I enjoyed mine the first time BUT... only 2 chapters per week?

Could we por favor have something like three or four each friday? Please?
Maiane Bakroeva
26. Isilel
Ryamino @24:

The child mortality rate also is very high.

Actually, for Westerosi nobility, it isn't. There are stillbirths and women die in childbirth, but in the books noble children dieing of a sickness are rather rare occurences and mostly happen during their multi-year winters or if there is an epidemic, which are also very rare. IIRC, we never hear about somebody's kid or sibling having died of sickness as a child in AGOT. Maesters seem to know their stuff and there was no religious backlash against medecine like in RL.

We still don't know what the Doom was, only that it destroyed Valyria, with it's socrerers and dragons, so finding out will probably have to wait for ADWD or maybe even for the world book.

Re: Arya confessing throwing stones at Nymeria to drive her away, isn't it where Ned says that some lies have honor in them? Because in one of the previous discussions somebody claimed that Ned would never contemplate lying.

I also disagree re: Ned being a better father for his daughters. If he had been a better father and had this talk, with both of them, earlier, then Mycah and Lady would have still been alive and hostilities with Lannisters wouldn't have become acute.

IMHO, Ned gets Arya _because_ she is a tomboy and he can can treat her as a son. Also, because he knows that she is rebellious and if he does nothing, she is going to cause problems. Certainly, if his own siblings are any indication, then what he terms "wolfs-blood" isn't conducive to long life, if not channeled properly.
27. hohmeisw
Nothing to say about the common people? To me, they were the most interesting "character" in the books - Sansa loses a wolf, bad sure, but Mycah gets freaking murdered.
28. Rootboy
If my math is right, Leigh is going to finish AGOT on either November 25 or December 2. That's a long time reading one book! But maybe she's okay with that?
29. Delafina
Actually, the idea that the average medieval lifespan was only 30-something is based on two misperceptions: first, that age is based on an actual average, so the high rate of infant mortality brings it down, and second, it held true for the peasantry, but not the nobility. If you survived infanthood, and weren't a peasant (like all of the main characters in SOIAF), the average age was significantly higher (e.g. 49 for one royal court, 69 for another with 25% living into their 70s).

The supposed early age for marriage for much of human history also hides the nuances of the data. In the Germanic tribes, the marriage age for men and women was about equal: mid-to-late twenties. This tradition carried over for most of the early Middle Ages. As more land became available for safe cultivation, girls started to be married off earlier, bringing the average age for women down to 15-16. That said, however, the average age rose again in the mid-1500s to 27, dropping to 25 in the 1700s and 1800s. The average age of marriage for women in colonial America, based on marriage licenses, was 23 (not 13-14 as most of the internet claims).

For reference, the average marriage age for women in the US today is 26.

Point being, while there were short dips in the average age, for most of written history women have been getting married at roughly the age they're getting married now. The main factor in bringing down the age at which women get married is the availability of unsettled land.

Westeros seems to be modeled on the mid-late Middle Ages, but it doesn't seem like there are vast tracts of unsettled land (when people get granted land, they're getting land that used to belong to someone else). Given that, while there would likely have been no law preventing Dany or Sansa from being married off, it's also likely that either of them would be seen as being married unusually young, rather than it being a matter of course. Sansa less so, perhaps, since IIRC she's 15, which would still be young to be married, but not too young to be preparing for it.

Dany, on the other hand, is married off really young by any standards. Perhaps not by Dothraki standards (there's not a lot of data on average marriage age for people living a nomadic lifestyle, but it may correlate to that of settlers), but it should seem young to Illyrio, Mormont, etc.
Chris Long
30. radynski
I always just saw Ned's sword lessons for Arya as more of his standard parenting. We see the same thing with Bran early on where he lets him keep climbing despite Cat's objections. There's a certain level of love there where he lets his kids be who they are.
someone else
31. Naraoia

Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Re: early marriages, it's important to remember that Dany's marriage and Sansa's betrothal are political manoeuvres. Your real-world stats are for all layers of society that data exist for, right? Is there much difference if you only include the top layers?
32. Sophie Gale
Keep in mind that menarche at age 13 has become common in the last half of the 20th century, but there are a lot of variables including childhood nutrition, sufficient body fat for hormonal changes, and--interestingly enough--birth order and the absence/presence of the father in the home.

Wikipedia: "
A decline in the average age of menarche from 17 to 13 in Europe from 1850 to 1960 is well documented..."

I suspect that Dany becoming pregnant at 14 is problematical. As has been already observed, she really should be about 17.
33. Lsana
Ned being a good father to his daughters...wait a couple chapters, then let's revist that.

On the subjects of young marriages and pregnancies, I'm pretty sure that the "mideval societies married young" trope has been exaggerated far beyond what actually happened. There were a few very young marriages among the nobility, but even those weren't usually consumated until the parties involved were in their late teens or early twenties. Shakespeare made Juliet fourteen not because he thought that was a normal age to get married, but precisely because he wanted to shock his audience with how young she was.


Sansa is 11 at this point in the story.
Tricia Irish
34. Tektonica
fcoulter@16; expert. I bow in your general direction. Seriously. I have done fencing off and on through my life, but always through universities. You are committed! It is so much fun.....
So....Leigh..go for it..seriously, like fcoulter, or more casually to start at some local University. So much fun!

RobM: THAT was hysterical. Thank you.

As for Danys pregnancy.....I think we just have to chalk these extremely young ages to a lack of practical knowledge on GRRM's part. Just add 5 years to everyone and it all seems more plausible.

Poor Dany...she's had a rough introduction to "married" life...horses and horse lords...but I loved her kicking Vaserys ass....hierarchicly. (Is that a word?)
35. ryamano
Regarding the death rates of nobles:

Yes, in Westeros proper, among noble people, it does seem to be very small, we don't hear of many child deaths. But among other people (ironborn and widlings) we do hear about very high rates, in the last case even among nobles.

Regarding early marriages

The age of consent in middle ages France was 14 (this would come into play in some lawsuits French kings did to annul their marriages later for more politically profitable ones). These early marriages sometimes happened with royalty, sometimes they didn't. Also, sometimes teenage queens had kids, sometimes it took years for them to get pregnant and carry to term. An incomplete list with French kings from modern and medieval times that married in their teens, to get the point accross that this is not unrealistic for royalty (which is the case of Sansa/Joffrey and Dany/Drogo) or nobility:

Louis XVI married Marie Antoniette when he was 15 and she was 14.
Louis XV married Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain when he was 15 and she was 19.
Louis XIII married Anne of Austria when they both were 14. First child was conceived 4 years later.
Francis II married Mary Queen of Scots when he was 14 and she was 16.
Henry II married Catherine de Medici when they were both 14.
Francis I married Claude of France, duchesss of Brittany, when he was 18 and she was 15 (had first kid 1 year later)
Charles VIII married Anne of Brittany when he was 21 and she was 14 (had first kid 1 year later).
Louis XI, the spider king (maybe an inspiration for Varys?), married Margaret of Scotland when he was 13 and she was 11. Doctors advised against consumation. He later married Charlotte of Savoy when he was 27 and she was 9. He consumated the marriage when she reached 14 (first kid would be born 3 years after consumation).
Charles VI, the beloved and the mad (an inspiration for Aerys II?), married Isabeau of Bavaria when he was 17 and she was 14 (first kid born after 1 year)
Charles V married Joan of Bourbon when they were both 12 (first kid born after 7 years)
John II married Bonne of Bohemia when he was 13 and she was 17 (first kid born after 6 years)
Charles IV married three times. The third time was with Jeane d'Evreux when he was 31 and she was 15 (first kid born after 1 year)
Phillip V married Jeanne II, countess of Burgundy, when they were both 15 (first kid born after 1 year)
Louis X married Margaret of Burgundy when they he was 16 and she was 15 (first kid born after 7 years).
Phillip IV married Joan I of Navarre when he was 16 and she was 13 (first kid born after 4 years)
Phillip III married Isabella of Aragon when he was 17 and she was 15 (first kid born after 3 years)
Louis IX (St Louis) married Margaret of Provence when he was 20 and she was 13 (first kid born after 6 years)
Louis VIII married Blanche of Castille when they were both 12 (first kid born after 5 years)
Phillip II married Isabelle of Hainaut when they were both 15 (she died of first childbirth after 10 years).
Louis VII married Eleanor of Aquitaine when he was 17 and she was 15 (first kid born after 8 years). He later married Constance of Castille, and she had their first kid when she was 17.

And so on. Not in all the cases, but in several, there is some kind of teenage marriying (and sometimes getting pregnant or others pregnant).
Katie McNeal
36. Katiya
Re: Sword fighting. A few years ago I was in a production of Romeo and Juliette in which I played a young boy, so I got to learn to sword fight with a rapier. Maybe it's because I'm so short (5' even), but it was REALLY difficult! I mean, it was kind of cool, I guess, but the sword was incredibly awkward to weild, it didn't sit right on my hip, and just...I dunno. It might have been different if it weren't sort of choreographed for the scene, but even careful what you wish for, Leigh!

On that note, sometimes local theater companies have info on people like my teacher, who often do re-enactments and can teach you the basics.
Rachel Hyland
37. RachelHyland
@ 22. RobMRobM

"Arya likes sword fighting, horseback riding, and being awesome, while Sansa's interests include sewing, betraying her family, and reinforcing traditional female gender roles."

Ha ha ha ha ha! Nice.
Captain Hammer
38. Randalator
Sooooooooooooo...anyone think that Viserys should have been spanked?

John Massey
39. subwoofer
I dunno I am thinking that Viserys needs to spend some quiet time in the no-no chair. In lieu of that, hoofing it on the open plains behind the herd will suffice. Guy's a douche.

Sansa- girl's a douche. GRRM has an interesting way of making remarably poor judgement seem reasonable from the person's own viewpoint. Meh, Sansa is still a sack of hammers. Try being loyal to your family first. Mind you, I don't know why I'd expect more from a tween. Seems like the clothes change, but the kids stay the same.

Arya- One of the few normal kids in the series.

About fathers and daughters... IMHO, and drawing from my experience, it is no surprise that Ned favors his little girls. Heck, I plan on keeping my daughter close to heart and home well into her 30s. Any boys I have, they get luggage on their 18th. I don't look at it as a double standard, girls may be more trouble, but generally seem to be less annoying.

Galadriel Johnson
40. GaladrielJohnson
I am not sure why age is so important to everyone. Yeah it gives us a starting point, but this is a fantasy world. You are all taking dragons and years of winter and even zombies in stride, but you are dwelling on age. There are other things to talk about that are more pertinient to the story such as the state of the kingdom and the plethora of aparent intrigue. I still really enjoy Leigh's read. Unfortunately I am considering skipping the comments.
Sara H
41. LadyBelaine

"Arya- One of the few normal kids in the series."

Mein Gott!

Sansa is far, far more normal and realistic than Arya.

And as for her to try being loyal to her family? Which family? She was told she to join House Baratheon (well, specifically, the Lannister-Baratheon Royal House ;) ) she has no maternal presence in her life other than, gah, Septa Mordane.

edit: typo corrected. thanks Billiam!
Tricia Irish
42. Tektonica
....girls may be more trouble, but generally seem to be less annoying.

Just you wait until about age 14, then we'll talk.....

Galadriel@40: It's hard to comment on much of the intrigue without spoilers. But, please feel free to bring anything up that you want to talk about, as long as it follows the no spoilers rule. I think when we get further into the book(s) there will be more in depth discussion of such. Or go to the spoiler forum thread for full discussion.
Bill Stusser
43. billiam

I'm assuming you mean House Baratheon, Sansa was never meant to be a Lannister. Ned would never in a million years agree to that.
Genevieve Williams
44. welltemperedwriter
Sub@39: girls may be more trouble, but generally seem to be less annoying.

Tell their mother that. I drove mine c-r-a-z-y. Conversely, she had a pretty easy time with my brother.

Re: the ages, I had read about early marriage in medieval Europe being less common than previously thought...I guess I still didn't think it odd in the cases of Sansa and Dany because of the circumstances surrounding their betrothals.
Rob Munnelly
45. RobMRobM
Tek @42. I vote for age 11. Arrrgghh.
46. carolynh
I think it's no coincidence that GRRM put these two chapters side by side. Arya and Dany both make big strides here. Dany becomes an active character instead of the little victim girl, and Arya gets to grow and be herself. The Ned and Arya discussion is one of my favorites in this book.

Ned is a loving and doting father, especially as Leigh has pointed out, to his girls but also to Bran. We don't see him interacting with the older boys when they were younger, so we don't know how that went. At this point I always felt that he was trying to show the older two that the world is a difficult place and they have to learn deal with that at a young age.

Sansa seems to be one of those people who buys into and/or fits perfectly into the stereotypical gender role for her society. I've know more than a few people like that--didn't much care for any of them. They seem to be wholely lacking in imagination to me.

Leigh: I sure wouldn't mind if we read more than 2 chapters a week, but if you decide to do that, just let us know the week before so we suddenly aren't a chapter behind for the weekly discussions!
47. Marlène
ryamano , uh Philippe II Auguste married three times (okay the Pope Clément III was against the last) he was close of being excommunicated , Agnès de Méranie died very young (he was accused of being polygamist) and his official bride Ingeburg finally was the only queen . In the 13 th century little by little people started to think that a king should not disowned his wife .

Anyway , Arya is my favorite child of the many kids of Ned & Catelyn , I love how she is a tomboy , clever and rebel . Eddard is a fantastic father . I'm happy that Dany finally took her destiny in her own hands and not int he ones of her crappy brother
John Massey
48. subwoofer
Dang it folks- there is a reason that terms like "mommy's boy" and "daddy's girl" float around- cause it is true. Girl's bust mom's ovaries, boy's bust dad's balls. Simple.

Arya- yes, normal. The other girl is busy playing at being a lady, and is generally useless, Arya is actually learning stuff so she can defend herself and not be a damsel in distress. So Arya may be a tomboy, but I don't find anything wrong with that. Whereas Sansa bails on her sister to defend the guy she has a crush on that seems like a douche.

tatiana deCarillion
49. decarillion
Sansa is a day-dreamer and a romantic. She's in a position to make her dreams come true (becoming a queen, living in a castle, wearing beautiful clothes and jewels, being wed to a handsome man-boy, etc). She's not about to let reality or family intrude on that!

Given how real middle-school aged girls act, with their bullying and lying, relationship/friendship sabotage, and general bitchiness, she's more normal than we'd like :(

I also didn't blink an eye at the ages of the girls, especially. I think I've been conditioned to believe that, back in the day, girls married and bred when they were quite young. It tends to make some sense, given the shortened life-spans of people due to sanitary and medical deficits, etc.

Also, Dany kicks ass. Again. She's on top, where she belongs :)
P. D. Landis
50. Hirgon
P. D. Landis
53. Hirgon
Cornell Johnson
54. Oriares
I did the math last night, and want to know who else was married off young?

Catelyn Stark. She was no older than 14 when she had Robb, and Ned was pushing 20.
55. Homeschool
I'm actually of the opinion that Ned would (in a perfect world) be a great father, and supportive of all his children regardless of gender.

I think the element making him be harder on the boys is not, in this case, STRICTLY a gender thing, but certainly gender-influenced.

Let's not forget: Winter is coming.


So, given their culture, it's likely that the women would get sent south toward warmer climates, while the men would all join the army and fight the zombie invasion, thus indicating that girls are (technically, though not necessarily culturally) free to do/be whatever they like, while unprepared boys = dead boys. It's a form of parental love manifesting via concern for their safety as harsh upbringing.
David Scotton
56. Kaxon
@54 Oraries

Your math was wrong. Catelyn Tully is just 1 year younger than Ned, and was 18 or 19 when Robb was born.
Cornell Johnson
57. Oriares
@56 Kaxon

Catelyn was 12 when she was betrothed to Brandon. Brandon was 20, and Littlefinger was 15. When Catelyn sees Littlefinger she thinks of how he's shy of 30, making her at the oldest 27.
David Scotton
58. Kaxon
@57 Oriares

Catelyn is older than Littlefinger, not younger. I can't explain the betrothed to Brandon at age 12 thing since I don't have my books with me here. I always assumed the duel was fought well after the original betrothal (closer to the time when they were going to marry), but Wiki of Ice and Fire makes it sound like it happened right after they became engaged. But the wiki also gives her birth year as 264 (Ned - 263, Littlefinger - 266, Robb Stark - 283). Sounds like a case of unclear wording about when the duel happened, or else a continuity error. I'll have to check my book when I get home.
Cornell Johnson
59. Oriares
I'm thinking continuity error.

The part where Catelyn says she was 12 is her second chapter in AGOT right before Maester Luwin comes in with the message from Lysa.
60. Kvon
I took a couple semesters of fencing while going through school, and it was cool (even though I was pretty bad at it. I could defend okay, but my attacks weren't productive). I remember the first day we all went around and said why we wanted to learn fencing, and I was the only one who did it because I was a fantasy fan.

For my money both Arya and Sansa are real girls, and thanks Mr Martin for the variety.
61. FHealey
Hirgon @50
To be fair to Rickon, animals were afraid of the puppies from the beginning. And I think that the assumption is that as direwolves they're much bigger/stronger than normal wolves at every age.
62. Hirgon
@FHealey 61
I do think you have a very good point regarding other animals' fear. Regarding size, I think there's something in the first chapter about the direwolves still being smallish as newborn pups. Small enough that Bran (or was it Robb?) has no trouble cradling one in his arms, but don't quote me on that.

Not trying to start an argument, though. It's interesting to me that later on Rickon spends much of his time running around wildly and fearlessly with half the non-albino male half of the wolfpack. Sometimes he seems to live in unbalanced, uncontrolled extremes.
Elizabeth Heckert
63. silhouettepoms
OK am annoyed now, I don't remember ever reading the 2nd chapter. I remember the scenes as they were portrayed on the HBO show but quite sure I never read them because they are referenced later and I was like WTH why did we never "see" those events? Now I realize we did but I must have flicked too hard on my Kindle and skipped a chapter or two. AIEEEE.

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