Fri
Nov 11 2011 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 32

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 66 (“Bran”) 67 (“Sansa”) and 68 (“Daenerys”).

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

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 66: Bran

What Happens
Bran watches the boys Rodrik is training in the yard below and tells Luwin they aren’t very good; Luwin agrees, but says they need men to replace the ones Ned and then Robb took away. Bran suggests that perhaps he could fight from atop Hodor’s shoulders, and points out that there was once a blind knight (Symeon Star-Eyes), but Luwin counters that that is only a legend. Bran tells Luwin he dreamed the night before that the three-eyed crow came to him and took him down to the crypts, where he spoke with his father (something to do with Jon, he thinks), but Hodor refuses to go down into the crypts with him to see if his father is there. Luwin tries to assure him that his father won’t be down there for many years, but Bran is stubborn.

Luwin consents to take Bran (and Summer) down, using Osha to carry Bran instead of Hodor. Osha finds the crypts grim, and Luwin gets Bran to tell her some of the history of the Kings of the North. Bran ends his recital with the story of his father’s siblings, Brandon and Lyanna.

“The maid’s a fair one,” Osha said.

“Robert was betrothed to marry her, but Prince Rhaegar carried her off and raped her,” Bran explained. “Robert fought a war to win her back. He killed Rhaegar on the Trident with his hammer, but Lyanna died and he never got her back at all.”

They reach the hole where Ned’s tomb is to go, and find Rickon there, along with his wolf Shaggydog, who attacks Luwin. Bran must order Summer to fight Shaggydog off until Rickon calls his wolf back. Rickon tells Luwin to leave his father alone, and reveals that he also had a dream of Ned in the crypts.

“You leave him. You leave him be. He’s coming home now, like he promised. He’s coming home.”

Luwin tries to convince Bran that Shaggydog should be chained up or even put down before he kills someone, but Bran only invites Rickon to come up to Luwin’s tower to wait with him. In the tower, Osha tends Luwin’s wounds while Luwin tries to insist that the boys’ dreams were just coincidence. Osha comments that the children of the forest could “tell you a thing or two about dreaming”, but Luwin insists they are dead and gone, and their magic with them, and that “The man who trusts in spells is dueling with a glass sword”.

He shows Bran the obsidian arrowheads that the children of the forest used to hunt with, and tells them the history of their race, and how they fought with the First Men when they came from the east, and how after years of war the First Men and the children forged the Pact and the two peoples lived in peace for a thousand years, until the Andals came and eventually conquered all but the Kings of the North. Luwin says the children died out, but Osha avers that they merely moved north beyond the Wall.

The story is interrupted when both wolves begin to howl, and Bran has a dread certainty of what is coming. The wolves stop just as a raven bearing a message lands on the windowsill. Rickon begins to cry, and Luwin retrieves the message.

Maester Luwin looked up at them numbly, a small grey man with blood on the sleeve of his grey wool robe and tears in his bright grey eyes. “My lords,” he said to the sons, in a voice gone hoarse and shrunken, “we . . . we shall need to find a stonecarver who knew his likeness well . . . ”

Commentary
Oh, poor boys.

I guess this rather puts aside my uncertainty about whether Bran’s visions or dreams or whatever are genuinely psychic, though the fact that Rickon got in on it as well actually makes me still doubt a little. As with many (though not all) of the fantastical elements of his story, Martin seems to be still walking a line between whether these premonitions should be regarded as genuinely supernatural occurrences, or whether they are the kind of “maybe, maybe not” metaphorical literary devices you tend to see in mainstream literature.

As an example, I’m thinking specifically of Jane’s “vision” of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, which could just as easily be considered a coincidentally fortuitous flight of fancy on Jane’s part, as it could be a genuine instance of clairvoyance. Charlotte Brontë obviously (in my opinion) intended it to be ambiguous deliberately, and I kind of get the feeling Martin intends the same, except leaning just a tad more to the “supernatural” possibility than Brontë did, for obvious reasons.

Or maybe he’s not fronting at all and I’m just overthinking it. But that’s the feeling I get, so. I also have to say, I kind of like that and don’t like it at the same time.

Then there’s Bran’s casual assertion that Rhaegar carried Lyanna off and raped her, and Robert started a war to get her back. So, okay, Lyanna basically really was Helen of Troy, sort of, except that now I’m not a hundred percent sure that Rhaegar actually raped her, judging from what Jorah implied about him to Dany a few chapters ago. Then again, I don’t know that I actually trust Jorah’s word. But then again redux, it was hardly the kind of situation in which he would have any reason to lie. So I dunno.

And of course, Bran didn’t explain how she actually died any more than Ned did. Grumble.

The history of the children of the forest was interesting – reminded me a lot of the theories that Neanderthals and Cro Magnons coexisted for a while back in the day and didn’t get along either – that in fact the Cro Magnons basically wiped the Neanderthals out. I don’t know if that’s true or not – and my impression is anthropologists don’t know for sure either – but the nice thing about literary allusions is that it rarely matters if the legend or story you’re referring to is actually true. Regardless, I always thought that the idea was fascinating, because it would be more or less the only time ever that two sapient races inhabited the earth at the same time – something posited constantly in fantasy and science fiction but (unless we really missed something) never the case in the history of homo sapiens.

Also interesting was the sketch of the history of the Starks that Bran gave us, as well as the rest of Luwin’s info about The Seven Kingdoms: The Early Years. The Andals, I’m guessing, are the ancestors of the modern-day Lannisters? I might be stereotyping on that, just because Luwin described the Andals as “fair” and the Lannisters are all blond, and also like to horn in on everyone else’s shit, but hey, works for me until I learn otherwise.

 

Chapter 67: Sansa

What Happens
Grief-stricken, Sansa lies in her room for days without eating or bathing, dreaming over and over of the moment when she saw her father beheaded. She considers suicide, but cannot go through with it. Finally Joffrey comes to see her, accompanied by Sandor Clegane and two more of the Kingsguard. He orders that she will attend court that afternoon, and when Sansa begs him to leave her be, has Clegane haul her out of bed. Clegane is gentler than Sansa expects in doing so.

Sansa pleads with Joffrey to let her go home, but Joffrey says his mother says they are to marry, so she stays.

“I don’t want to marry you,” Sansa wailed. “You chopped off my father’s head!”

“He was a traitor. I never promised to spare him, only that I’d be merciful, and I was. If he hadn’t been your father, I would have had him torn or flayed, but I gave him a clean death.”

Sansa tells him she hates him, and Joffrey has Ser Meryn beat her for him until she acquiesces, then leaves. Clegane lingers behind, and advises her to save herself the pain and do what Joffrey wants. She asks what that is.

“He wants you to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love,” the Hound rasped. “He wants to hear you recite all your pretty little words the way the septa taught you. He wants you to love him . . . and fear him.”

Sansa bathes and dresses and puts on makeup to hide the bruises. When Ser Meryn comes for her, she tells him he is no knight, but Meryn doesn’t care. At the audience, Joffrey’s judgments are capricious and cruel, and Sansa thinks to herself that “in life, the monsters win.” After it is over, Joffrey makes her walk with him, and asks what she is going to give him for his name day. At her confusion, he tells her she is stupid, and that Cersei worries their children will be as stupid as she. Joffrey goes on that if their first child is stupid, he’ll chop off her head and find a new wife.

Sansa realizes then that they are heading for the battlements, and she begs him not to make her go, but he threatens to have her dragged, and so she goes. On the battlements, the heads of those executed as traitors are mounted on spikes along the top of the wall. Joffrey shows her the head of her father, but Sansa decides she can’t see it, and only asks calmly how long she needs to look. Disappointed, Joffrey shows her Septa Mordane’s head as well, and when she fails to react properly to that as well, tells her he will give her a present on his name day instead: in retribution for defeating his uncle Jaime, Joffrey will raise a host and bring back her brother Robb’s head.

A kind of madness took over her then, and she heard herself say, “Maybe my brother will give me your head.”

Joffrey scowled. “You must never mock me like that. A true wife does not mock her lord. Ser Meryn, teach her.”

Meryn beats her again, and Joffrey tells her not to cry, as she’s more pretty when she smiles. Sansa makes herself smile, and contemplates shoving him off the parapet, but then Clegane kneels between her and Joffrey to dab at the blood on her face.

The moment was gone. Sansa lowered her eyes. “Thank you,” she said when he was done. She was a good girl, and always remembered her courtesies.

Commentary
Well.

“I don’t want to marry you,” Sansa wailed. “You chopped off my father’s head!”

Even the mere notion of being in a position where that sentence actually has to come out of your mouth… I just have no words.

Except to say that I think I have to take back every mean thing I ever said about Sansa.

In a nightmare of a situation that is simply beyond horrific in every way, she shows a courage here that is frankly staggering. The simple, unbelievable, heartbreaking courage that every victim of abuse who gets up and continues forward possesses, even if they see no way to escape the trap they are in. To know you are helpless and yet refuse to give in to despair; to bend or be bent, and yet not break; that is a kind of strength that I find far more impressive than the kind that wins glory on the battlefield.

A kind of madness took over her then, and she heard herself say, “Maybe my brother will give me your head.”

Oh, snap. Sansa has so many kudos from me just for having the brass to even say that.

But nevertheless: agh, so terrible. I just hope she can stay strong, and find a way out of this horror show of a “courtship.” Hopefully before Joffrey gets to do anything more than beat her by proxy, because God, the disgust, I cannot even express it. She may have an ally in Clegane, of all people; I certainly hope she thinks to try and develop that. Surely the guy must be a little tired of being called “dog” by this psycho little pipsqueak by now?

Speaking of, I think it’s clear by this point that the only thing that differentiates dear King Joffrey from Hannibal Lecter is his culinary preferences. Well, and also that Lecter has Culchah. And, a brain. (Sometimes more than one, heh heh)

Which is a relief, because the sole factor that makes Joffrey fall short of the ultimate nightmare of a reigning monarch (not to mention a human being) is that I seriously doubt he’s smart enough to hold on to the job for very long. If he’d stayed content to let Cersei pull all the strings re: the actual ruling bits, and saved the exercises out of his copy of 101 Things A Growing Young Psychopath Can Do For Fun for his off time, he would last a lot longer, I bet. But this bullshit is only going to fly for so long before someone gets fed up with it enough to do something about it. I hope.

(he showed her Ned’s head Jesus Christ)

Also, Septa Mordane, really? That was just ridiculously unnecessary. And also, if I’m getting this right, somewhat akin to executing a nun, which, yeah.

 

Chapter 68: Daenerys

What Happens
Dany dreams she is walking toward a red door. She sees Drogo making love to her, and Ser Jorah telling her Rhaegar was the last dragon, and the eggs in a brazier, and Viserys screaming that he is the dragon while the molten crown drips down his face, but they all disappear, and she begins to run for the door. Then she sees her son as a grown man, but he burns up from the inside and is gone. Ghosts of kings urge her on, and she runs faster until wings burst from her back and she flies. She reaches the door and finds her brother Rhaegar in armor on the other side.

“The last dragon,” Ser Jorah’s voice whispered faintly. “The last, the last.” Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own.

She wakes in her tent, in pain, and tries to crawl to her dragon eggs until Jorah enters and brings her back to her bed, and Mirri Maz Duur gives her a potion that makes her sleep. When she wakes again she asks Mirri to bring her one of the dragon’s eggs; she can feel heat coming from it, and feels something move inside.

She regains enough strength to ask about Drogo and her son, and Jhiqui tells her Drogo is alive, but the boy did not live. Dany thinks she had known even before she woke, from her dream, and cannot seem to weep; the thinks that “All the grief has been burned out of me.” When Jorah enters, she bids him touch the egg and asks if he feels heat from it, but he only feels cold stone.

At her insistence, Jorah reluctantly explains that the child “never lived”, and Mirri Maz Duur interjects that he was born a monster, with scales and a tail and wings, and his flesh was rotting and filled with maggots. She states that he had been “dead for years”; Dany counters that she felt him kicking before Jorah carried her into that tent, but Mirri replies that death was there. Dany sees that Jorah looks “half a corpse” himself, and tells him the shadows in there touched him too. Dany says to Mirri that she thought Mirri had meant the horse for the price, but Mirri says Dany knew that was a lie.

Dany insists on seeing Drogo. Outside her tent, only a hundred or so people remain, only women and old men other than Jorah and her riders. Jorah tells her that the khalasar split into a dozen smaller ones and took all the horses and most of the slaves. Dany asks about Eroeh, and Jhogo tells her one of the new khals, Jhaqo, had her gang-raped repeatedly and then slit her throat. Dany says that it was a cruel fate, but not as cruel as Mago’s will be. Uncertainly, Irri points out that Jhaqo has twenty thousand riders at his back.

She lifted her head. “And I am Daenerys Stormborn, Daenerys of House Targaryen, of the blood of Aegon the Conqueror and Maegor the Cruel and old Valyria before them. I am the dragon’s daughter, and I swear to you, these men will die screaming. Now bring me to Khal Drogo.”

Drogo is blind, seemingly deaf, and little more than catatonic. Mirri points out that Dany asked for a life, not what condition that life was in. Dany demands to know when he will be like he was before, and Mirri replies “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child.” Dany says Mirri knew what would happen, and that she murdered her child. Mirri answers that the stallion who mounts the world will burn no cities and destroy no nations now. Dany says she saved Mirri, and Mirri spits that she was gangraped while her temple burned and her people murdered, and asks what life is worth when everything else is gone. Dany has Mirri bound, and considers killing her, but is unsure if it is worth it.

Dany bathes Drogo and takes him out under the stars that night, and tries everything she can to rouse him from his unresponsive state, but nothing works. Finally at dawn Dany admits to herself that he is lost, and finds a cushion and kisses him goodbye before pressing the cushion over his face.

Commentary
Ah, crap.

It was the baby, then. Talk about subverting your fantasy tropes. What happens if the prophesied Ruler of (A Lot of) The World dies in childbirth?

I guess, again, that depends a lot on how “real” that prophecy is, and how much of it was really just barbarian mumbo-jumbo. As with Bran’s visions, could go either way in this story. If it was mumbo-jumbo, then nothing much will happen, I guess. If real… mm, dunno. I don’t get the feeling Martin subscribes much to the notion of Destiny trying to correct a skewed path or anything like that. It seems to me that, just like real life, whatever happens, happens. So… I guess also nothing?

Er. I think there’s something wrong with my logic there.

Anyway. Also like in real life, it really sucks that Mirri Maz Duur’s actions are both reprehensible and yet understandable at the same time. I can’t help but be furious on Dany’s behalf, but at the same time Mirri’s opinions of the Dothraki are totally justified in my view, and I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t have done things any differently were I in her shoes.

That said, Dany shows an almost puzzling amount of restraint in not having her killed. I mean, I know I just said I sympathize with Mirri, but then again Mirri didn’t just kill my baby and render my husband into a catatonic husk that I would later be forced to smother, is my point here. Then again, Dany seems to acknowledge here that she walked right into Mirri’s trap – no, more like she flung herself headlong into it – so perhaps she is very maturely taking on a proportionate amount of the blame for what transpired. And she is right that killing Mirri would accomplish nothing… but still, it puzzles me.

Then again, Dany seems more than a little out of it right now, and who could blame her? Perhaps expecting normal emotional reactions to anything from her is a little much at the moment.

Which isn’t to say her speech promising retribution to Jhaqo et al wasn’t pretty awesome. I have no idea how she expects to fulfill that promise, but it sure sounded good.

As to Drogo’s death… I dunno how I feel. He was cool in his way, and certainly what they had in mind when they coined the phrase “larger than life,” and I definitely am sorry that he is not around anymore to protect Dany from his batshit insane culture, but I can’t say that I felt more than a fleeting moment of “aw, that’s a shame” for him. I mostly only feel bad because Dany does. *shrug*

In other news, can I just pause for a moment to note that Dany apparently gave birth to a half-rotted lizard, and then shudder really hard? I can? Thank you. (YIPE YIPE YIPE)

Although… that was because she walked in the tent full of death? The lizard part? Cause that seems… odd. She’s descended from dragons, right, I get that, but I’d think it would have come up before now if Targaryen children tended to be born with scales and wings and so on, so what the hell, over? Maybe Dothraki genes and Targaryen genes are really really incompatible, or something. Or the death shadows in the tent had a particularly perverse sense of humor, which I suppose is entirely possible.

But on the upside, Dany can feel heat and movement from the dragon’s eggs, eh? I WONDER WHAT THAT COULD MEAN.


I guess I’ll have to wait to find out! In the meantime, have a weekend, eh? Geaux Saints!

45 comments
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
1. tnh
When I was first reading this section, it did occur to me that Mirri Maz Duur might be lying or mistaken. We've been given no reason to believe that either is impossible.

The only characters in these books that I'm certain aren't lying are the dogs.
Helen_Joan
2. Helen_Joan
@tnh - I also got the impression that Mirri was lying - after all she interupted Jorah's telling and was vintictive the rest of her speech.
Helen_Joan
3. Nine Quiet Lessons
Martin's take on prophecy is one of the things I like best about A Song of Ice and Fire. Implicitly and explicitly, there's a lot of discussion of fate, destiny, and prophecy throughout the books, and of exactly how mutable those things can be.

I think what happens to Dany's child here illustrates one of the larger themes of the series, which is that no one gets special dispensation from fate, regardless of how "important" they're supposed to be. I see it as the second part of the one-two punch that started with Ned's execution.
Helen_Joan
4. Nine Quiet Lessons
@Helen_Joan:
It's a little ambiguous, but in contrast, I always got the impression that, as incredible as it seems, it was true. Mostly because it's such a ridiculously over-the-top thing for Mirri to say, and it obviously hurts Dany, yet Jorah doesn't jump in and say "no, that's not at all what happened."
Helen_Joan
5. D-Mac
Leigh
Thank you for sharing your very entertaining and insightful, dare I say, "inspired" impressions of your read, and shame on all of you commenters that cannot resist dropping your veiled spoilers. As for my comments on your comments:

I think you'll find that GRRM doles out the events of the past and history of the realm through multiple character POV's and like in real life, what actually happened, and what is reported to have happened can vary widely, depending on any number of things. Kind of reminiscent to Jordan/WOT where prophecy and history of the same events are understood and told differently by Seanchen, than the main Randlanders, it all comes down to the POV and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. And one must not forget that old axiom of "History is written by the winner"
Helen_Joan
6. Susan Loyal
tnh @1:
The only characters in these books that I'm certain aren't lying are the dogs.

(Presuming you mean the dire wolves?) I really don't think Hoder is lying, either. Other than that, I'm not taking bets.
Vincent Lane
7. Aegnor
I always took what Miri said as the truth, regarding the baby. I always subscribed to the theory that the child was perfectly normal before she went in the tent, and that the child was corrupted by "shadows" as some sort of symbolic joke.

This Sansa chapter is where I realized that the Hound wasn't a complete monster. My horror at his killing of the butchers boy carried on for a while.
Helen_Joan
8. Organized 1891
Re: The Prophecy.

Don't give up on it yet. Keep reading.
Helen_Joan
9. Carolyn h
These threee chapters have a lot of belly punches to my gut. We've lost Ned and rather than let us wallow in that for a while, the next chapters hit us again.
1) Sansa's situation seems so dire and yet she finds a little spirit in herself and shows it to her tormentor. Given that this is Game of Thrones, does anyone expect her to be rewarded for this? (show of hands). I mean, you have to love her for finally seeing the world as it is and without her self-imposed rose-colored glasses, but announcing her feelings only makes me fear for her.
2) The inhabitants of Winterfell learn of Ned's death (and we also get a great info dump that doesn't seem like an info dump). When the wolves started to howl, it gave me goosebumps.
3) Dany loses her husband and her child and gives, as Leigh noted, an awesome little speech. I was both horrified that Dany killed her husband as well as filled wtih admiration that she had the courage to do that.

Is it any wonder that I feel as though I've taken a volley of body blows?
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Love Maester Luwin here. Interesting that he studied the arcane mysteries but doesn't believe in them.

Love the Luwin-Osha byplay about going to his part of tower with kids and wolves. "He's the lordling so what he says goes." Funny.

Love how Osha speaks firmly that Children of Forest and Giants still exist above the Wall. "And still do."

Love how Rickon takes charge - I'm not a child, I'm four years old, and then undercuts his claim of maturity by asking for four pieces of obsidian because he's four. Compare and contrast to Sweetrobin up in the Vale.

Bran's dreams with the three eyed crow, are at least in part true from earlier in the books (where he had the dream and saw where all of his scattered family was - accurately based on what we as the readers knew). I don't know what to make of Rickon - no crow but still dreams the same things Bran is dreaming.

Yes, the Sansa chapter is truly heartbreaking on many, many levels. Joff is such an idiot - a little bit of lying here might possibly have led to the type of duty-related, loveless marriage that seems to be common in Westeros where Sansa would at least delight in their kids. That possible second best situation is also shattered for Sansa. Good grief. Maybe she can invite him up to the battlements again, without the Hound.

I re-read the Dany chapter and the starting dream is far more elaborate than I had recalled. Wow, trippy.

Dany's attitude towards MMD's life is understandable. She doesn't know what she wants to do, and wants time to think about it. That might or might not be good news for MMD compared to a certain quick death.

By the way, I had forgotten that Dany's powerful "die screaming" speech is directed against two of Drogo's former bloodriders in particular. I hadn't recalled that. Interesting.

As a general matter, these chapters following Ned's death are among the very best in the entire GoT and, indeed, in the entire ASOIF. Can't wait for next week.

Rob
dan
11. Chrysippus4321
Re: Septa Mordane. I presume that Cersei had her killed because Cersei couldn't take the chance that Ned had told her about the incest.

Leigh, since this is your first read, have you considered doing a loony theory/predictions post after finishing GOT and before starting COK? There are several theories of Taimandred scope that you have either missed or not considered apropos to the post. This would give those of us who have spent ten years and countless hours arguing theories something to quietly giggle and snicker about.
Helen_Joan
12. Remi Despres-Smyth
I haven't contributed to the discussion yet, but I did want to mention how much I am thoroughly enjoying your read-through of A Game Of Thrones.

I really hope you continue the blog with A Clash Of Kings.
Kevin Maroney
13. womzilla
As noted previously, I read the novel after watching the TV adaptation. During this whole sequence, I found myself wondering if MMD had deliberately poisoned Drogo after his wound. (His wound was less severe in the show.) Something within the telling in the book convinced me that MMD had genuinely tried to save Drogo. However, when it was clear that he was beyond help, she decided she had nothing to lose by tormenting her tormenters, including Dany and especially the son.
Peter Stone
14. Peter1742
Leigh, great summary this time. In fact, your summary today pointed out one instance where Martin is foreshadowing future events that I didn't notice when I reread the books.

So does giving birth to a dead half-rotted lizard baby after being on the wrong side of blood magic not count as a "genuine supernatural occurrence"? It's true that it probably isn't the type of genuine supernatural occurrence that you were looking for, but unless Mirri was lying about it, I think this is pretty solid evidence in support of magic being real in this series.
Kevin Maroney
15. womzilla
Chrysippus4321 @11,

I assume that the Septa was killed because the entire Stark entourage was killed (or sold into slavery) except for Ned and the two daughters. There's no evidence of anyone from the North surviving the counter-coup that I can recall.
Peter Stone
16. Peter1742
Evidence for Mirri not having deliberately poisoned Drogo can be found by comparing the descriptions of the medicines used to heal Luwin to those Mirri used on Drogo. They seem quite similar.

It's possible that she was willing to heal Drogo when she thought he was just a regular khal, no worse than any other, but that she decided to take action when she realized that his son was prophesized to become her world's equivalent of Genghis Khan.
Vincent Lane
17. Aegnor
womzilla@15,

We have evidence that Jeyne Poole survived. She was with Sansa while the butchering was going on, and was later handed over to Littlefinger. And I don't think anyone would have been sold into slavery. Slavery is illegal in Westeros.
Helen_Joan
18. Black Dread
I always assumed the Hound was lying whenever he was acting badass and indifferent to things going on around him. Mirri was obviously a liar - hard to tell where the truth got mixed in.
Helen_Joan
19. Megaduck
It was always my impression that MMD caused Drogo's death by mistreating the wound but mostly this is because how much I LIKE MMD. I like thinking that she had a plan and not that she just got lucky in that Drogo died.

I also like how MMD would be a hero in her own story but a 'Villain' in this one.
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
Yes, Jeyne Poole made it as well (two Sansa chapters ago, placed in same room for a while).

Also 20 of Ned's guards went with Beric and Thoros to arrest the Mountain. If they survived, they'll be in the south as well.

I believe that's it.
Matthew B
21. MatthewB
RE: "gave birth to a half-rotted lizard"

Dany is descended from generations of inbreeding, probably has a mystical connection to Dragons in her blood, and was in the midst of some seriously bad juju. All this leads me to believe that Mirri was telling the truth. Plus as someone else said, Jorah didn't contradict it.

Aegnor @17 "Slavery is illegal in Westeros."
I don't think that would keep Littlefinger out of the business.
Helen_Joan
22. The SmilingKnight
Yes, Daenerys son was actually born like Miri described.
She wasnt the only one that saw him, most probably. Even if she alone delivered him, which is doubtful, she would give it to the servants to burry or something like it.
And it would be sucha huge lie for Jorah, who probably watched over the whole thing, not to say anything against it, at such a moment.

He was a normal baby before the ritual took place though, since we can safely asume Danerys did not cary a dead abomination full of maggots inside her.

Also, the prophecies are true.
But the trick is - they can be broken.

Look at it this way, at one time in history there can be several different and mutually exclusive prophecies. You will hear more about those as you read.
Prophecies of different people or races all prophesiszing the same thing. Obviously not all of them can really turn out to be true.
Some prophecies win, some loose.

Its not that complicated.
Helen_Joan
23. ryamano
Leigh

Regarding the Andals, basically everyone south of the Neck (i.e. not in the North) is a descendant of the Andals, unless said otherwise. The reverse is true as well (everyone in the North is descended from First Man unless said otherwise).

The Andals are like the Angles in England's history, coming and taking over a good portion of the island. The First Men would be more like the Celts. So that would make the North Wales or Scotland whereas the other kingdoms would be England. Of course that's not entirely true, there are some influences from other places (no mountains like those in the Eyrie in England, for example), but that's the basic. The Arryns are descended from Andals as well as the Lannisters.

And this thing with Children of the Forest meeting First Men and making a pact with them reminds me of Mists of Avalon, where the first inhabitants of England are described as small, dark and mystical as well.
Helen_Joan
24. lampwick
Just wanted to say that "Mirri Maz Duur" is the perfect name for a badass sorceress. Another example of Martin's pitch-perfect ear.
Helen_Joan
25. sofrina
i think @15 was referring to jeyne poole's dispatch as slavery because it certainly isn't voluntary and the implication wasn't savory. i don't think littlefinger, professional whoremonger, sent her to septa school.

it seemed like a kindness that dany had a vision of rhaego as a young man. who would want to carry an image of a decomposing lizard around with them? i'd cling to the vision of the copper man with silver-gold hair in her place.
can't say i see much similarity to hannibal lecter in joffrey. it's been a long time, but i thought lecter had a core of decency that survived the childhood trauma that shaped him. he wasn't particularly sadistic and he certainly exacted a harsh punishment on a man who was a very joffrey-like monster in "hannibal" (the book not the movie). but....

dany has been learning to rely on her own judgment as drogo's queen. i tend to think she is a master strategist as long as the house is not on fire. when drogo fell off his horse, the house was on fire.

septa mordane's death was as much because she was in service to stark as it was to isolate sansa. they don't want her to have any options but them. if not for syrio, they might have arya too.

i don't see why rickon having the same dream as bran discounts bran's visions as supernatural. perhaps there father really was able to say goodbye to them in their dreams. they are both very young.
someone else
26. Naraoia
Just wanted to say that no one can end a chapter like GRRM. That line from Luwin gives me the shivers every time.

ryamano @23: Just to be anal: Dorne ;) Although I guess the Dornish could be filed under "unless said otherwise" ^_^
Vincent Lane
27. Aegnor
ryamano@23,

That's not really true. The blood of the first men flows strongly in those north of the neck, but there is certainly Andal blood there too (certainly in the Stark children, for instance). In the south the blood of the first men is still there, it is just not as strong. The Andals didn't just kill everyone when they conquered Westros (minus the North). They intermarried with them until now they've become one people that is a mixture between the two. In some houses, even in the south, the blood of the first men is also strong. It is just stronger in the North, as it was never conquered by the Andals, but there still was some intermarrying, such as Cat and Ned.
Melanie S
28. starryharlequin
The history of the children of the forest was interesting – reminded me a lot of the theories that Neanderthals and Cro Magnons coexisted for a while back in the day and didn’t get along either – that in fact the Cro Magnons basically wiped the Neanderthals out.
Well, about 2% of the DNA of Europeans is Neandertal on average. So there was at least some level of getting along! (This is according to the statistical arguments of Svante Pääbo, which is still new research and therefore not the final word, I should say.)
Eli Bishop
29. EliBishop
Leigh,

Adding to what @23 and @27 said about the Andals:

- The Seven were the Andals' gods, so that's now the dominant religion everywhere except the North.
- The King's title is described in terms of the major ethnic groups (King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men), rather than by territory (King of the North, the Riverlands, the Vale, etc. etc.)-- probably because Aegon wanted to de-emphasize the traditional territorial boundaries, and emphasize the fact that all you people have been conquered by Targaryens.
- The Dothraki call Jorah Mormont "the Andal" because that's the only kind of Western-European-ish, non-Targaryen people they know about.
Helen_Joan
30. Lilly
Just a quick note on the question of hominids coexisting in the same time periods historically: there are actually quite a few. For example, Homo erectus and Homo habilis both lived in Africa in periods overlapping a couple thousand years. Many of the Australopithicus genus overlapped as well.
Leigh Butler
31. leighdb
Remi Despres-Smyth @ 12:

I really hope you continue the blog with A Clash Of Kings.

No worries; the plan is that I am doing the entire series.

Peter1742 @ 14:

So does giving birth to a dead half-rotted lizard baby after being on the wrong side of blood magic not count as a "genuine supernatural occurrence"?

Touche. But I did say "many" of GRRM's magical things were ambiguous, not all of them. Obviously half-rotted lizard babies and frozen zombie dudes are fairly unambiguous on that front.


Lilly @ 30:

I have no doubt you're right. I freely admit the vast majority of my knowledge of prehistoric hominids comes from reading The Clan of the Cave Bear series, which can probably be considered, hmm, not so much a primary source.
Helen_Joan
32. Mndrew
Sorry, I just don't buy the soppy sentimentalism of the view of Sansa. I believe you are confusing more of her trademark stupidity for bravery. Girl is just thick as a brick and destined to cause grief to those around her; I wish her joy in her marrige to her "perfect knight."
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
Here are the relevant posts from the Blog of Ice and Fire. Not his best work but I like the winter is coming and racial profiling bits in the Bran chapter. Rob

__________


Bran watches the dregs of the North fight in their yard. Eddard and
Robb took all the good men south so Ser Rod is left training the
rejects. No legged Bran watches with resentful stoicism, aspiring to be a
half-knight on Hodor's shoulders. But MC Luwin shoots him down, because
unreachable dreams can break Bran's poor legless heart. This is the
north, and winter is coming. It's physically impossible for Ser Santa to
visit every Westeros castle in a single night. The Easter Bunny doesn't
actually exist, as rabbits (even direrabbits) do not have the
intellectual capacity to decorate and and deliver eggs. Babies are not
brought by storks, but rather created when a knight repeatedly thrusts
his penis into his maiden wife's vagina. Or when a Dothraki best man
feels like mounting an unsuspecting female wedding guest.

Branstradamus
wants to go to the crypts to talk to his father because he dreamed he
talked to Eddard there last night. While most kids would go play games
or watch a movie, the Stark children visit ancient tombs and dream about
talking to ghosts. Osha comes too, because the North has a
rehabilitative justice system, unless you're a black brother (racial
profiling, it happens even in the North). In the crypts, they find
little Rickon already there, waiting for Deaddard. Both Stark boys can
see dead people. MC Luwin remains skeptical, until a bird from King's
Landing delivers the news: like Bruce Willis, Maester Luwin is actually a
ghost who died years ago and exists only in Bran and Rickon's
imagination. Also, Eddard Stark is dead. That's no surprise though. The
Stark boys already know because they can see the future. Can Bran and
Rickon see if they'll survive the next book? I can't wait to find out.

_______________

Sansa was on stage when Ned's head came off, and it probably rolled to a
stop just in front of her. Post beheaddard, Sansa for once has an
understandable and non-idiotic reaction, grieving by going comatose in
her room. She even fails spectacularly at suiciding out a window. Oh
well, it was the thought that counts. Eventually Joffrey comes for her,
because for some reason the Lannisters still want the marriage to go
through. This time though Sansa is a tad less enthusiastic about
marrying him. Obviously, Joffrey doesn't tolerate defiance, and treats
her like Robert treated Cersei -- by beating her. Ah, good old teenage
domestic violence. Except Joffrey is such a wuss that he can't even
properly beat a young girl, ordering his guards to do it.At
court, Sansa observed as King Joffrey handed out extremely harsh
sentences. Thus, Sansa shouldn't feel so bad, because Joffrey is clearly
not biased against the Starks. He's just extremely pro-beheading.


Joffrey is also pro-choice, giving a singer the option of keeping his
fingers or his tongue. Joffrey muses out loud about whether their kids
will grow up to be stupid like Sansa. I know Martin wrote that
conversation as sort of a joke, but I see it as a perfectly legitimate
concern. If my daughter were to take after dumbass Sansa, she would
betray our family and cause my death. Not exactly grade-A genes there.

Joffrey
actually shows Sansa her father's head. Sansa actually shows some
backbone and talks back to him, but Joffrey does not hesitate to proxy
Chris Brown her again. Sansa really should just stab Joffrey in his
sleep or poison his food. Open defiance will just earn her more Meryn
backhands. As her face swells up from the beating, Sansa remembers
Petyr's words about life not being fair. However, the universe seems to
know exactly who deserves what. Sansa betrayed her family the first
time, and her wolf was killed. Sansa betrayed her family a second time,
and now she's just a shell of her former self, living in her own
personal hell. It might be harsh, but she brought it on herself. What
will the universe do when Sansa makes her next blunder?

____________________

Dany
is starting to go crazy, obsessing over her eggs and dreaming about her
dead brothers. Her baby Rhaego was born dead, with wings and a tail.
It's clear what happened -- the kid was a half dragon half human. No
wonder the Targaryens married each other. If Dany had sexed Viserys
instead, maybe she'd be giving birth to a full blood dragon. Wouldn't
that be cool!?

It turns out MMD had to sacrifice Rhaego to keep Drogo
alive, but MMD sucks at black magic and was only able to retain a
vegetable version of Drogo. Vege-Drogo can't lead anyone because he
can't ride, and just about all of his 40k khalasar immediately left,
taking the horses with them.Dany finally figures out that MMD
didn't have the best intentions. "But I saved you!" Dany cried. That
means nothing to MMD, because she watched all her people die. Besides,
she had already been raped several times before Dany intervened. And it
was doggystyle! Apparently, rape is even worse when its performed
using a sexual position you do not enjoy. It makes perfect sense, as
the Dothraki are accustomed to hot wedding dancers, not old ugly lamb
women demon sorceresses. In the end though, MMD had the last laugh,
because she basically killed both Drogo and his son. Dany is broken and
miserable, and that night decides to put Vege-Drogo out of his misery.
Tricia Irish
35. Tektonica
I'm so enjoying your Read, Leigh! Having watched the excellent HBO series, this book is fairly fresh in my head, but I don't remember much about the rest of the books. (Haven't read DoD yet....I've been too embroiled elsewhere.) So....I am looking forward to your further book Reads to get me up to speed!

RobM: Thank you for posting the Blog of Ice and Fire...those are truly clever and amusing. Good combo with Leigh.

Nothing more to add...you guys have said it all....well.
Kevin Maroney
36. womzilla
sofrina @ 25, re Jeyne Poole's fate: yes, exactly. I don't see much distinction between "given into involuntary sexual service" and "sold into slavery" except that often slaves don't have to have sex with their owners.
Vincent Lane
37. Aegnor
There is absolutely no evidence that Jeyne Poole was "given into involuntary sexual service".

...In A Game of Thrones
Helen_Joan
38. DeJulis
@37: Except for that whole scene where Littlefinger says he can find a place for her, and it's heavily implied that since he owns a bunch of brothels that that's exactly what is going to happen, you're right, there is absolutely no evidence.
Vincent Lane
40. Aegnor
Don't know what that has to do with ASoIaF, Skylark Thibedeau, but I'm just hoping either LSU or Alabama lose so we don't end up with some stupid rematch in the BCS title game.
Sky Thibedeau
41. SkylarkThibedeau
She ended the Post Geaux Saints. Since I am an 'aints fan and a Rebel Black Bear Admiral Ackbar fan and this is Ole Miss/LSU hate week I added the comment at the end. Course she might like Tulane, UNO, or Loyola.


LSUCKS
Anthony Pero
42. anthonypero
@Blog of Ice and Fire post:

Deaddard. heh. *snicker*
Helen_Joan
43. MickeyDee
Leigh, brilliant stuff once again. Thank you.

To go off-topic: "Regardless, I always thought that the idea was fascinating, because it would be more or less the only time ever that two sapient races inhabited the earth at the same time"

Quite a head-spin isn'y it? Except it was even better. We have H. Sapiens, the Neanderthals, the Hobbit folk of the island of Florens and the Denisovans all possibly kicking about 20-25K years ago. The Denisovan ancestors split from our and Neanderthal ancestors about 800K years back so they were even more distantly related to us than were the Neanderthals.

How would it be to share this planet with three other sapient beeings? We once knew.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
Re the Andals - not a spoiler but the family tree discussion in the back of AGOT states that Lannisters are "the blood of Andal adventurers...."

Rob
Helen_Joan
45. ryamano
@26 @27

I'll talk about this in the spoiler thread. There's lots of reasons to believe that, amongst noble houses, southron blood in the north is quite rare. And vice versa as well. But all that I'm talking about is spoiler, so I'll have to talk there.

In the case of Dorne, again spoilers. Let the ethnic makeup of Dorne be revealed when it's revealed in the story. And yes, they do go under the "unless said otherwise" clause.

I was trying to explain to Leigh that andals make up more than the Lannisters. Basically almost everyone we met so far in the South has or claim to has Andal blood, maybe mixed, maybe not. The Arryns are probably the only ones who claim to be almost purely descended from the Andals, though.
anudeep ravi
46. adeepu9
I am reading through AGOT for the first time now and i thought when i first saw the sansa chapter 'oh man not more stupid comments about joffrey's shitting posture is gallant' but she actually showed moral strength which i did not expect her to.still, i hate sansa,but not as much as before.

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