Feb 17 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 7

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 7 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapter 13 (“Jon”), 14 (“Arya”), and 15 (“Tyrion”).

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 13: Jon

What Happens
Jon and the other rangers examine the abandoned wildling village of Whitetree. There is no sign of struggle, but the place is utterly deserted. Jon brings Mormont the skull among the ashes in the mouth of the giant weirwood that overshadows the village, and Mormont comments that he wishes he’d known before why the wildlings burn their dead. Jon remembers the wight, and agrees. They search the village, just in case, but find nothing, just like in the other three deserted villages they’ve passed. Mormont decides to press on to the lake north of them, and gives Jon a status report to give to Sam to send back.

Jon rides back to where Sam and his ravens wait with the bulk of their force, some two hundred men, thinking that the abandoned villages and eerie quiet of the forest have dampened the spirits of the men considerably. Sam tells him he’s been teaching the ravens to say “snow”; Jon tells him no black brother wants to hear that particular word. Sam sends a raven with Mormont’s message. He tells Jon that strangely, he has grown less and less frightened as their journey has continued, which amuses Jon to think that the opposite has happened to everyone else. He jokes that Sam will be a ranger yet, and leaves.

Ghost rejoins him on the way back, and Jon reflects that the wolf had been having just as bad luck finding game as the men. He reports back to Mormont, who observes that if Jon’s uncle Ben had found these villages empty as well, he would have definitely pushed on to find out why they had been abandoned.

“Well, we’ll be three hundred when Qhorin joins us. Whatever enemy waits out here will not find us so easy to deal with. We will find them, Jon, I promise you.” 

Or they will find us, thought Jon.

Yay, Jon!

Even if he didn’t do much as of yet, I’m always happy to metaphorically see him. And Sam, too.

I didn’t mention him in the summary, but Jon’s search partner Dolorous Edd cracked me up:

“The dead are likely dull fellows, full of tedious complaints—the ground’s too cold, my gravestone should be larger, why does he get more worms than I do...”

Hah. The Night’s Watch’s very own Eeyore, by gum.

So, the wildlings are all gone, and I am not shocked. The only question is whether they escaped alive or if they’re all reanimated corpses by now. Probably, of course, the answer is some of both.

Or, I’m totally wrong and they’re all on vacation on a (very cold) beach somewhere. Sure, why not.

And, er. There’s not much more to say about this chapter, is there? Nope!


Chapter 14: Arya

What Happens
Arya and the others find that the bridge across the river to the west is destroyed, and the river itself is unfordable. Yoren says they cannot go back east to the Kingsroad, so decides to follow the river north to where it empties into Gods Eye, to try and hire boats at the town at the mouth of the river. Yoren plans to sail across the lake to Harrentown and appeal for help from Lady Whent at Harrenhal. Arya thinks to herself that perhaps she can reveal herself to Lady Whent and have knights to escort her home safely.

When they reach the town, however, they find it deserted. They search for boats, but find none of those either; Gendry suggests they build rafts, and Yoren decides he’ll think about it, but they’ll stay the night in the small holdfast first. Arya tries to suggest that maybe the place was abandoned for a reason and they shouldn’t stay, but backs down when Lommy calls her a coward.

They settle in to the hold, and discover a secret passageway from the barn to the lakeshore. After dinner, Hot Pie watches Arya sharpen her sword, and asks where she got it. Arya says her brother gave it to her, even though she thinks she shouldn’t have said anything about it. She has trouble sleeping because of the crying of the refugee girl, but eventually drops off, only to be woken by a dream of a wolf’s howl. She jumps up and rouses the rest, insisting something is wrong. The others make fun of her until they hear a horn from the towerhouse, where Yoren had put Kurz on watch. As she runs past the barn to the gate wall, Jaqen shouts at her to free him and Biter and Rorge, but she ignores him.

Up on the parapet, Arya sees men riding through the town, torching all the buildings. She looks down to see the refugee girl clinging to her and shoves her away, telling her to go hide. A column of the invaders approaches the hold, and the knight in the lead, Ser Amory Lorch, demands they open the gate in the name of King Joffrey. Yoren replies they are men of the Watch, with no part in this war. He shows them his cloak as proof, but Lorch replies that everything looks black at night. Arya wonders why they can’t tell that Yoren’s party are no lords or knights, and Gendry replies that he doesn’t think they care.

Yoren refuses to open the gate. Lorch proclaims that they are rebels, then, and orders his men to storm the walls and kill everyone inside. Yoren orders the recruits to defend the wall; Hot Pie says he doesn’t know how to fight, and Arya lies to him that it is easy. The attackers begin scaling the wall, and Yoren’s men hack at them to drive them back. Arya fights, screaming “Winterfell!” as she does so. Yoren’s men hold for a short while, but the attackers soon break through the gate, and Yoren yells at her to gather as many as she can and get them out through the passage in the barn.

Gendry and Hot Pie are with her, but Gerren and Lommy are too wounded to follow. Arya sees the refugee girl in the courtyard, and though Hot Pie screams to leave her, she grabs the girl and drags her along until Gendry picks the girl up and carries her. The barn is on fire, and Jaqen and Rorge scream at them to free them before they burn to death. Gendry says there’s no time, but Arya sends him on ahead and dashes back outside to find the axe. She kills a man with it when he tries to grab her, and runs back in, tossing the axe into the wagon before dashing for the tunnel. She hears them hacking the wagon apart behind her as she crawls away.

Whew. Good scene.

I feel like I should have something deep and/or sanctimonious to say about the stupidity of war and those who take advantage of it to pillage anything and everything they can, but I think we all get it. For some reason this whole chapter reminded me very strongly of some of the things I’ve read about that happened in the 1990s in what was Yugoslavia. I don’t pretend to even partially understand all the whys and wherefores of that conflict, but I got the very strong impression that at some point the whys and wherefores stopped having anything to do with the conflict at the ground level anyway. Violence, for many, became an end in and of itself. And that’s totally what this was, too.

Anyway. Does this mean Yoren is dead? I’m gonna be sad if that’s the case, although I tend to think he’s harder to kill than most. I wouldn’t be surprised if he died, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out he lived, either.

So, now there are only two questions: (1) whether Arya and Co. are going to decide to continue with Yoren’s unwittingly disastrous plan to go to Harrenhal (i.e. straight into the arms of Tywin Lannister), and (2) how long it’s going to take Hot Pie and Gendry to remember that Arya was screaming Winterfell the whole time she was fighting. And what they are going to do about it when her cover is blown. And how far her cover is actually going to be blown, since I suppose she could try to pretend to be a squire from there or something, as opposed to full-on telling them she’s Ned Stark’s daughter.

So that’s, um, more like four questions. Never mind!

Or five, because I wanna know whether Arya really got early warning from a wolf howl or if she imagined it, because if she didn’t, imagine it I mean, that was SO Nymeria, and that would be cause for much yay.

Or six, because now that The Psychos Three are loose and (presumably) going to escape the burning barn the same way Arya et al did, in my opinion it’s just a question of how long before Rorge tries to kill – well, everyone, but Arya especially. So that will be fun. I am also very very wary of Jaqen being free, because anyone who’s that nice-seeming and yet also apparently needs to be chained up like a wild animal is giving me a very strong Hannibal Lecter vibe, which equals Yikes.

Also, yay for Arya and Gendry being brave and heroic re: the little refugee girl. And even yay for Arya saving The Psychos Three, despite my conviction that she’ll have cause to regret it later. That’s my girl.


Chapter 15: Tyrion

What Happens
Cersei is enraged at the letter Stannis has circulated around the land, and declares she wants all the copies found and burned before Joffrey or Tywin hear about them. Tyrion is dryly sure that it’s a bit late for that, and admires Cersei’s acting ability, to be able to seem so indignant over completely true accusations. He is more interested in the phrase “Done in the Light of the Lord” in the letter, and Pycelle and Littlefinger remark on how it’s rumored that Lady Selyse has taken up with a red priest. Tyrion replies that they can use that against Stannis.

Cersei wants to issue a edict that anyone heard discussing the accusations in the letter should lose his tongue, but Tyrion tells her that will only convince everyone that the slander is true. Littlefinger agrees, and proposes that instead they fight fire with fire, and start a rumor of their own: that Stannis’s daughter is not his, but a byblow of his court fool, Patchface. Cersei likes this idea a great deal, and Tyrion notes to himself that Littlefinger is more dangerous than he had initially supposed.

Cersei wonders where Varys is, and Tyrion, who knows, moves to adjourn the meeting. Suspiciously, Cersei wants to know where he is going, and Tyrion tells her he is having a gift made for Joffrey: a “little chain.”

Tyrion returns to his chambers, where Bronn has gathered a group of smiths, armorers and ironmongers. Tyrion shows them the three giant steel chain links he had had made, and tells them he wants a thousand more just like them; all other ironwork is to be put aside until they are done. The smiths protest that Cersei has commanded they devote themselves to making armor and swords, but Tyrion replies that can wait, and guarantees they will not be punished for obeying him.

He leaves the keep by litter, reflecting that Cersei had missed the true significance of the letter, and wondering what Renly will think of Stannis’s declaration that he was king. He goes to an expensive brothel once often frequented by Robert, and sends Bronn and his guards off to enjoy themselves. Inside he is greeted by the proprietress Chataya, and is surprised when she offers him her own daughter, but Chataya tells him that her people find no shame in doing this sort of work.

He accepts, and the daughter (Alayaya) takes him upstairs, where Tyrion tells her, she is beautiful, but he is only interested in her tongue. She shows him where the secret exit is located in the wardrobe of the room, and Tyrion climbs down and through the tunnel to where Varys is waiting for him outside, disguised as a mercenary, which Tyrion thinks suits him better than his usual demeanor. Tyrion says he saw no sign that Cersei’s spies followed him to the brothel, but Varys assures him they did.

They go to a stable, where Varys gives Tyrion a rough cloak that he says will make Tyrion look a boy instead of a dwarf, though he suggests Tyrion come most often by night. Tyrion replies he will from now on, but for now Shae awaits him. They discuss the letter, which Varys knows all about, and Tyrion asks whether Varys was the one who told Stannis about the incest. Varys denies it, and says that anyone with eyes could figure it out, the same way Ned Stark and Jon Arryn did, via the bastards (of which there are eight that Varys knows about). Tyrion asks whether it was Littlefinger who told, then, but Varys refuses to say.

“Lord Varys,” [Tyrion] said from the saddle, “sometimes I feel as though you are the best friend I have in King’s Landing, and sometimes I feel you are my worst enemy.” 

“How odd. I think quite the same of you.”

Aw, it’s the beginning of a beautifully fucked-up friendship!

So, I enjoy secret passages and general cloak and dagger stuff as much as the next person, but I’m a little confused about what the purpose is of it here. It seemed like from Tyrion’s thoughts that this was all a way to throw off Cersei’s spies so that he could safely visit Shae, but hadn’t he already done that earlier in the book? I kind of thought Shae was in the nature of an open secret, but maybe I’m just remembering it wrong.

Or maybe getting to see Shae is an incidental bonus and there’s another purpose to all this. Which makes more sense now that I think about it, since it hardly seems like Varys would be tagging along if all this was was an assignation between Tyrion and Shae.

…Although I just re-read that whole bit and it seems that this is a regular thing they’re setting up, so I guess it is for Shae visitation purposes. Hrm. My comprehension skills, they are fired sometimes.

Randomly, there is a description of Tyrion’s chain of office here:

…the chain a loop of solid gold hands, the fingers of each clasping the wrist of the next.

That’s… kind of creepy. Cool, but creepy. Look, Ma, severed hands!

Speaking of chains, maybe I’m just incredibly stupid, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what Tyrion is about with his giant chain gift to Joffrey. The only thing I could think of, honestly, was inspired by something from The Wheel of Time series, in which a besieged city is protecting itself by stretching giant chains across its harbors to prevent enemy ships from entering. From the map, Blackwater Bay (which leads to Kings Landing) has a chokepoint that seems like it might be narrow enough to make such a thing feasible, so maybe that’s it? *shrug*

Although, there’s enough ancillary construction involved with doing such a thing that I have no idea how Tyrion plans to keep the thing on the downlow until it’s done – if that’s what he’s actually planning, of course. At the very least, you’d have to build winchhouses on either side of the bottleneck to raise and lower the chain. And that’s not to mention the manpower and transportation you’d need to get the thing in position in the first place… and I’m overthinking this again, aren’t I. Okay, shutting up now.

(Parenthetically, speaking of harbors and enemy ships, upon finally actually looking at the map, I saw where the Iron Islands are in relation to King’s Landing, which makes my assumption of who Balon is planning to attack in Theon’s chapter… unrealistic, shall we say. Ahem. So, the most logical place for him to attack, proximity-wise, is actually Casterly Rock and/or Lannisport. Which is very interesting. Well, Riverrun is closest, which is where Robb is, but it’s not on the coast, so I tend to think Lannisport is more logical for a ship-based assault. Though there is always, naturally, the possibility that I have no fucking clue what I’m talking about, but WHATEVER.)

So there are at least eight Robert bastards running around, eh? …Well, fewer than that now, of course, since Cersei’s had at least one of them murdered, but still, that’s an awful lot of potential clusterfuckery which could be added to all the clusterfuckery already in play. Ye gods and little fishes. It’s really kind of hilarious how ridiculously convoluted politics can get when power depends on lines of succession, I swear. I’m kind of wanting to go back and read about European monarchies now just for the lulz.

Speaking of which, I guess people will believe anything as long as it’s salacious enough, but Patchface as Selyse’s amour? Really? Erm.

Either way, I pity the fictional historian who will eventually have to make sense of all this insanity, because wow.

Fortunately, he ain’t me, at least not yet. Have a merry weekend, kids, especially if you happen to be in the vicinity of overweight Tuesdays, like moi. And if you aren’t, neener! Whoo!

1. CarolynH
I have to say that this Arya chapter is one of my very favorites of all time. It's so well written. We get a really strong sense of the disaster that's all around, particularly in the descriptions of what's going on before the attack, then the attack itself and the fire. The description of the horrors is just so vivid and complex. I'm totally in awe of this chapter.

The Jon-Sam-north of the Wall chapter is another good one, though in an entirely different way. I love the whole creepiness of the land north of the Wall and the sense of foreboding and danger that just doesn't go away.

Then there's the Tyrion chapter, and those never disappoint. The exchange between Tyrion and Varys is outstanding, though I wouldn't trust Varys as far as I could throw him. Tyrion's comment about Cersei being so indignant about something that is, after all, true is another gem.
Zayne Forehand
2. ShiningArmor
My understanding is that Tyrion is putting anyone with a crafting skill to work on useless projects to funnel money back into the city so they don't start dying from starvation and revolt.
Brian Kaul
3. bkaul
I think the absurdity of Patchface might be largely the point: if there are sufficiently scandalous rumors about the parentage of children on both sides of the conflict, people will likely just dismiss them all as ridiculous. If the Jaime/Cersei bit weren't actually true, the idea that Robert's children were birthed out of an incestuous affair by his wife would seem just as unlikely on the face. Get enough salacious rumors going, and they'll just be dismissed en masse.
Stefan Mitev
4. Bergmaniac
Jon's chapter is really boring IMO, even by the low standards of his PoV. Very little happens

Arya's great though. Really well written, plenty of action and here we really begin to see the brutality of war in Westeros and its devastating effect on the civilians.

Tyrion's chapter is very good too. LF shows again he's both smart and ruthless and Varys and Tyrion's interaction is really good as ever.

BTW, Leigh, Theon wanted the Ironborn to attack Lannisport and the Casterly Rock, but his father said no because he had another goal in mind.
5. Megaduck
There's really not much to talk about in these chapters. They're lovely to read, and very atmospheric but ultimatly they're set ups for what is going to happen later.
Vincent Lane
6. Aegnor

About Balon's target. Remember that during the last Theon chapter Balon flat out rejected attacking Casterly Rock.
7. Rancho Unicorno
Great review - some points make me knowingly smile, other points make me...knowingly smile.

One point I wanted to make was your observation on Patchface. I don't think people will believe it, but it will minimize the effect by suggesting that Stannis's letter is nothing more than absurd propaganda (Cersei has incest babies?!? Sure, and Patchface is getting special time with Iron Stannis's wife!).

In the process of writing, I see others have made the same points.
8. ryamano
Dolorous Edd Tolett is the funniest character in ASOIAF, in my opinion. Actually, in my opinion, he gets to be the funniest character in fantasy I've read so far. Like an adult version of Hardy Har Har.
9. Cass314
Leigh, you're right about the harbor chain--it's to protect from an invasion by water (I haven't read this in a couple years, but I think Tyrion also means to put people back to work, but that's not the primary aim). While Tar Valon has two such chains protect Northharbor and Southharbor in WoT (though I don't think they're mentioned until CoT, which is long after this was published), the idea isn't an original one in either case--several historical cities have used harbor chains, including Kyrenia and Acre. (One figured prominently in the War of Saint Sabas).

(hightlight to read)
10. Naraoia
ryamano @8: For me, Dolorous Edd is one of those funny characters whose funny gets tired very quickly.

Rancho Unicorno @7: heehee, knowing smiles, there have been many over the course of this read. The number of times I thought I'd pay to see Leigh's face when the subject of her predictions/speculations actually plays out... XD
David Thomson
11. ZetaStriker
Not to mention that A Clash of Kings came out a few years before Jordan used a chain in his novels. But in either case, it's the historical precedent that inspired the both of them, not the other's novels.

{highlight to read. please try to make your points without spoilers, thanks. — mod}
12. Black Dread
"I’m kind of wanting to go back and read about European monarchies now just for the lulz."

I recommend to you the works of Sharon Kay Penman.
Her novels are based on well-researched history (she tells you what's real what she made up). Those old monarchs were nuts - and in a near constant state of war with each other. If my memory is correct, When Christ and His Saints Slept is the place to start.
13. Lsana
@2, 9,

Remember though that the smiths that Tyrion brought in at first didn't want to build the chain because Cersei had ordered them to make swords and armor. These are not people who would be idle if Tyrion didn't have them building links.

Beyond that, though, I just don't see Tyrion as someone who would be real into the idea of Keynesian stimulus projects. He's not much of an economist (beyond just generally being a bright guy), and while he's not cruel to the smallfolk, I don't get the impression they are a huge priority for him.

Plus, the problem in King's Landing isn't a lack of money: it's a lack of stuff to buy with money. Tyrion can give away all the gold he likes, and it won't put any more food in the stalls.
14. Cass314

Thanks, I'd forgotten that Cersei had them making weapons and armor first; it's been a while.
15. Mark Z.
They missed a great opportunity to allege that Shireen was Renly's bastard. Unlike the Patchface rumor, it would be credible--Renly is well-known for his charm and good looks (while Stannis is famously anti-charming), and it would explain why she looks like Stannis. It's plausible that Lady Selyse would get tired of her husband grimly doing his family duty in bed and try for a man who knows how to have fun.

And if the rumor did get any traction, it would foul up the lines of succession enough that some people would support Joffrey just so that we don't have to have the civil war again when Stannis dies.
16. olethros
I am flabbergasted that Leigh hasn't figured out what Balon's target is yet. I almost suspect she's just fucking with us.
17. Dolphineus
Hot Pie yelling "hot pie" has got to be one of my favorite moments in this book!
18. Dan Someone
1. Dolorous Edd is one of my favorite characters in these books. He gets some of the best lines, that's for sure.

2. I think the most famous harbor chain in history is this one:
Don Barkauskas
20. bad_platypus
Tyrion is hiding his visits to Shae because he was directly ordered by Tywin not to bring her with him to King's Landing.
Juan Avila
21. Cumadrin
The most important thing you have to remember when reading aSoIaF is Murphy's Law, Leigh.

Once again, I find myself reluctant to try to discuss the particulars roundaboutly. And, other than that, I find this read to be best for me when I just observe and chuckle whilst tweaking my beard.
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
Dolorous Edd-- Rosencrantz and Guilderstern rolled into one big piece of wry.

Qhorin - love Martin's gifts for names. That's a heck of one, especially when combined with his other name.

Lorch - remember that Tywin sent he and the Mountain out separately with 300 soldiers apiece to burn the Riverlands in AGOT. Note that his men try to claim that Yoren's black cloak makes him one of Beric Dondarrion's men (sent my Ned to get the Mountain back in AGOT as well).

Ah, you are concerned about Jaqen. Hee hee.

Chains - I don't have the book in front of me but you learn more abut Tyrion's plan later.

Re Patchface and Selyse, remember she already has a disfiguring skin condition - why not get it from the Fool rather than handsome (if austere) Lord Stannis.

By the way, I really like it that Tyrion has the disturbing realization that Littlefinger is whip smart and therefore dangerous. Adds spice.

Note that Chattaya and daughter both have black skins. Yeah for diversity in ASOIF.

Of course, Tyrion has to keep Shae quiet for reasons discussed by BP above - his father expressly forbade it. That was what freaked Tyrion out in the earlier chapter - that Varys found her immediately, creating a big threat to Tyrion that is concerning him considerably.

I like the fact that the secret passageway was for the benefit of an earlier Hand who liked to keep his privacy. Like father like son, maybe?

Sky Thibedeau
23. SkylarkThibedeau
Are you having the friend for Dinner with fava beans and a nice Chainti?
24. Tenesmus
What I like about Tyrion in this book is comparing how he handles his Hand duties to how Ned handled his. I always ask myself, "What would Ned have done?" and then chuclke. chuckle, chuckle... Maybe if Ned was getting some head he would still have a head... For the win!
David Scotton
25. Kaxon
@15 Renly was 11 when Shireen was born.
26. ineligibleorillegible
Hmm, lots of spoilery stuff on here... some of it whited out, some of it not. I'll just throw in that certain chain-related developments in a certain other series were actually mentioned early on (I'm fairly certain), just didn't become a plot point until much later. But yeah, fairly common throughout history so utterly pointless to try to say one or the other author copied the other.

@16: I'm not really surprised; I sure didn't pick it up until it happened (at least, I don't remember figuring it out - but then it has been 13 years since I read it). It is blindingly obvious once you know, and Leigh seems to have picked out most of the relevant clues, but... IMO looking at the map actually makes it less likely she will guess what is happening, as the target is quite a distance from the shore (assuming I'm remembering what the target actually is).
27. ineligibleorillegible
What, us non-logged-in types can't even change our text color and have it stick? Oops, sorry!
Vincent Lane
28. Aegnor

You are not quite remembering the target correctly.

spoiler below...
Or should I say, Balon's target. Theon went his own way, but Balon's target was just Moat Cailin, Deepwood Motte, and other locations near the shore. Moat Cailin was critical because they would be able to prevent Robb's army from coming back to kick them out. Balon was mainly just interested in the coast and was certainly not looking to attack Winterfell.
29. JohnnyMac
On the question of "...I kind of thought Shae was in the nature of an open secret..." remember that Tyrion has very strong reasons to keep her existence hidden from both Lord Tywin and dear sister Cersei.

Lord Tywin specifically ordered Tyrion not to take Shae to Kings Landing. If he finds out that Tyrion has defied him on this, we can expect another demonstration of his renowned parenting skills. Something along the lines of: "Bad dwarf! No whores for you!"

As for Cersei, if she discovers that Tyrion has someone he cares about within her reach, how long do you think it would be before he gets a sisterly note along the lines of: "Dear Tyrion, I have your little slut down in the black cells and if you don't do EXACTLY what I tell you to I will have her fed to rats an inch at a time. xoxoxo Your Loving Sister."
Stefan Mitev
30. Bergmaniac
Mark Z. @15 - Renly is 21, Shireen is 9 or 10 years old at this point. Renly can't be her father.
31. The SmilingKnight
Oh, youre only there? I went and re-read the whole book and im well into the third by now (again). tsk...tsk..
The chain - :)
The target - :)
Jaqen Hghar - not only does he talk all nice but i found the way he is still in one piece in company of those two; and the way he talks to them - very interesting.

Yorens fate (seemed quite obvious to me) and all those Arya questions will be revealed in the next Arya chapter... which wont come that fast. So you'll just have to be patient and refuse the urge to skip ahead. :)

Violence becoming an end in on itself. This scene wasnt that really, well... not exactly. Amory Lorch was in fact doing what he was ordered to do. This is just the start of the war. The beginning of hostilities.

Funny that you compare all of this to my war. Very funny...
Its not a subject for discussion here, to be sure... but i always thought it was very clear who were the Others and who were the people fighting to survive or avoid fate worse than death, so to speak.
32. Mouette
New post? Eeeeeeexcellent. :D
Eli Bishop
33. EliBishop
SmilingKnight @31: I don't think Leigh's war analogy was too far off. The orders that Lorch and Clegane are following were basically just to go around wreaking havoc (with a side goal of finding Lord Beric), and they were picked for this task because they're the kind of guys who enjoy doing that if you give them any excuse. They're not pursuing anything like a legitimate military objective even by the violent standards of Westeros. Also, Lorch is arguably overstepping his orders by attacking Night's Watch men, or at least people who could very plausibly be Night's Watch men, which by Westerosi standards is something like shooting up a convoy of vehicles with Red Cross signs on them.
Fiona Hills
34. fionahills
I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it.

carbon cages
35. The SmilingKnight
@33 Elibishop
True, in that sense it has similarities. As in the violence and terror that civilians were experiencing.
But it wasnt just wreaking havoc for havoc sake, what Lorch and The Mountain were doing. (i think speaking more about it would be a bit spoilerish at this point though)
And i wouldnt compare Night watch with Red Cross either.

Also, ive checked the chapter again and the fate of Yoren is not clear there at all.
36. Zizoz
A couple small corrections: The river flows out of Gods Eye, not into it, and Lommy did manage to get out despite being injured.
37. ryamano
What the Mountain and Lorch have been ordered to do, according to Tyrion's last chapter in AGOT, was to "forage for provisions". Remember, Tywyn's army supply lines went from Lannisport through the Riverlands (and Riverrun, which at the time was besieged by Jaime) and to wherever his army was. When Robb defeated Jaime, he positioned himself right in the middle of Tywyn's supply line, cutting it. Tywyn's army needs supplies, so he sent these two guys with hundreds of men to get them from the common folk of the Riverlands. Let's say that when armies did this in historical times most of the time it wasn't very civilized (e.g. chevauchees during the War of the Hundred Years or Sherman's march to the ocean during the American Civil War). So Arya kind of experienced firsthand what "foraging" means in medieval military terms, which is "try to take everything farmers have that can be useful or eatable, and attack anything that looks like an enemy".

It has several military purposes: feeding Tywyn's army (an army marches on its stomach, would say Napoleon), spreading terror in enemy's territory and taking away its economic power (and ability to feed their own armies). Not to mention it could provoke some reaction from Robb and the riverland lords themselves.

What we can gather from Lorch's dialogue in this chapter is that the men with Beric Dondarrion, sent by Ned Stark to stop the Mountain way back in the end of AGOT, have been some kind of bother to Tywyn's army.
Eli Bishop
38. EliBishop
@35 SmilingKnight: "i wouldnt compare Night watch with Red Cross either"

They don't have the same purpose, but there's a similar tradition of them being considered absolutely neutral and off-limits to warring parties, because otherwise there's no way they could carry out their function. Some of Yoren's remarks indicate that this used to be pretty universally respected.
Asa Zernik
39. AsaZernik
Just a comment about the chain (completely non-book related) - that trick you mentioned, of using a chain to block up a narrow waterway, was actually originally used by the Byzantines to defend Constantinople's Golden Horn inlet, which could be used to land troops easily on the northern shore of the city's peninsula. When the Mehmet the Conqueror came along in the 15th century, he defeated it by (literally) taking his ships out of the water, sticking them on log rollers, and rolling them by land around the chain.

(For those who want it - more on the spoiler thread.)
40. Dolphineus
I believe Tywin forbid Tyrion to bring his whore "to court."
Therefore, Tyrion has obeyed his father, and brought Shae to Kings Landing.
Don Barkauskas
41. bad_platypus
Dolpineus @40: You're probably correct (I don't have the books with me so can't check), but I'm reasonably certain that Tywin wouldn't see it that way.

Also, as JohnnyMac @29 said, Tyrion really wants to keep her from Cersei as well.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
Re Lorch's instructions. I don't have books but I don't think it was merely to obtain provisions. I recall something like "The Riverlands will burn." They are there to cause mayhem too, and they do.

Re Tywin's instructions to Tyrion. In the context given, "court" = "Kings Landing." He is flouting his father and justifiably concerned what would happen if news gets out. The fact that Varys knew instantly was a big threat to Tyrion and he immediately threatened him back. They now have this odd, semi-symbiotic relationship which led to the last line of this chapter.

Also, yes, Cersei getting news of Shae would have bad implications for both Tyrion and Shae.

I like Elli's NW = Red Cross analogy. Not perfect but correct in essence.

43. MickeyDee
Aha! Leigh you've finally made it.

"Hah. The Night’s Watch’s very own Eeyore, by gum."

Eeyore dressed like a Goth. This is the heart of ASOIAF: Dolorous Edd Tollett.

He is AA Reborn, tPwwwwwwP (can't have too many w's) and a list of other acronyms as long as the arm of a very long-armed man.

Dolorous Edd is the man that is pulling the strings of the Small Council, the White Walkers, a bunch of Ironmen and the rulers of every city in the East. He is the great master mind of the series. And he is so lacking a worthy opponent that it is no surprise that he is so morose.

Everything that happens and everyone else that you meet and read about is just a smelly, crimson fish.

There are rumours that he is illicitly descended from such prestigious bloodlines that he is distinctly a direlionish-stagdragon. Don't be fooled, thin and grey haired? Hah! It is decidedly white blond. And that gauntness is decidedly Stark. ;)

The motto of House Tollet: "When All Is Darkest"
44. OldWoman
3 hunny, wow. Just like old times.
My only worry waiting for the release date is that I am in my seventies and I hope not to pass on without reading the end of a story I have followed for so many years.
45. OldWoman
And guess what? Showing my age for sure, I posted this on the wrong thread. LOL
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
And - yet another Blog of Ice and Fire excerpt. The well laid plans bit is very good.


Jon, Sam, and many more Night's Watchmen (including one guy named"Smallwood," haha) travel north to find Benjen. They find desertedvillages, skeletal remains, and creepy giant trees. LC Mormont wonderswhy wildlings burn their dead. Really? Did you not get attacked by azombie a few weeks ago in your bedroom? The one Jon had to burn to kill? Remember?? Old Mormont is becoming senile. Anyway, the NW rangers growrestless and uneasy after finding every town deserted. The LC isn'tscared though, because they have over three hundred men, and thus theycan easily deal with supernatural ghosts who can raise the dead. The only guy who isn't growing more scared is Sam, because he already maxout his scared-ness the instant they stepped outside Castle Black.


The Yoren train chugs north, looting dead bodies and acting paranoid. You know the situation is bad when the theives, rapists, and murderers can't even travel safely. Hot Pie tries to bond with Arya, but she's not having any of it. Aw, he just wants to be your friend, and he can bake pies for you. Eventually everyone goes to sleep behind some stone walls, but Arya's internal wolf alarm wakes her up right before the Lannisters arrive. They don't believe Yoren's Night's Watch neutrality explanation and attack. Yoren decides to fight instead of surrender, because surely a few new Night's Watch recruits can hold off a hundred fully armed men. But they do have the high ground, and momentarily execute a mini Helm's Deep, stabbing the Lannister guys as they come over the wall. In true Martin-esque fashion, no Gandalf comes to save them. Despite Arya's badass enemy face stabbing, Yoren's party is overwhelmed. Between the Lannisters and the fires, almost everyone bound for the Wall dies, but Arya and a few of the boys manage to escape. At the last minute, Arya decides to save those three dudes in the wagon, tossing them an axe. Surely, that's the last we'll see of them, right!?

At this point in the books, I know Martin well enough to realize that if a character has a careful, thoughtful plan at the beginning of a chapter, future events will almost always foil it. Additionally, things don't just go wrong. They go retardedly wrong. They go so wrong that the plan which sounded reasonable at the time becomes completely ridiculous in hindsight. So the instant Yoren decided to spend the night in the holdfast and sail up the river the next morning, I knew their little band of misfits were screwed that very night. In Martin's universe, plans are always fucked up. Examples: We'll just check out these dead wildlings and then head back to the castle. I'll just push this kid off the ledge and he'll die. I'll just marry my sister off and use her husband's army. I'll just buy the city watch. I'll just arrest and prosecute this dwarf myself. I'll just let this demon sorceress deliver my baby. I'll just confess and be sent to the Wall.

The Stannisfesto has reached King's Landing, proclaiming Jaime and Cersei's incest loudly and proudly. Cersei wants all copies burned. Clearly, she doesn't know how spam mailing works. Littlefinger is smarter, and suggests counter-libel. Though in Stannis's case, it's not really libel, since the statement about Cersei's twincest was a) true and b) even if it was false, Stannis's actions don't meet the higher burden of proof for public figure defamation because he didn't act with reckless disregard for the truth. Stannis, if you get sued, hire me. Anyway, Littlefinger suggests spreading a rumor that Stannis's daughter was actually the product of Selystache and Patchface the fool. I have an even better rumor: Joffrey is the son of both Robert and Stannis. That's right, they had a gay brotherly affair. Robert carried the child to term, that's why he got so fat. Not only does that one-up Stannis's suddenly tame incest-only accusation, but it eliminates all the claim problems too as Joffrey is Stannis's rightful heir. Problem solved. Meanwhile, King's Hand Tyrion is busy making gigantic chains for some sort of fat girl BDSM party. I'm glad to see LeBronn here, who decided to leave the Vale and take his talents to King's Landing. Soon, it's time for Tyrion to secretly sneak away to Shae. A wise man once said, sometimes, you just gots to get your freak on. Before that though, Tyrion has a quick chat with Varys about who leaked Joffrey's true parentage. But Varys feigns ignorance, and Tyrion is conflicted about whether the dickless know-it-all is his friend or enemy. I hope Tyrion doesn't end up dead like the previous Hands. He's so much more entaining and interesting than Jon Arryn or Eddard Stark.
47. David B
Hee. As someone who's finished all the books, it's so much fun to read your speculations. (The observations are good, too.)

Also, that Doloros Edd quote is one of my favorites in the whole series, and it makes me unreasonably happy that you picked up on it.
Vincent Lane
48. Aegnor

Didn't Mormont just say that he wishes he would have inquired why the wildlings burn their dead? As in, if he would have asked maybe he would have found out about the ice zombies earlier. At least that is the way I remember it.
49. Black Dread
Mormont and the rest of the Night's Watch don't seem like very curious fellows. Most of them seem to have no knowledge of their closest neighbors and no interest in learning about them. Makes you wonder what all those celebate men in the middle of nowhere spend their time thinking about.
Don Barkauskas
50. bad_platypus
Aegnor @46: The actual quote is
"The wildings burn their dead. We've always known that. Now I wished I'd asked them why, when there were still a few around to ask."
I interpret it like you: "If we'd asked, we would have found out about the frozen zombies," but I can see how it also could be read otherwise.
51. phuzz
Ahh, Dolorus Ed is one of my favourite characters too. He only gets a minor role (or does he? @43), but it's a good un.

Also, regarding predictions, the idea that Arya &co will head to Harrenhal is likely because it will end badly. This is GRRM after all.
Leigh's predictions from last chapter about Arya meeting up with
Nymeria likewise. From another author you'd think that it was foreshadowing and that it was bound to happen and that Arya would become The Wolf Queen or something, but with GRRM it's more likely that if/when they do meet, that Nymeria would try to tear Aryas's throat out, or they'd come across the direwolf eating a baby or something equally bad.
52. The SmilingKnight
@42 The essence could not be different if you tried.

@51 Just you wait and see.

Dolorous Edd is funy but there are a few other characters that tend to crack it. Especially one with many styles and attributes... such as Father of Hosts and Husband to bears, for example.
53. Joscho1987
I assume you mean The essence could not be *more* different if you tried. I could be wrong but if that was what you meant, then I have to join the others in disagreement. The Red Cross seeks to help all no matter what. To give aid to all those in need. The Night's Watch seeks to protect the realm in general and not to give preference to any particular side but to be the protector of the population en masse. The essence of seeking not to take sides and not to give preference to different warring parties is indeed the same.
54. XLCR
Yeah! Finally we come to Delorous Edd, my favorite comic relief of the series. Yes, I know the dwarf has a lot of snarky one-liners, but Edd is the master of black humor, perfect for one of the Black Brothers. Everything about being on the wall is so uniformly depressing that I think a character like Edd is sorely needed. He only gets more amusing as time goes on.
55. Josh L
Wow. Reading these analyses make me feel really dumb sometimes. First of all, I probably have to look up on average one or two words she uses each time. Secondly, SPOILER WARNING SPOILER WARNING SPOILER WARNING she totally called the purpose of that chain! For having no idea what it could be used for, she pretty much nails it. Nice work, Leigh! I, personally, had no idea what that thing was for.
56. Josh L
Hmm, looks like the formatting doesn't work at all on comments. Perhaps my comment should be deleted and I can post it in the later thread when it is relevant. Or does it?
57. Josh L
Nope, it doesn't. Not color, anyway.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
58. AlirozTheConfused
Or six, because now that The Psychos Three are loose and (presumably)
going to escape the burning barn the same way Arya et al did, in my
opinion it’s just a question of how long before Rorge tries to kill –
well, everyone, but Arya especially

Yeah, Rorge, one of the monsters of ASOIAF. I like how Leigh instantly picks up on "Rorge gonna kill everybody".
59. Henri Arsenault
You are both wrong about the earliest famous chain and boats. It first appears (I think) in the chinese "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", which took place around 200 AD (but was written later). But I would not be surprised to learn that the ancient Greeks did it even earlier.

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