Fri
Oct 28 2011 2:00pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 30

A Read of Ice and Fire on Tor.comWelcome 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 30 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 61 (“Daenerys”), 62 (“Tyrion”), and 63 (“Catelyn”).

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 61: Daenerys

What Happens
Dany rides her silver through the aftermath of the battle in which Drogo had defeated Khal Ogo, in the midst of Ogo’s attack on a town of the Lhazareen (who the Dothraki call the Lamb Men, contemptuously). The survivors of both Ogo’s khalasar and the townsfolk are being enslaved, and most of the women are being raped. Jorah reports to Dany that Drogo has taken minor wounds. Dany tries to ignore the cries of a young girl being gang-raped nearby, while Jorah discusses casually where Drogo might get the best prices for the slaves he’s taken, assuming they survive the march.

Finally Dany commands Jorah and her khas to stop the rape, which puzzles all of them, and Jhogo offers to cut out the girl’s tongue if that will help, but Dany claims her as a slave and insists they obey.

[Jorah] gave her a curious look. “You are your brother’s sister, in truth.”

“Viserys?” She did not understand.

“No,” he answered. “Rhaegar.” He galloped off.

The rapists are not pleased, and several have to be cut down before they will stop. Dany repeats her orders each time she sees a rape in progress, ignoring Jorah’s admonishment that she cannot claim them all. She reaches the place where Drogo is waiting, and a bloodrider named Mago approaches to complain of Dany’s doings re: the women; Drogo tells her this is the way of things, but Dany stands her ground. Drogo is pleased with her fierceness, and tells Mago to let it go.

Then it becomes clear that Drogo’s wounds are more severe than she was told, though he tries to scoff at the notion. One of the women Dany rescued, Mirri Maz Duur, comes forward and offers to tend Drogo’s wounds, saying she is the godswife of the town’s temple. The Dothraki mutter about maegi (witches), but Jorah is impressed by her claim to have learned from a maester in the Seven Kingdoms, and vouches for her probable skill. Drogo allows it, and Mirri tends to his wounds with apparent expertise. Impressed, Dany asks her to assist in her childbirth. Qotho warns Mirri that her life hinges on how well the khal fares.

Commentary
Saying “this was an unpleasant chapter to read” is to wildly, deeply, drastically understate the case, but I can’t really think of a way that describes my feelings about it accurately that won’t end with me simply lapsing into incoherent rage, so I will just repeat, through clenched teeth:

This was an unpleasant chapter to read.

And… I really don’t think I have anything more to say about it, except to say “Go Dany” for apparently being the only person in Drogo’s army — possibly, in his entire culture — who would know the concept of “compassion” if it walked up and shot them in the face, which I rather wish it would, shoot them in the face I mean, and never mind that that sentiment doesn’t even make any sense.

I am not, currently, very interested in making sense. I am interested in SHOOTING A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE FACE. God.

And, also, in taking back anything nice I ever said about Jorah, because fuck him. Better yet, sell him into slavery and see how HE likes it, the little shit.

Jesus. Everyone is fucking fired, the end.

[Six hours later] Okay, fine, one more thing: in light of that whole Rhaegar/Lyanna/Robert thing I still don’t understand completely, Jorah’s comment to Dany I quoted above only muddles the issue further as far as I am concerned. Rhaegar is like Dany? In what? Not liking rape, or just in generally being compassionate? Because, you know, that’s really not the impression I have of Rhaegar, I can tell you that.

But then again, the only impressions I have of him so far are from Robert and/or Ned’s perspectives, don’t I?

Hm.

Then again, the comment is from Jorah, and fuck him, so there’s that, too.

Ugh.

 

Chapter 62: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion joins his father for the evening meal; other than to report that the Stark host is a day’s march north, Tywin’s only comments to Tyrion are barbs and insults, as are those of his bannermen. Kevan tells Tyrion they are going to put him and his clansmen in the van, under Ser Gregor Clegane, which Tyrion gloomily suspects is a tactic of Tywin’s to dispose of his “embarrassing get” for good. Tyrion excuses himself and leaves without eating, ignoring the laughter that follows him.

Tyrion eventually finds his tent, where Bronn has already finished eating. He has the whore Tyrion asked him to acquire for him, a girl named Shae, who Tyrion decides he likes when she talks back to him. She agrees readily to his terms for her employment, and they have sex. Afterwards he goes outside and talks to Bronn, and is dismayed to find out he took Shae from another knight. He is cheered, though, by Bronn’s tacit assurance that Bronn will protect him in the upcoming battle. He goes back in his tent and has sex again before falling asleep.

He is woken when Tywin’s horns warn of an imminent attack; Bronn reports that “the Stark boy” stole a march on them and are less than a mile away. They ready themselves, Tyrion in mismatched and badly-fitting armor. When they ride out, Tyrion sees his father resplendent in his richly appointed armor, commanding the reserve. He remembers the last time he’d seen Robb Stark, and wonders uneasily if the boy will bring his wolves to war with him. Ser Gregor orders Tyrion and his clansmen to hold the river on the left; Tyrion notes that this entire section is the dregs of the army, and wonders how Tywin expects them to hold it.

The battle is fought. Most of the clansmen ignore Tyrion and leave him behind, and Bronn and Tyrion are soon surrounded. Tyrion knocks one down and kills two more, and then is attacked by a knight shouting “For Eddard and Winterfell!” The knight recognizes Tyrion. He almost kills Tyrion, and demands he yield, but Tyrion impales the knight’s horse with his helmet spike and wins, forcing the other to yield instead.

The Lannister forces eventually prevail, and Tyrion finds that about half of his clansmen have been killed. He finds his father and Kevan; Kevan congratulates Tyrion on his victory with his “wild men,” and Tyrion asks his father if he is surprised that they were not butchered the way Tywin had planned. Tywin acknowledges that he’d planned to use a rout on the left to draw in the Stark boy, but admits it didn’t work.

“And you thought it best to place me in the midst of this carnage, yet keep me ignorant of your plans.”

“A feigned rout is less convincing,” his father said, “and I am not inclined to trust my plans to a man who consorts with sellswords and savages.”

They are interrupted by Ser Addam Marbrand, who reports that they have taken some of the Stark commanders, but Roose Bolton escaped, and apparently Robb Stark was never with them.

“They say he crossed at the Twins with the great part of his horse, riding hard for Riverrun.”

A green boy, Tyrion remembered, more like to be brave than wise. He would have laughed, if he hadn’t hurt so much.

Commentary
It’s really weird to read about a battle when you have no idea who to root for.

I mean, I was rooting for Tyrion to survive, but I was also mostly rooting for him to lose. Well, technically, for Tywin to lose, but it amounts to the same thing.

Obviously, I did not get that wish, though if I’m reading this right, having Roose Bolton’s section of the army lose to the Lannisters was, if not part of the plan, at least something fully anticipated and accounted for, so that Robb’s section can get to Riverrun. So maybe in a way the Starks actually won? Sort of? I’m a little confuzzled at the moment, but I think that’s right.

Well, something, whatever. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.

It was also very weird that I found the whole interaction between Tyrion and Shae to be… well, sweet. Or what passes for “sweet” in this series, I suppose. Or maybe it’s just that even a nominally consensual sexual congress seems okay after what happened in the previous chapter. (God.) Prostitution is not exactly one of those practices that makes me go hip-hip-hooray as far as women’s rights go, but it’s a sight better than rapine.

Mostly. Usually. Sometimes. Agh.

Forget it: for the sake of my own sanity, for now I’m going to assume until told otherwise that this was a life Shae at least chose, if it’s unlikely to be one she actually enjoys. And at least she has enough of an attitude that I can choose to believe her spirit isn’t broken. Yet.

Ugh. Anyway.

Who was the knight Tyrion captured? I was highly irritated that we weren’t told. Ooh, maybe it was Roose Bolton and he didn’t escape after all? That’d be a lovely Hah In Your Face moment for Daddy Dearest on Tyrion’s account, heh. Though I’d be a tad upset on Bolton’s behalf.

Oh, and speaking of: Tywin Lannister? Still an asshole. Film At Eleven. I don’t condone patricide (which will be your obligatory “Duh” statement for this post), but if Tyrion ends up killing Tywin I can’t even pretend that I won’t kind of understand.

 

Chapter 63: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn waits in the woods with her guard of thirty men, and reflects how she has always been waiting for the men in her life, from her father to her husband and now her son, who is moving among his men, encouraging them. She prays to the gods that he lives to have a son of his own, and that her uncle Brynden had been right about Jaime Lannister’s ignorance of their presence as well as his impatience, and tendency to ride out with his troops to suppress raids.

Robb mounts and heads off to ride down the line, and Catelyn makes herself smile for him. He also has a battle guard, at her insistence, consisting of many of the sons of the lords bannermen, as well as Dacey Mormont, Lady Maege’s eldest daughter and heir to Bear Island, “a lanky six-footer who had been given a morningstar at an age when most girls were given dolls”; Catelyn had refused to hear the lords’ complaints about her inclusion.

Catelyn waits and watches and listens as Robb’s army sets the trap for Jaime, most of which she cannot see clearly. Finally the battle ends and Robb returns to her; he has blood on him but assures her it is not his. He is followed by a mob of men, who drag Jaime Lannister before her. He greets her with regrets that he cannot offer her his sword; she tells him she doesn’t want his sword, but her father and brother and daughters and husband.

“I have mislaid them as well, I fear.”

“A pity,” Catelyn said coldly.

Theon urges Robb to kill Jaime, but Robb says he is more valuable alive, and orders him put in irons and guarded well, as Lord Karstark will want him dead. Jaime is taken off, and Catelyn asks why Lord Karstark in particular. The others tell her that Jaime killed both his sons. Robb tells her remorsefully that Jaime was trying to get to him, but Catelyn tells him they died honorably, protecting their liege lord. Theon eagerly recounts that they have also taken numerous Lannister liegemen captive, including three other Lannisters, Tywin’s nephews. Catelyn asks if they took Lord Tywin, and Theon answers no.

“Until you do, this war is far from done.”

Robb raised his head and pushed his hair back out of his eyes. “My mother is right. We still have Riverrun.”

Commentary
Aaaand Tool of the Year goes DOWN!

*cabbage patch*

So wow, they actually captured Jaime. I’m kind of totally astounded. I really did not think it was going to be that easy.

Of course, who am I kidding; it almost definitely ain’t gonna stay that easy. After all, Catelyn captured Tyrion, too, and look how that turned out.

No doubt, though, that Jaime brings much better leverage for the Starks than Tyrion did, sad as that might be to say. Tywin’s going to flip out. Actually, forget Tywin: Cersei’s going to shit a brick.

Which, now that I think about it, may not actually be a good thing for the Starks. Particularly Ned, who is in easy torturing reach of her. Erm.

In other news, I very much liked how this chapter was constructed, with the battle from Catelyn’s bystander perspective. It won’t come through in the summary, but the prose telling her point of view here was very nicely done.

Also, A Warrior Chick! With a morningstar! BADASS. Actually there’s one in the previous chapter too, one of Tyrion’s clansman warriors. ALSO BADASS.

Look, certain things make me happy, okay? Just as certain things, uh, really don’t. As this post quite adequately demonstrates, I guess.


Ergo, therefore, and in conclusion, I am going to go look at YouTube videos of puppies and kittens, and you are going to have a weekend! Hopefully a costume-and sugar-shock-filled one! Merry Samhain, and see you next week!

70 comments
Jeff Weston
1. JWezy
For those of you of a certain age, "The palindrome of Bolton would be 'Notlob'!"
Vincent Lane
2. Aegnor
Not done reading your post, but I wanted to comment on your Dany chapter commentary. I believe you only have Robert's second hand knowledge about Rhaegar. I can't remember any instance where Ned said or thought much in great detail about Rhaegar.
Juliet Kestrel
3. Juliet_Kestrel
I believe they left Jaime alive precisely because Ned is within arm’s reach of Cersei. It gives the Starks some Leverage.

I have icky feelings about the magi lady. Tell me again why she would WANT to heal the wounds of the guy in charge of raping and pillaging her village? Even with Dany helping, Drogo was the one in charge after all. I am also a bit surprised Drogo let the magi women do anything to him. I feel like his character should have told Jorah and his recommendation to F off. His own healers have a vested interest in his surviving after all.

As for Tywin it takes a special kind of person to purposefully, and without out telling him, to put your son in the midst of the battle that is SUPPOSED to be beaten. Wow is all I have to say to that, just wow. I find myself agreeing with Leigh’s patricide sentiments.
John Pigott
4. AbEnd
Leigh, given your post on spanking early on in the re-read of WoT, you're actually quite restrained here in your comments on the Dany chapter! (Hopefully restrained and not inured)
Black Dread
5. Black Dread
Careful what you wish for, GRRM might oblige!
Vincent Lane
6. Aegnor
"Though I’d be a tad upset on Bolton’s behalf."

Did you read the part in a previous chapter where Robb and Catelyn were talking about Roose Bolton?
dan
7. Chrysippus4321
Robert is the source of most of our knowledge re Rhaegar. Ned's thoughts have mostly been reminiscences. I think that one of the most telling thoughts from Ned re Rhaegar was when Ned was returning from the whorehouse with Littlefinger. "For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen. He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not."
Justin Epstein
8. RedFlag
I also thought Martin did a really good job in showing the Riverrun battle from Catelyn's perspective. After setting the previous chapter right in the thick of the fight with Tyrion, we didn't need to have a similar "battle chapter" right away. And since Tyrion is much more interesting character than Rob, I'd rather spend time with him than with Rob in the middle of the fight.

In fact that's one thing I like about the entire series - Martin knows when to give us in depth battle scenes (to show us what it's like, and when there is a character we care about involved). But he is also happy to just give us a summary report of the outcome when the exact details of that battle don't really matter.
Vincent Lane
9. Aegnor
Regarding your worry for Ned, since Jaime was captured. Typically this would be a great thing for Ned. In medieval times, which this is loosely based on, capturing such an important person as Jaime would be a great way to negotiate the release of a prisoner as important as Ned. Jaime is important enough to do a straight up trade for Ned.

You remember back when Varys and Ned were talking in Ned's cell, and Ned said that Catelyn had Cercei's brother, and Varys said yes, but the wrong brother (and now not even him). Well, now he has the right brother, and once Cercei finds out that Jaime is captured, Ned's survival would become of critical importance.

Oh...and for reasons which would be extremely spoilerish, I am very very glad that you did three chapters this week.
Black Dread
10. carolynh
Good chapters (and a great synopsis, Leigh) for today's recap. The Dany chapter was hard to read with any comfort, though Dany's response was strong and honorable. The Tyrion chapter makes me wonder how Tyrion could have avoided patricide for all these years. He still manages to come across as rather sweet in a Lannister kind of way. And Cat proves again that she is a woman with a strong soul and strong opinions. I'm afraid to say much more or I will fall into spoiler territory. Maybe I'll just wait until next week to say more.
Black Dread
11. sofrina
covering the three chapters allows you to see, as you noted on tyrion's chapter, that this really was a victory for team stark. a great one! jaime is the next best hostage to tywin. no one else even matters. here tywin was beaten at his own game. the trap he laid for robb was really just a foil for robb to capture jaime.

the one part i don't get is theon greyjoy insisting on killing jaime. he is in the council meetings, front and center on all the planning. wtf is he talking about?!

unrelated: i've been starting to compare the jaime/cersei dynamic to the theo/isabelle dynamic in "the dreamers."
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
Quick thoughts -

Re Rheagar, this is not the first pro-Rheagar comment Jorah has made. He made express "Last of the true Dragons" comments tying Rheagar and Dany towards the end of Viserys's sad reign.

Shae FTW!

Re who Tyrion captured - not Roose Bolton, no sirrey. I don't have my book but if you post the knight's sigil we can probably track down the name of his Lord for you.

General point - yes, having this force led by Bolton engage Tywin's troops and then withdraw without pursuing victory was exactly Robb's plan. He wanted the surprise strike against Jamie - and got it.

Dacey Mormont (and her mother Maege, the She-Bear) FTW! Note that Dacey is Lord Commander Mormont's niece (and Jorah's first cousin) and would have received Longclaw if it were not given to Jon Snow. Thank goodness she likes the morningstar.

Rob
Vincent Lane
13. Aegnor
Incidentally, there is one sentance in your commentary that made me laugh out loud, due to events that occured in the most recent book.
Black Dread
14. Paulie
I know I shouldn't be surprised at how spot on your observations are Leigh, but you will want to save the comments you made in this post for proof of your ability forsee the future.
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
@15. Indeed. And one of interest in light of events in the third book too.
Black Dread
16. nancym
I hate all the rapey-rapeyness that goes on here, and the whole "women are property to be traded/sold/wedded off for profit & advantange" thing. But, GRRM does create some badass, strong, independent women whom I admire greatly.

Great recaps, Leigh! I am enjoying these because you see connections that I haven't. I am devouring these books so quickly that I know I'm missing a lot, my first read through.
Black Dread
17. Gentleman Farmer
Leigh,

I enjoyed your re-cap, as always, but thought it might be worth commenting here in regards to your level of enjoyment of these books.

I really enjoy GRRM. Robert Jordan was at the top of the list for me for years, but ultimately I found I had a preference for GRRM's earlier books, compared to RJ's later ones.

I think, however, that part of the reason I like both RJ and GRRM (and GRRM a little more so), is that my first loves in the fantasy genre were King Arthur legends. I've always liked medieval knight type stories, and the magical elements have always been secondary. I liked Lord of the Rings, but it never captured my imagination the way the knights of the round table did.
Recalling your post of a few weeks ago, where you indicated you were looking for more magic with your fantasy, not merely alternate medieval history, combined with this post where you seem to be trying hard not to show your dislike of some of the elements, I wonder if perhaps this series is not for you.

I've loaned or recommended this series for a number of people. Some, who are tired of fantasy stereotypes really latch onto this series and love it. Others, who like their fantasy fantastical find it grim and distasteful. While both RJ and GRRM emphasize characterization and creating very realistic human characters, both men and women, I think they have very different world views, and I know for myself, if I don't agree with, or don't want to read about an author's world view, it makes it very hard to enjoy the series.

Ultimately, I think by this stage of the book, or at the least, by the end of this book, if you haven't been captured and fascinated by it, to the point that you want to keep reading, you may not enjoy the rest of the series. As noted above, a few people I've recommended the book to have made it this far, or perhaps a few chapters further on, and concluded it's just not for them.

Once again, I appreciate your recaps, and would be very pleased if you continue on, but I think a big purpose for these types of re-reads is to give people who enjoy the series an opportunity to share their enthusiasm. If getting your enthusiasm to a sufficiently high level is too much like work, I would understand if you decide to put this series down after this book.

On a side note: Did Catelyn choose to go with the army rather than stay with Lord Frey and help choose a wife for Robb? Or am I misremembering?
Marcus W
18. toryx
Gentleman Farmer @ 17:

I know what you're saying. I don't really have any clue just how much Leigh is enjoying (or not enjoying) the book so far but I would say that her reaction to the first chapter in this post is pretty reasonable. I think what makes ASoIaF work for me is that GRRM can make me simultaneously angry and disgusted and still keep me reading.

That particularly Danaerys chapter got my blood boiling too but I never thought to stop reading because of it. If anything, I felt compelled to go on to see if those bastards would pay for their outrages. Besides, GRRM makes up for a lot by having characters like Dany, Arya, Dacey Mormont or even Catelyn who have the potential and capacity to be pretty kickass.

Anyway, I think it's not unreasonable for someone to be furious the way Leigh demonstrated and still be enjoying the book in leaps and spades. Whether that's actually the case here, however, I cannot say.

Maybe we'll just need to wait until this book is done to get Leigh's overall reaction.
Black Dread
19. The SmilingKngiht
Reads Leah`s comments on Denerys chapter, reads the next chapter, turns around and gets ready to shout - but is manhandled by a dozen of brothers from the kingswood Brotherhood, tied to a tree and has his mouth stuffed by a rag.

"HMMFFGGHH! MMHFFGHH! MHHH!"
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
@17 - Catelyn went with Robb's army. No wife picking for her....

From what I'm seeing, Leigh is enjoying GoT, while retaining appropriate anger/disgust at particular elements in Westeros. I'd certainly like her to continue on.

Rob
Juliet Kestrel
21. Juliet_Kestrel
As a newbie to this series, and a person that likes their fantasy fantastical, I am having very strong emotional reactions to this book, not all of them pleasant. But because the reactions are so strong I feel even more compelled to find out what happens next. This is also the first time I have ever read a book so slowly. I usually plow through books at break neck pace. I am reminded of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy (I won’t spoil anything I promise!), where the end of the story left me feeling pretty crumby in a wonderfully cathartic sort of way, and I was thoroughly impressed by the author and the story. I have a suspicious ASOIAF will turn out similarly, because I cannot imagine this series/book ending with rainbows and kittens tied in neat little narrative bows for all of the characters.

I am not sure on how Leigh plans on formatting the structure of the over-all read blog, but I for one would be incredibly interested in a book end post discussing her feelings about each book as a whole. Just an idea.
Black Dread
22. no_one
It is interesting that so many, mostly females, get so upset by the rapine. This has the effect of minimizing or neglecting all the pillage and slaughter. Bemoaning how terrible it is that women are violated, enslaved, and degraded while many more are forgotten, just piles of corpses and heads, left to rot. An entire society and culture was destroyed and what provokes outrage is rape. It is like people don't read history or even just epic literature.
Bryan Brown
23. Bubbs1873
I don't know if Leigh is enjoying this but if not she's done a hell of a job getting me hooked on ASOIAF.
After waiting 20 years and with the end in sight of WOT, she's only gone and turned me onto another never ending series.

Damn you Leigh (shakes fist)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
24. tnh
I refer y'all to my comments some time back about why playing "You're getting warmer/colder" is a spoiler.
Black Dread
25. Wortmauer
Juliet_Kestrel@21: I am reminded of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy (I won’t spoil anything I promise!), where the end of the story left me feeling pretty crumby in a wonderfully cathartic sort of way, and I was thoroughly impressed by the author and the story.
You did read the rest of the story (Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate), right? I mean, you can't just stop with the first trilogy! And, not to give anything away, but the real ending isn't quite the downer she served up in the earlier books.

Also, I've always kinda thought I should call you Kettle.
Black Dread
26. Wortmauer
RobMRobM@12: Re Rheagar, this is not the first pro-Rheagar comment Jorah has made. He made express "Last of the true Dragons" comments tying Rheagar and Dany towards the end of Viserys's sad reign.
A puzzle, he is. We really don't know much about Rhaegar, do we? King Robert hated him, so maybe he was evil; Ser Jorah admired him, so maybe he was admirable. Maybe he was one, both, or neither. For all Jorah sounds fairly sensible, he's clearly biased, having thrown his lot in with Rhaegar's survivors.
Note that Dacey is Lord Commander Mormont's niece (and Jorah's first cousin) and would have received Longclaw if it were not given to Jon Snow. Thank goodness she likes the morningstar.
Nice, I hadn't made that connection.
Marcus W
27. toryx
no_one @ 22:

Perhaps it's in part due to the notion that death is easy. Torment without relief is another thing entirely. And besides, rape is an especially atrocious act that is deserved of universal condemnation regardless of your sex.
Bill Stusser
28. billiam
A couple of things about these chapters. First, the reason that the battle of Riverrun is told from Cat's perspective is that she is the POV character for this storyline, that's why she is there. GRRM does a fairly good job of staying consistent with which characters we get POV's from. The only storyline we're getting more than one POV from is in King's Landing (where we have Ned, Arya, & Sansa) and that's because one character can't possibly see everything that needs to be seen there (especially later when Ned's sitting in a cell).

Second, someone asked why Theon wanted to kill Jaime. Well, that's just the way Theon is. Remember it was Theon who kicked the head of the black brother who Ned executed in the first chapter and who wanted to kill the dire wolf pups. It's probably an Iron Islands thing but I really shouldn't say anything more about that yet.

Third (so I guess this is more than a couple), Jaime may be the "Tool of the Year" but just how bad ass was he in that battle? We don't know how many men he killed altogether, but he cut his way through three men trying to get to Robb and there's no doubt on anyone's part what would have happened to Rob if Jaime had made it to him. Easy? I think not.

Last, Robert is the only person we have heard say anything bad about Rhaegar. I think that if Rhaegar was really as bad as Robert makes him out, especially the raping Lyanna thing, then Ned should hate him just as much. But I just don't get that impression of Rhaegar from Ned's thoughts and memories.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
@21, 25. I love the Farseer books and have re-read them about as many times as I have ASOIF and WoT. Kestrel = Kettle ROFL. And, if you haven't, second Wort's suggestion that you read the Fool trilogy. Fitz is in a very interesting and different place throughout the series.

Rob
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Ditto to RobM@29. Fitz is one of my favorite all time characters. Definitely read the Fool trilogy too.
Rob Munnelly
31. RobMRobM
The Dany chapter shows Martin's brilliance. Note that in her last chapter we got the "happy" result that Drogo was going to take Dany and go to Westeros and ended with his "we'll rape their women" speech. Well, guess what - we just got a preview re what the Westeros invasion will be like and Dany trying to stop the excesses. Is this a good thing or no? Makes you think.

Also you get the sense that Essos is very different than Westeros, where the City of Mereen can purchase 10,000 slaves without blinking. Yikes.

Re Tyrion, Leigh missed something important - Poderick Payne, dun dun. His silent squire (who Tyrion had to ask to how him Pod's tongue to make sure he actually had one, in contrast to his distant relative the King's executioner). Lots of comic possibilities going forward.

Also, the Shae dialogue is, indeed, adorable. I love the "please remember me if I die," "but if you die you won't know" "yes I'll know" bit. Also his instructions to Pod that if Tyrion is to die, Pod is "to see the lady home." What a gentleman.

Re Cat's chapter, have to admit that Janie has style. The bit with "I'd give you my sword but I seem to have misplaced it" and Cat saying she wants her husband and daughter back and Jamie says "I seem to have misplaced them too" is priceless.

Rob
Rob Munnelly
32. RobMRobM
Here's the Blog of Ice and Fire. Some very perceptive comments, especially re Danny and the Maegi and Tyrion and Shae.

Dany supervises post battle clean up, which involves little girls dutifully retrieving arrows from dead corpses. Khal Drogo had just conquered two other khalasars, and his men are happily pillaging and raping. Their victims are a peaceful agricultural village who are literally called "lambs." Drogo will sell all his captives into slavery, where healthy young boys and girls will fetch a handsome price. I assume this is where Varys makes his orders -- the Meereen version of Amazon.com, where he can get free super saver shipping on orders of 50 or more "little birds." Dany chooses this exact moment to start a women's rights movement, stopping several rapes. Drogo supports her, telling his riders to "find other lamb women" instead of raping the ones Dany chose to protect. Great job Dany, you "protected" a dozen women while several thousand others continue to be raped.

One of the former rape-ees is this woman from Asshai (yes, that's the actual name of the place, haha) who wants to help by treating Drogo's wound. The bloodriders don't trust her, but Dany does. Mirri Maz Duur was being raped, her people were being murdered, and she's some sort of demon sorceress, but other than those things, what's not to trust? The most damning evidence against MMD is that Martin spends far too many words talking about her for it to be a normal healing. Dany has experienced so much hardship and despair yet somehow remains far too trusting and innocent.
____________________

Tywin decided to put Tyrion in the vanguard of the attack, which can be interpreted as a big honor or even bigger insult. Tyrion doesn't seem very pleased that he wasn't given command -- Tywin put GREGOR in charge. Did Tyrion expect to be the leader or something? Will men even follow him into battle? Also, if you want to survive a war, there's no easier way than to be the tiny dwarf who fights next to the largest guy out there. Despite this, Tyrion storms off, upset at his social status among Tywin's inner circle. Meanwhile, he has more important things to do, like entertain the whore that Bronn found. Her name was Shae, and she was a good actress. Tyrion "suspected" that her delight during sex was faked. Come on now, Tyrion -- you're supposed to be cunning and intelligent. I'd put the percentage chance of Shae faking an orgasm with the "Giant of Lannister" at roughly 800%.

The next day's battle came early. I like the way Martin writes his battles -- POV really makes it seem quite personal and less like the scientific "200 men move left" type of sterilized storytelling. Tyrion actually does decently in the battle, holding his own with the help of some luck. Half his barbarians died, but I doubt Tyrion cares very much. The important thing is that he (and Bronn) survived the battle. Afterwards, it turns out Tywin counted on Tyrion and his men breaking, so even in victory, Tyrion disappoints his father. The battle on the whole was a huge success, but it seems Robb wasn't there and is making for Riverrun instead. I'm not going to pretend I understand all the tactics and who has what army and where, but I assume Tywin thought he was engaging the entire Stark army but only part of it was here, so the Lannisters fell for some sort of fake out.

___________________

Catelyn witnesses Stark-vs-Lannister Round 2. She remembers how she only knew Eddard for two weeks before he left for war, but that was enough time to knock her up. She has all those motherly fears of Robb dying, but she really shouldn't worry. Robb has grown a beard now, and bearded men are harder to spot and even harder to see. Robb will need it -- he's sneaking up on Jaime Lannister, who has no idea that he's coming thanks to the Seven Kingdom's version of a cell phone jammer (archers shooting birds down). I don't know why Cat is so worried. Win or lose, Robb will survive. He has a gigantic supernatural wolf protecting him. The battle is a success, and the Starks have captured Jaime Lannister. But he's just a reckless sister-fucker. The real challenge is Tywin, who remains at large, like a child molester loose in the woods. Still, Robb beat half the Lannister army and can probably get Eddard back, as Cersei would almost certainly trade for her brother. This battle also proves that other than GREGOR, the southern knights really suck. The badass northern bearded viking men may be non-knighted, illiterate, and stubborn, but they know how to fight. Winterfell! Woooo!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
33. tnh
RobM, I have a horror of being a bore. Can I please not have to explain again that "Oooh, just wait and see what develops with that!"-type remarks really are spoilers, and that they have the power to mess up other people's first reads of these books?

If you spoil someone's reading -- and I will remind you that some readers are very sensitive about spoilers -- it's not like they can go out and find another series just like it.
Marcus W
34. toryx
I'm not a big fan of Facebook, but the one thing I like about it and I miss here is the ability to "Like" or otherwise applaud a post.

As for the Assassin series by Hobb, I love them too. Though the Fool is my favorite character. Incidently, the reason I read Hobb in the first place is because GRRM recommended her to me at a Con. He's also the one who told me to read Daniel Abraham. Not only is he a great writer, he's got sterling taste in books.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
Theresa - apologies for the first go-around higher in the thread. I was too specific there, and should have been whited out. Mea culpa. Re the go around just above, I was not intending to be spoilerific and didn't think I was. There was very funny interaction in the chapter in question between Tyrion and the character in question. I was pointing out that Leigh should have picked up on it (note that the "Dun dun" text is Leigh's standard intro for any new character) and that it set the stage for future interactions between them. If I misstepped, I apologize.

Rob
Vincent Lane
36. Aegnor
tnh@24,

Really? You put a spoiler on my comment? I guess it's your party and you can do what you want. If I would have mentioned which of the 150ish sentences in the review made me laugh to due to ... whatever, then it certainly would have been a spoiler. As I didn't, there is absolutely no way it could be construed as a spoiler. But oh well, like I said, it's your party. Not a big deal, just annoying having non-spoiler comments put in spoiler text.
Juliet Kestrel
37. Juliet_Kestrel
@25 Wortmauer
@29 RobMRobM
@30 Tektonica
@34 toryx

::Scratches toe in dirt:: well no I haven’t read them exactly. I even own the books, but I haven’t been excited to read them. I actually heard from several people that the second trilogy wasn’t as good, and I didn’t want to spoil the flavor of the first one. I guess I will have to reconsider now that so many people are telling me otherwise.
He He Kettle indeed.
Marcus W
38. toryx
@37:

I actually quite loved the second trilogy. It's just as good as the others, only a little different.
Rob Munnelly
39. RobMRobM
@37, 38. In some respects, it seems to move slowly but with significant power as Fitz has to deal with some consequences of this actions in the first trilogy. I loved it.
Anthony Pero
40. anthonypero
By all means read the Fool Books (properly known as the Tawny Man series), but you need to read the Liveship Traders series first, to properly appreciate the Tawny Man series.
Black Dread
41. MaestressSands
Re: Series Enjoyment. I think an earlier commenter may be correct that there might be 2 fantasy genre reader populations - you like Tolkien and high fantasy, or you like real world medieval fantasy and (possibly) low fantasy. I'm fully the first (I hate Arthurian legends, love Tolkien and non-Arthurian faerie type folklore).

As far as ASoIaF, I read the first book and was engrossed/fascinated/disgusted/sickened/hooked. I've continued to read the series, and will probably hang on til the end. I need to know what happens. I respect GRRM's ability to display the gritty, the ugly, the real parts of human nature. He makes wonderful characters. There are so many reasons that the series is well-done, worth reading, and deserves all the acclaim it has received. :)

However, I can't say the story really reaches me deep down the way some other fantasy series have. I can't say I really feel good or even cathartic-bad after reading it. It's more of a guilty habit, I guess. Which at this point I accept. Just my experience, in case you've had similar feelings up to this point.

Side note: if you are the fantasy-fantasy type, I cannot recommend The Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss too highly. :) Though I suspect many people on this list already know about it. ;)
Black Dread
42. Wortmauer
Kettle@37: As for which trilogy is better, as RobMRobM put it, "Fitz is in a very interesting and different place throughout the series." In the Assassin books, Fitz is young and coming of age, and that flavor certainly can't be recaptured in the later books, set some 15 or 20 years later when he's well into middle age. They're not exactly his mid-life crisis books, but the timing is about right.

Let's see ...

— If you (like me) found the Fool to be intriguing, with all his mystery — who and what is he? What are his core motivations? — the second series gives you lots more of him. If you found him annoying (which he could be), well, the second series gives you lots more of him.

— If you loved Fitz's use of the Wit magic, it's a central part of who he is, and it should come as no surprise that the second trilogy spends some time "going there," as the first did. Me, I find the Wit a bit boring in general, so that wasn't my favorite aspect.

— If you really like or really hate Starling the minstrel, well, RAFO. She's in there. (That's no spoiler either, she appears very early.)

Anyway, I guess the main point for me is, I couldn't imagine knowing there were 3 more books about Fitz without wanting to find out what happens. (Though, granted, the first trilogy had an excellent ending with closure and really can stand alone. Enough so that I suppose the second trilogy could have felt tacked on — but Robin Hobb is better than that.)

ObGameOfThrones: "I have heard it said that poison is a woman's weapon." "It is said. Women, cravens ... and the Pocked Man."
Marcus W
43. toryx
For the record, I consider the Liveship Traders trilogy to be the second trilogy and the Tawny Man trilogy the third.

As for the Kingkiller Chronicles, I've been reading book 1 for about two months now and I'm not even a third of the way into it. I consider it decent but it certainly hasn't captured my heart or my attention and I love fantasy-fantasy.

I guess I have to face it: GRRM has changed my view on good fantasy forever. Sometimes one just can't go back.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
Re Hobb - I really wish that Jo would do blog posts re the various books and series. I think, however, Jo has a relationship with the Megan Linholm part of Hobbs (I believe Linhold gave a rave on Jo's latest book) and Jo might be concerned about potential conflict. Oh well. I like the two Six Duchys series better than Liveship or the new Rain Wilds books, but they're all good as far as I am concerned.

Re Kingkiller - I like them a lot. The fun part is that the story is designed to work on multiple levels - as a delightful tale of a young genius off to magic school and his as-yet unexplained fall (as told in a framing story) and lots of meta stuff about what is really happening around Kvothe and his world that can be pulled out of a close reading of the text. Jo's insanely detailed re-read posts are pulling up awesome things that show precisely how cleverly Rothfuss has built the world. I love them but expect a Dance of Dragons-ian wait for the third and final book.

Back to ASOIF - I'm a big fan. I love the complexity of the work and the refusal to give easy, trope answers. As I noted above, I enjoy how he takes a moment that should be a big "yeah" for the readers - Dany's ability to convince Drogo to take her back to Westeros and re-claim the Iron Chair from the nasty Lannisters - and makes you go "ew" by telling the story of the rape and carnage caused by a Dothraki raid on a foreign village, and Dany's limited success in controlling the baser instincts of the Dothraki. Do we cheer for her now? Is Dany coming back in the best interest of Westeros? Fascinating stuff. Ditto with Tyrion, who both hates and loves his family. And Ned, who is so apparently good and loyal but of questionable competence in dealing with the complexities of Kings Landing and ends up putting at risk his entire family. Love it all.

Rob
Juliet Kestrel
45. Juliet_Kestrel
Re Kingkiller Chronicles – the first book came highly recommended to me, but I had a really hard time getting into it at first. It starts slow, but it gets way, way better. In fact I am re-reading it right now in-between ASOIAF chapters :)

The ASOIAF is the first series I have read where I felt so unsure about who to root for. It may stabilize after the first book, but I have conflicted feelings about all the characters. And many of the characters from the “like” group seem to be migrating towards the “dislike” group, and vice versa with the “dislike” group.

For example, Cat is getting much cooler, Sansa seems to be getting a clue, and despite his being a Lannister I can’t help but like Tyrion.

On the other hand, Ned is sinking fast, and Arya, while cool, could be slipping onto a darker, less cool, path.

I also have super mixed feelings about Dany invading Westeros with Drogo and his hoard.
Anthony Pero
46. anthonypero
Part of the reason Westeros feels so real is exactly what you are talking about, Juliet. Who is good and who is bad completely depends on where you are standing, i.e., whose head you are in. And even if you never end up liking a character, you almost always end up understanding them, from their perspective.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
@46. Well said.

@45. Cat has always been cool - she just made the big mistake of grabbing Tyrion, and has had to deal with repercussions since. And what about Jamie? There's an ASOIF litmus test for you. Detestable behavior but he loves Tyrion and has courage (leading the raiding party himself and trying to go out in a blaze of glory once cornered) and style in abundance.
Anthony Pero
48. anthonypero
Bah, I hate posting on this blog... I just wrote a very non-spoilery comment regarding Jamie's internal motivations... but I can't trust that it won't qualify as a spoiler here. Moving on.
Juliet Kestrel
49. Juliet_Kestrel
Cat is mean to Jon, that is enough for me not to like her. Jon has stayed firmly in the like category, despite a tiny bit of emo.

As for Jaime is leading the raiding party himself an act of courage or cocky arrogance?

Also if Jaime has a few redeeming qualities, Queen C hasn't even a resonable facsimile of a redeeming quality.
Juliet Kestrel
50. Juliet_Kestrel
@46 anthonypero
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine back in college, after watching some nature documentaries in our ecology class, and then our ornithology class.

In the ecology class we were studying predator pray interactions and watched some footage of a leopard seal stalk and kill and eat some penguins. You find yourself rooting for the leopard seal “yeah you get those penguins!”

The next class period in ornithology we watched a documentary about penguins and watched horrified as the leopard seal stalked and killed and ate some penguins. “No penguins, look out behind you! Run away, run away!”

It has since become part of my circle of friends vernacular when trying to decide on what position to take on an argument “well are you watching the penguin or the leopard seal movie?”

So the real question is, are we watching the Stark movie, the Lannister movie, or the Targaryen movie?
Rob Munnelly
51. RobMRobM
Answer: all of them, plus the Baratheons, Freys, Tyrells, Tarlys, Cleghanes....

Queen C had an unnatural attachment to her brother but, from text, appears to have gone willingly into marriage with Robert, only to be turned off by his unrequited attachment to Lyanna and drunken whoring behavior. Perhaps if Robert had lived up to Ned's ideal of loving the replacement spouse, Cersei might have turned out quite differently. There is at least some room for sympathy there.

Tywin, Gregor Cleghane...not so much.
Anthony Pero
52. anthonypero
What makes this book different from other works (and better, and more difficult to digest, sometimes) is that this story doesn't belong to any of the characters. You could say that it is told without bias. You are not really supposed to end up rooting for anyone. This can backfire, a lot. Sometimes, I find myself wondering if I really care what happens anymore. But I fall back to this: I like the characterization, I find each book, each passage, each word interesting in it's own right, regardless of character loyalty. I don't particular care what happens anymore to any given character. I'm not invested in the characters. I'm invested inthe writing itself. GRRMs prose is enough to keep me reading. Which is a good thing, because if I was invested in the characters, after 10 years and two thousand page, I'd be pretty darn frustrated. Since I don't care what happens... waiting for each book isn't as hard. I enjoy the world, I enjoy the prose, I enjoy the insight into human behavior and motivations, etc...
Black Dread
53. Aellinsar
Juliet - unrelated to ASoIaF, but I ahd to tell the story. I was watching Planet Earth with my 2-yr old and I there was a scene with a sno wloepard out hunting a mountain goat. I was afriad my daughter would be afraid, so Iwas telling her of about hunting to eat, th ecircle of life, etc.

To my surprise, during the scene in question she is yelling from the couch: "Eat the goat! Eat the goat!" and very enthused for the leopard. (she was scared of a later scene with... clouds. Go figure.)
Black Dread
54. Ryamano
@25 Wortmauer

You did read the rest of the story (Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate), right? I mean, you can't just stop with the first trilogy! And, not to give anything away, but the real ending isn't quite the downer she served up in the earlier books.

I wouldn't call the end of the Tawny Man trilogy a happy ending though. I think it fits more something like a "content ending". And I loved the ending of the first trilogy. So unlike many things I had read. I'd use the word "bittersweet" to describe it.
Black Dread
55. Ryamano
@25 Wortmauer

You did read the rest of the story (Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate), right? I mean, you can't just stop with the first trilogy! And, not to give anything away, but the real ending isn't quite the downer she served up in the earlier books.

I wouldn't call the end of the Tawny Man trilogy a happy ending though. I think it fits more something like a "content ending". And I loved the ending of the first trilogy. So unlike many things I had read. I'd use the word "bittersweet" to describe it.
Rafael
56. Ryamano
repeated post.
Juliet Kestrel
57. Juliet_Kestrel
@53 Aellinsar

She was watching the snow leopard movie, not the goat movie :)

@54 Ryanmano

I didn't say I didn't like the ending exactly. I thought it was wonderful actually. I won't say anything else about it because I do not want to spoil more of the end.
Black Dread
58. Wortmauer
no_one@22: Bemoaning how terrible it is that women are violated, enslaved, and degraded while many more are forgotten, just piles of corpses and heads, left to rot. An entire society and culture was destroyed and what provokes outrage is rape.
I suppose the difference is whether you consider rape a fate worse than death, or death a fate worse than rape. (As for "an entire society and culture," I don't think Drogo's horde slaughtered all the lamb men, just one city. But I'm not sure.) Myself, I would think death is a fate worse than rape. But that's without having personally been either raped or killed. People who are outraged by the rape but not really outraged by the wanton slaughter presumably go the other way.

(Also, outrage is a strong word. After all, we're reading, of our own free will, fiction in a subgenre where it's expected that a lot of extras and red shirts, and occasionally a character we care about, will have bad things happen to them. I find it hard to get too outraged.)
toryx@27: And besides, rape is an especially atrocious act that is deserved of universal condemnation, regardless of your sex.
See, I would have said murder is also an atrocious act that is deserved of universal condemnation, regardless of your sex. The question is, which one is more atrocious? It's a matter of opinion. Perhaps most rape victims, given a choice, would have chosen to be killed instead. I don't know.

Of course I'm referring to the innocents. The warriors in the two Dothraki bands who were either raped or killed presumably had it coming, or at least, they'd already signed up for it.
Anthony Pero
59. anthonypero
Whether rape is a fate worse than death largely depends on what you believe about what comes after death, I suppose. If I was a fundementalist christian who believed I was going to a better world, I'd probably prefer to die. If I was an athiest who thought that I would cease to exist the moment my brain ceases to function... yeah, sign me up for the rape.
Marcus W
60. toryx
Personally, I think that either ceasing to exist (the atheist POV) or a better world after (many religious points of view) are both better than being repeatedly raped by a bunch of savages. Particularly since it's altogether possible that you'll just die when they're done with you.

Some people are of the opinion that suffering is better than nothing. I'm of the opinion that people who say that haven't really suffered.
Anthony Pero
61. anthonypero
I guess I just feel that I would be able to eventually overcome whatever I go through, as long as I am afforded the opportunity.
Rob Munnelly
62. RobMRobM
Can we move on to another subject? Bit too creepy for me.

How about Poderick Payne? Or Shae? Or Bronn? Or all three plus Tyrion? The comedy quotient in the Tyrion chapter was pretty high. I was a mite surprised Leigh breezed past most of it (although doing three chapters will do it for you most times).
Black Dread
63. Wortmauer
RobMRobM: FYI, I'm with you on @31, I didn't think your whited (whought? whitten?) bits were spoilerish. That said, I'm still glad to have someone like tnh here, who is more conservative on spoilers than I, rather than less.

On the same subject (but I'm no longer addressing RobMRobM), I find that posts like this one:
Aegnor@36: Really? You put a spoiler on my comment? I guess it's your party and you can do what you want.
get old pretty fast. Protesting a moderator's action is not only futile, frankly it's repetitive (people do it a lot) and boring. Especially the "go ahead, repress me, you're the boss and I'm not" tone. I mean, who was hurt there, anyway? Anyone wanting to read your post will still do so. I always highlight any suspicious blank areas, as a matter of course. Best to just get over it: assume that either the moderator was right and you're biased, or the moderator was wrong but the world isn't going to end if you don't make sure they understand why.

Likewise, public service announcement: complaining about a post caught in the spam filter is boring. The moderators here have been really attentive and any time I've been caught (for posting a link or whatever), my fascinating and valuable text is always fished out in very good time. By the time the majority of your audience reads your complaint, the problem has likely been dealt with.

Huge thanks to tnh and whoever else is doing this stuff behind the scenes!

(Y'all see what I did here? Publicly complained about people who publicly complain. Why yes, I am self-aware, thanks for asking.)
Vincent Lane
64. Aegnor
Wortmauer@63,

I suggest you take your advice and move on. I have. I was mildly annoyed that my non-spoiler comment was put in spoiler text, but I'm past that, and don't really see the point of your post.
Philbert de Zwart
65. philbert
+1 to Wortmauer.

I figured that Leigh would be angry that Maege didn't get the Mormont sword as opposed to Jon. She has been defending Bear Island all these years, and is doing the Mormont duty of going to war with the Starks. She should be wielding the Mormont sword!
Captain Hammer
66. Randalator
re: who to root for

Strange, I've had no problems so far concerning my "champions". If I'm not mistaken I only changed my opinion about one major character, although I have my share of not-so-obvious favourites.

Might be that I subconsciously recognized early on that I'm not reading a seal- or penguin-story but a roughly-seal-and-penguin-habitat-ish-placed story, so I'm judging the characters on their merit alone and not with regard to some sort of overarcing plot or a certain outcome I'd like to see.
Juliet Kestrel
67. Juliet_Kestrel
After a little bit of thought, I do believe this is the first fantasy book I’ve read where it didn’t announce from the get-go that it was a seal or a penguin story. I never had to stop and think “well how do I know that destroying the one ring is really the best thing for Middle Earth? No one blames leopard seals for eating. Sauron needs the one ring for his survival too.” Well okay maybe my ecology of deciduous forest species of Middle Earth metaphor is getting a bit thin, but ya know what I mean. Good characters vs the bad characters is almost a quintessential part of epic fantasy. I am glad to see, that at least so far, GRRM is telling a story without that element, and it is still interesting, and not degenerating into “why do I even care anymore? everyone sucks.” I also have a feeling that GRRM wouldn’t have such rabid fans if the story degenerated like that in the later books.

I feel I have to mention that I think the Peter V Bretts, the Warded Man series comes close to this, but not exactly in several important ways, which I won’t discuss because of spoilers for the second book.
Black Dread
68. Mark Z.
philbert #65:

I assume that Maege has her own kickass ancestral weapon, and doesn't want Jorah's sword any more than the Lord Commander does, or else he would have sent it to her.

Speaking of Maege, this chapter convinced me that she's Jon Snow's mother.

The logic is as follows: All of Maege's numerous children are daughters, they're all named "Mormont", and there's no reference to her having a husband. While she could have nothing but daughters by pure chance, Dacey was trained from childhood as a military leader. This suggests that Maege knew she'd have only daughters (because under Westerosi law a younger brother would inherit ahead of Dacey). Therefore I think Maege (in an effort to create the first matriarchal title in Westeros) takes lovers as it suits her, keeps her daughters and raises them as Mormonts*, and gives the sons back to their fathers to be raised as bastards.**

She's also a warrior of the North, and thus (IMO) one of the few women Ned Stark was around during the rebellion whom he might conceivably have an affair with. No doubt Robert's army had lots of camp followers, but Ned's distaste for prostitutes is obvious. But a highborn lady who rides to battle in her own armor might be a little more to his taste. And nothing forms intimate relationships faster than facing death together.***

So it's early in the rebellion, Ned has a post-combat adrenaline-fueled fling with the Lady of Bear Island, and next year she presents him with their son. He's permitted (and, as he sees it, honor-bound) to raise the boy as his own--as long as nobody ever finds out who his mother is, because that would make him a rival to Maege's daughters. Just to make sure, they pack him off to the Wall as soon as he's of age so that he'll renounce whatever claim he might have had.

But Jeor Mormont figures this out (or Maege tells him) and gives Jon a discreet leg up where he can. When Jon saves him from being eaten by zombies, he has an excuse to pass him the sword without it looking like obvious favoritism.

(One of the wonderful things about these books is that it's entirely possible to construct a theory like this, but then there are half a dozen other theories about Jon Snow's parentage that are equally well-supported. It's like a classic whodunit: the story invites you to try to solve the mystery as you go, but there's not really a unique solution. Hence the convention of having the real killer blurt out something incriminating at the end--but we're not at the end yet.)


* Technically the daughters are bastards also, so this wouldn't stand up in court, but you'd have to want Bear Island really badly to be willing to call all of the Mormont sisters bastards. They can demand trial by combat for the insult, and as Pratchett tells us, "An appointment is an engagement to see someone, while a morningstar is a large lump of metal used for smashing heads. It is important not to confuse the two."

** Or leaves them out in the woods for the bears, but let's give her the benefit of the doubt.

*** And here's Dacey insisting on a spot in Robb Stark's personal guard. Interesting, that.
Rob Munnelly
69. RobMRobM
By the way, hope everyone reading the next two chapters has a stiff drink (or two) in hand. You'll need them.

Mark Z - Bravo! That is one heck of a theory. Not buying it, but impressive creativity.

Rob
Black Dread
70. Steve L
In general:

"Tyrion impales the knight’s horse with his helmet spike and wins..." I'm surprised you didn't call that out as another "Crown"ing Moment of Awesome for Tyrion. That's using his head! *snerk*

Also, Leigh, after you've finished the books you should DEFINITELY come back and reread this entire series of blog posts. ("A Reread of A Read of Ice and Fire"?) I guarantee you that you'll find some of your comments absolutely hilarious in the light of hindsight. And you'll understand why it was so hard for people to avoid posting spoilers based on what you said.

Gentleman Farmer @ 17:

If you were Catelyn Stark, would _you_ prefer riding with an army or staying with the Late Lord Frey? Just reading what he says is enough to make you feel a little dirty.

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