Fri
Mar 9 2012 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 10

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 10 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 20 (“Tyrion”) and 21 (“Bran”).

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 20: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion is down in the alchemists’ vault, examining their stockpile of wildfire. The alchemist with him, Wisdom Hallyne, explains some of the more unsettling properties of the wildfire to him, including that it eventually soaks through its clay containers, becoming increasingly more unstable the older it is. There are some four thousand jars from King Aerys’s day that Hallyne thinks ought to have been destroyed, but are technically still usable, though very dangerous. They bring the total stockpile to almost eight thousand jars. Tyrion had thought the alchemists’ initial promise of ten thousand a wild exaggeration, and cannot decide whether to be pleased or terrified that they might reach their goal.

Hallyne assures Tyrion that his people are well-trained and will not make mistakes, but opines that the same cannot be said of the soldiers who will be using the wildfire in battle. Tyrion tells him to send as many empty clay vessels as he can spare to the captains on the gates. Hallyne doesn’t understand why, but agrees. As he escorts Tyrion out of the vault, Hallyne tries to push for the king to visit the guild, or vice versa. Tyrion thinks Joffrey would be entirely too interested in learning how to use wildfire to torture people, and makes vague assurances.

Outside, Bronn meets Tyrion and tells him he has been summoned by two people: Ser Jacelyn Bywater and Cersei. Tyrion decides to piss off Cersei by going to Bywater first. At the Gate of the Gods, Bywater shows him to his cousin Cleos Frey, who has arrived with a letter from Robb Stark offering peace terms. Cleos looks haggard, and complains that Tywin’s men have gone rogue, pillaging and ravaging indiscriminately; his party was attacked twice despite being under a peace banner. He reports that Robb “sits idle” at Riverrun, and that his strength dwindles every day. Tyrion reads the letter and remarks that the terms will never do. Cleos asks if they can at least trade the Stark girls for Tion and Willem Frey; Tyrion tells him they will propose their own exchanges and send him back with fresh terms. Tyrion leaves Cleos, and tells Bywater that the alchemists will be sending empty jars to the gates, and Tyrion wants the men to drill handling them with green paint and then with lamp oil.

Tyrion heads back to the keep, thinking that if he could keep the Stark boy busy with negotiating peace terms until Ser Stafford finishes assembling his host at Casterly Rock, then he and Tywin could “smash the Tullys and Starks between them.” This doesn’t solve the problem of Renly and Stannis, though. He is briefly distracted by a prophet ranting about the evils of the nobility, but is relieved to see he receives almost as much derision from the crowd as agreement.

He finds Cersei in his rooms, irate with him for ignoring her summons, and for offering Myrcella to the Martells. Tyrion asks if she plans to marry Myrcella to Tommen, and Cersei threatens to cut out his tongue. Tyrion points out she will be much safer in Dorne than in King’s Landing, and that Prince Doran’s grudge against the Lannisters is dwarfed by the one he holds against the Baratheons. He also thinks Myrcella will be treated well there. Cersei insists the offer is too much, and Tyrion insults her crudely. She slaps him, and he warns her that will be the last time. Cersei laughs and tells him Eddard Stark had thought himself safe from her as well.

“How safe do you think Myrcella will be if King’s Landing falls? Renly and Stannis will mount her head beside yours.”

And Cersei began to cry.

Tyrion Lannister could not have been more astonished if Aegon the Conqueror himself had burst into the room, riding on a dragon and juggling lemon pies. He had not seen his sister weep since they were children together at Casterly Rock.

He tentatively tries to comfort her, but she rejects him venomously. He promises her nothing will happen to Myrcella, and she calls him a liar. She curses Jaime for letting himself get captured, and their father too, and wishes she had been born a man so she wouldn’t need any of them. They argue about Tywin’s tactics; Cersei thinks Tywin is leaving them exposed to Renly’s forces, but Tyrion disagrees. Then he distracts her by showing her the letter from Robb Stark. He senses that Cersei will eventually agree to send Myrcella to the Martells now.

And certain knowledge of an informer too… well, that was the plum in his pudding.

Commentary
Holy crap, Cersei had an emotion!

Okay, that’s not fair. Obviously she has lots of emotions, and some of them are positive ones, even. And it’s never been in doubt that she loves her children. It’s just hard to sympathize with that when she uses her love for her family (well, the ones who are pretty enough for her, anyway) as an excuse to do horrible things to everyone else. Small issue there.

And… um. Okay, I’m trying to think back now. Cersei found out about Tyrion’s deal with the Martells, so which of the council did he give that info to, again? Dammit, I’m going to go look this up, hang on.

…Ah, it was Pycelle. Well, there’s a shocker, the old bastard read the letter before he sent it. And then tattled to Cersei. Uh-huh.

And also: oh, Tyrion meant that deal with the Martells to work? Whoops, my bad. Of course, I was also expecting Cersei to put a hell of a lot more into that fight, so. That said, all bets may be off once she finds out that Tyrion is also proposing to ship off Tommen as well.

Tyrion remembered the red priest Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword. Even a thin coating of wildfire could burn for an hour. Thoros always needed a new sword after a melee, but Robert had been fond of the man and ever glad to provide one.

Ha ha, Thoros, you old con man. I should have guessed his flaming sword wasn’t even dinky magic, but a trick. Tchah, I don’t know whether to be contemptuous or amused. Probably both.

I have to wonder if we’re ever going to get to actually see any magic in the Seven Kingdoms. I’m probably just forgetting something, but it seems to me all the real magic we’ve seen at all in this universe has been across the ocean – usually in Daenerys’s immediate vicinity. Not including the Others, of course, but even they are not magic, per se, as in the spell-casting wand-waving eye-of-newting abracadabra variety. As usual, I can’t decide whether I find that annoying or not.

But as far as non-magical things go, the wildfire thing is terrifying to contemplate – both in tactical terms and just in general. Here, soldiers, please stand there and hurl thousands of probably-disintegrating clay pots of flaming white-hot death around! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, at least Tyrion has enough sense to try and, you know, train his soldiers to deal with the flaming white-hot death. Which is something that occurred to no one else, apparently. Oy, these people.

Also, I left it out of the summary but here’s something delightful for you:

Only three nights past, another mob had gathered at the gates of the Red Keep, chanting for food. Joff had unleashed a storm of arrows against them, slaying four, and then shouted down that they had his leave to eat their dead.

Wow. I suppose it’s too much to hope that there’s a guillotine in Dear Baby Joff’s future, huh. Curses!

The begging brother’s speech was remarkable to me in that it’s one of the only wild-eyed hysterical religious rants I’ve come across where every thing he said was true. Seriously, here, I’ll quote it for you:

“We have become swollen, bloated, foul. Brother couples with sister in the bed of kings, and the fruit of their incest capers in his palace to the piping of a twisted little monkey demon. Highborn ladies fornicate with fools and give birth to monsters! Even the High Septon has forgotten the gods! He bathes in scented waters and grows fat on lark and lamprey while his people starve! Pride comes before prayer, maggots rule our castles, and gold is all . . . but no more! The Rotten Summer is at an end, and the Whoremonger King is brought low! When the boar did open him, a great stench rose to heaven and a thousand snakes slid forth from his belly, hissing and biting!”

Well, okay, the snakes bit isn’t true, technically. Unless Robert had a tapeworm, which given his obesity I tend to doubt.

And, well. The ladies fornicating with fools thing is a false rumor, right. And okay, I object to describing Tyrion as “a twisted little monkey demon,” because that’s just mean.

Er.

…But the incest part, that was totally true! So there!

*slinks away*

 

Chapter 21: Bran

What Happens
Bran rides Dancer into the Great Hall at Winterfell, filled with nobility and gentry and the local villagers, to great cheering; Bran knows it is the harvest and Robb they are really cheering, but feels proud, at least until he has to be carried to his chair. He welcomes the crowd formally, and Rodrik tells him his father would have been proud. The feast is enormous and loud, and Bran feels detached from the company. He wishes he could leave, and has a brief waking dream of being in the godswood until Rodrik speaks to him again. Bran remembers the last feast here, when his father had welcomed the king and his family to Winterfell, and thinks of how almost all his family is gone, now.

A guardsman enters with two new guests: Lady Meera of House Reed and her brother, Jojen. Rickon asks who they are, and Little Walder sneers that they are “mudmen” and “frogeaters,” but Bran knows they are crannogmen, from the Neck. Luwin whispers to Bran to greet them warmly, as Howland Reed was a great friend to Bran’s father. Meera announces that they have come to formally re-pledge their fealty to the King in the North. Bran replies they can swear it to him in Robb’s stead; he is confused by the unfamiliarity of their oath, and struggles to find an appropriate response.

Jojen asks where the direwolves are as they sit down, and Rickon replies that they are in the godswood, as “Shaggy was bad.” Bran asks Rodrik if they really eat frogs, and Rodrik says they do; Bran remembers that the crannogmen are poor folk, and supposes they do not have sheep or cattle. Meera smiles when she catches him staring at her.

After the feast there is dancing, but Bran is hot and tired and soon has Hodor carry him to his chambers, surprising Joseth the horse handler along the way in the middle of an assignation, which Bran ignores. He gets into bed and sends Hodor away, and remembers something his father had told him: that the finest knight in the land was Ser Arthur Dayne, and that he would have killed Ned if it weren’t for Howland Reed. Bran wishes his father had told him the rest of that story, and falls asleep.

He dreams he is prowling through the godswood with his brother; they are restless with all the noise from the “man-pack” that evening. They scent intruders in the wood and quickly find them, a female and a young male. Neither smell afraid, and Bran remembers faintly that the girl is named Meera. The boy tells her that the black one is full of fear and rage, but the grey is “stronger than he knows.” He asks if Meera can feel them; she tells him no, and warns him to be careful.

“He won’t hurt me. This is not the day I die.” The male walked toward them, unafraid, and reached out for his muzzle, a touch as light as a summer breeze. Yet at the brush of those fingers the wood dissolved and the very ground turned to smoke beneath his feet and swirled away laughing, and then he was spinning and falling, falling, falling

Commentary
HAHAHAHA, that is hilarious. Whoops, did I say I wanted magic??

Again I am deeply amused by writing the commentary to one chapter before going on to the next. I guess the only question is whether you consider dreamwalking with your soulbonded wolf brother magic of the “spell-casting wand-waving eye-of-newting abracadabra” variety, or, um, something else. I may be splitting hairs here.

And Bran’s getting so good at it, apparently, that he can sort of do it even while awake. HMMMM.

In any case, ENTER THE SWAMP PEOPLE. Which is a show whose existence I am kind of resignedly horrified by, for the record. Louisiana seriously gets no breaks when it comes to representation in popular culture, I swear. TRUE BLOOD I AM LOOKING AT YOU.

Anyway! Okay, not swamp people, they’re crannogmen, whatever. Who also appear to be part-time direwolf whisperers, and isn’t that interesting. I deduce, therefore, with my staggering powers of deducement, that they are probably all close with nature and shit, and therefore that I am supposed to expect them to be all full of lore and knowledge about old gods and old magic and oh heeeeey, I bet they know them some children of the forest!

Coincidence? I HOPE NOT.

I also hope that Meera and Jojen are going to be nice direwolf whisperers and help Bran learn to steer this thing, and not do something horrible like steal the wolves or something. Because that is NOT ON.

But, in any case: wolf-walking! I am intrigued by your ideas, plotline, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Also, there was feasting. It’s a good thing I had already eaten when I read this chapter, because otherwise I may have had to break off for a snack. I (obviously) left out the description of the feast, but it’s seriously about an entire page, listing pretty much every medieval food item ever. As a pretty dyed-in-the-wool believer in the delightfully simple “Appetizer – Entrée – Dessert” form of meals, whenever I read about these kinds of things I always rather boggle at it.

Because, how did people not have their stomachs burst all the time with these three-million course things? Do they tell you beforehand how many courses there will be so you can ration your portion-taking appropriately, or do you just assume a default of  “billions” and take like one bite of each course? And if so, how freaking wasteful is that? And what if you really like one dish and would rather nosh on that and leave the rest?

…Aaaand I just put way way way too much thought into that, so I think it might be time to quit while I can still maintain at least a sliver of a modicum of pretense that I might possibly be ahead.


Ergo, I quit! Ha, just kidding. I only quit till next week, promise. See you then!

53 comments
Triandar
1. Triandar
"We swear it by ice and fire" they finished together.
That oath gets me every time. Dunno why but I love it.
Thanks for the read!
/Triandar
Triandar
2. av willis
honestly when i first heard crannogmen, puddleglum was the first thing to come to mind.
Triandar
3. Carolyn h
For once, the Tyrion chapter isn't one of my favorites. Tyrion isn't too snarky here, unfortunately, being all half-shocked about the wildfire. And then Cersei (Cersei!) cries and he's all flummoxed about that. Not much room snarkiness.

The Bran chapter is a really good one, IMHO. I love the whole atmosphere of the feast, and Bran acquits himself well in front of the guests, no mean feat for a little kid. Afterwards, he dreamwalks with the wolves, and really, wouldn't we all love to do that? Even my so-called domesticated dogs don't treat me like that. I might have more luck with them if I could read their minds. But I digress...

Basically, what I get out of these chapters is a lot of foreshadowing and not much in the way of plot. It's true that wildfire may move the plot ahead at some point, amd maybe those crannogmen will play an important part at some time in the future, but at the moment we don't know if or when that will happen, nor do we know how any of this foreshadowing will fit into the larger scheme of things.
Sanctume Spiritstone
4. Sanctume
It's easy to paint Cercei as a villain, but in terms of Game of Thrones, her being a woman puts her in a back seat / behind the scene, tier-2 power position only.

She married Robert not from love. Didn't Robert had a thing for Ned's sister but she died. Similar to Ned marrying Cat because Ned's bro died.

I liked the new mysterious frog / swamp people mixing into the wolf-magic mystery. Howland Reed helped Ned from the best swordsman Dayne dude--that's a good foundation for friendship / got my back kinda thing to have!
Triandar
5. Halibulu
Leigh-
You missed your bit of magic in Tyrions chapter when Hallyne tells him that the reason they are so successful at mass producing wildfyre now is because of late the maesters spells have become suddenly more "effective" which just happens to have coincided with the re-introducing of dragons (living magic themselve) into the world.
Kevin Maroney
6. womzilla
"I have to wonder if we’re ever going to get to actually see any magic in the Seven Kingdoms"

Well, to that point in the series, we've seen the the Walkers, Bran's genuine telepathic intuition of his father's fate, and the Red Lady's divine immunity to poison. Also, and this is a spoiler so trivial that I'm not going to mark it, wildfire is made with magic. (I thought that was deducible from this chapter, but if not, it's explicit in Tyrion's next visit with the alchemists a few chapters laters.)
Kevin Maroney
7. womzilla
Halibulu, that's revealed later and thus has to count as a signficant spoiler.
Triandar
8. NotATroll
It's totally awesome when the Red Keep blows up because of all the wildfire and kills Cersei!
Triandar
9. litg
For me, the best part of Bran's chapter is the bit about how Ned would have been killed but for Howland Reed. Great bit of frisson there every time.
Peter Stone
10. Peter1742
In terms of what not to say to starving commoners, "let them eat their dead" certainly beats "let them eat cake". Nice catch; I never made the connection before.
Triandar
11. ryamano
Bran wishes his father had told him the rest of that story, and falls asleep.


We all wish to be told the rest of that story! So far, we've only seen a dream in Ned's POV.

Also, GRRM loves to describe food. Tolkien liked trees, Robert Jordan liked dresses and GRRM likes food. The fans call it "food porn".
Vincent Lane
12. Aegnor
Leigh,

The appropriate post of yours, to refresh your memory on Howland Reed and the story that Bran was talking about, is the following.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/a-read-of-ice-and-fire-a-game-of-thrones-part-20
Triandar
13. sofrina
the wights count as your brand of magic. the others basically necromance them, though the method is a mystery.

i love the reeds but cannot understand why their dad would allow his two heirs to travel all the way to winterfell, in war times, without any sort of guards. everyone else rides with a posse, but not meera and jojen. ?!

i don't think the discussion speculating on the wildfire production is had at this point. it's not a plot spoiler, but it is a wink to the audience spoiler.
Vincent Lane
14. Aegnor
Ugh...I updated my post to change my link to Leigh's previous post from aGoT into an actual link and it flagged it as spam and deleted pending approval. So I'm reposting it, this time not as a real link. You'll just have to copy and past it.

---
Leigh,

The appropriate post of yours, to refresh your memory on Howland Reed and the story that Bran was talking about, is the following.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/a-read-of-ice-and-fire-a-game-of-thrones-part-20
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
I enjoy both of these chapters. I enjoy Tyrion in crafty mode, relative to wildfire, Cersei/Myrcella/Pycelle and the Starks. It does show that Tyrion is not limiting himself to dealing with small change. A Lannister/Dorne alliance cemented by blood is entirely new and goes beyond mere horsetrading for mutual support in wartime. The interesting part is that Cersei sees the advantages, even if she doesn't want to face up to them. It also poses another reminder, not a subtle one, that Tyrion is opposed to our buddies the Starks - it gives us a brisk splash of cold water on our love for his character.

And...I really enjoy the Bran chapter. The feast descriptions are well crafted and very funny (Bran needing to send dishes to favored bannermen sends vegetables to the Walders, LOL). And I got a great and timely shock when the Reed kids showed up and gave an oath that referenced "ice and fire" and then Jojen tells his sister (with apparent authority) "This is not the day I die." And saying that the grey wolf - Bran's Summer - is "stronger than he knows." Dun-dun-dun. Something is afoot. On top of that, it is the kids of Howland freaking Reed - the one survivor of Ned's journeys to the South who may well all there is to know about ...stuff... that happened down there (such as Jon Snow's mother?).

And, Leigh, c'mon. I thought you'd give an early shout out to Meera. Teenage girl, carries around a spear and other accoutrements, travels a hundred miles to get here accompanied only by her little brother....

Rob
Triandar
16. Joel Prophet
Leigh never under estamate the power of a prophet. ;-)

The Seven is the government approved church in the south, and mixing religion with politics leads to chaos. Or as the prophet said the rich live well and the poor starve. Who will be the hero for the poor? A true prophet or a false. Only GRRM knows.

Joel
Triandar
17. TDub
I just have to comment that in the midst of all that food-talk (which I don't mind at all, but I can see where it can tire people out) in Bran's chapter, is one of my favorite parts of the series so far: when Bran sends sweets to Hodor and Old Nan "for no other reason but he loved them." What a sweet and subtle way to show Bran's kind & gentle nature. Honestly, it makes me tear up each time I read it.
Mouette
18. Mouette
Right there with you on the food, Leigh - I always wonder that. It sounds delicious, but damn, where does it all *go*?! I can eat a fair amount, but not that much.

Though I'd bet all the gold in Casterly Rock that not as much goes to waste as you might think - plates get taken away by the servants, and more like than not the leftovers end up being the servants' dinners too.

Wildfire and wolf-walking and HodorHodor, oh my.
Jane Smyth
19. Kaboom
As for the huge feast, I also don't understand how the people can managed them. Having recently been to a chinese wedding with a 12 course banquet (known ahead of time thanks to my friends) I really cannot imagine eating at one of these described feasts...

I also love the connection between Bran and his wolf. I think it would be neat to be able to have that kind of connection with any animal.
Joe Vondracek
20. joev
And, Leigh, c'mon. I thought you'd give an early shout out to Meera. Teenage girl, carries around a spear and other accoutrements
Doesn't Meera carry a trident? I guess that is a kind of spear...
Triandar
21. Dolphineus
Ok, for all of your getting hungry from all the food talk in that chapter ...

There is a blog ...
Cooking the Dishes of A Song of Ice and Fire, One Trencher at a Time...
http://www.cookingiceandfire.com/
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
@17 - great point!

@20 - I don't have the books with me, and I didn't want to be specific without looking at them, but you are correct. Even cooler than a spear IMO.

@21 - the blog authors' cookbook is either out now or about to come out.
Eli Bishop
23. EliBishop
Leigh: "...once she finds out that Tyrion is also proposing to ship off Tommen as well"

There's no reason to assume that he really is. He told Varys that that was his plan, but that could easily have just been false information to find out if Varys was an informer. The only offer that actually went out to Dorne, as far as we've seen, was in the letter that Pycelle sent; that didn't mention Tommen (if it had, Cersei would know it now).
Matt Wright
24. matty42
I don't know if you have seen it, and I can't remember what it is called, but there is a blog that is going through a whole bunch of recipes based on the food from ASOIAF. Some of it has looked really good, and some of it not so much. Another perspective on the food!
Triandar
25. StuartM
@22 - The food blog referenced by #21 is not the blog with the cookbook. You are thinking of innatthecrossroads.com

They seem to post much more frequently and like to compare and contrast medieval recipes with modern ones.

By the way, I love the foodporn.
David Goldfarb
26. David_Goldfarb
Actually, the guillotine was developed in order to be a humane mode of execution -- wham right through the neck, no chance of anything getting stuck halfway. As such, I think it's too good for Joffrey.
Eli Bishop
27. EliBishop
Re: food porn... HBO also did an insane promotion for the show last year involving food carts serving some pretty elaborate things, many of which I wouldn't have dared to eat.
Triandar
28. JohnnyMac
On the question of the belly bursting feasts and how could people eat them, we need to remember that in a world where such feasts were expected (or, at least, hoped for) was one in which people at all levels of society did far, far more routine physical labor than most moderns are ever likely to do.

Peasants worked the fields sun up to sun down with nary a John Deere tractor in sight. For artisans, every stroke of hammer and saw was driven by human muscle. Even for the comparitively well fed nobles, everyday life involved walking or riding distances that would have most of us whipping out a cellphone to call for emergency airlift or, at least, a cab (and I certainly include myself in that number). And that would be before the regular training for battle; which required one to be in shape to wear 30+ pounds of armor and wield sword and shield for hours.

Any wonder that when people living such lives got a chance to pack in a few thousand extra calories, they would size it with both hands?

For an interesting real world example of such behavior, there is a book titled: "The Woods Were Full of Men". It is a memoir by a woman whose first job was as cook in an Oregon logging camp in the 1940s. When she started work she was shocked at the vast quantities of food she was expected to produce for the loggers. She soon realized that the men she was cooking for were doing brutally hard work all day and every day. To keep going they had to stoke their bodies like men stoking a furnace.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
Stuart at 25 - thanks, you are correct.

Re the feasts, the nobles would know how to pace themselves or, alternatively, gorge themselves into a stupor (a la King Robert).

Elli - the HBO food promotions were extraordinary. They had food trucks in LA which would serve dishes inspired by different sections of Westeros (such as a trout dish from the Riverlands). They would include dessert, including Sansa's favorite lemon cakes. I would have been game if they made it up to New England. There are plenty of videos available on the web of the food efforts. I believe the marketing company was called Campfire and some videos are available on their website.
Julian Augustus
30. Alisonwonderland
In Tyrion's previous chapter we found him setting elaborate traps to see which members of the council were working against him. This chapter sees the traps catch one of the snakes. How will Tyrion use this knowledge? Stay tuned.
Triandar
31. Benben
Lol @ Jafar :D
Triandar
32. adamas
possible but insignificant spoiler Re: hand waving magic:
I'm pretty sure when Thoros of Myr lit his sword on fire, he used a spell, powered by his own blood and a prayer to R'hillor to create the flame that lit the wildfire. So it wasn't a like, say, Rand's fire sword, but he did do some not super impressive but still hand wavy magic.
Eli Bishop
33. EliBishop
Hallyne is one of those super-minor characters that I find totally hilarious. I like the idea that in the middle of all this grandiose political maneuvering in King's Landing, there's a whole department of guys who don't care about anything but brewing up green flammable goo, and they're basically super-self-important nerds about it. And Hallyne's dialogue is so nicely tuned-- he's pretentious and annoying, but he gets that Tyrion is a smart practical guy and gives him the information he needs. "Be very careful. Be very very careful."

Also hilarious: there have been 4000 jars of incendiary explosives sitting around in King's Landing for the last 15 years that no one paid any attention to. Robert sure wasn't a micromanager.
Triandar
34. Dolphineus
@25 I didn't realize there was more than one. :)
InnAtTheCrossroads.com is the one I was looking for, just couldn't remember the name. GRRM mentioned it on his not-a-blog.
Juliet Kestrel
35. Juliet_Kestrel
There is some evidence that death by guillotine might actually be pretty painful. Researchers hooked mice up those dealies that scan your brain activity and then decapitated them. The mice brains continued to fire for about 4 seconds after their heads were off their bodies. Pretty gruesome. You can take in a lot of sensory information in 4 seconds. Glad I wasn’t a tech in THAT lab.

All in all probably not totally painless, but surely less painful than other ways to go.
Peter Stone
36. Peter1742
32:adamas: You're getting things confused; it is confirmed later that Thoros is indeed a fake. You're giving spoilers (although ones mysterious enough that they're probably harmless) for events later in the series. Somebody should white out adamas' comment.
Triandar
37. Hirgon
Re: Portions at feasts

Most of the time, there is that much food present, but not necessarily enough for everyone. Remember in this chapter how Bran would send dishes to bannermen? That's pretty much how it goes - everyone gets enough to eat, but not necessarily some of everything, and special people get special dishes.

Also, yes, if everyone ate a portion of everything at the table, you'd just take a little bit of each (a bite or less), and move on to the next course. But I'm pretty sure that's not how feasts of this sort worked. There may have been waste, but less than you'd think. Maybe.
Eli Bishop
38. EliBishop
@35 - I know this might be getting a wee bit off topic, but: any drastic drop in blood pressure causes immediate unconsciousness. Decapitation reduces the blood pressure to zero. Electrical activity in the brain just means the brain isn't dead yet-- it doesn't mean you're aware of anything.
Juliet Kestrel
39. Juliet_Kestrel
@38 well I guess the point I didn’t articulate very well was that death is very quick, but not totally instantaneous, and probably pretty painful in those seconds or fractions of seconds. Like I said it is more horrible than some types of death, and less horrible than others. Obviously there isn’t a ton of research on the topic, but France was still executing people with the guillotine until 1977 and didn’t officially ban it until 1981.

Last guillotine post I promise, since the only beheading we’ve seen so far is Mr. Ned Stark, and he got it with his own sword. Probably worse than a guillotine. He did have it better than Mary Queen of Scotts though whose headsmen had to swing not once, not twice, but three times before he got in a kill strike.
Matthew Hunter
40. matthew1215
Hirgon@37: You're right in how the feasts worked, I believe. Feudal society was in some ways an elaborate gift-giving culture. The king earns status by the gifts he gives to those below him (the important nobility), the important nobility give gifts to those below them (the minor nobility), and the minor nobility provide for those who serve them directly (soldiers, castle staff, etc) while the bulk of the people are below the notice of the nobility and (in theory) pay taxes in return for protection from bandits and foreign armies.

There's a very good description of how that sort of "economy" works, I think I read it in Guns, Germs, and Steel. On feast days, the local chieftain gets his pick of the dishes and feeds his subordinates from his bounty. Those who are in favor do well, those who are out of favor go hungry (at least for that meal). It's a public display of social status and a tangible appeal to gut instinct ("That guy gives me food, I like him.").

It's very similar to our present government in the US (and possibly elsewhere, but I am US-based); those at the top spend the public money on "gifts" for their friends in return for political support. Sad how little has changed.

@38,39: I'm content to say that death sucks pretty much regardless of method and is likely to hurt, so if we are going to execute someone the right thing to do is to get it over quickly. Worrying about how much it hurts for how many seconds is pointless.
Eli Bishop
41. EliBishop
@39 - Poor Gared: first guy decapitated in the series, and forgotten already!

Gared and Ned were both killed with the same humungous sword, which is described as being both heavy and incredibly sharp, so I think that went at least as well as it would have with a guillotine. But Martin does make it clear later on that that's not always the case.


@40 - I like that description of feudalism, and I think it's great that Martin illustrates it here through the eyes of a child, so we can learn how these relationships work at the same time Bran does.
Juliet Kestrel
42. Juliet_Kestrel
@40 mathew1215 Well that is kinda the point, some varieties of death hurt A LOT for a long time. Like getting a pot of molten gold poured on your head

@41EliBishop I realized I forgot him this morning and was going to correct myself, but you beat me to it. I also realized that Lady the wolf was also executed by the same giant sharp sword.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
Lady got it from a dagger or short sword to the heart, I recall.

Gregor's horse got beheaded, if we0 are talking animls.

Rob
Triandar
44. The SmilingKnight
I dont know... i would think that keeping away from pointing in the direction of Jons mom in some events would be a wiser course.
Eli Bishop
45. EliBishop
@43 RobM: About Lady, you're thinking of the TV show. It was Ice in the book.

This is all making me think of "The Gashlycrumb Tinies".
Matthew Hunter
46. matthew1215
@45: Looney Theory: That Lady was killed with Ice may become important later. Just a thought, nothing I know of to support it so far.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
Eli - it was Ice in the book - really? Boy, confabulation rears its ugly head.
Triandar
48. olethros
Re: Louisiana in pop culture: What, no love for Treme?
Eli Bishop
49. EliBishop
Leigh: crannog is a real Gaelic word; it's not necessarily about swamps, just means houses on or in the water. Martin does make the Reeds sound swampier though, by the frequent references to "bogs" (and "lizard-lions", which sound like alligators).
Triandar
50. wickedkinetic
I'm betting lizard lions are like pogona, or 'bearded dragons' - the bearded lizards or lizards with manes that are found in exotic places on earth.

Still find it even more painful that Ned was hoisted on his own petard. Or iced with his own Ice, or whatever.....

Also, being Valyrian steel I don't think it was particularly heavy. i.e. it was a huge heavy sword, but if it was made of regular steel only a mountain could weild it... being Valyrian, a regular strong man could use it effectively.... I'm thinking this metal is grounded in the legendary medieval metal 'Damascus Steel' - a metal that modern knowledge has managed to best but not to recreate.

as far as the food, maybe i'm a picky eater, but i'll stick with modern familiar foods thank you... I've yet to read about one of these hundreds of fancy 'feast' dishes that Grr comes up with and think, yum, I want me some of that........

its a good thing he's the most brilliant writer ever, because I'm definitely not still reading for the food.....
Triandar
51. hamah borah
Re: madame guillotine. Far beyond the mouse studies, they actually did test on people, if you call their name, they move, and potentially their eyes open in response for up to 5 seconds post decapitation... better than an innacurate sword or axe tho...
also:
http://www.cracked.com/article_19708_6-historical-events-that-are-way-more-modern-than-you-think.html
Rob Munnelly
52. RobMRobM
@50 - I'm betting alligators or crocodiles, myself.

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