Fri
May 11 2012 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 18

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

Today’s entry is Part 18 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 37 (“Theon”), 38 (“Arya”), and 39 (“Catelyn”).

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 37: Theon

What Happens
Benfred Tallheart screams insults and spits at Theon, who has captured him after a bloody raid on a fishing village on the coast. Tallheart promises him that Robb will feed Theon’s turncoat heart to his wolf. Theon wants to question him, and find out why his banner had rabbitskins hung on it (among other things), but his uncle Aeron insists that Tallheart must be sacrificed to the wet god for daring to spit on a Greyjoy. Theon is annoyed, but gives in, though he refuses to participate in drowning Tallheart himself. He remembers spending time with Benford as his guest at Torrhen’s Square, and tells himself it is a kindness, and curses Benford for being so careless in his attack.

His men are busying pillaging the corpses, having already either raped, enslaved, and/or murdered all the women in the village, and Theon shoots one of them for being drunk and fighting with another raider over loot. Theon thinks of finding the two men he had killed and taking their jewelry, but imagines what Ned Stark would have said, and has no stomach for it, though this makes him angry, too. He thinks of how his sister is sailing for Deepwood Motte even now, and how she will get all the glory and Theon none.

He goes to find Dagmer Cleftjaw, who used to be Theon’s swordsmaster and whom Theon likes despite his grotesquely scarred appearance, because Cleftjaw was one of the few who ever showed Theon any affection as a boy. With much flattery, Theon carefully proposes to Cleftjaw that instead of following Balon’s order to raid the coast (which Cleftjaw considers scutwork), that he and Theon could split off from Aeron and the rest of the raiders. He tells Cleftjaw “if my sister can take a castle, so can I.”

Cleftjaw points out that Asha has five times as many men, but Theon insists they are five times as clever. He wants Cleftjaw to help him stage a false siege on Torrhen’s Square. He says that Leobald Tallheart, in charge of the garrison there, will surely panic and send for help from Winterfell, who will surely send it. Cleftjaw further points out that a force from Winterfell will also outnumber them.

“You set us a battle we cannot hope to win, Theon. This Torrhen’s Square will never fall.”

Theon smiled. “It’s not Torrhen’s Square I mean to take.”

Commentary
Raiding and looting and rapine and massacre, OH THE FUN. How do these people sleep at night?

He did not like the taste of any of this, but what choice did he have?

You’re a moron, Theon. You don’t even like behaving like a monster, and yet you do it anyway, all because you want your horrible Daddy’s approval? Which I will be astounded if you ever actually receive? Ugh.

Also, whoa. Is Theon seriously planning to try to take Winterfell here?

‘Cause, you know, wow. That’s… audacious. Also, insane, but hey.

I can think of about five ways this could go hideously wrong just off the top of my head, and I am hardly a military strategist. Starting with the assumption that Rodrik would denude Winterfell of fighters just to come to the aid of Torrhen’s Square. I mean, yes, I guess he would have to send someone, but….

Of course, I might be making erroneous assumptions here, especially concerning the numbers involved. I’m under the impression that even in their current reduced state, Winterfell’s numbers far exceed what Theon and Cleftjaw would be able to muster even if they had to be split, but it’s entirely possible I’m wrong about that.

But even so, if Theon’s people think sieges are beneath them (and pardon me while I pause to roll my eyes), how on earth does he think he’s going to be able to take a giant hunk of rock like Winterfell? He’d better know some secret passages or something…

…Er.

Okay, possibly it’s not as insane as I thought. Maybe Asha’s campaign is not the fulfillment of Jojen’s dream after all…

And if he did manage to pull it off, it would be the perfect fuck-you to his sister, there’s no doubt about that. And his father. And the Starks, duh. Basically, everyone Theon imagines (not totally without cause) to have screwed him over, paid back in one swell foop.

Crap.

Why couldn’t Theon have just told his nasty family and culture to fuck off and gone back to Robb, man? Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

 

Chapter 38: Arya

What Happens
The castle is swarming as Tywin Lannister prepares to march to fight Robb, who Arya had heard had won some great victory in the west. Ser Addam Marbrand leaves first, and Arya hopes they all die. Weese has her running messages, and she considers running away, but Weese threatened to have her feet cut off if she tried to run, and Arya can’t bring herself to risk it. She tries reading the messages she’s given, but none of them seem to be of any importance. She successfully collects a gambling debt from a knight for Weese, who is pleased and tells her he’ll share a capon with her as a reward.

Arya has been looking for Jaqen H’ghar everywhere, but cannot find him; one of the gate guards tells her, though, that Ser Amory Lorch’s men will be staying behind, as Lorch is named castellan of Harrenhal. He adds that the Bloody Mummers are staying too, even though Lorch and Vargo Hoat hate each other. Arya is desperate to find Jaqen and use her final two deaths before the Mountain and his men leave.

Weese sends her to the armory for a new sword for Ser Lyonel, and she sees Gendry there. Gendry tells her that Hot Pie overheard her yelling “Winterfell!” at the holdfast, but that Gendry had told him that she’d been yelling “Go to hell!” instead, so if he asks, to say the same. Arya briefly considers saying Hot Pie’s name to Jaqen. Having retrieved the sword, Arya again considers running away with it, but she is still terrified of Weese. She listens to the guards’ uneasy talk about Robb, and feels strong and proud as a Stark for a moment, but she is late getting back and Weese backhands her for it, destroying the feeling.

Weese sends her on another errand, and she runs into Rorge, who recognizes her and makes crude threats to her. She points out that she saved his life, but Rorge only opines that he “owes her another fucking” for that. She tells him she’s looking for Jaqen, and Rorge shuts up almost as if he is afraid, and tells her where to go. She tries to approach Jaqen quietly, but he hears her anyway. She whispers “Weese” to him, and leaves.

At supper, Weese does not share his capon with Arya as promised, but instead chokes her and slaps her around for staring at him, and threatens to “spoon [your eye] out and feed it to my bitch”. She hopes Jaqen will kill him that night, but Weese kicks her awake the next morning. Tywin Lannister and all the rest of his forces going with him (including Gregor Clegane) take their leave that morning with great pomp, and as Arya watches them go she realizes she has made a terrible mistake; these are the men she should have had Jaqen kill, not Weese. Arya hurries to find Jaqen and change her order, but it is too late: a shriek comes from the courtyard, and Arya arrives to find Weese dead on the ground from a neck wound, with his own dog chewing on his face. Someone shoots the dog, and people mutter again about Harrenhal being cursed.

Arya lifted her gaze from the dead man and his dead dog. Jaqen H’ghar was leaning up against the side of the Wailing Tower. When he saw her looking, he lifted a hand to his face and laid two fingers casually against his cheek.

Commentary
Ewwww.

Dude. How did Jaqen get Weese’s own dog to kill him? I mean, that is Crazytown right there. Dogs are supposed to be all loyal and shit! Also, ewwww.

Oh, Arya. Well, at least she realized how stupid it was to waste one of her death wishes on Weese, even if it was too late to fix it. Not that I am sad to see Weese go or anything, (although I have no idea why Arya thinks his replacement is going to be any better), but damn, the missed opportunity there!

Imagine if she had asked Jaqen to kill Tywin Lannister. Or the Mountain. Incidentally, I would totally settle for the Mountain, even though obviously the political impact of Tywin’s death would be far more significant. But damn the probable shortsightedness of it: Clegane, D-E-D dead = Win.

Or better yet, King Joffrey. Now there’s visceral AND political impact for you! Win all around, she says, bloodthirstily.

What would Jaqen have said if she’d asked for Joffrey, I wonder? Is there a cap on how high his assassinations go (or how far away he has to go to do them), or would Jaqen be all, “Sure”, and go do it? I have small evil stars in my eyes just imagining it.

Well, she’s still got one wish left. I live in hope!

Have not missed, by the way, the rather unsubtle hints that Jaqen is a very, very, very, very bad man. Anyone who scares Rorge is definitely a person you do not want to see down at your local A&P. Or anywhere. One hopes Arya will keep that in mind. Maybe it would be a better idea if she never uses that last wish. Martin is all about subverting The Rules™, I know, but I still can’t help but think that maybe there’s some bad karma coming Arya’s way for using a psychopath to murder people – however much I might agree that those people need murdering.

Also, “Go to hell”? Does that phrase even make sense in this cosmology?

 

Chapter 39: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn’s party is met by an escort two days out from Riverrun; she had not dared go to Bitterbridge, for fear of what reception Renly’s widow might give her. As the company returns to Riverrun, Catelyn learns that Robb has won a great victory over Stafford Lannister at Oxcross, and has since been pillaging Lannister lands, and also that Tywin Lannister has left Harrenhal and marched west in force; he will be arriving at Riverrun in three or four days. Martyn Rivers tells how Grey Wind had led Robb’s army past the Golden Tooth without the fort ever being aware of their presence, and repeats the rumor that Robb had fed Stafford Lannister’s heart to the wolf. Catelyn rebukes him sharply, saying that her son is no savage.

That night at camp, Brienne comes to Catelyn and asks permission to leave. Catelyn surmises she intends to return to Storm’s End and attempt to kill Stannis, and tries to persuade her of the hopelessness of the task. She is also wary of killing a man who may be their rightful king. Appalled, Brienne says that surely Catelyn does not think to bend knee to Stannis, and Catelyn replies that she does not know, but points out that Renly’s enemies are Robb’s enemies as well. Brienne replies that she does not know Robb, but that she would serve Catelyn, because Catelyn stood up for her when she had no reason to.

“Brienne, I have taken many wellborn ladies into my service over the years, but never one like you. I am no battle commander.”

“No, but you have courage. Not battle courage perhaps but . . . I don’t know . . . a kind of woman’s courage. And I think, when the time comes, you will not try and hold me back. Promise me that. That you will not hold me back from Stannis.”

Catelyn could still hear Stannis saying that Robb’s turn too would come in time. It was like a cold breath on the back of her neck. “When the time comes, I will not hold you back.”

She accepts Brienne’s oath of service. As they approach Riverrun the next day, Catelyn sees that Edmure has recalled the Tully bannermen, and realizes with dismay that Edmure plans to fight Tywin Lannister at Riverrun. She sees corpses hanging from the walls of the hold, and hurries to find Edmure. Edmure tells her there is no word from Bitterbridge, but they have messages from Cortnay Penrose at Storm’s End, offering allegiance to any king who rescues him and Robert Baratheon’s bastard son Edric Storm from Stannis. Edmure does not plan to answer, though, as there is nothing they can do for Penrose with Tywin on the way.

Some of the other lords ask about Renly’s death, but other than to assert that neither she nor Brienne had any role in it, Catelyn avoids talking about it. She introduces Brienne, who is startled by the courtesy she is shown in return. Edmure tells her the corpses on the walls belong to the envoys from Joffrey that came with Cleos Frey, who attempted to free Jaime Lannister and nearly succeeded. Catelyn thinks it sounds like the Imp’s work, and wonders if she should reconsider which Lannister is the most dangerous. Edmure says Cleos Frey and Jaime Lannister are both in the darkest dungeons now, chained hand and foot. The lords tell Catelyn that Robb orders her to the Freys’ to help pick out his future wife, but Catelyn knows this to be an excuse to get her away from the fighting and refuses to go, determined to stay with her dying father this time.

She gets Edmure alone and tries to convince him that meeting Tywin Lannister in battle is a very bad idea, and is further dismayed when he tells her he plans to pin Tywin’s forces by having Roose Bolton strip the garrison Robb left with the Freys and use it to retake Harrenhal, trapping Tywin between it and Riverrun. Catelyn points out that the garrison at the Twins is there to ensure the Freys’ loyalty, but Edmure is sure that is secure by now. Catelyn is not, but lets it go, hoping her brother is right.

She visits her father and finds his mind is going; he confuses her with her sister Lysa, and is trying to persuade her to marry Jon Arryn, telling her not to speak the name of “That stripling… wretched boy” to him. She wonders who that could be referring to, and speculates perhaps it was a singer, as Lysa had always had a fondness for them. Maester Vyman tells Catelyn that the end is near, and that they should send for Brynden and Lysa. Catelyn agrees, but tells him that Lysa will not come.

She leaves her father’s chambers and finds two grey sisters waiting outside her rooms, and knows they have brought her Ned’s remains. Utherydes Wayn tells her Cleos Frey brought them from King’s Landing, and that he thinks it was the Imp’s doing. She goes to see it, but only bones remain, and she can see nothing of the man she loved in them. She notes that the sword he clasps is not Ice. Catelyn tells the grey sisters that they must take Ned’s bones to Winterfell for proper burial, and asks to be left alone with the body in vigil.

The women in grey bowed their heads. The silent sisters do not speak to the living, Catelyn remembered dully, but some say they can talk to the dead. And how she envied that…

Commentary
Poor Catelyn. How crazy it must be, to look at a skeleton and try to see the person you knew and loved within it. I can’t even imagine. On the other hand, I think I would prefer that over looking at the body with rotting flesh still on it. Ye gods.

Also; God, military strategy is frustrating to summarize. I, like Catelyn, really hope Edmure knows what he’s doing, but I, like Catelyn, really kind of doubt it.

And while I’m glad Robb is apparently doing well and kicking Lannister ass, does everyone have to jump on the pillaging bandwagon? Really?

Right, naïve question. But still, sigh.

But, Brienne pledged her service to Catelyn! YAAAAAAAY. That is super-plus awesome, in my book. Sisters are doing it for themselves, aw yeah. I hope they become as kickass a duo as I am currently fondly imagining them to be.

I feel like I should have something to say about Brienne’s comment about Catelyn having “woman’s courage,” but the only thing that really comes to mind is (a) I totally agree, and (b) I am very pleased that the two women having this conversation demonstrate between them a startling range of the different kinds of strength a woman can have. There is no bad here as far as that goes.

Soooo, who was Lysa’s lovaaaar? I hope we haven’t been told this already, because if so I have completely forgotten, and I’m also completely positive it Means Something, which adds Item #437 to the list of Things Leigh Is So Totally Missing, Like What Is Your Damage, God, Heather. Oh well!

And wow, Jon Arryn was twenty years older than Lysa’s father? That’s just gross, dude. That’s not May-December, that’s like May-the calendar from 2005 that you still haven’t thrown away for some reason. Sheesh.

(Did that joke work? I don’t think that joke worked. Well, whatever, I’m leaving it in anyway. YOU come up with a better punchline, I dare ya.)

And, Jaime Lannister’s jailbreak failed. Well… okay, then. So that was a whole lot of set-up for… um, nothing. Yeah, I’m really rather annoyed that that we only learned about that secondhand, frankly. It was set up on Tyrion’s end with such foreboding/ominousness, and then we don’t even get to see it happening? Suppadat?

The backhandedness of the whole thing also brings into sharp relief the fact that, unless I’m sorely mistaken, we have not seen Jaime on-screen, so to speak, since he threw Bran out of a window waaaay back in the beginning of AGOT. And even that was sort of at a remove, since it was from Bran’s very child-like POV and he didn’t even know who Jaime was at the time. We may have seen him for a hot second when he was captured at The Battle of Mumble*cough*, but I’m pretty sure not.

It’s like Martin is absolutely determined to keep us from seeing Jaime firsthand, which I just find bizarre at this point… unless it’s some kind of meta thing about how he’s been doing essentially nothing for all this time, and yet is still a pivotal focal point for pretty much all the major players in this war.

Hmm. Okay, I’d buy that. If so, then right now Jaime Lannister is basically the fighter pilot from Lord of the Flies, and if you get that reference you totally took AP English in high school, you nerd.

Still, I do wonder when the hell we’re going to actually see this guy up close and personal. Or if we ever even are.


Well, it ain’t gonna happen in this post, so we out! Have a suitably satisfactory end-of-seven-day-cycle period of non-labor, and I’ll catch you on ze flip side!

40 comments
Kadere
1. Kadere
After Bran was thrown from the tower back at the beginning of AGoT, we saw him again when Tyrion came to eat with his family at Winterfell and discuss Bran not being dead, we saw him again when he came to Eddard and had all of Ned's men killed because Cat had stolen Tyrion, and then we saw him when Robb defeated him at the Whispering Wood and Jamie suggested they fight mono-a-mono to decide the war. But yes, Jamie is being kept off stage, which should tell you something.
Kadere
2. Lsana
A couple answers to your questions:

No, we haven't been told who Lysa's lover is yet, though there is enough information to make an educated guess.

The Faith does have a Hell. Seven of them, in fact, so the only thing wrong with the idea of "Go to Hell" is that it isn't specific enough. Though frankly the idea that someone from the South, who doesn't give a damn about the Starks or their castle, would mistake "Go to Hell" for "Winterfell" is pretty ridiculous.
Kadere
3. a1ay
And, Jaime Lannister’s jailbreak failed. Well… okay, then. So that was a whole lot of set-up for… um, nothing. Yeah, I’m really rather annoyed that that we only learned about that secondhand, frankly

I rather liked that actually. You get Tyrion going "I've got a plan to spring my brother from his impregnable prison cell! I've brought together a mismatched ragtag team of mercenaries, each of whom has special skills that, in combination, will allow them to pull off this spectacular raid and get away free! Let's see, I've got a Rogue, a Bard, a Fighter, a Cleric..."

...and the next you hear of it is someone going "What, you mean _those_ rotting corpses on the gallows? Bunch of idiots tried to spring the Kingslayer. So we hanged 'em, of course."

It's another bit of GRRM undermining the whole Heroic Doorstop Fantasy idea, as I noted before with regard to Sansa (who is essentially someone who has read far too many HDFs and thinks they bear some relation to reality, and as a result has a terrible time).
Stefan Mitev
4. Bergmaniac
I love Brienne swearing fealty to Catelyn, such a great moment.

The ending of this chapter is so sad though. Poor Cat...

Here's where Arya's behaviour start to become worrying for me. Sure, Weese was a real jerk, and beating children is terrible, but did he deserve to be killed? Especially with so many people in Harrenhall who were guilty of far more and much worse crimes. She's getting a bit drunk with the power over life and death which Jaqen gave her.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Misc points.
- Benfred Tallheart was the subject of discussions when Bran was acting the little lord a few chapters ago, as he gathered up some friends and was aspiring to follow Robb. Ser Roderick gave word back for him to cut it out and stay close to home. Guess he didn't listen.
- Very nice analysis of Theon. Hope he's thinking through all the implications of his clever plans (right....).
- Arya also could have had Lorch killed, who is responsible for killing Yoren. She's wasting her wishes and is finally realizing it. (Thinking about killing Hot Pie ... Really?)
- "I, like Catelyn, really hope Edmure knows what he’s doing, but I, like Catelyn, really kind of doubt it." Word.
- Agreed. Cat and Brienne are made of win.
- "Item #437...." LOL and no further comments from me on this subject.
- yes, the joke worked.
- you've forgotten some other Jaime appearances in AGOT (remember Ned's wound?)
Sanctume Spiritstone
6. Sanctume
Isn't Jaqen a prisoner? Such mysterious power. One death wish to go, Arya!
Kadere
7. litg
What Kadere said
Kadere
8. cisko
I hold a contrairan position that Arya's #2 name was not a bad choice because Weese left her no freedom. She couldn't start to do anything for herself until he was out of the way. Tywin or Gregor would have much larger ramifications for the wider world, but Arya's got to save herself somehow.
If so, then right now Jaime Lannister is basically the fighter pilot from Lord of the Flies, and if you get that reference you totally took AP English in high school, you nerd.
Ha. Yes, yes, and yes. But less decomposing involved. He has his part to play, but at the moment he's the contents of Marsellus Wallace's briefcase. Erm, or something.
Rafael
9. Ryamano
Oh, Arya. Well, at least she realized how stupid it was to waste one of her death wishes on Weese, even if it was too late to fix it. Not that I am sad to see Weese go or anything, (although I have no idea why Arya thinks his replacement is going to be any better), but damn, the missed opportunity there!


What I like about Martin's depiction of this story arc is that he introduces us to so many despicable characters (Weese, Polliver, Tickler, Raff the Sweetling, Gregor Clegane, etc) that it's understandable that Arya wastes her wishes on a few of them instead of choosing Tywin Lanniser or Joffrey Baratheon. They're such an evil bunch of motherfuckers and some of them are giving such a brutal time to Arya that I didn't at first yelled in my head "Arya, you stupid character! Kill someone important and not these idiots!" as I would have done had any other writer done these scenes. I found myself cheering for Arya and having relief from not having to deal with the likes of Weese anymore.
David Goodhart
10. Davyd
#437 will be one of those hindsight *headdesks* I'm sure, it was for me.

Lord of the Flies.. I love that. And, if it weren't for the aforementioned appearances by Jaime in the previous book, it could have totally worked, until.. well, RAFO.

Re: Arya, Harrenhal is SUCH a pivot moment for her arch and character development for the rest of the series. But think about it, being a 10(ish?) year old girl enduring these things has got to change your world view, and the participation in these assassinations really kind of jolted me my first time through. Is this our Arya, our survivor, our little heroine? Sigh.. Arya still remains my champion in this series to date, and will remain so. So much fun to root for!
Matthew Hunter
11. matthew1215
Oh my. As always, Leigh, some of your speculations are extraordinarily prescient, but I can't tell you *which* ones...

I have nothing to say about the Arya thread that isn't spoilerish, beyond GO ARYA GO!

Brienne's moment here is a powerful one, and she's just getting started.

Concerning the lack of Jaime Lannister on screen lately. I have only two things to say about that. The first is: Be careful what you wish for. The second... "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste..."

a1ay@3: Your analysis has merit, but if you recall, the plan almost worked, and was only foiled by bad luck.(whited out because I don't recall if the details have been revealed yet).

Berg@4: I think Weese's behavior deserved death, separately from the question of whether Arya's death-wish was wasted or not. There are better targets for a death-wish, yes, but Weese deserved what he got and his interactions with Arya were far more personal and intrusive than those other targets. It's Arya's wish, not ours, and she's entitled to disregard the strategic view if she wants. (Besides, she makes up for it in spades with her final wish!) Just because there are more important targets doesn't mean there's something morally wrong with going after those targets in order of their personal impact on your life instead of their strategic value.

And finally... Theon, Theon, Theon, it rhymes with treason.
Vincent Lane
12. Aegnor
Sanctume@6,

No, Jaqen isn't a prisoner at this point. He's joined up with the Brave Companions mercenary group.
Kadere
14. Cass W.
Jaime is also involved in the fight outside the brothel in book one that sees Ned's leg broken and Jorry and the other Stark men killed.

For Arya, I'm not sure if it was in this chapter or the next, but there is a reason (a practical reason) why she does not send Jaqen after, say, Joffrey or Cersei. (As for, say, Gregor or Tywin, it's a case of a kid being a kid and focussing on the immediate, though I feel like the show might even be givng better reasons here). It's minor, but Jaqen says he will kill whoever she asks, but that if it's someone not nearby it might take time, even years.
Kadere
13. TG12
Arya's whole arc in this book is interesting in that it highlights how this is still, in the end, a nine or ten year old kid. One who is getting a very crash course in brutal reality, and who is almost universally loved by fans (as far as I can tell) as being full of plucky awesomeness, but still, not someone that we can reasonably expect to always bring a sober, mature judgment to her actions.

I think Martin generally at least tries to do an age-appropriate portrayal of his child characters (Bran, Arya, Sansa, etc.), but if anything, with Arya, he may sometimes let the plucky awesomeness outweigh the constraints of the ten-year-old body/mind that she's inhabiting. Sometimes when I find myself saying "no, Arya, don't do that!" I have to keep the environment, internal and external, that she's operating under in mind...
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
15. tnh
Cass, I fixed your comment. The way to mask spoilers is to first register an account, then turn all the spoiler text white. Best time to do this is after you preview your comment, just before you post it.
Drew Holton
16. Dholton
re Arya's choices:

I think Arya's choices are a reflection of the absolute integrity with which Martin treats his characters. Their actions are a result of their age, their culture and their personalities. In Arya's case, she's only ten, and not yet, or only on the cusp of being able to think in abstract terms (as I betray my former teacher's training in child development).
So she isn't yet looking at the big picture as to what would be most effective in the long run, but only at her immediate circumstances. So I think her choices make perfect sense in that context. We all just wish they were different.
Kadere
17. Black Dread
You left out several "very's" when describing how bad ass Jaqen H’ghar actually is (although only Rorge and Arya seem to get it).

This period with Arya fascinated me. Giving a 10-year-old girl who has been through Hell, the power of life and death over everyone around her – Wow.
Sky Thibedeau
18. SkylarkThibedeau
I didn't realize til now who Lysa's lover was. DOH!

I do love Brienne. It is Ironic that the epitome of Chivalry in Westeros is not found in any of her male knights save maybe dead Ned and perhaps Ser Barristan Selmy and one other who can't be mentioned as he is a total prick up to now. The knight most reflecting Bravery and Gallantry and Chivalry is the Maid of Tarth.
Matthew Hunter
19. matthew1215
We have some historical examples of good knights, too, but even including those the list is pretty short. Ned (rhymes with dead), Brienne ("Use the magic sword!"), The Entry That Would Have To Be Whited Out Completely If Named (and I'll note the exceedingly strong parallel to the Norse god who stuck his hand voluntarily into the mouth of a wolf as surety for the behavior of his allies, knowing those allies would betray the wolf and cost him his hand, which I had noted before but struck me again with much intensity just now), Jory (left 4 dead) and Rodhrik (left 4 dead 2), and arguably even Sandor Clegane (whose fondness for little songbirds has been noted quite often). I suppose the best of the Night's Watch also count, so the Halfhand, and Mormont. Barristan, of course (so which king did he go to, Leigh? Forgotten about him did you?). You could sort of make a case for Khal Drogo, too, if you don't mind overlooking a little bit of culturally-important rape and pillage from his followers. Historically, Rhaegar and Duncan the Tall and whats-his-name-who-wields-Dawn and maybe Robert counts too before he lay down with a lion and woke up with fleas... this out of hundreds of characters.

Martin has done a superb job of both telling a good story *and* depicting the feudal period in a way that reminds people why it sucked.
Matthew Hunter
20. matthew1215
Skylark@18: Oh, and re Lysa's lover... (I am so VERY, VERY much looking forward to Leigh's head-desk when she gets to the scene in ... A Storm of Swords, was it? when we find out who was really behind everything in A Game of Thrones)
Matthew Hunter
21. matthew1215
I'm going to take a break from whiting out half of my posts and publically thank Leigh for putting up with everyone having so very, very much fun enjoying her first read-through to vicariously relive the surprise and excitement of the plot twists. We appreciate it.
Kadere
22. cleopatra2525
I love the quote from Heathers!
Leigh, if you weren't my girl crush before, now you are.
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
Arya killing off Weese seemed pretty in character to me. She is just ten and so thinking about grand strategies while being in a kind of hell herself seems a bit much to ask of her. Also, killing Weese may be more beneficial to her than any of the others would have been.
Jaqen does seem really nasty--but very effective. His speech patterns are interesting. Everything's second person for him--dissociative psycopath of some sort? I am worried about what happens when he doesn't owe Arya. If Martin kills off Arya, I will be quite cross.

Yeah, I'm betting on Theon having some sneaky (evil) method of getting into Winterfell. I can't see anything good happening in that storyline.
Kadere
24. nancym
This was around the point where I too wondered when we'd see Jaime's POV, and then started checking around to see who else was missing. Hilariously, there is a chart on some wiki or another that shows every POV chapter in every book, very interesting.

And Arya- well, she's so young. I completely understand her wanting to be rid of her immediate torturer instead of looking at the larger picture, and like a poster said upthread, this enables her to Get Things Done. Seriously, she could have a hundred wishes and still not get rid of all the people that deserve it!

Thanks again, Leigh, I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Wamae Muriuki
25. brickmirrors
Arya's storyline re: the wishes is also GRRM's way of messing with another trope from the HDF's which is that once our heroes can get their hands on the magical whats-it, evil will auto-magically be defeated faster than you can scream, "I'm melting!"

This arc shows that the one big problem with (almost) unlimited power is knowing what do with it, and how to use to the best effect. Just having the power doesn't make your decision making any easier, if anything it makes it a helluva lot harder..
Kadere
27. sofrina
also, arya is under tremendous duress. unlike bran, who is a year younger, she is not in a place of comfort. she lacks the guidance of a maester and other adults like osha. she doesn't even have the decent advice of the walders who pointed out that killing tywin is what really counts. her only allies are gendry, hot pie and jaqen. you can't expect a kid to maintain perspective under these circumstances. try to imagine being beaten until you bled. weese had it coming. and the dog is such justice. imagine if voldemort had been killed and eaten by nagini.

(i still wonder what jaqen did to belong shackled in the wagon with the likes of rorge and biter.)
Sky Thibedeau
28. SkylarkThibedeau
Matthew 1214. Dunk and Egg would probably be considered good knights too but they are in a previous generation and another series of novellas based in Westeros. Your one example is another prick but not the one I'm thinking of. I do think your person does have some redeeming qualities when Martin shows him last.
Matthew Hunter
29. matthew1215
sofrina@27: If you've read up to A Dance With Dragons, it's possible to make some pretty educated guesses based on that fact that we know Jaqen is a Faceless Man, which I will summarize below. These aren't mutually exclusive, that is, they could all be true, or some, or none. I'm sure I've missed some possibilities, too.

1) Is Jaqen Syrio? We never saw Syrio die, we know Syrio is from at least approximately the right region and is very skilled with a noticably similar accent. We know Jaqen can change his face. Being locked up with dangerous criminals seems like a good time to change your face if you have that ability -- trading the notoriety of Arya's dancing master for the anonymity of being one of many nameless criminals could be advantageous. If Jaqen is "someone else in disguise" this seems like a good candidate.

2) Did Jaqen kill Jon Arryn? We sort of already have an answer for who did this, but they didn't necessarily admit to doing it personally and either of the people involved could afford to hire a Faceless Man for the actual task.

3) Was Jaqen a contact in Robert's court to negotiate contracts via Varys (such as the aborted contract on Daenarys)?

4) Did Jaqen kill Robert? Note the parallels (a boar, a dog). We have another candidate (a dead squire), but note that we were fed that candidate by people with motives we can't trust, and dead men can't deny they did anything.
Matthew Hunter
30. matthew1215
Skylark@28: (You just named the person I didn't name because feeling any sympathy for Jaime certainly amounts to a spoiler!)
Sky Thibedeau
31. SkylarkThibedeau
@29 I've had the same thoughts about number 1 there and I think we'll finds its correct and he's working for a certain person and his friend.
Joe Vondracek
32. joev
tnh@15: Thanks for doing that. Of course, it is written at the top of Leigh's post, as it is written at the top of ALL of these posts:
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.
Why people feel the need to post such comments here, whited-out or not, is beyond me, but would probably make for an interesting psychological study...
And while I’m glad Robb is apparently doing well and kicking Lannister ass, does everyone have to jump on the pillaging bandwagon? Really?
"An army marches on its stomach." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

I always thought it was interesting that Gendry, son of someone, apparently has an idea as to who Arya is, or at least realizes that she must be Important, but totally covers for her and doesn't pester her about it.
Matthew Hunter
33. matthew1215
joev@32: "Why people feel the need to post such comments here, whited-out or not, is beyond me, but would probably make for an interesting psychological study..."

If you ask me, I might tell you. If you study me, you're not likely to learn much.

"I always thought it was interesting that Gendry, son of someone,
apparently has an idea as to who Arya is, or at least realizes that she
must be Important, but totally covers for her and doesn't pester her
about it."

Gendry is a good man and I certainly hope he has a big role in the conclusion of the series. He has the genes for it, and a strength of character that suggests he may do better than his father in some matters.
Vincent Lane
34. Aegnor
joev@32,

Gendry does know exactly who she is, because she told him. In a scene before they got captured by the Mountain's men.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
One could contemplate that the term "moral event horizon" was invented to cover the situation of Theon approving the decision to put to death one of his former teenage drinking buddies. *headdesk*

In the survey of knightly folk we have seen so far, don't forget about the Blackfish, Brynden Tully.
Kadere
36. Michael F Flynn
I'm not sure this series presents the feudal period. It portrays a period of strong kings rather more like the very late medieval period, when feudalism was long in decay and money had replaced Handdienst. Stark=York. Lannister=Lancaster. And all that. You can pick out some of the parallel characters if you are careful and make allowances for deviations. Norman Cantor once remarked that accounts of the middle ages usually tell us more about the concerns of the times in which they were written than of the times they were written about.

But GRRM is spot on regarding the realism of "best laid plans" going aft agly. One would be hard-pressed to find very many plans up to now that went off as planned. The plot to spring Jaime. Cat's plan to reconcile the brothers Baratheon. Renly's plan to be king. Yoren's plan to conduct Arya safely to Winterfell.

This is because of a wonderful complexity: there are always more than two players. Consider Yoren's plan to conduct Arya to safety. A lesser writer might have introduced a Complication by which someone would come hunting for Arya. Instead, they come looking for Gendry, who from the POV of the narrative intentions of both Yoren and Arya is out of left field. So the kill-the-bastards plot line accidentally intersects the smuggle-Arya-to-safety plot line: and both go ricocheting off in a different direction.

GRRM has changed quasi-medieval warfare from a chess-game to 43-man squamish crossed with Chinese checkers. If you don't know what will happen next, you get it.
Matthew Hunter
37. matthew1215
Michael@36: Using the term feudal loosely, but I am not sure this period can be accurately described as one of strong kings. More a period of struggle and transition between powerful nobles and kings seeking to subdue them.

One other small point regarding Yoren, Arya, and Gendry. I'm pretty well convinced that Yoren knew who he was smuggling out of King's Landing -- BOTH of them. So he wouldn't be blindsided by the troops being after Gendry. Arya, of course, would have no way of knowing this.
Kadere
38. Michael F Flynn
@Matthew
Agreed. Yoren knew; but the reader is in Arya's head. I was thinking in terms of the author-reader interaction. A lesser writer would have brought Gendry-the-bastard to the foreground of the narrative. Instead, the foreshadowing, while explicit, was downplayed. When it crashed into the Arya-escapes-to-Winterfell line the reader goes HUNH? and then, remembering prior scenes, says YEAH.

I'll still say the kings of Westeros strike me as more like 15th century than 11th. Ditto, the diminished status of women.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
39. tnh
Michael, I'm not sure there's enough wholesale and retail commercial activity, especially in the North, for money to have supplanted service. The narrative is short on everyday cash transactions. It's all very well to replace service with transfer payments, and use the money to hire professionals, but if there's nothing for your mercenaries to spend their pay on, the system isn't going to work.

Westeros has no shortage of taverns and brothels that cater to mercenaries. What's in short supply are storehouses, retail workshops, trading centers, regularly scheduled fairs, and the kind of broad-based commercial environment that taverns and brothels need in order to flourish.
Kadere
40. David B
Going this long without seeing Jaime is nothing. Consider that we didn't see Stannis until the second book - and yet you can't argue against his influence on the events of it.
Andrew Mills
41. ajmills
I have to agree with some of the comments above with regards to Arya's decisions. She is still a child at 10 years, and as such, until now at least, lives in her own little bubble. Especially as she is under such a close watch and beaten down all the time, which makes it hard to see past your immediate surroundings. Again, I think getting Weese out of the way is also a "good thing" (TM) - I am wondering if he did have some kind of sixth sense that allowed him to know what you were thinking. His replacement may not be any nicer, but with Weese gone, Arya may be able to get more freedom to do her thing and eventually escape.

I think we are seeing her grow up here (fast), especially where we see her realise the bigger picture and thinking she should have used one of her "three wishes" on Tywen and co.

Jaqen - I get the feeling he is a male counterpart of Melisandre.

Pillaging - I can understand this as an army marched on its stomach, etc. Also, you don't want to leave anything lying around that would be useful to your enemies, especially if they are following behind you.

Theon - while he wasn't particularly mistreated while at Winterfell, maybe if Ned had treated him better (perhaps more like an actual son?), Theon would have been less likely to be acting a total twat now. I'm not sure if he's trying to gain his father's respect/love/whatever, or whether he's striking back at the Starks. Or both.

Also, has anyone else noticed how close "Gendry" is to the word "gentry" (Well, I more than suspect people have as it's rather obvious)? We know Gendry is probably Robert's oldest (surviving) son, and as a result, even as a bastard, is actually the "rightful" heir. Is GRRM hinting at some future plot development here?

Wouldn't it be funny if Arya did marry Gendry and he became king - she'd be the "lady" she never wanted to be...

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