Welcome 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 18 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 35 (“Eddard”) and 36 (“Daenerys”).
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.
And now, the post!
Chapter 35: Eddard
Ned returns to the brothel’s common room, where Littlefinger, Jory Cassel, and Heyward are waiting for him. Littlefinger makes a crude joke which Ned rebukes him for. As they head back to the keep, Ned thinks of how Lyanna had told him long ago that Robert was incapable of fidelity, and of the girl in the brothel with the baby who looked just like Robert. Ned had promised her the child would not go wanting.
He asks Littlefinger how many bastards Robert has out there, but Littlefinger only knows that there are a lot of them; Robert acknowledged the one he fathered on Stannis’s wedding night, and that bastard now lives with Renly. Littlefinger mentions the rumor that Robert fathered twins at Casterly Rock, and that Cersei had them killed and the mother sold into slavery. Ned grimaces, and asks why Jon Arryn would be interested in Robert’s bastards, and more importantly why looking into them would get him killed, but Littlefinger claims not to know.
They are stopped and surrounded by Jaime Lannister and twenty men. Jaime tells Ned he is looking for his brother, and Ned answers that Tyrion has been taken at Ned’s command to answer for his crimes. Jaime draws steel and challenges Ned, and then advises Littlefinger to get lost. Littlefinger promises to bring the Watch, and flees. Ned warns Jaime that if he kills Ned, Catelyn will kill Tyrion. Jaime doesn’t think so, but admits he is not willing to risk his brother on “a woman’s honor”. He goes to leave, but then tells his men to kill Ned’s men instead.
Ned screams a negative, and he and Jory and Heyward fight, but they are hopelessly outnumbered, and Jory and Heyward are both killed. Ned’s horse falls on top of him, shattering his leg, and he loses consciousness for a bit. When he wakes he is alone, and Littlefinger returns with the Watch to find him holding Jory’s body in his arms. They take him back to the castle, where Pycelle gives Ned the milk of the poppy, and he goes under again.
SEE? This is why you should listen to me, Eddard Stark!
I TOLD you not to go to that brothel, didn’t I? DIDN’T I? But nooooo, you had to trust that little shit Littlefinger and go anyway! You idiot!
And yeah, it may look like Littlefinger had nothing to do with the ambush, but I do not trust him, no I do not, Eddard, and therefore I am highly Suspicious of this whole thing here. Because how else would Jaime know where to find Ned at that particular moment, hmm? HMMM?
Okay, fine, it’s possible that it was overheard by a spy or something, and Littlefinger had nothing to do with it; that’s at least as equally possible that he did, anyway. BUT STILL. He is not a good person and you should not be pursuing this did you not hear me tell you to get the hell out what is wrong with you, Ned. Sheesh.
In other total non-news, Jaime Lannister is an asshole. Poor Jory. And, er, the other guy, too. Okay, yes, his brother’s been taken hostage, I understand that’s kind of a thing that annoys people, but that’s no excuse to kill (relatively) innocent men. At the very least, this is deliberate escalation of hostilities. Gosh, it’s like the Lannisters want a civil war! Uh-huh.
Not that his sister’s much better. I’m not a hundred percent sure the story about Cersei having those twins murdered is true, but I would have no trouble believing it if it was. Not that I don’t have a certain amount of sympathy for the rage induced by being trapped in a marriage with a philanderer (particularly one who doesn’t even bother to try to hide it from you!) but killing babies? How about NO. Jesus.
Still don’t get the bastard thing, and yes, I am aware this makes me dumb, but whatever. Apparently every kid Robert fathers strongly resembles him, which explains the whole “the seed is strong” thing, but there’s clearly someone I’m supposed to be connecting this to and I just am not recalling who it should be. Or alternately, I’ve not yet been shown that person, but I have a distinct feeling I have. But if so, I do not know who it is. Do not spoil me, I will figure this out on my own! Shh!
“I know [Robert’s] acknowledged that boy at Storm’s End, the one he fathered the night Lord Stannis wed. He could hardly do otherwise. The mother was a Florent, niece to the Lady Selyse, one of her bedmaids. Renly says that Robert carried the girl upstairs during the feast, and broke in the wedding bed while Stannis and his bride were still dancing.”
Wow. “Party foul” doesn’t even remotely come close to covering that. Robert is officially the tackiest human being ever. Among other things.
“Lord Stannis seemed to think that was a blot on the honor of his wife’s House,”
(not to mention the blot on the bed, hah, ew)
“…so when the boy was born, he shipped him off to Renly.”
Er. This pings me. Am I supposed to know who this is? Is this the significant bastard? But if so, why didn’t Ned latch on to it? Um.
Also, I just used the phrase “the significant bastard” in a totally non-ironic context. I love my life sometimes.
“Would she? The noble Catelyn Tully of Riverrun murder a hostage? I think . . . not.” He sighed. “But I am not willing to chance my brother’s life on a woman’s honor.”
*sigh* It’s like little pinpricks, every time. Whatever, fuck you, Jaime.
Chapter 36: Daenerys
The khalasar arrives at the city of Vaes Dothrak, which is mostly empty except for the dosh kahleen, the crones, who will prophesy over Dany’s unborn child. The approach is littered with prizes taken from the Dothraki conquests, which Dany is fascinated by but Viserys derides as “the trash of dead cities.” Viserys is astride again, after much pleading and “pillow tricks” on Dany’s part, and she is glad Viserys had not realized the insult he had been given when Drogo offered to let him ride on a cart at first, and that he does not understand the mocking names the riders have given him (Sorefoot King, Cart King). Viserys complains that he is tired of waiting for his army.
Once he is out of earshot, Ser Jorah tells Dany that Viserys should not have come, and that Viserys does not understand that while Viserys may regard his deal with Drogo to be a business transaction, Drogo does not; he views it as an exchange of gifts, and one does not pressure the khal over when he gives gifts. He further opines that Viserys won’t be able to do anything with his ten thousand riders even when he gets them. Dany asks if the riders would be effective against the Seven Kingdoms with someone else in charge, and Jorah thoughtfully answers that he would have thought not, but now that he has been among the Dothraki, he is not so sure. He believes the Dothraki would have no talent for siegecraft, though, and while “the Usurper” (Robert) may be reckless enough to meet the Dothraki in open battle, his followers are not. Jorah spits at naming Eddard Stark, and tells Dany that “he took from me all I loved, for the sake of a few lice-ridden poachers and his precious honor.”
They arrive at the city, and Cohollo, one of Drogo’s bloodriders, comes to tell Dany that Drogo is going up on the Mother of Mountains to sacrifice to the gods that night. Dany is relieved that she will have a night of rest for once from Drogo’s amorous attentions, and decides to give Viserys the gifts she has for him: fine new clothes in the Dothraki style. She sends Doreah to invite Viserys to dine with her, but he returns dragging a bruised Doreah, demanding to know how she dared to give him commands.
Dany tries to soothe him, saying Doreah misspoke, and shows him his gifts, but Viserys sneers at the “Dothraki rags,” and grabs her arm, threatening her. Dany picks up the gold belt she’d had made for him and hits him in the face with it. She says he obviously learned nothing from the day in the grass, and tells him to get out and pray Drogo doesn’t find out about this, or he will gut Viserys. Bleeding, Viserys tells her he will not forget this, and leaves. To comfort herself, Dany has Irri bring her one of her dragon eggs to cuddle.
She was lying there, holding the egg, when she felt the child move within her . . . as if he were reaching out, brother to brother, blood to blood. “You are the dragon,” Dany whispered to him, “the true dragon. I know it. I know it.” And she smiled, and went to sleep dreaming of home.
Well, no one’s killed Viserys yet, which makes one more chapter than I predicted for his survival. However, in lieu of his totally inevitable demise, I will certainly take Dany whacking him in the face with a belt for now, because yay. I may or may not have cheered out loud when I read that bit. You go, girl.
Viserys, by the way, is the most utterly miserable character I’ve come across in a while. And I mean that not just objectively, but in himself, if that makes sense. I mean, there’s certainly no way in hell he can be happy, on any level, or ever could have been, even back when things were going his way. The inside of his head must be a thoroughly wretched place to be. I’d almost feel sorry for him, but then I’m like, yeah, no. I hope he dies soon and puts us all out of his misery.
Yet more Ominous Foreshadowing in Dany’s conversation with Jorah, who’d better learn to keep his mouth shut unless he wants his homeland overrun with screaming barbarians. …Which, for all I know, he does want, but I’d got the impression he’d rather just be allowed to go home.
To spin off on a tangent for a moment, one of the problems with reading at this pace is the unevenness of how much I am getting out of it. By which I mean, usually I tend to read novels at a gulp; to be more accurate, I have an unfortunate tendency to speed-read, which is something I trained myself to do (kind of on accident) as a kid, and I haven’t been able to shake the habit since. Which means I miss a lot of things the first time around, but I also am generally going fast enough that I don’t forget what went before when I get to the after, if that makes sense.
But doing a couple of chapters a week, I find I have the opposite problem. Which is that while I am often catching much more on first reading than I generally do, I’m sometimes having trouble remembering facts and relationships and whatnot I was told about, from my perspective, weeks ago. It’s not proved crippling so far, but it’s a thing. (Fortunately, there’s this really awesome chick on the Internet who’s doing chapter by chapter summaries of the book, which I can go and read whenever I forget something! It is SO COOL!)
Mm-hm. Anyway, I’m bringing this up here because I was surprised when Jorah mentioned hating Ned’s guts in this chapter, and it took me a minute to remember that we’d been told *mumble* chapters ago that Ned was the one who got him exiled — and that it was for slaving practices, which is good to remember as it reminds me not to start liking Jorah too much. So, yeah.
Back to the chapter! Vaes Dothrak sounds like a really cool place to visit, but a completely creepy place to live. So I guess it’s good that no one does — yet, anyway:
“Only the crones of the dosh khaleen dwell permanently in the sacred city, them and their slaves and servants,” Ser Jorah replied, “yet Vaes Dothrak is large enough to house every man of every khalasar, should all the khals return to the Mother at once. The crones have prophesied that one day that will come to pass, and so Vaes Dothrak must be ready to embrace all its children.”
Speaking of foreshadowing. Veddy interestink.
Dragons: Dany, you really need to catch on here. You’re freakin’ nesting with your dragon eggs, or incubating them, or brooding them, or whatever it’s called when the mother keeps the eggs warm with her body in some way. NOT STONE, girl, wake up.
Also, just to be contrary, I’m hoping her kid will be a girl. Just as a nice little upraised middle finger to certain insanely patriarchal parties. If I’m right, I believe the operative phrase will be Nyah.
(Or, oh shit, because watch it turn out that there be some terrible consequence for Dany daring to give birth to a female. Blargle.)
And that’s what I got for this one, kidlets. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week!