Fri
May 4 2012 2:00pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 17

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

What Happens
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.”

Commentary
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.

*sulks*

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.

Other notes:

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

What Happens
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.

Commentary
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!

54 comments
Eli Bishop
1. EliBishop
Leigh: In the last Catelyn chapter, Ser Emmon and Ser Robar were ready to arrest Cat and Brienne, but Cat managed to convince Robar to protect them; Emmon got knocked out. So I assume the rest happened like this: Loras arrives to find Renly dead, Emmon dazed, and Robar saying "No no wait, it was a shadow" or whatever and looking ready for a fight; Loras, being Best Swordsman Ever and extremely upset and also possibly not too bright, kills everyone.

(This is an extra lousy deal for Emmon, since he wasn't even going to defend Cat and Brienne-- but I like to imagine, just because it seems perverse enough for GRRM, that he regained consciousness just in time to see Loras fighting Robar, and since he knew Robar was innocent, he assumed Loras was one of the murderers and jumped in on Robar's side.)

Tyrion's not able to piece together the story because he can't imagine that absolutely no one in Renly's camp had any idea what was going on.
Vincent Lane
2. Aegnor
Not really a spoiler, but a joke hinting at something that is alluded to in the text, that Leigh hasn't picked up on:
Renly and Loras BFFs? Definitely true, though one of the Fs might mean something different than what you are thinking.

Bah, stupid thing didn't white out the text and I didn't notice.
Matthew Hunter
3. matthew1215
Leigh, as this is a no-spoiler zone, I can only reply to your comments about Bran's and Jojen's dreams with: KEEP READING. No matter what. No matter how lost and hopeless and desperate things get. Keep reading. There is always hope, even at the worst of things.

Also: this is an epic fantasy series. Everything takes longer. And costs more.
Matthew Hunter
4. matthew1215
Eli@1: What do you mean, Loras possibly not too bright? I'm sure his armor is very, very shiny...
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Leigh - dying to tell you *stuff* about Winterfell, but I can't. So I won't.

Also, this is one of these cases (like the dark haired bastards hunt) that you are just not getting what is in plain sight, re Loras's actions. They are perfectly understandable, when you understand the situation. I can't and won't tell you but this might be one of the areas where you need to re-read the Renly-related chapters and really think it through.

Rob
Dolphineus
6. Dolphineus
Enter Reek.
(spoilerish resctions)
Reek. Ew, squick. /shiver. And Lady Hornwood, poor thing. Having read all the books, I know to much and just can't help but get all squickish about Reek. You must know your name!

Leigh, you are a clever, clever lady, and I love reading your thoughts on this.
Scott Silver
7. hihosilver28
Oh, wow, Leigh, I am holding back with all my might to not drop any hints. You are very astute in many of your readings and, like always, entertaining as hell to read. Yup, once again the plot thickens...although at this point, you really do wonder how it could get any thicker.

On my first read through this hearing what happened to the widow Hornwood pissed me the hell off. Seriously...much anger. She was so sweet and just wanted protection, and was instead starved to death in a bloody tower! GRRRR I hate Bolton's Bastard.
Dolphineus
8. Dolphineus
Sorry about that previous post, my "spoilerish reactions" were whited out in the preview. Don't know how to fix :(
Ty Margheim
9. alSeen
Heh

Reading Leigh's reactions to the story when knowing what is coming up is so fun.
Matthew Hunter
10. matthew1215
Oh, yes, I think this is the point in the series when I first started to realize that even though Ned Stark was a wonderful happy shiny executioner of a father figure... the North, as a whole, is not a nice, shiny place filled with happy people.
Dolphineus
11. westernstorm
If I recall correctly, Loras was so mad at the rainbow guard, because they let Renly get killed, that he attacked and killed Cuy and Royce. Also remember that Royce was going to cover for Catelyn and Bernie.
Dolphineus
12. Lsana
One quick correction: the dream about Maester Luwin giving a roast to Bran and the Walders, but the Walders liking their bad portion better than Bran liked his good one was actually Jojen's dream, not Bran's. From the way it was stated in the post, it was unclear.

And yeah, I'd just like to tell you that nothing Jojen dreamed came true, and it was all sunshine and puppies and rainbows, and everyone lived happily ever...I'm not a very good liar, am I?

Lady Hornwood's fate was truly horrifying. We just get the second-hand report, but yikes! That's the first counter example I use anytime someone mentions that it might be fun to go to Westeros.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
Yeah, face slicing and immutable prophecy seems bad. I think I'll assume they are wrong also. I suppose the face slicing could represent Reek hiding the brothers. If you remove their faces, then they can't be found. That's about the sun shiniest interpretation I can think of.
Scott Silver
14. hihosilver28
In interest of keeping spoilers unspoiled, does anyone know how to white out text without being a post moderator? The text color function doesn't seem to work for us lowly commenters.

White Text Test: 12345

Huh, that worked. I thought that I had tried that previously, guess not. Thanks matthew1215 for the help.
Matthew Hunter
15. matthew1215
hiho: If you have an account on the site you can white out your own posts by editting them after posting. There's a site bug that often catches people without accounts when they try to white out text. We can't edit each other and people in red can't edit their own posts (red means not logged in), but you can "flag" a post for admin review.
Dolphineus
17. Cassie001
Jojen’s dream about Bran and Rickon could be taken as when Winterfall is attacked by the "ocean", Reek hides their identities (skinning the face) and fabricates they are dead (seeing them in their crypts). The long red blade may reference fake blood as the blade is red but not from blood. I'm just speculating here, as I haven't read the chapter and I am only going off your summary, but I have a feeling that the dream will come true, but in a totally different way than what anyone thought. It is usually what happens with foretelling dream/vision of the future in most fiction :)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
18. tnh
Dolphineus, taking the black is the best way to get around that problem. Then, once you have a registered account, it will also help if you do your whiting-out and block-quoting after you've run through "Preview Comment," just before you hit "Post." You can also go back and re-edit afterward.
Pat .
19. dolphineus
@18
Thx. Too bad it won't let me go back and edit the previous post. Oh well, flagged it for review.

Take the black :) I lol'd
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
20. tnh
I'm not sure who made up that term for registering an account, but I can't improve on it.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
21. tnh
Oh, and RobM, you're pushing the line there just a teeny bit. I know you don't want to hear that whole explanation again, so I'll trust you remember it from the last ... um, howevermany times it's been.
Matthew Hunter
22. matthew1215
Oh, and tnh@21 (whitespaced message): Please, please, please have a camera handy when Leigh figures out what RobM keeps hinting at. Hidef video if possible.
Julian Augustus
23. Alisonwonderland
Leigh:

Two things. One, Jojen's green dreams are about as immutable as Min's visions; and two, the murderous shadow was not Melisandre.
Dolphineus
24. corejay
@Alison: The shadow didn't look like Melisandre, but that doesn't mean she isn't the main culprit. Stannis might well have attended some ritual without knowing its exact purpose (as happens in the show... with a very interesting, but plausible, 'ritual')

But then, the show is not the book, for good reason. In the show, Stannis doesn't even know he's the heir until he gets a letter from Ned.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
25. tnh
No need, Matthew. You'll hear all about it from the source.
lake sidey
26. lakesidey
Leigh said: 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.

That's an interesting way of looking at it, yes. Though your wording of the sentence made me laugh for reasons I cannot really reveal :o) Technically, though, this could put Sansa in even more danger - if she isn't to be the queen, they only need her alive (as a hostage in case Robb eventually triumphs) and have even less reason to preserve her dignity (not that they are doing much in that direction currently, admittedly)

Face + knives = plastic surgery? or even medieval tattooing (using Needle)? OK I admit the "Bran and his brother lay dead at his feet" line, she is hard to explain away, but I'm trying my best to be cheerful, ok?

And yes, Leigh....Loras and Renly are kinda BFFs, and Loras is also Renly's, ahem, brother-in-law and the commander of his Rainbow Guard. Which is part of the reason he kind of loses it when he finds the King dead and the Kingsguard still alive - in all the chivalrous traditions of the time, the Kingsguard is supposed to die to save the King's life and here someone came right into Renly's tent and cut of his head while two of the Rainbow Guard stood by...you would have done the same in his place (on reflection, you'd probably *headdesk* and then kill them.) They are not his only reasons, but they are sufficient unto the day I think.

~lakesidey
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
27. tnh
Leigh:
"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?"
It's not a comfortable position for anyone, but Margaery Tyrell has a lot more resources and backup than Sansa does, and she has a superior understanding of court politics.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
Theresa - Leigh wants to sit back and see what develops but query whether additional text will add clarity. She's admitted she's not getting it, others have said she needs to get her puzzler puzzling, and I just concurred with that view. Don't think I crossed that imaginary but powerful Maginot line, but if I did I'm sorry.
Chris Long
29. radynski
Oh man, the whole bit about Loras was so much fun to read, I couldn't stop laughing.
Deana Whitney
30. Braid_Tug
Thanks for reminding us what it's like to be a first time reader of these books.

I've been waiting for a "Are your KIDDING ME?!" reaction since I found this blog.
Dolphineus
31. Black Dread
If I recall correctly, the Tyrell's are even richer than the Lannisters
and at least as powerful. Mace and Loras would hardly tolerate sadistic
abuse of Margaery without another civil war.
Vincent Lane
32. Aegnor
I think there are two reasons why she hasn't got that particular subplot:

1) It is very subtle. I don't believe I understood it at this point in the story. And as is evidenced by reactions to a certain scene in the TV series, a lot of others never got it.
2) I think she might have got it, even though it was subtle, if she hadn't misread a key passage. This is evidenced by her recap (nearly two months or so ago) where on a key related point she essentially said the exact opposite of what the text actually says. Specifically, she said in her recap that "Renly appeared to dote on Margaery exclusively". This is definitely NOT what the text says. By misreading that passage, I think it is assured that she will not catch that subplot. At least not for quite some time.
Steven Halter
33. stevenhalter
People, when you keep highlighting that there is a sub-plot that is being missed, it pretty much draws lots of attention to it. I haven't read ahead but I think I can guess what you are highlighting. I'm not going to say since that would be information from a non-story channel.
You may want to reconsider your sneakiness quotients.
Vincent Lane
34. Aegnor
Oh, and I find it quite funny and ironic how this minor subplot she is missing, completely supports a point I made in one of the Wheel of Time re-read threads:
The discussion, started by Leigh, was regarding the lack of gay male characters in WoT and how statistically improbable it was that there weren't any gay males. I suggested that it wasn't at all statistically improbably that we didn't know of any gay characters, because we don't know enough about that many male characters to even know if they were gay or not, and that several of the male characters we've met could be gay and we wouldn't even know it.

In that case it was purely theoretical, as unless it's mentioned in RJ's notes we'll never know whether any of the character's we've met so far are gay. But in this case, the hints and clues are all there, but Leigh doesn't know enough about such an important character as Renly (and Loras) to know that they are gay.
Joe Vondracek
35. joev
Reek, who served the Bastard of Bolton and apparently helped her murder the Lady Hornwood...
Helped him murder, surely?

The truth of prophecies almost always lies in their interpretation.

tnh@27: House Tyrell has a lot of resources, more than some of the other houses (Arbor wine!), and the king of the realm can't afford to piss them off if he wants to stay king. That's what would protect Margaery from Joffrey. The Tyrells have the power to protect her, while House Stark is in no position to protect Stansa.
James Whitehead
36. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@23RobMRobM, don't forget how well the Maginot Line worked in the end; hence tnh's concern. ;-)

@3mathew1215, things might not be a bleak as Leigh posts but I can't say as I buy the 'there's always hope' theory when it comes to this series so far, epic fantasy series or not; especially as Martin has, so far, spun a lot to fantasy series truisms on their heads.

@30WouldbeBrownAjah, I second that emotion.

I do agree that Margery may probably be better suited for what might come, by being Joffrey's queen, at least she'll have 'muscle' to ensure he can't threaten her as he does poor Sansa so. Can't say I can picture Loras standing for that.

Kato
Matthew Hunter
37. matthew1215
Kato@36: I didn't say hope would be realized. I just want Leigh to keep reading. I know why I keep reading, and hope is a large part of it -- hope that some of the hints Martin has dropped will actually come true, *even if* those hints are fantasy tropes. I hope that Martin is giving us *both* a trope-destroying realistic fantasy experience AND a trope-affirming tour-de-force of awesomesauce and revenge and glory. There are hints that he's doing that. I *think* he's good enough to pull it off, but I could be wrong.

Thus, hope. And keep reading.

Aegnor@34: Yes, that's part of why I want Leigh to wake up and smell the gay, too. The irony will be delicious. The epic head-desking will be heard for miles.
Dolphineus
38. cisko
The missed points under debate -- and others -- stem from GRRM's close adherence to the current POV character's knowledge and understanding and thoughts. If he or she doesn't know it, or doesn't think about it, GRRM won't reveal it. That plays out as a lot of subtle details that aren't obvious. One example that I think isn't a spoiler -- from GoT -- was when Arya sees shadowy figures plotting near the dragon skulls under King's Landing. I never understood who they were, despite a few readings, but IIRC Leigh caught it right away. It's subtle because Arya doesn't know these people and lacks the cultural clues to even assign a nationality or role.

I find this horribly frustrating at times; I've never felt so incompetent at understanding a book as when these kinds of things are revealed. But at the same time, I'm immensely impressed by George's skills and fidelity to his characters. If he wanted to make life easier for his readers, he could make the little hints much broader and more obvious. Instead, It makes Arya a deeply *real* little girl when she doesn't perceive the more adult details, and it make the story richer and deeper when we realize the depths that are subtly layered in the text.

Leigh's a more astute reader than I am. I'm guessing she'll eventually catch most of these points without our help. At least I hope so, because I *really* want to hear her thoughts about them!
Dolphineus
39. EmmaPease
Margaery has better support than Sansa against Joffrey which means if Joffrey knowingly injures or kills her (assuming they marry), he may suffer major repercussions upto and including the loss of his life and throne. A sensible king would realize this; now how sensible is Joffrey? Margaery (or any woman) faces a real risk if she marries Joffrey no matter how much her support (an exception if the woman is someone like Melisandre who can defend herself without depending on others).
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
40. tnh
RobM, did you read comment #33 from Shalter? He's right. You're giving him information he doesn't want. It's not fair.

Explaining what you intended doesn't fix things -- not when the problem is that your actions are having unintended effects. Meaning well will not help with that. What's needed is for you to stop repeating those actions.
Peter Stone
41. Peter1742
Yet another ironic comment from Leigh. Major spoilers hinted at below.

"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 ..."

This plan directly leads to a certain event at a certain wedding with a certain pigeon pie, which is not exactly to Joffrey's benefit.
The Mountain
42. TheMountainThatWalks
Seems to me the Margaery talk treads dangerously close to the line too. The character has barely even been mentioned so far, yet people here are hinting at her skill at court politics, etc. Hell, even some inattentive readers of the later books think she is a naive "Sansa 2.0" due to Ye Olde POV Structure. Seems a bit much to reveal this relatively disguised character trait before she's hardly even done anything.
Dolphineus
43. cheem
Discussions of CoK are hard to keep straight at this point since a lot of people doing this Read are also watching the TV series and the four chpaters covered this week coincide with events shown on TV last Sunday. Due to the differences in perspective (PoV in books vs. omniscient in TV), things are presented much more explicitly on TV, especially with regards to certain plot points that people are taking for granted in these discussions about the books.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
Tnh - I've already explained and apologized and do the latter again.

Note that the Tyrells don't make Arbor wine, but one of their bannermen does. They (Tyrells) do happen to control the most fertile part of Westeros.
Rafael
45. Ryamano
Regarding the plot point Leigh is missing, I'll admit that by this point in the reading I didn't get it either. It was only later that I got it.

Spoilers below

It was only in book 3 that I got it, because it was made more blatant. I still don't understand how people could've missed the direct conversations people had about this plot point in book 3. I guess they read too fast or didn't pay attention. When Leigh gets to the point I discovered the plot point, I'll point it out to her if she doesn't find out herself, because, really, it's that blatant. I'm not the most astute of readers. I completely missed R+L=J, for example.

Spoilers end
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
46. tnh
RobM: Okay. Sorry to lean on you that hard.
Dolphineus
48. Black Dread
Aegnor and others - Even calling characters "gay" is putting a 21st century point-of-view on people in a Medieval setting. In Medieval Europe, we debate whether men like Richard Lionheart were “gay” while this term would have no meaning to them.
If he had sex with a man or a woman not his wife (and Richard did father at least 1 bastard), it was a sin. He then confessed his sin and did penance – end of story. It didn’t change who he was or make something different (i.e. “Gay”).
We don’t have all the information to judge the views in Westeros, I doubt it is anything like our own. In Quarth, Xaro doesn’t seem to put much effort into hiding his preference for boys.
Rob Munnelly
49. RobMRobM
@46 - no problem. I just work hard to stay on the "right" side of these issues but I listen if you or others think I've erred.

R
Vincent Lane
50. Aegnor
Pierre Durand@47,

"face value" rofl

On a side note, your comment is borderline spoilery. Best response on the prophesy is "no comment".
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
51. tnh
Black Dread @48, the Middle Ages may not have constructed homosexuality as an identity the way we do, but that doesn't mean they turned a blind eye to it. In the time of Richard the Lionheart, if prosecuted it would have been called sodomy, peccatum contra naturam (a sin against nature), and peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nominandum. Not only were there laws against it (though they weren't always enforced), but they were becoming more severe.

However, that doesn't really fit Richard's case. The precise description of his hypothetical activities would be "Having sex while you're a king." It has different rules, and they vary with the circumstances. For example, if you neglect your politically astute queen, shower way too much largesse on your obvious favorites, and display neither good judgment nor independent judgment, the penalties can be severe. If on the other hand you're tactful, discreet, and your taste runs to very competent men, there may be no penalties at all. The two biggest rules: you have to at least try to get heirs, and favorites given military command have to win.

We know something about attitudes in Westeros. Homosexuality isn't accounted a crime against nature, but it isn't as manly as being straight. It's sort of a watered-down version of early European (non-Roman, non-ecclesiastical) laws and customs. Ser Loras Tyrell gets away with his not entirely discreet homosexuality because he's rich, charming, tactful, a good fighter, and the son of a powerful family, but there are jokes made about him, and some of them are within earshot. Brynden Tully isn't as rich or well-connected as Ser Loras, but he's discreet, self-contained, and has a genuine talent for making war.

Renly Baratheon was headed for trouble when he died. He made his preferences a little too obvious, neglected his wife when he politically needed to get an heir on her, and didn't understand that being likeable doesn't cancel out being homosexual. What he needed was Robert's military record, and he didn't have it. It's one of those lost possibilities of the series to imagine that if he'd lived, Loras and Margaery might have steered him away from his errors.

I'll discuss one other character, Victarion Greyjoy, but I'll have to white out the lot of it for spoilers.

Victarion's straight. Why include him? Because he's the non-watered-down version of early European codes of sexual behavior. What I'm thinking of is his behavior after capturing the galley Willing Maiden, and its cargo of Yunkai-trained pleasure slaves: He reserves the seven most beautiful women, puts them on a ship and burns them alive for the glory of R'hllor, distributes the rest of the women among his followers, and drowns all the male slaves because he can't see any use to them.

Christians held no trademark on weird attitudes toward homosexuality.

Like much of the ancient world, the Germanic and Scandinavian tribes (and probably the Celts too) assumed that homosexual activity was necessarily divided into active and passive roles, and observed a sharp distinction between the high-status active-or-dominant "masculine" role and the low-status receptive-or-passive "feminine" role. There was a long period when a man who otherwise displayed his manly warriorlike chops and stuck to the active/"masculine" role suffered little or no stigma for engaging in homosexual activities. The other side of that equation can't have been nearly as much fun.

I'll give you two short articles about these issues in Viking society: The Vikings and Homosexuality by Gunnora Hallakarva, which is the more reliable of the two, and Sex, Status, and Seiðr: Homosexuality and Germanic Religion by Diana Paxson. Something to watch for: how much of their vocabulary of abuse that signifies worthlessness, weakness, and unreliability boils down to "you take the passive/receptive role when having sex with men," and how the three words their legal codes recognize as justifying lethal combat or major fines all mean that.

Victarion drowns all the boys because the only sexual role he can imagine for them is the one that makes them otherwise worthless; and since they have female slaves to use for pleasure, that one remaining role is superfluous.
William Fettes
52. Wolfmage
tnh@51

Brilliant post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Do you have a PhD in history?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
53. tnh
Thank you, Wolfmage, but I don't have any credentials. I found I like history after I left college.
Iris Creemers
54. SamarDev
tnh @ 51
very interesting post, but aren't you saying several things including names out in the open, way more openly than RobM or others have been hinting at??? I haven't seen Leigh realising it publicly already...
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
55. tnh
SamarDev, Renly is dead. I can talk about his life. I've whited out two other characters in the post in question. And the people I was talking about in the paragraph about having sex while king are real-world examples, not GRRM's characters.

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