Fri
Dec 2 2011 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 34

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 34 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 71 (“Catelyn”) and 72 (“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.

Before we start, a quick note on scheduling: I am going to be taking a bit of a sabbatical from my blogs during the Christmas/New Year’s season – this one a tad more so than my Wheel of Time Re-read owing to timing, since we so fortuitously happened to reach the end of this book just now.

Next Friday, therefore, I will be posting my wrap-up review of/ruminations on A Game of Thrones as a whole, and after that the ASOIAF Read will be on hiatus until January 6, 2012, at which time I will begin my Read of the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings.

So that’s what that is. And now, the post!

 

Chapter 71: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn is overcome with memories of her childhood as she and Robb et al enter Riverrun to great cheering. Her brother Edmure Tully meets them at the dock and commiserates with Catelyn about Ned’s death, but Catelyn puts that aside in her haste to see her father, who Edmure says is not expected to last much longer. Edmure takes her to the solar, where her father Hoster is clearly dying. He whispers to her of his gladness that Robb has freed Riverrun, but lingers on the fact that his brother Brynden still has not married Bethany Redwyne, even though Catelyn reminds him she has been married to Lord Rowan for years. She leaves when he falls asleep and goes to find Robb.

Robb is in the godswood along with the rest of the Northern lords who follow the old gods, which reminds Catelyn with a pang of Ned. She waits for him, remembering how she and Lysa used to play kissing games with Petyr Baelish there, and wondering if Robb has yet had a chance to kiss a girl. Robb tells her that Renly Baratheon has claimed the crown, to her shock, and says they must convene a council at once.

The arguing at the council goes on for hours. Many of the lords want to march on Harrenhal at once, to meet Tywin there and finish the Lannisters off; Marq Piper wants to strike at Casterly Rock itself. Others want to wait and use their position athwart the Lannisters’ supply lines to starve them out. Jonos Bracken contends they ought to pledge their allegiance to Renly, but Robb counters that even if he were to agree that neither Joffrey nor Tommen are the rightful king, Stannis would still have the legal right over Renly. Stevron Frey suggests they let Renly and Joffrey fight it out and side with the victor, which the Greatjon and most of the northern lords decry as cowardice.

“Why not a peace?” Catelyn asked.

The lords looked at her, but it was Robb’s eyes she felt, his and his alone. “My lady, they murdered my lord father, your husband,” he said grimly. He unsheathed his longsword and laid it on the table before him, the bright steel on the rough wood. “This is the only peace I have for Lannisters.”

The lords roar approval, but Catelyn argues that no amount of bloodshed can bring Ned back. The Greatjon and Lord Karstark reply that as a woman, she does not understand the need for vengeance.

“Give me Cersei Lannister, Lord Karstark, and you would see how gentle a woman can be,” Catelyn replied. “Perhaps I do not understand tactics and strategy . . . but I understand futility.”

She points out that they went to war because of the siege of Riverrun and Ned’s imprisonment, both of which are done with now one way or the other, and urges them to tend to the living instead of the dead, and negotiate for the return of her daughters. The lords consider her words for a moment, but then begin listing their wrongs at the hands of the Lannisters, and Piper declares he will never call a Lannister his king. Catelyn despairs, and sees that her son is wedded now to the blade before him.

Then the Greatjon jumps up and bellows that neither Renly nor Stannis nor Joffrey are worth anything to him, and asks why the North should not rule itself again. He points at Robb, and says that is the only king he means to bow to: The King in the North, the King of Winter. Karstark and Lady Mormont follow suit, and soon do all the others, and Catelyn watches as they resurrect a pledge not heard in three hundred years:

“The King in the North!”

“The King in the North!”

THE KING IN THE NORTH!

Commentary
Oh, for the love of Mike.

Okay, yes, very stirring and all, but jeez.

It’s like they took a skein of yarn that the cat had already got into, and then decided to fix the tangle by chucking it into a hurricane. Brilliant. No really, rah rah sis boom goddamn bah, guys. I am totally waving the world’s smallest pom-pom for you, here.

The sharp dichotomy drawn here between Catelyn’s appeal for peace and the lords’ direct rejection of her reasoning, based on their perception that it is the plea of a “weak” woman — in spite of all Catelyn has done in the past few months to prove that she is nothing of the sort — is no accident, by the way. You can debate whether Catelyn’s recent actions were wise, but I certainly hope no one would be stupid enough to claim that she acted weakly, and Martin is very much playing on that basic disconnect here, to extremely frustrating — if sadly believable — effect.

Amazing, really. Not to mention infuriating. But that is the power of prejudice: Catelyn could speak with all the persuasive eloquence of the greatest philosophers that ever lived, and still it would be overshadowed to these people by her irredeemable possession of a vagina. Fuck, but that makes me tired.

And you know, if we’re going with the lords’ notion that continuing to fight is the “masculine” way to go, instead of the apparently pussified route of seeking peace, then if you ask me that’s just proof that men (and Maege Mormont, evidently) shouldn’t be allowed to make these kinds of decisions. I mean, as long as we’re going to go down this road, it’s not like thinking with your big phallic penis replacement sword instead of your brain has so much more to recommend it, you testosterone-crazed idiots. Yes, let’s make this clusterfuck a three-way war instead of two! That can’t possibly go wrong!

(Or hell, a four- or five-way war at this point, depending on how you look at it. Either way, STUPID, The End.)

Catelyn’s a “weak” woman with “no understanding of vengeance”? Are you shitting me? First of all, WHATEVER: anyone who thinks women have no concept of revenge has clearly never actually met a woman, because lemme tell you, pal, revenge is most emphatically NOT a skill reserved for the XY chromosome set, noooooo sirreebob.

And second of all, “weak” my ass: if anything, Catelyn’s willingness to put her need for vengeance aside in pursuit of the greater good makes her the stronger person, not the other way around. Anyone who thinks that pursuing peace is actually the easier route is in dire need of emergency cephalanalectomy, stat. Anyone can go and beat the shit out of each other; figuring out how not to do that, now that takes strength — strength of mind and will, rather than muscles. Good to know that’s what we’re deriding as “weak,” “feminine” attributes, guys. Morons.

Wow, I’m kind of really pissed off right now. You know, in case you couldn’t tell.

Right, time to finish this thing. Onward!

 

Chapter 72: Daenerys

What Happens
The Dothraki still with Dany are building a great pyre, while Rakharo sacrifices a stallion. Mirri Maz Duur tells Dany that she does not have either the wisdom or the talent to perform bloodmagic, and Dany has her whipped until she shuts up. Jorah draws her aside and begs her to go with him to far off lands rather than ask him to watch her burn herself on Drogo’s pyre, but Dany assures him that is not her intention. She speaks to the remaining Dothraki, and tells them they are her khalasar now, and free to go or stay as they will. She offers gifts to Jhogo, Aggo and Rakharo, and entreats them to swear to her as her bloodriders, but all three men refuse her regretfully, telling her that only a man may lead a khalasar and have bloodriders. She ignores their protests, and asks for Jorah’s oath, promising him a “dragon-forged” sword in return; Jorah swears his loyalty to her immediately and without reservation, and she tells him he is the first of her Queensguard. She realizes that the others must all think her mad, but is determined to go forward.

She goes into her tent, and bathes and grooms first herself and then Drogo’s body with great care. She asks his forgiveness silently, and has the body carried to the pyre at sunset. The pyre is doused in oil; Dany commands her eggs be brought, ignoring Jorah’s protest of their value, and places them about Drogo’s body. Then she has Mirri Maz Duur bound to the pyre as well.

“You will not hear me scream,” Mirri responded as the oil dripped from her hair and soaked her clothing.

“I will,” Dany said, “but it is not your screams I want, only your life. I remember what you told me. Only death can pay for life.”

The first star is a comet, which Dany takes as a great sign, and the pyre is lit. All the others soon step away from the blistering heat, but as Mirri dies screaming, Dany is drawn closer, entranced by the flames. She ignores Jorah’s cries and walks into the fire, seeing many visions, including what she thinks is Drogo on a rearing stallion. There are three sharp cracks from within the fire before the entire pyre collapses around her.

No, she wanted to shout to [Jorah], no, my good knight, do not fear for me. The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons, don’t you see? Don’t you SEE?

When the fire dies down, Jorah and the others see Dany, naked and with her hair burnt away but otherwise unscathed by the fire, with three small dragons draped over her, two suckling at her breasts. Jorah falls to his knees, and Jhogo, Aggo, and Rakharo all swear to her as her bloodriders on the spot in awe. Dany looks over the Dothraki and knows they are hers now, forever.

As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils. The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.

Commentary
Oh ho ho! Look at that, I was right.

Daaaamn, y’all. So apparently magic is not so much nonexistent in Martin’s world after all!

Well, okay, I already knew it wasn’t, but it’s been so long since we saw the Others in the prologue, and everything else has been so ambiguous thus far, that it was kind of easy to forget them, or put them aside or whatever.

…Er, though there was the zombie things Jon killed to protect Mormont, wasn’t there. And Bran and Rickon’s premonitions of their father’s death, and the direwolves, and the crow thing, and… okay, fine, the assertion makes no actual sense when you take the story as a whole. But it felt that way, okay? At least compared to your average epic fantasy.

Anyway, back to Daenerys, I repeat: daaaaamn. Also: DRAGONS, YAY.

I mean, I don’t know that I totally support the idea of Daenerys trying to get the throne of the Seven Kingdoms back – mostly because I kind of wish she would just go off somewhere and live a quiet happy life, because she’s been through enough in my opinion for like sixteen lifetimes – but that does not change the fact that dragons? Are super cool. Um, metaphorically speaking, of course. Literally speaking they are obviously the exact opposite. Ba dum dum.

(Knowing Martin, of course, my initial fantasy-fan knee-jerk reaction of DRAGONS YAY is probably setting me up to have the rug yanked from under my feet later on re: the yayness of dragons, but whatever. Until then, DRAGONS YAY.)

Of course, now the geek in me is irrepressibly asking all sorts of obnoxious procedural questions. Like, if Dany’s skin and everything else could ignore the flames, why couldn’t her hair? Could Dany have always walked into a fire and been unscathed, or could it only have been a fire in which dragons’ eggs are baking/hatching? Could any sufficiently hot fire have hatched the eggs, or did it have to be an Important Fire? Like one in which a loved one is burned? Or one that is burning a live sacrifice? Or was it a combination of both? The repetition of the phrase “only death can pay for life” suggests the latter, certainly.

I don’t suspect the answer to any of these questions actually matter in the grand scheme of things, but hey. Geek, can’t be helped.

(I was also going to ask semi-snidely about why exactly dragons drink breastmilk when they are clearly not mammals, but that’s too geek-ridden even for me. Because yes, I get the symbolism there, really, I swear. Which is good, considering that it is pretty much the complete opposite of subtle. Also, on a probably also-obnoxious practical note: breastfeeding dragons? OW. Hopefully Dany’s heritage gives her nipples of steel as well as fire-retardant skin, because holy crap.)

Speaking of burning the “witch”… hm. Obviously in real life I am not a fan of lighting people on fire no matter how much cause one may have for it, but in context, within the culture of the Dothraki, it was quite a fitting punishment by their standards. I also obviously have to take back my initial impression that Dany was being remarkably forgiving of Mirri Maz Duur’s actions, because clearly Dany was just biding her time until she could pay her husband’s killer back properly. Revenge being a dish best served cold, and all. Or So I Hear. Sorry, Mirri. At least you had an awesome name.

Also, if you ask me Jorah is so heads-over-heels in love with Dany it’s not even funny. Not that I blame him, really. (I blame him for lots of other things, but not that.) I mean, I’m pretty sure he was completely infatuated with her even before this, so throw in all the magic/destiny/dragons/symbolism/hoshit spectacle Dany just spontaneously generated and the man never stood a chance.

I also think that this… will probably not turn out to be a good thing for him in the long run. I mean, even aside from the very high likelihood of his dying in the (now) unquestionably upcoming invasion, Dany is probably about the last person anyone should be falling in love with right now. I love her and root for her and all, but girl has gone more than a little Outer Limits, you guys. She may not actually be crazy at this point, but if you ask me she’s clearly within shouting distance of it, and the fact that she was right about her eggs doesn’t actually even help, really. In fact it might make it worse. And staging a full-scale invasion of another continent, dragons or no, is not going to help on that score if you ask me. Possible megalomania, here we come?

Well, we’ll see, I suppose.


But not until next year! Have a scrumdiddlyumptious weekend, me boggins, and join me next Friday for my wrap-up post of this thang. Cheers!

61 comments
Stefan Mitev
1. Bergmaniac
That scene is one of the reasons I really like Catelyn. She's the only one reasonable enough to want peace here, while the other lords are obsessed with vengeance and don't care how many will die for it.

I definitely agree on how frustrating is that a guy like Greatjon, who's clearly not the sharpest tool in the box and is a bit crazy ("Hey, I just lost 2 fingers - awesome") gets more respect here simply because he' a man even though Cat is way smarter.

"King in the North" was a dumb idea. This way Robb can't make an alliance with any of the other pretenders for the throne like Renly and Stannis even though they have a common enemy in the Lannisters. And it's not like the North was oppressed by the South - they had almost complete autonomy until now, free to even worship their own gods.
Tenesmus
2. Tenesmus
The End. Very nice. Thank you for this and I hope you have a nice break.
Tenesmus
3. Carolyn h
Oh, i'm bummed we won't be reading again flippin' January! Still, I'm looking forward to Leigh's wrap-up of ASOIAF, so that will help a bit.

I was always amazed Catelyn could deal with the gender prejudice of this world as well as she did, when it is clearly unfair and she is clearly so much more than the stereotypical "little wife." I was never so understanding, even though I grew up in that milieu and saw it firsthand. At least I wasn't born in the 19th century (or earlier). I had to fight family and work place, sometimes futilely, but I was able to win a few rounds too. Poor Cat has considerably less opportunity to win any of those battles.

Dany is the kind of woman I can root for. She has to deal with the same prejudices as Cat, but because of her stature as royalty and the whole "dragon blood" thing, she at least has the opportunity to shatter the stereotypes and the restrictions. The only thing I don't like about that is that she needs an accident of birth to to be able to do so. So much for the rest of the women who aren't special by birth. I just don't like the idea that you have to be "special" in order to be equal or to have the same opportunities as a man--in this world or in my own.

And don't, please don't, get me started on the other kinds of "specialness" that bring individuals far more than they earn on their own--beauty and money are two things that jump into my mind but they aren't the only ones.

Anyway, back to GOT. At the point in this book when Ned was killed, I was just about convinced the series couldn't survive without his presence. But in these last few chapters, GRRM brought in so many new ideas and interesting conflicts that it's clear the world has already moved past Ned. There's so much else going on in this story right now that I was breathless for the next book just to see how it all plays out. And the re-read should be just as much fun!
Tenesmus
4. Megaduck
Yay Dragons! What an epically powerful way to end the book. It starts with Ice and the Others and it ends with Fire and the Dragons.

I also note how well these two chapters complement each other in different ways. First there is Cat being ignored because she is a woman and there is Dany being ignored because she is a woman and then Dany breaks out the fire stuff and metaphorically gives birth to three dragons and suddenly no one is ignoring her, despite the fact that she is still a woman.


The second comparison is between Rob and Dany. It stars with what would otherwise be a rousing and epic declaration of war with Rob and the King in the North bit and then Dany throws down her own gauntlet and the sh*t just got real.

These two chapters are really two declarations, one a boy deciding to be king and the other a girl deciding to be queen. The boy does it to the calls of his huge army as he is placed on the throne and the girl is almost alone as she steps onto hers. Yet I know who my money is on to win this little war.
Tenesmus
5. Western Storm
I have to admit I always loved the end of Catelyn’s chapter. The King of the North chant is great. I understand it too; there is no way they can sit out of the fighting now. Whoever wins the battle between the Lannisters, Remley and Stannis would make war on them. I can understand why they did not have wanted to be their own kingdom again. The Targs are gone (as far as they know), and they feel that they do not need to kneel to the Lannisters or Bartharons.

Loved your first read by the way, you picked out things on your first read that I totally missed in mine. I will be looking forward to when you read the next one.
Tenesmus
6. Black Dread
Megalomania? She's a Targaryen, it's a feature, not a bug.
Tenesmus
7. bluemeanies
I think that being appalled at the Lord's out of hand dismissal of Cat and being supportive of her proposal to sue for peace are entirely different concepts. We already know that Joffrey is a vindictive little shit who holds to no bargains struck, they might still require Sansa as a hostage/bride in the bargaining and they can't deliver Arya (which the Stark's admittedly are unaware of). Also, making peace with the Lannisters puts you at war with the Baratheons. If Renly hadn't declared and muddled things up dealing with Stannis as Robb suggested might have been more kindly received. If Robb didn't have a case of the What Would Ned Do's he might have allied with Renly. And the Frey proposal, while cowardly has its appeal. But the Lannisters as Cat seems to be suggesting just doesn't work for me, at least while it's Joff and Cersei. In short, while the sexism in the dismissal is abhorent I don't neccessarily agree that the peace with the Lannisters was the way to go there.
Gabor Kecskemeti
8. gkecskem
King of the North is not a stupid idea. The North has never been conquered (the last king surrendered peacefully after he saw what the dragons did to the south). It can't be conquered (just look at the map and the supply lines it'd involve).

Now King of the North + Riverlands. That's a very stupid idea. Riverlands is part of the South, it's surrounded on 3 sides by southron provinces and it'd be very hard to defend from far away in the North on the long run anyway.

As a side note it's interesting that when we get angry we completely ignore even the reasonable arguments made by those who we are angry with. Just how the human brain works I guess. Read carefully again what the Balckfish said. Just because Karstark and the Greatjohn are jerks it doesn't mean that all arguments made by men in the room are wrong. The only thing peace would do is give the Lannisters time to get their shit together and deal with Renly (and Stannis?) and then they'd turn against the Starks+Tullys again (you know they would).
If I remember correctly you found it repurgant that Joffrey would stay king (and alive), but now that'd be all good because it's a female-male argument?
Maiane Bakroeva
9. Isilel
Well, I always thought that Stevron Frey's suggestion to go for a truce and let the Lannisters and Baratheon brothers fight it out had some merit too, but since Freys are "dishonorable", nobody listens. Sigh... And of course, Lannisters are in such a fix that they'd have been prepared to pay through the nose for a truce/peace. Double sigh.

Also, how stupid of Robb to call a council without thinking the situation through himself and discussing the things privately with his most trusted supporters, such as Catelyn and Brynden.
The tragic thing here is that none of the lords are really on Robb's side here - they all look for glory, advancement, plunder, etc. for themselves at least as much and probably more than for his cause, even though they are generally loyal.

Also "it is dragons we married" is a blatant lie, since Ned "married" the North to Baratheons just as tightly.
And Starks are now well and truly commited to fighting not just the Lannisters, but whoever eventually prevails in the South.

Re: Dany - I really love this awesome ending of her arc in AGOT. To be fair, if she was a boy, (s)he wouldn't have had that much more personal clout either, being an exile and all.
Of course, (s)he'd have had a (very slim) chance to prove a leader eventually, but the Dothraki, who value strength, wouldn't have given a male stripling any chances either.
Robb needed the help of his magic wolf to initially assert himself over his lords, after all.
Matthew Hunter
10. matthew1215
Well, let's see here.

Dragons, yay, check.

King in the North, not yay... wait a sec, Leigh, what exactly are you smoking here?

Let's break things down a little. I'm not going to argue with your or Catelyn about the value of finding a peaceful resolution at this point, or with the ... less than modern rejection of Catelyn's arguments based on her gender. But, fundamentally, Robb and his lords have hit upon the best -- and indeed, the only -- workable resolution to this conflict. Fact is, we know that no one in the North is going to be willing to bend the knee to Joffrey -- who had Ned's head chopped off on holy ground after promising him evile to the wall. No one is going to be willing to just roll over and ignore that, and if Robb tries, he comes off as weak to his lords, who will lose their respect for him and undermine his rule later. So what are the other choices?

Back Stannis? He has the law on his side, but no one was terribly enthusiastic about his reign and he wouldn't be able to handle the snakepit of King's Landing any better than Ned.

Back Renly? Do that and you're at war with Stannis AND you've lost whatever moral high ground honor offers. Plus, however likeable Renly seems to be, he doesn't seem likely to be a better king than Stannis. Different, but not better.

Sue for peace with the Lannisters? Now you're facing both Renly and Stannis on behalf of the people who betrayed and murdered your father Anakin Skywalker Eddard Stark.

Proclaiming Robb King in the North is the best option because he's only seeking to rule the North, where he already has the top spot, hundreds of years of tradition to back his rule, the wholehearted support of his bannermen, and is fully capable of sitting down atop the castle of his choice along the only road leading north and daring the Lannisters to bring an army past. He can wreck as much or as little havoc as he desires in the south to bring down the Lannisters without needing to choose between Stannis and Renly, and the moment things start to turn against him, just march north and make like the cork in the bottleneck.

If I recall my history, the King in the North was never conquered. The earlier Stark king bent the knee before Targaryen dragons, and of course, as we all know, the Targaryen dragons are dead and gone...

(Does it actually work out that way? That would be spoiling. But at this point in the story, what Robb and his lords did makes a lot of sense, since there is no way the southern lords could conquer the north without something as unexpected as an invasion with dragons. Unlike the other kings, Robb doesn't want to grasp for control over people he doesn't know, whose traditions and culture are foreign to him. In that, he is wiser than the other contenders, and closer to Catelyn's advice than you realize. Peace under Lannister rule is impossible at this point).
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
Yay dragons indeed. The last chapter seems quite promising for the return of magical elements.
I also liked how Dany's chapter answers to Caetlyns chapter on vengence and women--serve it cold, but then cook up the witch.
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
Couple of quick reactions -

Now we know why Book 2 is called "A Clash of Kings." Joff, Robb, Renly, Stannis, maybe Dany, etc.

As noted in an earlier post, I really enjoy the closing chapters post-Ned. All the major going forward plots are set into interesting motion.

Megaduck makes some very good points re the craftsmanship of these last two chapters, with parallelism on multiple levels between Dany/Dragons and Cat, Robb and the Prologue. There are other parallels as well - Jon and Arya both traveling north, Bran and Sansa both stuck as virtual prisoners in place, etc.

The characterizations in both chapters are also wonderful - Edmure comes off as a bit of a yutz, Hoster real steel but painfully sick, Brynden giving the proper, thoughtful, nonsexist rejoinder to Cat's call for peace (i.e., is it best to put down our swords if it means we'll be fighting again with them tomorrow on worse terms?), Jorah - obviously, as Leigh observed, head over heels for the Khaleesi, the three bloodriders trying to say no to Dany's request but getting brushed off, and the great Mirri Maz Dur. Brilliant stuff.

Reading this chapter again, it makes one wonder about the sexuality of Brynden. Cat is clear in the text that she understands that her uncle never will agree to be married. Either he's asexual, in love with an offscreen girl that is so far below him to be beyond discussion with his elder brother or ... something else is going on. Whatever it is, Cat appears to know it and be comfortable with it. Hmm. If the final option, nice to see Martin avoiding stereotypes - as Brynden is one of the bravest, most competent minor characters in AGOT.

In sum, Leigh- thanks for the read and looking forward to the wrap up and the move into the next book.

Rob
Tenesmus
13. The SmilingKnight
Well, finally.

Talking about wiminz being capable of revenge in Catelyns chapter and then seeing exactly that in the next one, eh?

Very fitting. As are some of the other sharp comments but, of course, i cant tell you which ones.

:)

Daenerys last chapter was the thing that made me love these books most of all. I actually had a vision of myself falling to my knees with the rest of the khalassar when i was reading.
Because i just read her chapters alone and didnt waste time on outgiuessing Martin at all so it hit me full force.

Couple of things about magic and stuff:

- Actually... it seems that Dragons are connected to magic itself.
And when they disappeared so did magic disappear from the world.
And now that they have been born again...
(im pretty sure it was all mentioned somewhere in the first book too)

Also, this rebirth was a one time thing, as Martin confirmed.
Neither the fire nor the comet or any other thing on its own could cause it.
And i always read the chapter as Daenerys going completely insane in the final moments.
Not in some psychotic villanous way but rather just falling appart and then getting reborn herself too.

If she would go into a fire again - she would burn.
And i guess her hair didnt burn because it didnt have any blood in it.
As far as geeky exlpanations go.

And also i think that baby Dragons dont have teeth!

Premonitions Stark kids had about Ned and their direwolf connection are not, strictly speaking, magical in that sense. Neither are Others and their zombies.

But i guess you could argue that a little bitsy bit of magic in the broadest sense remained behind the wall and around the North if you really want to, although youd still be wrong and i right. Of course.

Also, shame that producers of the show didnt read that last sentence and put awfull nazgul screeching instead of "music of the Dragons" in the tv show. >Did i say its really sucky already? It really is.

Anyway, its been a very entertaining re-read misss Leigh.
thanx for all the chuckles.
aaron thompson
14. trench
@6 that cracked me up, you just made my day
Tenesmus
15. Lsana
While I love Catelyn more than I've ever loved any other fantasy character, I can't agree with her or Leigh on this one. I think I'm with Maege Mormont, who said something to the effect of "Peace is all very well, but there's point in sheathing your sword if you're going to have to draw it again tomorrow." The North and the Riverlands are well and truly in this clusterfuck at this point, and no peace treaty is going to get them out of it.

Whether it was a good idea to proclaim himself King in the North? Well, all I will say is that when I read this, I, much like Robb himself, was too caught up in the moment to excercise much judgement about the long term.

As for Dany's chapter, the hatching of the dragons seemed inevitable, but I didn't react to it with the enthusiasm everyone else did, for two reasons:

1. I don't like people who burn other people alive. This probably isn't helped by the fact that I loath the Dothraki and sympathized with Mirri more than Khal Drogo, but even so, heroes aren't supposed to do human sacrifices. This is definitely one of those moments that keeps me from jumping on the "Team Dany" bandwagon.

2. I've never been much of the Pern "Dragons are like horses, only cooler" school of thought. I've always been more of the St. George "Dragons are monsters" theory. I'm glad there are no dragons in our world, and I wish they'd stayed exinct in Martin's.
Tenesmus
16. sofrina
i regarded the dismissal of catelyn's suggestion as simply a pretext. the northern lords did not want to go home, except possibly the freys. karstark says that "woman's heart" bit as an acceptable way to dismiss his liege's mother. there are a number of women in this saga who chafe against traditional gender roles, but catelyn is most successful at working inside the system. it is what it is and she accepts that. it's people like cersei who brood on the injustice of it, who seem to suffer so much. i'm thinking of her getting punched out when ned woke with his broken leg. she could have expressed her outrage without provoking her husband. it wasn't the first time he'd hit her.

daenerys never strikes me as mad. i think that's an interesting point of view. but she always strikes me as a consummate learner, a big thinker and completely open to 'moments of illumination.' and this last few days have been chockful of illuminating wonders. it seems that, whenever things are the most grim for dany, a certain amount of 'help from without' arrives to steel her. like when she was first on the march with the dothraki and the various sores made her want to die, then she had that dream of being bathed in fire and reborn and she began to acclimate the next day.
Tenesmus
17. madcow21
Catelyn's motivation to sue for peace clearly wasn't based on utilitarian principles or good war strategy. It was based on her immense grief at essentially being the cause of her husband's death and her selfish desire to not lose any more of her own family members.

It's frankly pretty absurd to even consider the possibility that she might actually believe that the 7 kingdoms would be better off with that little monster on the throne with the woman who had her son crippled trying and, as we saw with Ned, failing to control him behind the scenes. Another Mad King Aerys is definitely not something any Stark should be willing to abide. Even if they did lay down their arms, how long until a summons from "good" King Joff would have her sons taking the King's Road south never to return?

She's willing to let all the people of the realm suffer indefinitely under a tyrant rather than risk losing any more of her own sons and daughters. That's hardly noble, and I feel absolutely no sympathy for her based on her possession of a vagina.
Matthew Hunter
18. matthew1215
Lsana@15: I think we can rest assured that Martin understands that dragons are not horses. As for burning Mirri Maz Dur alive... Mirri was justified in her actions and understood the likely consequences for them. Likewise, Dany was justified in her actions. Neither were nice, pretty, neat choices. I can't condemn Mirri for taking vengeance for her people, nor can I condemn Dany for taking vengeance for her husband. Neither has the support of a justice system that, in theory, renders personal vengeance obsolete.
Tenesmus
19. The SmilingKnight
Well, hit me with the great warhammer over the head, but i do have some spelling issues above. Sorry about that.

And look what you went and did here Leigh. You got all these Northerner supporters all riled up. I can just smell the testosterone levels jumping all over the place.

Actually, the smartest thing Robb could have done, is declare for Stannis, not get himself involved with the issue of Renly at all and concentrate on eradicating Lannisters.

Being a "king" in the North has no value at all since, as others claim, the Northerners had the north anyway and nobody would even think of trying to take it. Being called a Lord of the north or a King of the North has no factual difference at all. Its all the same as far as the actual ruling of the north goes.
Maiane Bakroeva
20. Isilel
Eh, no, King in the North doesn't make any sense.

First of all, while the North is highly defensible, the Riverlands are wide open. But Robb would feel honor-bound to try to protect them. Which would turn them into a perpetual battlefield and drain on North's scant resources or lead to their eventual loss to whoever gains the Iron Throne once the dust in the South settles.

And population of the North (as of all Westeros), had grown during the centuries of Pax Targaryen and largely unimpeded trade. So, while the North may be impregnable, with the rest of Seven Kingdoms hostile to them, come a long severe Winter, they'd end up with massive starvation and dying off.

Finally, the wildlings were growing to be a real problem and threat even before Ned went south! So much so that Ned was envisioning going to war with them in the next couple of years. I.e. Robb's time in the south is limited unless he wants his lands to get devastated behind his back.

Which is why, he damn well should have allied himself with one of the Baratheon brothers or even gone for a truce.

Alliance with a losing brother wouldn't have been as bad as proclaiming himself King, since it would have been possible to patch things up with the victor, which is now highly unlikely.
Rafael
21. Ryamano
Regarding Cat's plan to have peace:

Remember the old saying (not the "lord of chaos rules"): A Lannister always pays his debts. Do you think Tywyn, Cersei, Tyrion, etc would ignore completely what Team Stark-Tully has done to them so far? Even if one side decides to forgive the other (and the other has just killed Team Stark's patriarch!), it doesn't mean the other ones are going to be so forgiving. The Lannisters could agree with peace, exchange hostages and all, but then attack the Starks and Tullys after they've dealt with Stannis and Renly. A Lannister always pays his debts, and Jaime will remember being captured (not to mention Tyrion being captured, judged and thrown to the barbarians). Tywyn and Cersei as well would remember this. Not to mention that Joffrey has prejudice towards Robb (he promised his head to Sansa).

Is true peace between Lannister and Stark even possible? I don't think so, not with Tywyn, Cersei, Joffrey and Jaime on the other side, even if you have reasonable Catelyn on the other side ruling all. You can't trust these people. It's like making peace with Stalin or Hitler: just temporary.
Nathan Martin
22. lerris
@13 - No, I do not believe your insights were mentioned in the first book; I clearly remember the portion of the second book where it was merely hinted at.
Your post may be considered a spoiler by some.

Just an FYI.
Matthew Hunter
23. matthew1215
Isilel@20: Proclaiming a King in the North does not foreclose an alliance with either Baratheon. Renly would almost certainly be amenable to making an alliance between equals that leaves the North to rule itself, though he may insist that the Starks bend the knee at first as a bargaining position. Stannis is a harder case, but also a much smaller military threat. Even the united 6 southern kingdoms can't threaten the North militarily without dragons. The riverlands are difficult to defend, true, but Robb can make southern forces bleed for every step towards the north and each Riverland castle or keep is a festering sore behind the enemy's lines that slows their advance and threatens their supply lines. Furthermore, advancing towards the north leaves the Lannisters open to attack from either or both Baratheons.

If the strategy is to depose the Lannisters and make peace-between-equals with whichever Baratheon survives, the Riverlands are an asset because any defense would be necessarily short.

As for the North and a harsh winter... remembers the Stark words. Winter is Coming. The north has never been dependent upon food imports from the south during long, harsh winters.

Proclaiming a King in the North is not about staying tied up in southern politics, it's about going home and taking care of business as soon as practically possible.
Tenesmus
24. Skyweir
King in the North....is a bad idea.

It sets Robb up in opposition to all other claimants. So far, he is only at war with the Lannisters. But this will likely make him an enemy of everyone that claims the Throne, because you simply cannot leave claimants to the throne alive if you wish to rule in peace (as even Robert knew, notriously forgiving though he was). Giving up half the Kingdom (in landmass) would make any King look weak, and Robb cannot lay down the crown again without looking even weaker. Of all options open too him, this is by far the most foolish.

Also, someone claimed that continiued war would be preferable to Joffery on the throne. Perhaps for some noble lords, but for the vast majority of small folk that never even meet or hear of the King, a Joffery (with super competent Tywin Lannister holding his ears as Hand) will be far superior to a FOUR+ way war where it will be the smallfolk that suffer the most. And Winter Is Coming!

And for the North war makes even less sense. The King has no power in the North really, there is thousands of leagues between Winterfell and King's Landing and the North cannot be attacked through the Neck. The Starks are "kings" in the North already, as long as they don't go around making crowns and blowing trumpets noone will care. The sensible choice is to retreat to Riverrun and beyond Moat Cailin, hunker down and bend the knee to the victor once the silly southerons are done with their little game.
Tenesmus
25. Wortmauer
So, some soundbites from Leigh's Game of Thrones re-read, offered without commentary. Some are prescient, some aren't; some are just amusing. I'm trying not to be spoilery: if I pick a prediction that hasn't happened yet but might, don't assume I picked it because it will happen; I might also pick some that are either incorrect or we-still-don't-know.

Part 1 (more to follow):

Prologue: And fortunately I don’t have to remember any of these characters, except possibly Gared, because they’re all dead. Although, I’m not sure if it counts when they haven’t stopped moving afterwards. Eeek.

Bran: the main effect this chapter had, for me, was to instantly identify Jon Snow as the most interesting character in it. Bran is cute and all, but is too young to have much going on in the character department yet; Robb seemed generic, Theon’s a jerk, and Eddard is Inscrutable Lord Guy, but you can tell even from Bran’s immature perspective that Jon is pretty kickass, especially for a fourteen-year-old.

Catelyn: it’s completely obvious already that Martin has an extreme case of MY TANGLED WEB OF CAST OF THOUSANDS, LET ME SHOW YOU IT. so Ned doesn’t think the Others exist, eh? I’m sure this will not come back to bite him in the ass at all. Nosirree.

Danerys: Dany is practically the archetype of a victimized woman here, but generally speaking I’m only going to have a problem with that if that’s all she ever turns out to be. So time will tell, I suppose.

Eddard: Also, his father Jon (see, already two of those, too) was totally poisoned. Sick, my ass. This I Foretell.

Jon: Especially with Mr. Pretty brother Jaime to compare himself to constantly. Ugh, Jaime hasn’t even had a line yet and I’m already predisposed to despise him. I guess we’ll see if I’m right to do so, eh?

Catelyn: Also, clever Catelyn. Clever Lysa, for that matter. I look forward to meeting her.

Arya: Robb is also going to be trouble. Not because he doesn’t mean well, but anyone whose goat can be gotten that easily is not going to be prone to rational decision-making. And this is not a good trait in a future Leader of Men.

Bran: I read somewhere once that incest between twins is all about narcissism—because it’s basically like having sex with yourself, you see. And while I have no idea if there’s any factual basis to that in the real world, it fits perfectly with what I know so far about Cersei and Jaime, who (I’m utterly certain) think that no one else in the world could possibly be anywhere near good enough for them.

Tyrion: Yes, I know Joffrey is technically a Baratheon, but whatever. If we’re going strictly by personality, he’s a goddamn Lannister through and through, and you know that’s what he considers himself anyway. Bah.

Jon: You guys. YOU GUYS. He gave Arya a sword. That he had made special. For her. That is seriously the sweetest most awesome thing EVAR. I might possibly have little glistening anime hearts in my eyes right now. It’s kind of disturbing.

Danaerys: I can’t help but get the overwhelming impression that for Dany, living with Drogo is going to prove to be about a thousand percent improvement over living with Viserys. if those eggs don’t hatch at some point I will seriously eat my hat. Even though I don’t wear a hat. I will go out and buy a hat and eat it, okay?

Eddard: And having said that, I have this terrible suspicion the narrative is going to try to make me see things from Jaime’s perspective at some point, because Robert is seriously looking like more and more of a douchebag, and I’m really doing that squinched-mouth-averted-head thing kids do when you’re trying to make them eat their vegetables, because DO NOT WANT.

Tyrion: Anyway! So Tyrion likes dragons, eh? I am sure that this will never be important in any way. Also, apparently dragonbone is black, which is extremely cool for some reason.

Catelyn: I heard or read somewhere once that after a certain point of sleep deprivation (I think 36 hours or thereabouts), the person can be considered more or less clinically insane until they sleep again. I’m not sure if that’s backed up scientifically, but speaking from personal experience (read: college) it is abso-fucking-lutely true. (Yes, there is a story there; and no, I ain’t gonna tell it to you. And yes, I am evil.)

Sansa: Oh, Sansa. You poor, stupid, deluded darling. I’m inclined to like Robert’s brother Renly very much, based on nothing more than that (a) he is capable of laughing at himself (when Barristan teases him), and, more importantly, (b) Joffrey evidently can’t stand him.

Eddard: All averted trauma aside, though, I have to be kind of in awe of a chain of events that leads to the one, er, entity in this drama who wasn’t even there being the one that gets punished for it. Well. Other than Mycah, of course. Poor boy. Clearly, hanging out with the Starks is rapidly becoming a high-risk venture.

Bran: FROZEN ZOMBIE WINTER APOCALYPSE
Tenesmus
26. Seamus1602
TheSmilingKnight@13

I have to disagree about the existence of magic in the world. Citing too many specific examples would spoil many, so I won't. But you mention that, "Premonitions Stark kids had about Ned and their direwolf connection are not, strictly speaking, magical in that sense."

I don't understand this statement. Are you saying that dead people walking and prophetic dreams don't classify as magic?

You go on to say, "But i guess you could argue that a little bitsy bit of magic in the broadest sense remained behind the wall and around the North if you really want to, although youd still be wrong and i right. Of course."

I understand you've got your tongue firmly placed in your cheek here, and again I run into issues with spoilers, but I can think of at least one specific example of a significant magical trait that is common enough north of the wall to known as such by most people.

I think that I understand that you're saying that much of this magic is not directly connected to the dragons, but I cannot agree that this lack of connection means that these pieces of magic are somehow 'not magical'.
TW Grace
27. TWGrace
I seriously doubt that peace was possible.

I also doubt that peace would be the "greater good". The repercusions down the line would be just as bad as the war.
David Goodhart
28. Davyd
A Clash of Kings on January 6?!

My fave book in aSoIaF on my Birthday! Wheeeee!!

And now, the post!

ETA:

I forgot how moved I was (awed, really) by that Dany scene at the end. I thought it the perfect compliment to Rob's Kinging. It's almost like she knew about the things happening in Westeros, but at the same time was like, Don't forget about me, 'Cause I'm kind of Bad Ass, Blood of the Dragons 'OF WHICH I NOW HAVE HA!' and Shit Just Went Down! I think I was more excited for her story arc in ACOK that I was for the actual, you know, Clash of Kings. Thanks for doing this series, I love being able to get your take, as I've come to love your commentary for WOT. Have a Merry Christmas and see ya next year!
Tenesmus
29. Wortmauer
Part 2 of Leigh's Game of Thrones re-read soundbites:

Catelyn: Oh, I believe that the dagger belonged to Tyrion, and that he won it just like Littlefinger said, but otherwise, I call total bullshit. This screams “framejob” in ten-foot-tall letters of fire, y’all. It stinks like a stinky thing! Also, Littlefinger will be A Problem whether or not he’s the framer. Hell hath no fury like an insecure dude scorned, you guys. Srsly. that doesn’t alter in the slightest my suspicion that about the absolute last thing in the world you would want is Catelyn Stark as your enemy.

Jon: Especially combined with the fact that only about 15% of the Wall is even manned at present. Should probably do something about that, people. Didn’t you guys hear winter is coming?

Eddard: On that note, Littlefinger is setting off every single bullshit detector I possess, and I possess many. I don’t trust that guy any farther than I can throw a Mack truck, you guys.

Tyrion: would that make Jon Snow the equivalent of Lessa, or F’lar, I wonder? Maybe both.

Arya: It’s interesting that from what I’ve seen so far I think Ned is, quite by accident, a better father to his daughters than to his sons.

Daenerys: So, not that this wasn’t obvious almost from the get-go, but clearly the threat to Robert et al is not from Viserys at all, but from his sister, who looks well on her way to having three dragons of her very own to play with Real Soon Now. Hot from the sun, suuuuure. And we’ll also have to be on the lookout for an eclipse, I see. though I could have done without freakin’ Drogo having sex with her while she’s covered in saddlesores, because really? Really? Urgh.

Bran: Oh, and the children of the forest? So not gone. Which is, of course, because any time someone declares in a fantasy story that some race/species/nation/thingy is dead, you can be pretty much 100% certain that that race/species/nation/thingy is both (a) not dead, and (b) essential to the plot in some way. As far as what the children of the forest actually are, I’m guessing they’re Martin’s version of Tolkien elves: woodsy, magical, way older than humans, don’t seem terribly fond of us but will (evidently) help us if absolutely necessary, etc.

Eddard: Man, I hope grows up to kick everyone’s ass.

Jon: Er. So, I was sitting here free-associating about this for the last few minutes, and my brain just went to a really disturbing place. Let’s just say, I really hope the practice of incest is going to be limited to the Lannisters in this story.

Eddard: Also, I’m a little upset that Renly is involved in whatever shenanigans is going on here. Does this mean I’m not going to get to like him for much longer? Because, you know, I may have to pout about that, if so. Can’t we at least have a token nice guy in this story?

Catelyn: I don’t see the remotest chance of Catelyn’s accusation sticking. Not with what she’s got — which is to say, just about nothing — and not with the connections Tyrion has. The only people who are going to be hurt by this, I forecast, are the Starks.

Sansa: Wouldn’t rune-warded armor count as cheating? I’d sure consider it so! Of course, it didn’t seem to help Royce (or his sons) much in winning the tournament, so maybe the runes are little better than the equivalent of a lucky rabbit’s foot, in which case, whatever.

Eddard: Varys: maybe not the creeptastic dude we were all led to believe, I see. Well, not totally, anyway. I’m going to take it all with a very large grain of salt, though. Also, this is random, but I am terribly amused for some reason that Varys actually used the phrase “manly man” in reference to Robert. I snorted out loud, y’all.

Tyrion: I so called Tyrion’s innocence on this, you guys. It’s been a long time since I read a story where I genuinely could not decide whose side of the conflict to be on. Because while overall, thus far, I am definitely pro-Stark and anti-Lannister, when it comes to this specific clash between Tyrion and Catelyn I am honestly torn.

Arya: It’s also pretty obvious what the overall scheme is here, or at least so I flatter myself: embroil the Seven Kingdoms in a nasty, draining civil war between the Lannisters and the Starks, and then sweep in with Dany and Drogo while everyone’s busy fighting each other and take them all out at their weakest. I‘m very interested in this plot of Renly and Loras’s to throw over Cersei for Loras’s sister. All things considered I’m in favor of it in principle; let Cersei and Jaime go off and fuck themselves, ha ha I see what I did there

Eddard: YOU ARE THIS KINGDOM’S NOT SO FRESH FEELING, ROBERT. And for the love of God, Ned, please don’t tell that asshole Littlefinger ANYTHING more about your travel plans, ever. And don’t go to that brothel! And don’t go see Stannis! Just get the hell out! Go, go!

Catelyn: Tyrion is totally planning something with Bronn. And I totally can’t decide if I’m in favor of this or not.

Eddard: I TOLD you not to go to that brothel, didn’t I? DIDN’T I? But nooooo, you had to trust that little shit Littlefinger and go anyway! You idiot! Wow. “Party foul” doesn’t even remotely come close to covering that. Robert is officially the tackiest human being ever. Among other things.

Daenerys: Well, no one’s killed Viserys yet, which makes one more chapter than I predicted for his survival. Yet more Ominous Foreshadowing in Dany’s conversation with Jorah, who’d better learn to keep his mouth shut unless he wants his homeland overrun with screaming barbarians.
Juan Avila
30. Cumadrin
i feel like i caught up on this read series at the right time yesterday. i look forward to Clash of Kings a LOT, cause SO MUCH fun is had in that book.

and hopefully there will be some good comments discussions i can finally jump into.
Stefan Mitev
31. Bergmaniac
Madcow21 @17 - "It's frankly pretty absurd to even consider the possibility that she might actually believe that the 7 kingdoms would be better off with that little monster on the throne with the woman who had her son crippled trying and, as we saw with Ned, failing to control him behind the scenes. Another Mad King Aerys is definitely not something any Stark should be willing to abide. "

Huh? There was really no indication that Joffrey was mad as far as Catelyn knew. So he had a confessed traitor executed - that's perfectly normal in this setting. I doubt Catelyn even knew that it was Joffrey's idea to do it and not Cersei's, the Lannisters wouldn't want the fact that they have trouble controlling Joffrey to be known to their enemies.
Tenesmus
32. Wortmauer
Leigh's Game of Thrones re-read soundbites, part 3:

Bran: Also, jeez. I would like to put in a formal request for bad things to stop happening to Bran for like five seconds, is that too much to ask? Then again, maybe Theon’s just an idiot (and a dick), and not a traitor, despite having a pretty good motive to be one in my opinion. Either is possible.

Tyrion: Lysa: is total crap. What a disappointment. And her son is a straight-up monster-in-short-pants. And okay, “defenestration” is probably wrong too, since I think it specifically means “to throw someone out a window,” but as far as I am aware there is no corresponding word for the concept of “throwing someone out of a psycho funhouse castle in the sky,” so I had to improvise there. I’m sure we’ll all get over it in time.

Eddard: I’m not sure I’m right, but currently I think Pycelle is my top suspect for Jon Arryn’s murder.

Catelyn: Yay, Tyrion lives to snark another day! Maester Colemon’s extremely intriguing information here that Arryn planned to send young Robert off to be fostered with Stannis (who I believe is at Dragonstone, right?) even before King Robert decided to send the boy to the Lannisters after Arryn’s death. That, my friends, is very, very interesting.

Jon: I will bet MANY IMAGINARY DOLLARS that it’s actually completely the other way around, Jon-boy. Not to be all meta, but there’s no way this is being built up this much if the truth is that Jon’s mother is just some random prostitute.

Tyrion: I think it’s safe to say that I would not want to be Tyrion’s enemy. Which means Lysa’d better watch out, not to mention Catelyn. And Tywin. And, er, everyone, except possibly Jon Snow. And Jaime, unless Tyrion manages to cut off that particular Achilles heel. Whee!

Eddard: Seriously, European monarchies. Stop naming people Henry! Also, I bet the long-term hemorrhoid risk off a chair made of swords has got to be astronomical.

Sansa: then I read the next chapter, and thenceforth became completely uninterested in thinking of anything else to say about this one.

Eddard: He’s giving Cersei Lannister a heads-up that he’s about to blow the whistle on her whole life, and he honestly expects she’s going to turn and run? That she will docilely accept exile? Has he met her? So, assassination attempt in our immediate future, check.

Daenerys: It’s also rather hilarious that in naming her son “Rhaego,” Dany didn’t even realize that she was not so much throwing down a gauntlet to Robert, as she was hauling off and clocking him with it. Seriously, dude is going to LOSE HIS SHIT when he hears about this. I can’t decide whether I’m pleased about that or not. It’s like Martin is running down a checklist of “Things Barbarians Would Totally Do” with the Dothraki, and amping it up to eleven. Drums! Chanting! Blood-drenched prophecies! Public sex! Poor personal hygiene! Really nasty liquor! Really raw food! Rarrrrh!

Eddard: So, uh, I guess Robert’s not going to lose his shit over the Rhaego thing. Seeing as, being disembowled and all, he’s kind of already lost his shit, literally. he really really really should have taken Renly up on his idea.

Jon: Aw, Samwell. I bet you don’t give a rat’s ass about the gods; you just want to take the vows with your friend. I hug you metaphorically!

Eddard: If you look up one day and the only guy you’ve got in your corner is a man who you KNEW you couldn’t trust even if he hadn’t specifically told you not to, then you have fucked up most egregiously, dude. I don’t know if this is deliberate or not, but I got a kick out of the fact that the name of the City Watch’s commander is Janos. Two-faced, eh? It’s sort of strangely fitting that we didn’t get any big deathbed scene for him. In with a bang, out with a whimper, huh? It’s kind of sad, but, like I said, fitting.

Arya: And Syrio is also awesome, not to mention badass. I hope he survived.

Sansa: Oh, Sansa, you poor deluded foolish child.

Jon: Seriously, guys, if your dogs and horses and whatnot freak the fuck out about a thing, that is the thing you DO NOT BRING HOME WITH YOU, THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, PEOPLE. Sheesh. And crap, Jon didn’t actually kill Thorne. NOT FAIR. I’m going to sulk about that for a bit.

Bran: So Robb goes off south, taking all their liegemen with him, leaving Winterfell defenseless. Well, I’m sure nothing bad will come of that AT ALL.

Daenerys: So this should be quite the impressive clusterfuck, considering that the Lannisters and Starks will likely be right in the middle of slicing each other up when Drogo and Dany arrive to kick the shit out of everyone. Awesome. I wonder, though, if this whole “conquer the Seven Kingdoms” scheme is something he’s really as gung ho about as he makes it seem. Dany may looking at another betrayal down the line. I admit, I was totally on the edge of my seat when Dany was heating up the dragon eggs, and then all “Aww!” when it didn’t work. But it’s a fakeout, I’m sure! Maybe she just needs to do it more?
Tenesmus
33. madcow21
Skyweir@24-"Also, someone claimed that continiued war would be preferable to Joffery on the throne. Perhaps for some noble lords, but for the vast majority of small folk that never even meet or hear of the King, a Joffery (with super competent Tywin Lannister holding his ears as Hand) will be far superior to a FOUR+ way war where it will be the smallfolk that suffer the most."

IIRC the only one of the kings' respective armies that has laid waste upon any smallfolk in the countryside at this point in the story is the Lannisters', and it was at the behest of Mr. "Super Competent" himself, AND he did it before anyone else had even considered making a bid for a throne (except maybe Stannis who kept his intentions close to the vest).

Truly Tywin is a master strategist indeed if he can even convince the near-omniscient reader that all the violence that occurs in the war he started can somehow be blamed on those who rise to oppose him.

Bergmaniac@32 - Yes. Executing a confessed traitor is not suspicious...if you actually believe the confession. Of course, there's absolutely zero possibility of anyone who actually knows Ned Stark believing it or likely even believing that he confessed at all, much less his own widow.

And besides, I don't really see how any comfort can be derived from the thought that it's not really the presumably innocent (HA!) child king ruling, but rather it's either the suspected child-crippling, Hand-poisoning mother or the renowned child-and-baby-murdering ruthless war-mongering uncle. These are not thoughts that would reassure me that Joffrey's rule would be anything remotely resembling just.
Tenesmus
34. The SmilingKngiht
@

26. Seamus1602

Lets put it this way...

I believe that direwolves connection to the Stark kids is mythical rather than magical. And in that sense more "natural", for lack of a better word, than "magical".

Their premonitions and dreams are just natural and show people that are more connected to the nature around them rather than anything magical. That is the schtic with northerners isnt it? Being not so civilized and old gods and everything.

I often have premonition dreams so thats not strange to me at all.
However strange that may seem to someone else, reading this.

And no, its not something i can control or something that deals with big events or something that is accurate all the time.
It is mostly connected with people i care deeply about.

Others are simply a different type of creatures, their raise comes sooner then the birth of the Dragons and return of the magic so we can presume they are not magical even if magic returning may affect them, or make them stronger or whatever. However the text doesnt support this since, as i said, they arose before magic returned.

They also posses what seemingly looks like some kind of advanced technology of sorts, with their color shifting armor and blades of ice.

(again the tv show deals with this really badly, for example).

Of course i cannot be definitive about this since the text doesnt provide enough proof to make a clear distinction and all of this might turn out to be "magical" but even if so - then its a totally different type of magic.

You see, martin just didnt create a simple world where everything out of ordinary is magical. Its much more complicated than that.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
Wort - loving the Leigh greatest hits commentary but am concerned you're preempting Leigh's analysis coming next week. Since that horse is out of the barn, keep going.

@various. Robb has no good choices here. No easy way to tell who would win out of Joff, Stannis and Renly and the demands to swear fealty can be expected to start within a matter of days, with the wrong answer making him an immediate enemy. As a King he has a reason to duck and, if needed, something to trade for concessions if he takes a knee to the winner later. The more important question is how and where to deploy his forces. Good moves will position him well. Bad moves will shorten his life. On to ACOKM.
Tenesmus
36. Wortmauer
Leigh's Game of Thrones re-read soundbites, part 4 and last:

Catelyn: “Hammer of the waters” = tidal wave? If so, that’s pretty badass. And, assuming it’s not just a legend, it’s also pretty good proof that the children of the forest do actually have magic.

Tyrion: Also, trust this series to make a running gag out of a guy who wants to castrate people. I mean that as a compliment, by the way.

Sansa: I do not buy for a nanosecond that Ned will stoop to lying through his teeth just to save his own neck. Especially not about this. Out, out, damned Ser!

Eddard: Varys, of course, is playing an angle — who isn’t in this story? — but I wonder what that angle actually is. I’m getting a little muddled with all the factions and such, but it seems to me that urging Ned to fall in with Cersei — assuming it works, which is a Very Large assumption in my opinion — would only bring Varys’s allegedly-longed-for peace in the short term, if even that. Ned’s memory didn’t say it straight out, but am I seriously meant to infer that Robert decided to start a civil war and overthrow a dynasty because Rhaegar was hitting on his girl?

Catelyn: I entirely do not know what to make of Walder’s claim that Jon Arryn had intended to foster his son with Stannis and not Tywin, contrary to what Catelyn (and we) had been told before, but I do entirely know that it Means Something. I kind of wistfully want to say “screw this shit” and go off and be, like, a lady pirate or something. That would rock.

Jon: And now, of course, it is totally inevitable that Jon and Jorah will cross paths one day, and Jorah will be all WUT and Jon will be all YOU! and Jorah will be all MAH DADDYS SWORD ARGH JORAH SMASH, and happy dueltimes will ensue.

Daenerys: 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.

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

Catelyn: 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. Also, A Warrior Chick! With a morningstar! BADASS.

Daenerys: I am still not speaking to Jorah, but damn if Dany shouldn’t have listened to him. I get why she didn’t run, but really, girl, the Dothraki culture is fucked in the head, and this chapter is the proof, and the sooner you get the hell out of there the better.

Arya: I’m too stunned to even summon up an appropriate level of rage at Joffrey for pulling what has to be the dick move to end all dick moves. So does this mean Jaime’s toast as well? I really kind of hope so. I’m not normally a big fan of the eye for an eye approach to life, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception.

Bran: 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.

Sansa: “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.

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

Tyrion: Although, as I recall Tyrion did a pretty fair job of smacking Joffrey around his own self the last time they were in the same place, so it’s actually a pretty good plan to send him to rein the little monster in, I guess.

Jon: Not that I would suspect Martin of missing an opportunity to demonstrate a seedy underbelly wherever he can, of course, but, you know. The consistency is appreciated.

Catelyn: Yes, let’s make this clusterfuck a three-way war instead of two! That can’t possibly go wrong! (Or hell, a four- or five-way war at this point, depending on how you look at it. Either way, STUPID, The End.)

Daenerys: Sorry, Mirri. At least you had an awesome name. Also, if you ask me Jorah is so heads-over-heels in love with Dany it’s not even funny. Not that I blame him, really. (I blame him for lots of other things, but not that.)
Tenesmus
37. Jeff R.
Question for Leigh: Are you going to be covering "The Hedge Knight" at any point during your re-read? Because, by publication order, it comes between "Game" and "Clash", so this would be the 'natural' time to do so.
Antoni Ivanov
38. tonka
Please Leigh, not all men were that bad. Look at Brynden (and errr, ok maybe it's only him? Wow. nevermind), he was ready to listen to her and he asked the real important question - peace but at what price. We have 3 sides (Renly, Stannis and Lannisters). Who should they have made peace with ? They cannot make peace with all of them because all of them would want to be recognized as the rightfull King. And there is not clearly winning side. It does seem that the Lannister are in worst situation - half their army destroyed surrounded by enemies at all sides but still we know very little at what position are Stannis and Renly.
Tenesmus
39. Wortmauer
RobMRobM: Oh, I'm sure Leigh will come up with things to say that don't just overlap my pile o' soundbites. Anyway, I'm done now, glad you liked it. We've all wanted to say lots of things about what she was guessing right or wrong about, I figured perhaps now is finally the time. (Though of course she has speculated about quite a few things that stretch past this book.)
Tenesmus
40. jcfocarino
Proof that Dany is amazing and badass and a total Queen (pun intended): "You will not hear my screams." "...I will."

AH. My favorite POV character.
Tenesmus
41. hohmeisw
You seem overly mad about the Catelyn section. I agree it's a shit thing for the men to ignore her, but it's not like this hasn't been present in the book until now; women are not held in high regard by the men in these books. Which would make sense for you to be mad about, except her idea is stupid. Robb is winning, and while declaring himself King in the North may not be the best idea, making peace with a group of psychos like the Lannisters (especially with Joffrey as king, as he seems to be warming up to be a new Targaryen-style nut) is a bad idea. I'm not sure Jaime would be forgiving, if they released him, as any peace would require them to.
Tenesmus
42. JoeNotCharles
King in the North makes sense, since Robb is explicitly not claiming the entire kingship. His argument as far as tradition and precedence goes is: we knelt specifically to the Targaryens, who are now gone, and therefore none of you have a legal claim on us.

This puts him in a perfect spot for an alliance with Stannis: if you accept the line that Joffrey is a bastard, Stannis has the rightful claim, and Robb's claim over the North is righteous as well. Stannis is the underdog militarily, so he needs all the allies he can find, and we know that he's a stickler for rightfulness, so the fact that Robb is not defying his claim the way Renly and Tywin are is important.

Robb will probably have to give up the Riverlands - they're indefensible - but ceding them to Stannis or Renly is not too bad, as the Tully's have no quarrel with them (Edmure will feel betrayed, but can probably be persuaded).

And it's not irrevocable. If he loses, Robb can bend the knee to the more powerful force without undue dishonor (as long as it's not the Lannisters). In this case, the North bent the knee to the conquering Targaryens, then declared their independance once the Targaryens were gone, then bent again to the conquering Baratheons. If they can argue that they were never technically in rebellion, merely briefly independant, they can avoid any damaging accusations of treason.

In theory.
Tenesmus
43. peachy
It's a tricky situation, no question - Martin set it up to avoid an easy answer. I think I would have declared for Renly, though. My first priority would be making sure the Lannisters are well and truly crushed - we know how they play the game ("you win or you die") and there's no good result from dealing with them... either they win and then turn on me, or they lose and the victorious Baratheon works out his vexation on their allies. Sitting it out like the Vale and Dorne is also precluded by this consideration... once you deal yourself in, you can't just get up from the table and walk away.

I could declare independence, but monarchs tend to be pretty unfond of people who walk away with parts of their kingdom... I could maybe walk off with the North, even so, but the eventual winner isn't going to let the Riverlands go without a fight, and the eventual winner will probably be much stronger than me. And if I go independent there's a chance that eventual winner could be the Lannisters, which would be a very bad thing indeed.

That leaves a choice of Baratheons. If I believe that Joffrey is a bastard, then Stannis is the legitimate heir... but that's really the only thing he has going for him, and it's not much. I may not believe that Joffrey is a bastard (the notion may never have occurred to me), in which case I've already demonstrated how much weight legitimate succession holds for me; and even if I do, I might reflect that Stannis' claim is hardly ironclad given how the crown came into his family's hands to begin with. On the practical side, while he has the royal fleet, he's stuck out at Dragonstone without an army, and he has no significant holdings or vassals to provide one (recall that the Baratheon lands passed to Renly.) Nor is it likely that his charm and charisma will conjure an army from the lands of others - it's universally known that he's the type of guy who couldn't, as they say, lead sailors into a whorehouse. (If I feel uneasy about skipping over the elder brother, perhaps I might also reflect Stannis could be a bastard too - everyone says Renly is just like the young Robert, whereas Stannis is nothing like either of them.)

Renly, on the other hand, does have charm and charisma and lands of his own, and he's raised his banner in Highgarden, meaning he's already backed by two of the seven kingdoms. With the addition of my two he can crush the Lannisters like a rotten chestnut and tell Stannis to go fly a kite... and no doubt he'll be properly grateful for my help. This is also the only scenario that settles things quickly, which is the best result for the kingdom as a whole - any other choice means a fairly even struggle, which likely means a long destructive war. Even if I don't care about the kingdom as a whole, I do certainly care that such a war would largely be fought on the lands of the river lords who have sworn me allegiance (and who I'm bound to protect.)
Anthony Pero
44. anthonypero
@tnh Awesome job On the mobile site. Please pass along my compliments to the techs. One thing though. The login and search at the top could use some TLC. On my iPhone 4, when clicked, they show up as a vertical column about 1/4 th screen width. Not anywhere near big enough, and it breaks the layout.
Katie Pi
45. Darth_Katie
I think you are falling into the POV trap with Catelyn. As others have pointed out, making peace is not the best strategic option for the Northmen at this point. What Catelyn wants is to keep her children safe, and she's thinking pretty much totally in that context. Often when I'm reading these books I find myself agreeing with characters or feeling sorry for them, and then later I'm all like, THAT IS TERRIBLE.


One of the things I find so interesting about this series is the way the women cope with living in such a strongly paternalistic society. It's very interesting (and frustrating, as you noted) to look at all the different strategies employed by Catelyn, Arya, Cersei, Sansa, etc etc.

Catelyn does the whole dutiful wife and mother thing, which works out sometimes and doens't others. Arya just gives a big FU to expectations and does what she wants, but that has its consequences too. Danaerys starts out a very weak character - basically a sex object - but uses the power of her husband to claw her way into a position of authority, and eventually she can keep going without him, winning the loyalty of her people on her own merits. In this scene she pretty much bludgeons everyone over the head with how awesome she is. It's also interesting to note that she is using traditional feminine roles to assert her awesomeness - MOTHER of Dragons.

Wait until you get to Brienne, Leigh. I'm really interested to see what you think of her.
Tenesmus
46. cleopatra2525
I have to agree with all the PP that peace with the Lannisters/Joffrey is not really a viable option for the Northmen at this point. Do you think that if Robb bent the knee to Joffrey (bad enough) that he (and the Lannisters) wouldn't then COMMAND Robb and his army to help subdue the Baratheon brothers' armies?
On the other hand, I totally understand why Catelyn asks the lords to consider peace/negotiation. As far as she knows, it would be the best way to rescue her daughters from some truly evil people who have no qualms about hurting (or trying to kill) children.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
Theresa - best to white out the last sentence of @45 - forward looking into season 2 (although a very interesting question for discussion).
Rob Munnelly
48. RobMRobM
And.... here are the concluding chapters from the Blog of Ice and Fire.

___________

Catelyn seems to be keeping it together quite well despite Ned's death. She has a few words with her father, who inquires about Lysa and her uncle Blackfish. Why isn't Cat grieving more? Maybe she knows that she's free now to reunite with the love of her life and taker of her virginity: Littlefinger. They must have called him Petyr the Pimp, because he was organizing threesomes with highborn daughters when he was barely pubescent.

Robb and his bannermen have different ideas about what to do now that Renly crowned himself. Several of his men want to march and fight immediately, but the scared Frey guy wants to give Jaime back to Tywin and hug it out with the Lannisters. If I was that Karstark guy, I'd have beheaded that pussy Frey right there. Catelyn also argues for peace, but did she really think that these badass vikings would suddenly want to negotiate with GREGOR or Tywin just days after their sons died fighting them? Cat's "peace" is just another bad idea in a long, sad history of bad Cat ideas.

Fortunately, another solution presents itself. The northern lords are all proud guys. They don't like being subservient and they don't like taking orders, especially from a young boy. But winning battles is like miracle tonic -- it cures pride, ambition, and even dead sons. Much like the BCS, one simply cannot can't argue with an undefeated record. Everyone decides to collectively hop onto the giant, snowballing, wolf-shaped bandwagon that is Robb Stark. They all yell "The King in the North!" really enthusiastically, except Maege Mormont, who due to senility yells "The King of Winter!" Aw, nice try Maege, almost.

Thus the North and Riverlands declare their independence, which is basically a gigantic "fuck you" to every single southern house, especially the Lannisters. But are the wussy southern knights really going to come up north and forcibly take the frozen tundra back? Maybe GREGOR will, but the rest of those pussies? I doubt it.

____________________

I was waiting for Dany's chapters to intersect more than just tangentially with the main storyline, and it never happened. Now we're at the last chapter, and I'm still not sure what the point of this whole ordeal was. Dany has learned some tough life lessons from the Princess School of Grim Realities (other students: Sansa). She is finally making decisions for herself, rebuffing Jorah's suggestion that they run away to Asshair (basically perv Jorah's attempt at kidnapping her). Don't get into his pedo van, Dany! Walk away!

Ultimately, it all seems for nothing, because Dany has gone insane. She's prepping for a huge, ritualistic Drogo funeral pyre. Well, at least MMD gets what's coming to her. While the fire rages on, Dany decides to walk through it with her dragon eggs. Once she started to do this it was pretty clear what was going to happen. She wanted a dragon omlette, with extra Khal and a side order of naked princess and a slab of well done evil sorceress steak. Instead, she "gives birth" to three living, breathing dragons -- one white, one black, and one hispanic. It's on now -- the dragons are back, and their owner is pissed. The Seven Kingdoms are so fucked.
Juan Avila
49. Cumadrin
i was about to ask what blog you're quoting robm, but google-fu'd it and found it myself.

the entry directly after the one you quoted was pretty funny.
Tenesmus
50. Mark Z.
RobMRobM #35: "No easy way to tell who would win out of Joff, Stannis and Renly and the demands to swear fealty can be expected to start within a matter of days, with the wrong answer making him an immediate enemy. As a King he has a reason to duck and, if needed, something to trade for concessions if he takes a knee to the winner later."

The tricky part is that Robb can't trade the crown for concessions unless his subjects agree that it's his to trade away. If he makes a deal with Renly*, and then Greatjon Umber or someone says "screw this, I'm not swearing fealty to some pretty boy from the South", Robb doesn't have a lot of options. A negotiated peace will fall through unless he can deliver the North relatively intact, and now that the lords have pinned all their hopes on the King in the North, who knows what would happen? They might all declare independence and turn the place into Switzerland. Or maybe they'd go get Bran and make him king, or Jon Snow, or (just out of spite) donate all their lands to the Night's Watch and make Commander Mormont Lord Protector of the North, and won't he be surprised?**

Or they might end up like Dorne, with a semi-independent monarchy subordinate to the Iron Throne, which would not be such a bad thing so long as Renly was able to hold it, which he probably could. There is the problem of getting a legitimate heir out of Renly, but I figure he'd think of something. He's a smart guy.


* I assume Joffrey is out of the question, and while Robb might be willing to talk to Stannis, Stannis doesn't seem like the type to negotiate the terms under which you'll recognize his kingship. You can ask him for mercy, but first you gotta kneel.

** It's a good thing Maester Aemon is blind, because if he had to read that ravengram he'd have an aneurysm.
Tricia Irish
51. Tektonica
OMG...the Blog of Ice and Fire is hysterical. Thanks RobM.
Tenesmus
52. ReddishHerring
The whole "women are weak and don't understand war or revenge" belief is what ends up biting Ned in the ass, too. He assumed that Cersei needed to be protected from Robert because she was a woman, when he should have been anticipating that she wouldn't just take things lying down.
Tenesmus
54. Wortmauer
ReddishHerring: Actually, no, in that case it was a "children are weak and won't be able to defend themselves when Robert decides they should die" belief. When Ned decided to tip his hand, he was thinking of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, not really of Cersei. It is the same state his mind was in when he tried to convince Robert not to send assassins after Viserys and Dany. Ned had seen Jaime's work on Rhaegar and Elia's children and didn't want to see that kind of thing ever again.

Ned obviously underestimated Cersei. But I'm not convinced he did so because she was a woman. I think he underestimated the deadliness of court politics as a whole. I mean, if it were just that he didn't think a woman would be capable of what she did, he still should have assumed she would rat him out to her male relatives, of whom she had plenty in town, and they would make their move. Ned misjudged Littlefinger just as badly.
Leigh Butler
55. leighdb
Hi guys,

Owing to a family medical situation (which is no longer an emergency but is still ongoing) and the fact that I've been sitting in an ER for I don't even know how many hours tonight, there will be no post tomorrow. Or, today, technically.

The wrap-up of AGOT, therefore, will be posted next Friday instead, and then the Read will go on hiatus until January 6th as previously mentioned.
Matthew Hunter
56. matthew1215
Leigh,

I'm sure I speak for everyone here in saying that you have our sympathy and best wishes. We'll miss you, but your family comes first. I hope everything turns out ok.
Tenesmus
57. The SmilingKnight
Miss Leigh,
i hope your familiy medical situation ends well.
My sympathies and positive wishes.
Tenesmus
58. hardstor
Hi Leigh, i just wanted to say a bit thank you for your weekly read/rant! It's just so awesome to see you go off.

I'm beginning to wonder if in some kind of paranoid temporal paradox, George R. R. Martin wrote this whole series just to push your buttons and get you all worked up. I'm starting to enjoy your thread more than the actual novels :)
Tenesmus
59. CarpeComputer
First of all, I really hated your review of the penultimate chapter. It's called "A read of Ice and Fire" and not "A feminist rant of Ice and Fire". There was something much more important then the nth time the stylized-as-medieval people of Westeros applied their view of women they had for generations. The Kingdom is about to get shattered again! I'd say this deserves at least a mention =/

Aside from that, it was really funy. I listened to the chapter while driving (via an audiobook) up to the point in which they didn't agree with Catelyn. Then I reached my destination, and during the break I began wondering what would I recomend if I was in the meeting. And I figured out that I would say that as the last dragon died and the so did the friend of Rob's father, there is no reason to pledge fealty to any new king and the 7 Kingdoms should be 7 Kingdons once again, and not 7 dutchies under some Lannister-Baratheon. The once again royal houses of Starks, Tullys, Arryns and possibly Tyrels would have enough power to prevent whoever wins the Lannister - Baratheon showdown. Just imagine my surprise and excitement when I got into the car again and Greatjon suggested exactly that! Long live Starks, Kings of Winter!
Michael Booth
60. Etherbeard
"unquestionably upcoming invasion" I lol'd.
Tenesmus
61. HughB
Coming late to the party here, but there are quite a few examples of Dany being fire- or heat-retardant in AGOT. The very first time we see her, she walks into a bath of boiling water while her servants warn her that it's too hot, and she lifts the dragon eggs out of the brasier with her bare hands without injury. Both of those times I assumed she was either trying to distract from her horrible situation or numb from it, but with hindsight (aaah, hindsight) it seems clear that she's pretty much made of asbestos.
Tenesmus
62. boblim
Re: Mirri,

Revenge is a dish best served HOT, not cold, :XD

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