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 17 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 35 (“Bran”) and 36 (“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 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 35: Bran
Maester Luwin gathers Bran, Rickon, and the Freys to tell them the news from the bird Robb sent: he has won a great victory against a Stafford Lannister at Oxcross. Big Walder opines that it is only Tywin Lannister who matters, and Bran agrees. He and Rickon are disappointed that Robb is not coming home yet, and Bran thinks uneasily of Osha’s declaration that Robb was marching the wrong way. Luwin informs the Freys that their uncle Stevron Frey died of his wounds soon after the battle, but the boys don’t care about this at all, and only begin excitedly arguing about who is the Frey heir now. Bran remembers his dream (“They like the taste of this dish better than I do”) and has Osha fetched to take him to his room.
On the way, Bran asks Osha if she knows the way North (“Look for the Ice Dragon, and chase the blue star in the rider’s eye”), and if she ever seen giants, or the Others, or the children of the forest, or a three-eyed crow. She says she’s seen the giants, but avoids answering about the Others, and laughs the idea of a three-eyed crow off. After she leaves him in his room, Meera and Jojen come to see him, and Bran tells them it wasn’t a supper, exactly, but his dream came true. Jojen says the green dreams “take strange shapes sometimes”, and Bran asks to hear what Jojen’s dream was.
“I dreamed that the sea was lapping all around Winterfell. I saw black waves crashing against the gates and towers, and then the salt water came flowing over the walls and filled the castle. Drowned men were floating in the yard. When I first dreamed the dream, back at Greywater, I didn’t know their faces, but now I do.”
Bran is confused by the idea of the sea reaching Winterfell, but declares they must warn everyone. Jojen and Meera tell him no one will believe him, and Jojen asks to hear Bran’s dreams. Bran tells them that in some dreams he is a wolf, in others the crow or the tree call to him, but the worst are the ones in which he falls. He explains that he never used to fall, but then he did, and now he dreams about it all the time. Jojen tells Bran that he is a warg, a shapeshifter, to Bran’s shock. Bran protests they are just dreams, but Jojen disagrees; he says Bran is the winged wolf, but will never fly unless he opens his eye, meaning the third eye. Bran puzzles over this after they leave, and tries to make his third eye open by poking at his forehead, but it doesn’t work. He tries to warn people about the sea and drowning, but the only result is that Alebelly (one of his guards) refuses to take a bath until the others force him to it.
Ser Rodrik returns some days later with a prisoner aptly named Reek, who served the Bastard of Bolton and apparently helped her murder the Lady Hornwood, who had been found with her fingers chewed off after being left to starve in a tower. The Bastard himself is dead as well, being caught in the act of something Bran is not clear on but involved having no clothes. Rodrik and Luwin argue over whether Lady Hornwood’s marriage vows are legitimate, but Rodrik points out that it’s Roose Bolton’s opinion who matters. Until then they are keeping Reek as a witness to the Bastard’s crimes.
Bran tells Rodrik about Jojen’s dream, and Luwin admits there has been trouble with raiding along the Stony Shore. Rodrik growls that they would not dare if Winterfell’s forces were not occupied elsewhere, and supposes he should go see about dispersing the raiders. He promises not to take Alebelly with him. Bran is relieved by this, but Jojen later tells him that what he sees in the green dream cannot be changed. Meera disagrees, but slips and reveals that Jojen has dreamed something about Bran, too. Reluctantly, Jojen tells him he dreamed of the man who came today, Reek, and that Bran and his brother lay dead at his feet, and he was “skinning off your faces with a long red blade.” He adds that he saw Bran and Rickon in their crypts, as well.
No, Bran thought. No. “If I went away… to Greywater, or to the crow, someplace far where they couldn’t find me…”
“It will not matter. The dream was green, Bran, and the green dreams do not lie.”
Excuse me, what?
*reads it again*
Well, that’s just fucking depressing! Are you kidding me with this shit? God dammit, that pisses me right the hell off.
That made [Meera] angry. “Why would the gods send a warning if we can’t heed it and change what’s to come?”
PREACH IT, SISTER.
Seriously, what’s the bloody point of seeing the future if not to give you a chance to change it? Am I honestly to understand that a foreseen fate in this world is immutable and nothing can be done about it? Like, nothing nothing?
So Winterfell will be overrun by pseudo-Vikings and Rickon and Bran will get their faces sliced off by the Bastard’s stinky co-rapist, and that’s the end of it? No substitutions, extensions or refunds? Like, whoops, sorry, sucks to be you? So prophecy in this world is for the sole purpose of a fucking cosmic Nelson laugh?
Well gosh, that sure makes me want to keep reading!
This in the same chapter, mind you, where we find out Lady Hornwood killed herself by chewing off her own fingers. I mean, what the bleeding hell. Excuse me while I call for a cleanup of all the rainbows and puppies and happy fucking glitter strewn in my readerly path here!
Jesus. Pardon me, I have to sulk for a moment.
Gah. Okay, so for my own sanity I am just going to assume for the moment that Jojen does not know what the hell he is talking about and he is wrong, wrong, wrong and Bran and his third eye can totally change the future once he figures out how to actually use it and therefore he can give a nice big middle finger to nihilism and also not get his fucking face sliced off, God.
And yes, I am aware that just as Jojen’s dream of Winterfell getting drowned was not a literal future, that probably neither is the face-slicing thing, but whatever. I’m having a visceral reaction here, people, do not bother me with your logic!
Plus, even if it isn’t literal – and it probably isn’t – it’s not like I can think of any symbolic interpretation of getting your face sliced off that isn’t almost equally as horrible. I mean, seriously, come up with a happy interpretation of face-slicing, I dare you.
One possibility that leaps to my mind is that faces indicate who a person is; you destroy someone’s face, that makes it pretty hard to identify them, especially in the days before dental records and DNA-typing and whatnot. So maybe Reek somehow takes away Rickon and Bran’s identity? But how the hell would he do that? And why?
Well, other than for just generically hating them for nominally killing his murderous rapist boss, of course, which just goes to show some people really have no taste whatsoever. But I’m getting away from my point.
Hell, maybe I’m way overthinking this and Reek just goes and desecrates their future graves for shits and giggles or something and that’s all the dream means.
Okay, probably not. Probably I am totally wrong in declaring Jojen wrong, and I should be bracing myself for some major Bad Shit Happening, and woe and blah and fnarr.
…Yay. Whoo. Sis boom bah.
I’mma go get me a cup of hot chocolate now.
Oh, so that’s what a warg is, a shapeshifter? Huh. I totally had them pictured as the wargs from the Lord of the Rings movies, which were like vaguely wolf-moose-bat… things. Not that you couldn’t shapeshift into a wolf-moose-bat thing if you wanted to, I suppose, but I bet it’s not the first thing that leaps to mind if you don’t work for an SFX house in New Zealand.
Also, all disheartening bits of the chapter (i.e. 99.999% of it) aside, I had to laugh fondly at Bran being so literal about his third eye. The mental picture of this little kid poking himself in the face, like “open, dammit!” tickled me quite a bit.
Figure that third eye shit out real quick, kid, ya heard me? Because I am NOT DOWN with Jojen the Gloomy Doomy Doomsayer being our only conduit to the future here. Feh.
Chapter 36: Tyrion
Varys brings the news of Renly’s unnatural murder to Cersei, Tyrion, and Littlefinger, and tells them no one agrees on who did it, though some have suggested it was Catelyn Stark. After some back and forth, Tyrion says that they must assume Stannis was ultimately behind it, and thinks that he is disappointed the Baratheon brothers didn’t decimate each other’s strength. Varys reports that the majority of Renly’s forces at Storm’s End have gone over to Stannis, with the exception of Loras Tyrell, Randyll Tarly, and Mathis Rowan, and Storm’s End itself has refused to yield, as Ser Cortnay Penrose refuses to believe Renly is dead. Varys adds that Ser Loras reportedly went mad when he saw Renly’s corpse, and slew three of his guards, including Emmon Cuy and Robar Royce.
Varys supposes Loras is heading for Bitterbridge, where his sister Margaery and the rest of Renly’s forces are camped. Tyrion tells them that if they move quickly, they might be able to secure the defecting lords’ loyalty for Joffrey by offering a marriage between the now-widowed Margaery Tyrell and Joffrey, who Tyrion suggests Joffrery would find much more appealing than Sansa Stark, being “beddable”, and also that an alliance with the Tyrells is much more desirable than “the daughter of a dead traitor”. Cersei protests against this, asserting that Joffrey is too young to care about such things, but Tyrion knows her to be wrong, and had discussed with Varys how to get Joffrey away from the Hound so they could spirit him to Chataya’s, in the hopes that “a taste of honey might sweeten the boy”. The other three wear Cersei down, and she eventually agrees to make the offer.
They discuss who to send to Bitterbridge, and Cersei of course immediately suggests either Ser Jacelyn Bywater or Tyrion himself. Tyrion knows that if he leaves King’s Landing everything he has worked for will fall apart, and counters by suggesting that Cersei herself is the best emissary to send. Littlefinger interjects that both of them are needed here, and volunteers himself to go instead. Tyrion does not trust Littlefinger’s motives, but admits to himself that he is the most logical person to send.
Littlefinger demands an escort of twenty knights and three hundred gold cloaks for protection, as well as extra mounts, a writ of authority, and a large amount of gold. He also argues for bringing the twins Horror and Slobber to restore to Paxter Redwyne, who is Mace Tyrell’s oldest friend. Cersei argues against this, and Tyrion tells them to split the difference by bringing one twin and keeping the other.
Littlefinger promises to leave the next day, and hopes that Joffrey will be suitably grateful for his service. Cersei asks what he wants, and Littlefinger replies he’ll think of something later. He and Varys leave to make preparations, and Cersei asks Tyrion how his chain is coming. Tyrion replies “link by link, it grows stronger”, and opines they should be grateful for Cortnay Penrose’s stubbornness, as it will keep Stannis occupied with Storm’s End for a while yet. Cersei then tells him that she has misjudged him, and that she is grateful for his help, and apologizes for “speaking harshly” to him. Tyrion assures her she has said nothing requiring forgiveness.
“Today, you mean?” They both laughed . . . and Cersei leaned over and planted a quick, soft kiss on his brow.
Too astonished for words, Tyrion could only watch her stride off down the hall, Ser Preston at her side.
Tyrion thinks Cersei had been behaving very strangely of late, and that the last time she had kissed him was when Tyrion was six or seven, and that had been on a dare. He says to Bronn that Cersei is “hatching something”, and tells him to find out what it is.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure Tyrion’s instincts re: Cersei’s niceness are spot on. Woman is Up To Something.
Of course, when has she not been UTS, but now she’s really UTS. No buts about it.
(Ha! I kill me.)
So, I have to confess my eyes glazed over a couple of times during the political maneuvering in this chapter, mainly because I had totally forgotten who “Horror” and “Slobber” are, or why I should care about them. *looks them up* Oh, they’re Tyrells. Well, Redwynes, but Tyrells through their mother. Okay, that makes sense, whatever.
Eye-glazing aside, I am all for this plan, for the sole reason that it is (among many other things, naturally) Tyrion’s attempt to get Sansa away from Joffrey, and I am ALL ABOUT making that happen. Of course, that puts poor Margaery Tyrell in the crosshairs instead, which sucks, but what can you do? Frankly I’d be happy if no woman ever had to come within fifty feet of the little shit for the rest of his life, but if someone has to take that bullet, I’d at least prefer it not to be Sansa, you know?
(Also, I love how I barely even blinked at the notion of sending a thirteen-year-old to a brothel. But then again, considering the thirteen-year-old we’re talking about, I think the question of bad influence upon him is a ship that sailed a long, long, long time ago.)
The Sansa aspect of it notwithstanding, though, there are some major flaws with this plan as well. The main one being that if it works, it works in Joffrey’s favor, which is all kinds of BOOOO HISS in my particular book, but the other being that it lets Littlefinger loose to run amuck in the world with gold and military puissance galore, which may or may not work in the Lannisters’ favor but can’t possibly be much good for anyone else’s favor – anyone besides Littlefinger himself, of course. Good Lord, the man could do anything.
The idea that immediately occurred to me, in fact, was that he might turn his coat and flee to Catelyn, because he
needs to prove his dick is huger than Ned Stark’s Wuvs her or whatever. This actually sort of horrifies me. Granted, Littlefinger is a useful bastard to have around, but that’s only until he decides to be a weasel again, which I’m thinking another rejection from Catelyn would be a perfect excuse for, and I’d rather he be working for the people I’m not rooting for when that happens. There are some people you just don’t need on your side, methinks.
Of course, maybe I’m really seriously off, and Littlefinger is going to be angelically loyal and go do exactly what he’s been told and no more. Anything’s possible, I suppose. I’ll just be over here looking extremely skeptical about it, mmkay?
Coming back to Renly for a moment, I think it is pretty odd that Loras Tyrell killed Emmon Cuy and Robar Royce, if that’s what actually happened. I’m pretty sure both of them were alive when Catelyn and Brienne escaped, so it’s not just mixed-up reporting – someone in Renly’s camp did definitely kill them – but I’m just not sure why. The only logical reason would be to get rid of them as witnesses, but that suggests, then, that the murder wasn’t Melisandre or anyone else in Stannis’s camp, but an inside job.
Which, okay, but if so, it’s odd to me that Tyrell specifically killed them, because of all the guys in Renly’s camp I would have suspected him the least, as I was under the distinct impression they were total BFFs. Of course, I could be totally wrong. Probably am.
*shrug* There’s not much point in speculating on third-hand information anyway. I’m content to wait and see how it all falls out.
And therefore, here’s where we stop! Have a delightful weekend as always, my chickies, and I will see you next week with Moar!