Sep 23 2011 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 25

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones by Leigh ButlerWelcome 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 25 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 50 (“Arya”), 51 (“Sansa”) and 52 (“Jon”).

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 50: Arya

What Happens
Arya is fencing with Syrio, and he “kills” her with a blow that was opposite from the one he called. Arya accuses him of cheating, and he explains to her that the key to water dancing is to see what is really there, not what people tell you to see. He tells her the story of how he became first sword to the Sealord of Braavos, by naming the lord’s common cat for what it was, and tells her that he thinks she will be ready to take up Needle once they return to Winterfell.

They are interrupted when Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard enters with five Lannister armsmen. Trant orders Arya to come with him to see her father, but Syrio asks why Lord Stark would send Lannister men for that. Trant orders the men to take her, and Syrio breaks the fingers of the first man to try. Trant orders them to kill Syrio, and Syrio tells Arya to run. Arya cannot make herself leave, though, and watches as Syrio almost effortlessly cuts down the Lannister armsmen. But now he faces Trant, and he seems to be losing when Arya finally obeys and runs, sobbing.

Arya makes her way to where she has a view of the Tower of the Hand, and is horrified to see a corpse in Stark livery on the steps, with the sound of fighting within. She remembers what the yellow bearded man had said about one Hand dying as easy as another, and forces herself to choke down her fear, remembering Syrio’s lessons. She heads for the stables instead, and finds more Stark armsmen and staff dead; Hullen, the master of horse, tries to tell her to warn her father about something, but dies of his wounds before he can say what. She finds her own chest among the half-completed packing they had done for their departure, and retrieves her sword Needle just as a stableboy finds her.

“Help me saddle a horse,” Arya pleaded, reaching back into the chest, groping for Needle. “My father’s the Hand of the King, he’ll reward you.”

“Father’s dead,” the boy said. He shuffled toward her. “It’s the queen who’ll be rewarding me. Come here, girl.”

Panicked, Arya runs him through with Needle, killing him, to her horror. She shakes it off, and realizes that there is no way she will escape through the gates of the keep. She decides she will have to try to get out the other way she had found. After a nerve-wracking walk across the yard in full sight of the guards, she eventually finds her way to the hall with the dragon skulls and the corridor beyond. She is terrified of the darkness until she remembers the time she and her siblings had gone down into the crypts at Winterfell, and Jon had tried to scare them by dressing as a ghost; the memory cheers her, and she finds the courage to keep going.

Go, Arya, go!

She is so awesome and brave, I love her. And Syrio is also awesome, not to mention badass. I hope he survived.

But I am distracted at the moment by the stableboy’s claim that Ned is dead. Because, uh. He was speaking metaphorically, right? Or was wrong, or lying, or something. Right?

I mean, okay. The one thing I did manage to hear about ASOIAF (despite all my efforts not to) is that Martin has a habit of killing off characters at will. And I can already tell that this is not the kind of story where protagonists are immune from biting it just because they are protagonists.

But, dude. It’s one thing for Robert to die off-screen, but Ned? Really, if I find out Ned’s already dead and this is how we’re hearing about it, I might just have to freak the hell out.



Chapter 51: Sansa

What Happens
Sansa thinks back on the past three days that she has been held in Maegor’s Holdfast with Jeyne Poole, who has been weeping continuously since she was thrown in with Sansa. On the first day, Sansa had heard the sounds of fighting within the keep, and begged her guards to tell her what was happening, but no one would talk to her. Jeyne told her “they’re killing everyone,” and doesn’t know what has happened to her father, Ned’s steward. On the second day, the sounds of fighting stop, but no one comes; at sunset great bells begin to peal, and Sansa knows it means that the king is dead, though she doesn’t know how or why.

On the third day, Ser Boros Blount of the Kingsguard comes to take her to Queen Cersei, who had sent Sansa to the Holdfast to “keep her safe” in the first place. Cersei is in the council chambers with Baelish, Pycelle, and Varys, and Sansa sees that they are all in mourning colors. Cersei greets her sympathetically, but is upset to learn that Jeyne was put in with Sansa, and orders that Baelish take her away; she avoids Sansa’s query of where Jeyne’s father is. Cersei tells Sansa that she and Joffrey love Sansa, but her father is a traitor, and shows her the letter Ned wrote inviting Stannis to take the crown. Sansa protests weakly that her father would never do such a thing. Cersei asks how she can trust Sansa when the blood of a traitor runs in her veins.

Sansa protests that she came to Cersei when she learned her father intended to send her away without seeing Joffrey again, but Cersei and the rest of the council show doubt. Sansa asserts passionately that she would never betray Joffrey. To show her good faith, Cersei and the others want her to write letters to Catelyn, Robb, Lysa Arryn, and Hoster Tully, assuring them of Sansa’s good treatment at Cersei’s hands, and urging them to keep the peace and come to King’s Landing to swear fealty to Joffrey. Cersei will not let Sansa see her father, but assures her that Ned is unharmed. Sansa convinces herself that Joffrey would not hurt his future bride’s father and that she can eventually persuade him to grant Ned a pardon, and agrees to write the letters. Later, she realizes she’d forgot to ask anyone what had become of Arya.

Oh, those bastards.

Oh, Sansa, you poor deluded foolish child.

It would be so easy to hate her for agreeing to write those letters, but I can’t do it. I just can’t find it in me to be angry at her for buying this horseshit hook line and sinker, any more than I could be angry at a four-year-old for losing a chess game to Bobby Fischer. Because that’s the comparison: she is up against fucking master manipulators here, and they just played her like a violin. Sansa never stood a chance.

That said, I can be angry at her about the fact that, intentionally or not, by running to Cersei she betrayed her father. Jesus, Sansa. That’s going to come back to haunt you, girl. Or at least, it should.

Not to mention, if I’m reading this right her act was the catalyst that set this whole… well, I don’t really know if you could call it a coup, exactly. An anti-coup? A lateral coup? An un-coup? Yeah, this is all so messed up I don’t even know if there’s a term that applies. But whatever it is, it seems like this chapter is suggesting that Sansa basically started it. Which… yeah.

Also, I have no idea whether to believe Cersei’s assurances to Sansa that Ned is still alive, but Jeyne’s father is definitely dead, and right now it’s looking like poor Jeyne has a delightful future as a prostitute in one of fucking Littlefinger’s brothels ahead of her, if I’m interpreting the subtext here correctly. Goddamn bastards.

I dunno, right now it’s looking like Cersei has this thing bloody well sewn up, by all appearances. I’m hoping for a dramatic reversal of fortunes, but right now? It appears that it’s Lannisters: 1, Starks: zilch.

I say again: Shit.


Chapter 52: Jon

What Happens
Jon, Sam, Mormont, Rykker, and several others have found the corpse that the hand Ghost brought them came from, Jafer Flowers, along with another body, Othor. Both had been in Benjen’s party. The dogs and horses both are extremely skittish around the bodies, and Jon has to coax Sam firmly before he will look at the bodies. Mormont asks where the rest of the six men Benjen had had with him were, but Rykker doesn’t know; he supposes this could have been done by the wildlings, even this close to the Wall, but Jon thinks that everyone is avoiding saying what they really think, that it was the Others.

Rykker believes that the two men cannot have been dead for more than a day, judging from the freshness of the corpses, but Sam pipes up and disagrees, to everyone’s surprise. He points out that the hand Ghost tore off would have bled at least sluggishly if the corpses were that fresh, but the blood is thoroughly dried. He further observes that the corpses are not rotting, and no animals or vermin have touched them.

“Untouched,” Jon said softly. “And Ghost is different. The dogs and the horses won’t go near them.”

Sam also points out that there should be blood everywhere, going by the grievousness of the men’s wounds, but there is none, indicating they were killed elsewhere. One of the men mentions that he didn’t think Othor had blue eyes before either, and Rykker says the same of Flowers. The men urge Mormont to burn the corpses, but Mormont decides to bring them back to the castle for Aemon to examine. Jon thinks uneasily of the stories old Nan used to tell about the Others all the way back, but is gratified when Mormont gruffly compliments Sam on his observations.

When they arrive back, Marsh comes to tell Mormont a bird has arrived, and Jon notes that many of the brothers are watching him, including Thorne, who seems pleased. He finds Pyp, who tells him that the king is dead; Jon is stunned, but wonders if this means his father might return to Winterfell, and resolves to ask him about his mother the next time he sees him. Jon is soon summoned to Mormont, who tells him that Eddard Stark has been imprisoned and accused of treason. Jon declares it must be a lie, but is secretly uncertain.

Mormont tells him he intends to send a letter to ask that Eddard be allowed to take the black and join them on the Wall. Jon isn’t sure how he feels about that, but supposes it is better than his father being executed. He remembers Joffrey, though, and wonders if the new king will allow it. Jon asks about Arya and Sansa, but Mormont tells him the message did not mention them, and warns Jon not to do anything stupid.

Most of the brothers seem supportive of Jon, but at dinner Jon overhears Thorne laughing and calling him “a traitor’s bastard,” and Jon snaps and attacks Thorne with his dagger. Mormont is disappointed that Jon did not listen to him, and confines him to his cell until a hearing can be convened.

Jon wakes that night to find Ghost scrabbling at the door, and opens it to find the posted guard dead, his neck twisted completely around. Ghost heads for Mormont’s chambers, and Jon hears someone sneaking inside. He takes the dead guard’s sword and follows. He finds a cloaked figure with glowing blue eyes heading for Mormont’s bedchamber, and both he and Ghost attack. Jon hacks off an arm, and sees that the figure is Othor. The severed arm attacks Jon; Ghost pulls it off him, and then Othor slams into him, making Jon drop the sword, and tries to choke him to death. Ghost attacks again, pulling the dead man off Jon. Mormont appears with an oil lamp in his hand, and Jon seizes the lamp, sets the drapes on fire, and hurls the burning cloth at the walking dead man.

Let it burn, he prayed as the cloth smothered the corpse, gods, please, please, let it burn.


Finally, some actual supernatural action! That was some tense shit right there, y’all. Great scene.

And jeez, why does no one ever listen to the animals? Seriously, guys, if your dogs and horses and whatnot freak the fuck out about a thing, that is the thing you DO NOT BRING HOME WITH YOU, THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, PEOPLE. Sheesh.

So, yeah, things are definitely ramping up on the Winter Is Coming front, eh? Enemy doing some impressment for the Evil Undead Corps, I see. Benjen is so, so undead, you guys. Shame, that sucks.

So, I guess all it takes is to be killed by Others to end up one yourself? Very zombie-canon-like, nice job. The detail about how the corpses’ eyes have turned blue was an especially nice (read: creepy) touch. What I wanna know is, were Othor and Jafer really dead at the time, and then “woke up” later, or were they just playing possum until they were brought back to the castle?

‘Cause, you know, if the latter, that suggests a very un-zombielike — and frightening — amount of tactical forethought and planning and stuff. Yeek.

Oh, and also, if Othor was busy trying to kill Mormont, what is Jafer doing? YEEK.

And go ahead with your bad self, Mr. Samwell Medical Examiner Tarly, noticing the stuff about how there’s no blood! Maybe it caters a tiny bit to stereotyping that the fat kid is also the smart one, but I’m too pleased with the notion that Sam will eventually come to be valued for that to care too much. Go, Sam, go!

In non-frozen-zombie news, Mormont’s proposed solution to The Ned Situation is very intriguing. Jon thinks it would be unfair, but I dunno, I think Ned would positively shine being on the Wall. No insane politics (well, at least much more straightforward politics) and a clear honorable objective, well, I’m thinking that could be a lifestyle Ned could get behind, you know? Not to mention, Mormont is absolutely right that the Night Watch desperately needs men of his caliber. They desperately need men, period.

And crap, Jon didn’t actually kill Thorne. NOT FAIR. I’m going to sulk about that for a bit.

And hopefully “saving the Lord Commander from grisly zombiefication” counts as a Get Out Of Disciplinary Hearing Free card for Jon, because really. God knows I’d give him a pass. Anyone who’s had to deal with disembodied undead fingers in his mouth (YIPE YIPE YIPE) should get ALL the concessions, in my book. Eurgh.

And with that delightful image, we out! Have a weekend, kids, and see you next week!

Heidi Byrd
1. sweetlilflower
I remember being really angry with Sansa regarding her running to Cersei and telling her that Eddard was sending his kids away. You can't really be angry over the letters, but you can be angry that she tattled to the Lannisters.

I like the chess analogy there.
Also, yeah, listen to the animals! They can sense things humans cannot!

*edited for spelling, it is quite difficult to type when your 3 yr old wants to "help"
Marcus W
2. toryx
Not to mention, if I’m reading this right her act was the catalyst that set this whole… well, I don’t really know if you could call it a coup, exactly. An anti-coup? A lateral coup? An un-coup?

It's wrong, I know, but a giggling part of my mind wanted to suggest that it's a beaucoup. :)

Anyway, Syrio holding off the Lannister men and Arya taking off is one of my favorite chapters in the whole book. Arya rocks. Syrio is awesome. When is there going to be a cage match starring Syrio? That's what I want to know.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
I think the Arya chapter is my favorite. I really hope Syrio isn't dead either.
Joseph Kingsmill
4. JFKingsmill16
I've always wondered why Syrio didn't pick up on of the Lannister men's swords. The only reason Trent would beat him is because of his being armed with a wooden sword.
Leon Lawton
5. Leon Lawton seems like this chapter is suggesting that Sansa basically started it.

Not sure who "started" it, but Littlefinger spoiled Ned's big plans too remember! Though I'm sure Sansa didn't help anything. That Arya chapter is one of my favourites. Love reading these every week, keep it up~
Leon Lawton
6. Tyrion Sedai
I think Sansa tends to get unfairly blamed for setting things off. Ned already told Cersei that he knows everything, and he already told Littlefinger about wanting to crown Stannis instead of Joffrey. Seems to me events would play out largely the same on those things alone irrespective of Sansa's betrayal.
Vincent Lane
7. Aegnor
I never really got what Sansa did that set it all off. In my mind it was Ned that set it off. What did Sansa say? That Ned was sending his daughters away and wasn't going to let her marry Joffrey? Um...ok? I'm just not sure why it is considered so critical.

Comment on the ice-zombies (might be a minor spoiler to some, but not me)...
Is it considered a spoiler to say that those are not the Others? I think it is needlessly confusing in the book that you have the Others, and then you have the ice-zombies (i.e. wights) that the Others make by killing people. Others don't make Others by killing people. Who knows how Others reproduce.
Leon Lawton
8. Megaduck
One of the things I like here is the pacing and I didn't notice it the first time. They finish up with Ned being out politicked by Cersi and Sansa signing the letters giving you a REALLY good reason to hate Cersi and then next chapter?

Martin reminds you who the bad guy is.

I mean, all the stuff down south isn't just a side show, its a STUPID side show. I mean, Stark and Lannister had better kiss and make up real soon now because there are FROZEN ICE ZOMBIES coming to eat their FACES.

Also, I think the Zombies were deliberately playing possum. The blue eyes when they found them was the give away (I think.) So they played dead (No pun intended), got taken into the castle, and then deliberately tried to kill the enemy leader.

These aren't just frozen ice zombies, they're SMART frozen ice zombies.
Leon Lawton
9. zep243
Others vs. Zombies:

This seems to be a common mistake newcomers to this series (and the TV show) make. Go back and read the prologue chpt again. Othor and Jafer did not become Others as they are described in the prologue. They became wights or ice zombies; clearly created by the Others and possibly minions of them as well, but there is a distinct difference. It also doesn't help that the TV show forgoes the "Other" moniker and strictly calls them White Walkers which sounds like a great name for ice zombies.

Keep up the great work, Leigh! Love your insights.
Vincent Lane
10. Aegnor
I don't know if they were playing possum. I think that that they aren't animated in the sun. It is only when the sun goes down that they wake up. I could be wrong though. Also, I think they were definitely directed. It is just too much of a coincidence for one of them to go straight for Mormont.
Matthew B
11. MatthewB under-used character ever.

@4 JFKingsmill16 I think Syrio sticks with the wooden rapier because for all its faults, it's his kind of weapon. Remember, he's a Bravo, not a knight. He needs to be at his best to survive this and give Arya a chance to escape, and wielding a big, heavy chopper isn't going to be him at his best.
Dana Bass
12. krimsen
@10- I might be mis-remembering the timeline, but I think it was night when Ghost found the hand and brought it back. Didn't Jon and Sam take their oaths as the sun was going down? They would have made it back to Castle Black with the corpses a couple hours after that, and then they have dinner and Jon gets confined to his cell for the night. Othor didn't go after Mormont until after most of the Castle was asleep. That makes me think that they were playing possum. If they get animated when the sun goes down, they would have attacked in the woods before they got back to the wall.
Leon Lawton
13. Carolyn H
Arya the Awesome. She's just so great and so brave and yet still a little girl. Such a great character. And Syrio is wonderful, too. At first, he seemed to me just a little, well, odd, but as more was written about him I could see he was just very clever in an untypical way.

I still tend to stick up for Sansa, despite it all. She is a sweet, uncritical child who is thrust in with a pit of vipers. She's so far out of her league that she doesn't even understand the league. I suspect she's not horribly bright as she's had a chance or two to catch on and hasn't. Still, she's a kid whose parents adore her and probably coddled her and she just doesn't have the mental equipment to be anything else right now.

I really liked this Jon chapter for a number of reasons. I love Sam finding his voice, for one thing. But I even like Jon tearing after Thorne. I'm a lot older than he is but Thorne so deserved that. I just can't fault Jon for doing what he did. And there's the frozen ice zombies and Ghost and Jon saving Mormont.

Three great chapters here, with a lot of action and a lot of information.
Leon Lawton
14. Nine Quiet Lessons
Regarding Syrio not picking up one of the weapons dropped by the Lannisters, I always thought it was a combination of the fact that (like MatthewB said) the dropped weapons aren't really useful for his fighting style, plus the fact that Syrio and Trant were already face to face. If Syrio had stopped to discard his wooden sword and pick up another, Trant would have been on him before he was re-armed.

And for Sansa, I really hated her when I first read this chapter, but on a second read, I just felt sorry for her. I don't think her running to Cersei was the catalyst that set all of this off. Cersei must surely have been planning something of the sort since Ned told her he knew about the incest. What she did manage to screw up, most likley, was Arya and herself getting safely out of King's Landing before the coup.
Leon Lawton
15. DeJulis
I don't know if this really counts for spoilers or not, but there's Wights (like Othor) and there's Others. In the prologue, the Others came and killed Ser what's-his-name, then his reanimated Wight-y corpse killed the other Night's Watch guy.
Joe Vondracek
16. joev
Leigh, I will remind you of something you wrote in part 20:
(Death has blue eyes? Who knew?)

Now, you do.

Cersei obviously had planned to seize power all along. I think Sansa running to her and telling Cersei what Eddard was doing was only a catalyst in that it caused Cersei to execute her plan NOW instead of later. That's unfortunate for the Starks, because it didn't allow Eddard to get his daughters and some of his men out of town first.
Stefan Mitev
17. Bergmaniac
I don't think Sansa going to Cersei was a catalyst for anything. This happened only about an hour before Ned was arrested. Ned told Cersei days ago he knew about the twincest and it was clear for her he won't let an illegitimate child born of incest to take the Iron Throne. Littlefinger was sent to bribe the Goldcloaks the night before Sansa went to Cersei so most likely he had already arranged for the them to side with Lannisters when Sansa met Cersei. Cersei couldn't afford Ned to remain free to spread the tale of the twincest and to try to take the power away from her family so she'd have made her move only that she made it easier to get captured, but given that she had no super badass for a teacher/bodyguard and no knowledge of the secret paths out of the keep, she'd have been captured anyway.

I don't think Sansa is stupid. She's naive and a realistic 11 years old girl who was in love for the first time which led to her doing something stupid, but this doesn't make her dumb. But we are so used to the precocious child characters in fantasy that the realistic ones appear strange to us. Even in ASOIF itself there are some children who often behave with maturity way beyond their years - Arya especially.
Leon Lawton
18. resurgam40
I don't know that it's entirely fair to refer to what Sansa did as a "betrayal." You have to remember: this is an eleven year old girl we're talking about here, one who's been coddled too much by her parents so that she really has no idea of the quagmire of politics surrounding her. We see the Lannisters and the Council as enemies because we've seen all the things they've done and are capable of, but she hasn't, so in her mind, they're not enemies. So Sansa goes to the queen not to purposefully get her father in trouble, but because she believes her father is honestly mistaken in the Queen and Joffrey, and so she just wants to get everything cleared up so she can still stay in the palace and live her dream of being a princess. When you were that age and at a friends house, and your parents said it was time to go, and you didn't know when or if you were able to come back, wouldn't you go to your friend or your friends parents and beg them for more time? That's what's happening here. Is that really a betrayal?
Gabor Kecskemeti
19. gkecskem
Guys, if you'd start your comment with "I'm not sure if this is spoiler or not", then don't post it! It is quite simple. Or go to the spoiler thread and ask there if it's spoiler or not.
Julian Augustus
20. Alisonwonderland
I have a different Arya chapter in mind as probably my favorite scene in the entire series:Spoiler.

The way Arya manoeuvred Jaqen H'Gar to help her take over the castle is simply too awesome for words.
Vincent Lane
21. Aegnor

But as zep243 pointed out, none of the posts pointing out the difference between wights and the Others are really spoilers, as it is indicated in the prologue.
Julian Augustus
22. Alisonwonderland
Tyrion Sedai et al:
I think Sansa tends to get unfairly blamed for setting things off. Ned already told Cersei that he knows everything, and he already told Littlefinger about wanting to crown Stannis instead of Joffrey. Seems to me events would play out largely the same on those things alone irrespective of Sansa's betrayal.

Yes, Sansa gets blamed, but not unfairly. Spoiler:
Cersei later admitted that she moved up her schedule for the coup when Sansa brought her news that Lord Eddard was about to send his children out of reach
Leon Lawton
23. Fredweena
@12 re: timeline, it's the next day, not the same day.
Jon & Sam take their vows at sunset, Ghost brings them the hand, the go home.

Next day a party sets out, including Mormont to find the bodies (Jon mentions the hand is in a jar back with Maestor Aemon) , bodies are brought back, yadda yadda yadda, night falls, ZOMBIE time.
Captain Hammer
24. Randalator
re: Syrio

I like to think that Syrio wanted Arya gone before he picked up steel and unleashed a whirlwind of sharp and pointy. No need to give the poor girl bloody nightmares...
Leon Lawton
25. fanganga
Of course the other reason Syrio had to have his wooden stick chopped in two was dramatic necessity. As someone on another site said, if only Trant had had a respirator, and Syrio had threatened to become more powerful than Trant could possibly imagine.
Leon Lawton
26. TG12
Re: Jeyne, I would say that mmphhhh. Argh. Sorry, had to stop to up the gain on my spoiler control....

It probably would have been better if she did end up in one of Littlefinger's brothels (or possible *stay* in one, given her comments to "Reek" about how they "trained" her). Gods, what a bleak, awful fate.
(highlight to read)
Leon Lawton
27. SerTomas
Arya & Syrio - such a great scene, with him teaching her about "seeing what is there" "Just so." Also, one of the best exchanges ever:

"You are quick, for a dancing master," said Ser Meryn.
"You are slow, for a knight," Syrio replied.

Sansa - poor naive little girl. She just so wants her fairytale. I fear she is just going to shatter when her eyes are eventually opened. It's bound to happen eventually.

ice zombies @12 - the timing pointed out by Fredweena @23 is right. Ser Mormont mentions that the corpses were found a half day's ride from the wall, and it is later mentioned that they got them lashed to the travois a just after mid-day. So, I think this supports the nighttime-only animation theory. Though, knowing to go straight for Mormont does indicate a certain level of intelligence, or maybe it points to an ability of the Others to direct from afar, so, REMOTE CONTROL FROZEN ZOMBIES!!! Double Yikes!!

BTW, does Ser rhyme with Fir or There? And if the former, why change the spelling?
Leon Lawton
28. fanganga
I've always thought of the "e" being pronounced as in "berry", but then I've never seen the series or heard the audiobook. Was the last king Raw-bert or Row-bear?
Vincent Lane
29. Aegnor

I've always pronounced it like There, but I think it is supposed to be like Fir.


Your spoiler text didn't work. I had that happen to me.
Leon Lawton
30. Teka Lynn
For crying out loud, if the posting parameters say "Please don't post spoilers to this thread, there's a spoiler thread elsewhere," how hard it is it to NOT POST SPOILERS HERE?

Please, guys. Discretion. Okay?
Bill Stusser
31. billiam
It is not a spoiler to say that the wights and the others are not the same thing. We've known that since the prologue. The others re-animate the dead.

I don't think that the wights were playing possum, I think that they were not animated until later. Remember the unnatural cold when Jon wakes up? That implies the others involvement. Part of the animation process maybe? I think the others left the corpses where the night's watch would find them, knowing that they would be taken to the other side of the wall where they could then be re-animated to do evilness.

Maybe it was the fact that I read that Jon chapter at 2 AM in a mostly dark house, but I found it to be very creepy. Awesome writing by GRRM there.

I definitely think that Sansa betrayed her family here. While not responsible for what happened, she did run to the Queen and rat out her father's plans. The one thing she is responsible for is the fact that she and Arya didn't get out of King's Landing before shit hit the fan.

Oh yeah, am I the only one who doesn't like Arya?
Leon Lawton
32. TG12
Well, my spoiler text was in white, and it worked fine when I previewed the post, then...not so much when it actually posted. Unfortunately, there's no ability to edit the post, so I will have to rely on the kindness of moderators to nuke the naked spoiler. Sorry.
Leon Lawton
33. Mmcook
Re: Billiam,

You're one of a very small few, yes.

And I'm NOT one them myself. Arya is MOA is my book.
Leon Lawton
34. Mmcook
+1 on the Wights vs Others NOT being a spoiler. I don't believe this is something Martin was intentionally being vague about for a later reveal. I would have appreciated someone clearing that up for me on my first read.

+1 on all REAL spoilers being completely left out of this thread.
Peter Stone
35. Peter1742
I actually think most of the characters are really not that aware of the difference between the Others and the wights until they start paying attention (I'll let Leigh guess when this happens). If you think that it's all just old folk tales, you may not pay that much attention to the details. So it makes sense that most readers are still confused at this point, because I think most of the characters are, too.
Leon Lawton
36. Wortmauer
My first read, I was sure Syrio was killed, and I was so sad. I didn't notice until later that Arya doesn't actually see him die. So, yay? I hoped he pulled a Bronn v. Ser Vardis, drawing Ser Meryn away and tiring him out in his heavy armor.

I really love Syrio's story of the cat.
"'Have you ever seen her like?' he asked of me.

"And to him I said, 'Each night in the alleys of Braavos I see a thousand like him,' and the Sealord laughed, and that day I was named the first sword.
Gainful employment through correct use of pronouns!

Sansa: betrayed her father's plans, sure, but as Others have pointed out, she's not really why Ned's household guard was mostly slaughtered, or he himself imprisoned. She probably is the reason Arya's lesson with Syrio is so bloodily interrupted, why Arya has to stick a stableboy with the pointy end, and why the Queen has the opportunity to take one or both girls hostage.

If the ship had sailed the day before, or Robert had lived just a few hours longer, the girls probably would've made a clean getaway. Or maybe not; come to think of it, Cersei (forewarned by Sansa) probably would have compromised the ship, bribing the captain and putting Lannister armsmen onboard to overpower the Stark guard and hold the girls. Cersei couldn't act openly until Robert died, but if the hostage-taking happened on a ship sailing out to sea, well, there's no sat phones, nobody's gonna report to Robert or Ned or even Varys in a timely manner. (Unless Varys's little birds include, you know, some actual little birds.)
Leon Lawton
37. Skyweir
Arya is awesome here, though perhaps a bit to flippant about killing random servants.

And poor Jeyne, indeed.


The setup for one of the most horrible chapters of the whole series is laid down masterfully here. Jeyne' fate is far worse than Sansa's, and it is all set up in an offhand comment by Cersei, and then she is off to her "t-t-training".
Leon Lawton
38. Skyweir
Arrgh, sorry guys. I tagged the spoiler, but there was an error message and it posted without the "white-out".
Please, can a mod remove the above comment?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
39. tnh
Fixed, Skyweir. Thanks for flagging it to bring it to our attention.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
40. tnh
The Stark children are individuals with different talents. Sansa is good at dealing with the world as it's supposed to be. If you tell her it's a good thing to be a lady, and that ladies value certain behaviors and accomplishments, she'll wholeheartedly do her best to learn those things. In peaceful times, that's a real gift. When we see her doing the gracious meet-and-greet that chatelaines do with their guests at gatherings, she's genuinely accomplished at it.

Spoiler: Sansa's belief in the world as it's supposed to be may explain why Sandor Clegane keeps trying to tell her what knights and chivalry really are. She's got an inadequate map, and he's trying to enlarge it.
Debbie Solomon
41. dsolo
It's been over 10 years since I read AGoT, so I'm really enjoying the reread. When you get around to watching the HBO series, the Syrio/Lannister men scene was one of my favorites. As for Syrio's fate, I hope he was able to tell Death - not today. I don't feel sorry for the stableboy. He was stupid enough to tell a noble born girl with a sword in her hand that he was turning her over to the queen (while surrounding by her household's corpses). Darwinism at work.
Leon Lawton
42. fanganga

On my first read I diagnosed Arya with an advanced case of Author's Darling Syndrome - the rebellious young girl who is genre-savvy beyond her years who can hack and slash her way to victory simply by deciding to be a warrior must be the topic of dozens of Limaayel's rants. However, rereading this chapter, I have to say that Martin's demonstration of why Arya had to grow up so quickly was masterfully done.

As for that stableboy - yikes. I know we're not supposed to feel sorry for a greedy and callous thug who wants to sell a viewpoint character to her enemies, but going through his belly and coming out between his shoulderblades is brutal. (@dsolo He didn't know he was bringing a pitchfork to a swordfight. The sword was out of sight in the chest until it was through all his organs)

I think the bit in the chapter that's really Arya is when she finds Desmond's body (I've watched so much Lost I can't read that name without seeing Henry Ian Cusik) and is angry at him for his empty reassurances earlier.
Leon Lawton
43. Will Belegon
Really now gang. NO SPOILERS in these comments. Not "white out spoilers." Not "warn about spoilers." NO SPOILERS. Yes, I've read all the books multiple times. Yes, I'd like to discuss things in this area. But I won't ruin other people's experiences to fulfill my selfish desire. Use some self-control. Don't post anything not revealed prior to the last chapter covered in each blog.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
I agree with Will's comment @43. Spoilers are supposed to be limited to spoiler thread.
Rob Munnelly
45. RobMRobM
Here are the relevant chapters in the Blog of Ice and Fire. Pretty amusing this week, although he's juuusssttt....aaaa....bbbiitttt tough on Sansa.



Arya practices parrying in her final session with Syrio. No wonder Arya was so reluctant to go home to Winterfell -- she was learning "true seeing" and was just a handful of lessons away from telekinesis. Eddard should take Syrio home and have him train all his guards. Syrio tells the story of how he became the first swoard of Braavos -- the king there had a cat, and everyone thought it was amazing, even the cat itself. But in reality, it was a normal cat, and Syrio was the only man to speak the truth to the king. He's teaching Arya to not over-think, to trust her senses and her instincts. That's the lesson of his story. That, and people in Braavos can't identify an ordinary cat. Perhaps its also a convoluted metaphor for how Catelyn isn't special at all and is just an ordinary fat woman?

Lannister men burst into the room, interrupting their lesson. Intent on capturing Arya, they haven't taken Syrio's "true seeing" lesson, so they just see an old dancing master, but its actually a dude that can kick their asses. Syrio takes them all on with just a stick, beating down the guards easily. Next up is the heavily armored Kingsguard knight Meryn Trant, and Syrio seems outmatched. However, if Petyr = Peter and Eddard = Edward, I conclude that Meryn = Mary Anne. Thus, even though its left open ended, I have faith that Syrio pulls out the win, because Ser Mary Anne is doomed by his girly name.

Arya doesn't stick around to see the end of the fight, using her special skills to flee the castle. On her way, she evades a stable boy who tried to grab her. And by "evades," I mean "brutally kills." Just like that, Arya adds to her long list of very adult things experienced at a very non-adult age. She watched her friend be cut in half, was forced to ditch her childhood pet, was trained in survival skills and swordfighting, witnessed her household guards be killed, and now actually commits manslaughter. "Loss of innocence" is obviously a big theme in this book, as just about every child POV involves kids dealing with issues beyond their age, but an eight-year-old stabbing and killing another kid exceeds even Martin's extreme standards. Arya killed someone, but at least she escaped, and thats something to cheer about. Stupid stable boys should keep their hands to themselves.

Sansa waits in her room for the fighting to finish, praying for her father, her guards, and her Lannister boyfriend. It was such a Sansa thing to do, to sit passive and clueless, hoping that everything just works out. Cersei tells her that Eddard was a traitor, and we learn that Sansa was the one who informed Cersei of Eddard's plans. Are you freaking kidding me? By leaking this information, Sansa endangered the lives of her family, effectively sentenced her household guards to death, and screwed over everyone who truly loves her. All because she has a crush on dumbass Joffrey who treats her like crap anyway. Sansa: destined to be the abused druggie escort of King's Landing.

The council is threatening to break her engagement, reasoning that traitor blood runs through her veins. If that were true, Joffrey should just marry Myrcella now, because they are inclined to be ultra-incestuous. They can have a threesome with Tommen, and if you throw Tyrion in the mix and record it, you could sell the tape to a dozen different niche fetish groups. Lannister porn: something for everyone, and keeping the house wealthy for the next thousand years.

Cersei should be opposed to a Joffrey-Sansa marriage solely because her grandkids would be dumb as bricks. She might as well marry Myrcella to GREGOR, and then all her grandkids can take the same bus to school (the short one). Of course, Sansa is devastated that she might not marry Joffrey, but the council won't listen until pedo Petyr chimes in, suggesting that Sansa resembles her mother more than her father. I'm not sure which is worse. Would you rather be the inept, humorless guy who can't think his way out of a box, or the bitter woman who falsely arrests the only innocent member of a rival house? Cersei and the council convince Sansa to write letters to convince the rest of her family to surrender. Sansa actually buys it, partly because she wants desperately to believe everything will be fine, but mostly because she is 100% grade-A stupid. The difference between Sansa and her sister could not be more Stark.

Ghost didn't find Uncle Benjen. The severed hand belonged to the corpse of a guy named "Othor" who was a member of Benjen's party. Yes, that was his actual name -- Othor. Very subtle, Martin. Why don't you just name the guy that went after Bran "Lannistor." The Nights Watch men bring the corpses back to the castle because there's something weird about them. The bodies don't rot, and no animals but Ghost will go near them. When Jon gets back to the Castle Black, he finds out via raven letter about all the crazy stuff that's been going down at King's Landing. He can't believe that Eddard is a traitor, and almost knifes Ser Alliser when the knight makes fun of Ned.

Cue "Thriller" music! Darkness falls across the land, at midnite crawls a zombied hand. "Othors" crawl in search of blood, to terrorize Jon's neighborhood. And whosoever shall be found, but Jon's great white wolfhound. Jon and Ghost hear the horn's call, to face undead south of the Wall. The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of several thousand years. And grizzy ghouls from every tomb, are closing in to seal Mormont's doom. And though Jon fights to stay alive, his body starts to shiver. For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of "the Others."

And just like that, Emo Jon was no longer emo. Fighting disfigured, undead zombies justifies infinite whiny blog posts. As Othor attacks, the words of Jon's favorite band Dashboard Confessional echo in his mind: "let it end in flames; let it burn."
Captain Hammer
46. Randalator
Well, it's a hard truth but someone had to say it: Sansa is as thick as a brick. She must have gotten her political cunning from her father and her character judgement from her mother. Or is it the other way round? Does it even matter? What a nightmare.

I actually feel sorry for her all of a sudden...
James Z
47. Gibush
This is unrelated to the current post, but I'd like to apologize profusely for accidentally spamming your Shoutbox. What happened was, I wrote a message, and hit post, and it gave me an error, so I re-wrote the whole thing, then hit post again, and got an error. So I hit post again. And got an error. And then refreshed and found that all 3 had been posted. So I wrote what happened and so that's four things.

So yeah.
Juliet Kestrel
48. Juliet_Kestrel
Arya: I guess Arya’s thoughts after killing the stable boy are a little unrealistic, but I didn’t notice it while I was reading it. I guess I am just too prepared for Arya being made of awesome. To be fair though, if the stable boy really wanted to hand her over to Queen C and collect a reward, why would he TELL Arya that? He must have missed that day in competent villain class.

Sansa: I can’t get mad at her about the letters, and as others have mentioned, Queen C had planned this whole thing already, but I can still be upset with Sansa for betraying her family. Maybe this is the result of Ned killing Lady? Sansa keeping her mouth shut wouldn’t have prevented ALL the Bad Stuff from happening, but it would likely have prevented some of it.

Jon: I love Sam, and I do not doubt his deductive reasoning skills, but when did he get all CSI with the blood spatters on us? I thought his dad sent him to the wall because he wasn’t manly enough to gut elk and the like? This scene was really creepy. Death has blue eyes indeed.

GRRM keeps on ratcheting up the tension though. I keep looking at the dwindling number of pages left and keep wondering how and if things will be wrapped up in this book. Because, if I don’t get at least a little resolution I am going to give myself ulcers. Maybe I should just give up this pace and plow through the books in a week.
Leon Lawton
49. fanganga
I can just imagine Randyll trying to get Sam used to the sight of blood and guts by tying him to a tree and giving him the Clockwork Orange treatment while he dresses his latest kill. Maybe not literally, but he'd certainly make sure Sam remembered every detail of the gore.
Captain Hammer
50. Randalator
Juliet_Kestrel @48

To be fair though, if the stable boy really wanted to hand her over to Queen C and collect a reward, why would he TELL Arya that? He must have missed that day in competent villain class.

Which is probably why he is mucking out stables (and also recently quite dead) instead of taking over the world...
Juliet Kestrel
51. Juliet_Kestrel
@49 Fangana
I can see Lord Tarly doing that, although, I don’t think they had those eyelid holder things in medieval times.

@50 Randalator
Super villainy just isn’t everyone’s calling.
Leon Lawton
52. JohnnyMac
@51 Juliet _Kestrel "Super villainy just isn't everyone's calling."

Very true. That is why those thinking of a career in the exciting field of super villainy should read Neil Zawacki's seminal work: "How To Be A Villain; Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!!" (Chronicle Books, 2003).

And if, once you have looked into it, you realize that Super Villian is not the career choice for you; remember that there are many opportunties in the related fields of Minon (in the Sinster, Ruthless, Dimwitted and Mindless categories), Lackey (cringing skills a big plus here) and, of course, Victim (cause Villains always need more victims).
Tabby Alleman
54. Tabbyfl55
Why would anybody be mad at Sansa about the letters? Does anybody believe there's any chance that Robb and/or Cat will say, "Oh look, Sansa says it's safe! Ok, I surrender!"

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