Jun 8 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 22

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 22 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 46 (“Bran”) and 47 (“Arya”).

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 46: Bran

What Happens
In the godswood, Summer hears and smells intruders, and howls to alert the sleeping men inside the castle, but no one heeds him. He and Shaggydog run to the gate and try to break in, but are unsuccessful. A voice inside him tells him to go to a great tree that slants over the wall, and remembers climbing it as a boy, but Summer knows that climbing trees are not a wolf’s way, and balks at first. But desperation at the oncoming intruders goads him, and Summer tries the ascent, but he slips and falls out of the tree two-thirds of the way up.

Bran wakes crying Summer’s name, and realizes Jojen was right about him, that he was “a beastling.“ He also knows that Jojen’s dream has come true, and the sea is flowing over the walls. He screams for help, but no one comes, and Bran remembers that Rodrik had stripped the garrison almost bare to go to the aid of Torrhen’s Square, which was under siege. Then Theon Greyjoy enters Bran’s room, and at first Bran is relieved to see him, thinking Robb had sent him, but Theon tells him he is a prince now, and that he has taken Winterfell, and that Bran will order his people to serve him as they did their old lord. Bran refuses and Theon tells him he will if he cares for the safety of his people.

He leaves, and Maester Luwin soon comes, sporting wounds. He bemoans his lack of foresight, and tells Bran that only one bird escaped, the one sent to White Harbor. He tells Bran there is no shame in yielding to Theon in order to protect his people.

Theon gathers Bran, Rickon, and the rest of the surviving household in the main hall, many of them wounded and/or raped. They also bring in the prisoner Reek, who explains to Theon that he was in the service of the Bastard of Dreadfort until the Starks killed him. Theon begins to speak, but the blacksmith Mikken interrupts with insults and taunts. Brad tells Mikken to be silent, and tells the room he has yielded to Theon and they should obey him. Theon tells them that his father Balon has crowned himself King of the Iron Islands, and claims the north by conquest. Mikken continues to make a ruckus until one of the ironmen drive a spear through his neck, killing him. Hodor starts shouting and the ironmen beat him up. Theon tells them that Torrhen’s Square and Deepwood Motte will soon be his as well, and Robb Stark may end up King of the Trident, but House Greyjoy holds the north now.

Reek offers his fealty to Theon, and Theon agrees provided he take a bath. Then Osha steps forward and declares that she wants to swear fealty as well, to Bran’s distress. Theon tells her he needs fighters, not “kitchen sluts”, but Osha knocks one of his men down and takes his spear, which amuses Theon, and he accepts. Then he dismisses the household and a sobbing, beaten-up Hodor takes Bran away.

Well, this blows syphilitic goats.

Boo, Theon. Boo, pseudo-Vikings. Boo, rape and pillage of Winterfell. Boo, trying to snake Robb’s kingdom out from under him. Boo to all of it. Boo!

If it were up to me I would totally vote them off the island. Or rather, I would vote them off the mainland and back onto their island, and make them stay there. Forever. Because boo!

And would someone please go check and see if Summer is okay, for God’s sake? He’d better be okay. I’m all for symmetry, usually, but having a crippled boy’s wolf soulmate/astral projection buddy/thingy also end up crippled is just taking it way too far if you ask me. Besides, how are the Wonder Swamp Twins going to smuggle Bran out of the castle to go find the elves children of the forest if they have to carry both him and his wolf?

Because that is totally going to happen. The escaping part, I mean. Yes. I have Said It, therefore it will happen. By the power of my Wishin’ An’ Hopin’! *nodnod*

And Hodor will go with them, also because I said so. Everyone stop beating up poor Hodor, dammit!

And as long as I am potentially embarrassing myself with possibly wildly off-the-mark predictions, I also call bullshit on Osha’s pledging fealty to Theon. Granted, it’s probably the smartest (possibly the only) option available to her in terms of self-protection, but Osha does not strike me as the long-term loyalty type, at all, at least not to the likes of Theon. My bet is she’ll play along and pretend allegiance until she has a chance to run, and then she’s outta there. Hopefully she’ll take Bran and Co. along with, since Bran seems to be just about the only person she even remotely likes there – but then again that’s a big risk, taking Theon’s single biggest piece of leverage, so maybe she won’t. I dunno.

The Summer POV was pretty neat, by the way, but I disapprove of Bran’s terminology in calling himself a “beastling,” because that is a very unsexy word and I veto it. It’s even worse than “warg.” At least “warg” has the inherent amusement factor going for it. Warg warg warg warg warg warg warg warg warg warg warg warg okay I’ll shut up.

So, yes. But all that aside, my point is, Boooooooooooo.

Feh. Feh, I say!


Chapter 47: Arya

What Happens
Arya is in the kitchens pestering Hot Pie, who warns her that she shouldn’t be there, but Arya is unafraid of Weese’s replacement, a drunkard nicknamed Pinkeye. She hears horns, and goes to the gates to see the Bloody Mummers returning with a load of booty, including a bear in a cage, and at least a hundred noble prisoners, some of whose sigils Arya recognizes with dismay as belonging to houses loyal to Robb. Ser Amory Lorch comes out and Vargo Hoat presents the prisoners to him, saying they were captured from Roose Bolton’s forces. Lorch is displeased at Hoat’s good fortune and orders the prisoners thrown into the dungeon in disregard of Hoat’s promises to them of good treatment.

Arya wanders off, safe to wander about the keep now that less than a hundred men hold it, and goes to the armory to visit Gendry. She tries to convince Gendry to help her rescue the prisoners, but Gendry tells her they don’t have a chance of success, and tells her he doesn’t care who rules the castle as long as they leave him alone. Arya points out that he still has the queen’s men after him, but Gendry insists that they were never after him. Furious at his stubbornness, Arya storms out.

She thinks about Jaqen, and how he had made her brave again, but that she had avoided him after Weese, whose murder she has concluded could only have been accomplished via magic. She suspects that she is putting off naming her third death because after it is done she will only be a mouse again, with no power. She decides to go to the godswood and practice Syrio’s drills with her hidden practice sword. Afterwards, she decides on a whim to pray to the old gods, asking them to help her get the prisoners free and get her home to Winterfell, and to help her not be afraid anymore.

Jaqen finds her there, scaring her, and demands her third name, saying he wants to be done. He reveals that he knows her real name and house, and Arya wonders if the gods had sent him in answer to her prayer and tries to convince him to help her rescue the prisoners. Jaqen counters that she is only owed one death. Arya asks if she could name anyone and Jaqen swears an oath that he would kill anyone she named, no matter who it was, even a king.

He knelt beside her, so they were face-to-face, “A girl whispers if she fears to speak aloud. Whisper it now. Is it Joffrey?”

Arya put her lips to his ear. “It’s Jaqen H’ghar.”

Jaqen is genuinely distraught and warns her that she will lose her only friend, and Arya tells him a true friend would help her. Jaqen asks if she will take back the name if “a friend” did help her, and Arya says she would. Jaqen instructs her to go to the kitchens and tell them the lord orders broth and wait till he comes. Arya goes resisting the temptation to tell Hot Pie what was happening. She is dismayed when Jaqen appears with both Rorge and Biter, but Jaqen overrides the cook’s protests and the four of them take four kettles of hot broth down to the dungeons, pretending it is supper for the guards. Once there, the men fling the boiling hot broth in the guards’ faces, and then proceed to methodically slaughter them while they are writhing in agony.

They free the prisoners and their leader introduces himself as Robett Glover while the rest, suddenly not seeming as wounded as they had earlier, quickly arm themselves and slip up to the main keep. Glover remarks that he hadn’t expected this, and asks if they are Hoat’s men. Rorge replies that they are now. Jaqen introduces them and Arya cuts in that her name is Weasel before Jaqen can give anything away. The Northmen go to subdue the castle and Arya takes back Jaqen’s name. She asks if she still has a third death, but Jaqen chides her not to be greedy; the debt is repaid. She agrees reluctantly.

Jaqen tells her that now he must die, to Arya’s confusion, and before her eyes changes into an entirely different man, with curly black hair and a gold tooth. Amazed, Arya asks if she can do that too, and he offers to teach her if she comes with him, “Far and away, across the narrow sea.” Arya tells him she must go home and Jaqen gives her an iron coin and tells her if she ever needs to find him again, to give the coin to any man from Braavos, and say the words “valar morghulis.” She begs him not to go, but he tells her he has promises to keep, and leaves.

The next morning, Pinkeye tells the servants that Harrenhal has been taken, and the Bloody Mummers killed Ser Amory’s men as they drank. Shagwell the Fool prances about and sings about how the men died of “hot weasel soup,”and Arya tries to ignore him. That evening the new lord of Harrenhal arrives and Shagwell drags her in front of him. Roose Bolton asks her for her real name, and Arya tells him it is Nymeria, or Nan for short. Bolton rewards her for her soup antics by naming her his new cupbearer. Later the new occupants of Harrenhal feast while Ser Amory Lorch is thrown naked into a bear pit.

The bear is all in black, Arya thought. Like Yoren. She filled Roose Bolton’s cup, and did not spill a drop.


Arya. Arya Arya Arya ARYA. You had a chance to KILL JOFFREY. You had a chance to make him no more! Passed on! Bleedin’ demised! Bucked the kicket! No longer pining for the fjords! HE COULD HAVE BEEN AN EX-JOFFREY!

But no. Instead you rescued a bunch of guys who didn’t actually need to be rescued! I mean, not that the way you tricked Jaqen into helping you do it wasn’t very clever and all, because it totally was, but ARGH.

So there it is: all three death wishes, wasted. *headdesk*

Okay, I am being kind of terrible here, and I don’t really mean it. Well, I mean it a little, because boy would I like to see Joffrey shuffled off this mortal coil, preferably with a good swift kick in the nuts to knock him off it. But I am not actually going to seriously chastise Arya for choosing to rescue her brother’s liegemen over having someone assassinated. It’s hardly her fault she didn’t know the whole prisoner thing was a set-up, after all.

Not that (if we’re going to be coldblooded about it) Joffrey’s death wouldn’t have likely been a greater boon to Robb in the long run than taking Harrenhal would, but Arya has to think about saving her own skin too. So, I’m grumpy about it, but ultimately I can’t really find fault with the decision. Mumble grumble blah.

Although, speaking of the fake prisoner set-up, since when are the Bloody Mummer guys on the Northmen’s side? I mean, maybe it doesn’t matter, but the motivation for the flip is pretty murky to me. Unless Hoat did it because he hates Amory Lorch just that much. (Which, okay, I’ll concede that if anyone were going to inspire treason-level hatred in a guy, Lorch is – or rather, was – probably a prime candidate, but still.) Or were Hoat et al always double agents for the North? Either way, I feel like that was very random. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do.

And I’m still a little miffed that the inside job thing pulled the rug out from under Arya’s own rescue mission. But then again, it’s probably better that it did, because if Arya really wants to stay under the radar, being almost single-handedly responsible for making a palace coup possible is, I’m thinking, not the way to go.

As it is, I don’t see how on earth girl thinks she’s going to go unrecognized for much longer, being constantly at Bolton’s elbow and surrounded by lords loyal to her brother Robb, at least some of whom must have seen her at some point, surely. I’m kind of surprised that Bolton or someone hasn’t already recognized her, frankly. But then again, maybe it isn’t so surprising; people tend to see what they expect to see, and Arya by this time probably looks absolutely nothing like what she did the last time any of these lords might have potentially seen her.

One might also wonder why Arya doesn’t just reveal herself to them anyway, but I’m personally not surprised that she didn’t. It’s not like the world has given Arya tons of opportunities thus far to experience the joys of trusting her fellow man. So, yeah.

(She called herself “Nymeria”. *sniffle*)

And then there is Jaqen, and the whole bowl of WTF he brought in this chapter.

So, he was magically disguised, okay, sure, he’s a sorcerer of some kind, sure, no problem, though if you ask me it’s a sucky kind of magic that can’t even get you out of chains or a burning barn, but I really hope I’m not supposed to recognize his true appearance, or know what “Valar morghulis” means, because other than my strong suspicion that the phrase probably doesn’t translate to “hugs and puppies,” I got nothing.

I’m presuming, therefore, that We Have Not Seen The Last Of Him. Call it a hunch.

Also, was he really actually going to kill himself, literally (rather than the symbolic way he did later) if Arya hadn’t taken his name back? Because, wow. I’m all for committing to honesty and all, but jeez. Or maybe it’s a geas kind of thing; I have no bloody clue how his magic works, but I can’t think of any other reason why any remotely sane person would actually go through with being ordered to assassinate themselves.

Then again, this. *shrug* So, okay, but again I say: Wow.

Also, bye, Ser Amory Lorch! I hope you enjoy being mauled to death by a bear! Oh, you don’t think you will? Aw, that’s okay, I’ll enjoy it for you. Ta!

So, now the situation stands that Tywin Lannister’s base of operations is held by the North and Winterfell… isn’t. This is some messed up shit here, y’all. And where the hell is Robb at this point? I can’t remember if I’m even supposed to know. It would be even more hilarious if Robb has Casterly Rock right now; for maximum topsy-turviness, but I think that’s probably not too likely. But then again, who knows?

Not me, that’s for sure, at least not this week! Have a lovely summer weekend on me, kids, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Matthew Hunter
1. matthew1215
Leigh: "And as long as I am potentially embarrassing myself with possibly wildly off-the-mark predictions..."

You know that thing called "chorteling", which is sort of a cross between a laugh and a chuckle? I am totally doing that right now.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
I didn't catch until this post (and I just re-read this chapter a few weeks ago in my own reread) that the prisoners were only fakely injured and the mummers had already switched their allegience (I thought they switched AFTER the coup since they were now the ones in power). DUH.

READ FASTER LEIGH!!!!! So much stuff I am anxious to see your reaction too!
3. Lsana
I too was impressed by the fact that Leigh realized that the prisoners were faking it and already had a plan with the Mummers to capture the castle. I didn't get that until my second read.

It is awfully frusterating how Arya wasted her wishes. No, I can't blame her. Between the fact that she didn't know about the plan and the fact that she's, you know, NINE, I can't blame her for not putting Jaqen's talents to the best use. But when I think about how differently the series might have gone if she had said, "Tywin, Cersei, Joffery"...
Vincent Lane
4. Aegnor

Some reminders on Roose Bolton. He's the guy that Robb put in charge of the diversion attack back in GoT when Robb captured Jamie. He's the one that Robb said creeped him out. It's also his bastard son that was killed while raping a corpse, and forcibly married Lady Hornwood, and who has the servant Reek that just pledged loyalty to Theon.
5. Faiz
We (and Arya) have previously been told that while a death may be certain, the time is not. So saying Joffrey's name might result in him dying months, if not years later. A man can only take a step at a time.

And Robb taking Casterly rock is not too far fetched. Last we heard(via Joffrey when he has Sansa beaten) Robb defeated a Lannister army near the Rock.
Neil Sood
6. RanchoUnicorno
I have nothing to contribute at this time. I haven't even read the post. I just wanted to say that today is, by choice, my last day at my job here in DC (hooray!). I move to Houston next week (sad!) and start normal work again in a couple weeks (hooray!). That is all.

Anyway, back to useful comments.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Well done, Leigh, and further more this deponent sayeth not.

And not to beat on the same old theme, but the HBO show just finished Season 2 and the last episode was entitled "Valar Morghulis" - sound familar?

I believe you called Theon going to Winterfell earlier in the re-read and, not for the first time, you got it right. Tremendous gut punch to the Starks. And letting the ironborn abuse the castle's residents, all of whom Theon knows, is just shameful.

The glory of the Arya chapters is, yes, she's wasting the wishes, but you can understand on some level why she made the choices she did. I thought the naming Jaqen was a brilliiant piece of plot and the execution was wonderful. I don't think you mentioned it but Jaqen wipes his sword on Arya's outfit because the blood, in large part, was attributable to her and she needed to reflect it. Potent stuff. long to Jaqen, at least in this guise.

Matthew Hunter
8. matthew1215
Lisa@2: I'm not sure that Leigh's summary is accurate in that respect. Since we're seeing the whole thing from Arya's POV, what's really going on isn't clear, but I've always believed that Robb's men (the prisoners) took the castle thanks to the Weasel Soup, and the Bloody Mummers opportunistically switched sides after the fact (but possibly due to Jaqen's influence). But I haven't reread the actual chapter in a while, so I'm not sure. Oh, and your request that Leigh read faster is seconded. :)

Leigh: "I’m presuming, therefore, that We Have Not Seen The Last Of Him. Call it a hunch." Also, wringing my hands and doing the supervillian cackle.
Peter Stone
9. Peter1742
No, you're not supposed to learn what valar morghulis means yet. This was a topic of much fan speculation between the publications of A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords (in which the meaning is revealed). I don't remember whether anybody guessed the right answer. I certainly didn't.
Marcus W
10. toryx
Lsana @ 3:

Yeah, I would have loved to have seen those three chosen for death instead. What might have been...

Leigh: These chapters put you into quite a mood didn't they? I felt the same way about Summer, by the way, when I finished that Bran chapter. There were so many times, reading these books the first time around, when it was all I could do to keep from skipping ahead to the next relevant chapter from one character or another's point of view.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
Leigh - word to the wise: the next chapter is (IMO) by far the best one in the entire book - and, potentially, the entire series - and deserves plenty of time for reading, analysis and crafting of witty and thoughtful holy sh*ts. Best not to wait until the last minute.

12. Davyd
What Rob M said... ^^^^^^
Matthew Hunter
13. matthew1215
toryx@10: A man is given a fish, a man eats for a day...
14. Black Dread
More reminders about Roose Bolton. His sigil is a "flayed man". A victim of torture literally having his skin removed. Not a man I would want to be rescued by.
15. D-Mac

Love the play on the "Parrot Sketch", do you have the other half of this amulate?...just sayin.
16. Wortmauer
Valar Morghulis. Yeah, a reader is not supposed to be able to guess its meaning yet, but a man will say that thematically it fits Arya's story very well — both her past and her future. A nice "I see what you did there" after the reveal.

GRRM's approach to languages is amusing. Apparently fans have asked him for reference material for the Old Valyrian language. His response is, what do you take him for, Tolkien? He has only invented about 7 words of Old Valyrian, and if he ever needs an 8th word, he'll think of one.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Yeah, Theon taking Winterfell, not good for anyone concerned. I don't really see it working out like Theon thinks either.

I thought the choice of naming Jaqen rather than Joffrey was a good one. I will guess the really important part of this was Arya getting the iron coin with "Valar Morghulis" written upon it. If she had just named Joffrey, I suspect that Jaqen would not have done that and might have killed Arya as his number 4 action.
Valar Morghulis does not sound like sunshine and puppies. Mor is often associated with darkness and death (think Mordor) but Valar kind of sounds like Valor. So, Honor and deathieness? or something like that.

(Disclaimer: All of this is just guesses--no reading ahead.)
Sky Thibedeau
18. SkylarkThibedeau
I am one of the many who believe that Jaqen is/was Syrio Forel. There is a theory that he was captured and thrown into the dungeon where as a faceless man he took the identity of Jaqen H'gar.
Sky Thibedeau
19. SkylarkThibedeau
@17 If it was a Tolkien Language "Valar Morgulis" might mean "Gods of Black Sorcery". High Valerian is not related to Sindharin though.
20. Mona NicLeoid
I don't actually find it that surprising or far-fetched that no one has recognised Arya yet. None of those lords would give a girl child more than a passing glance, even if she was the daughter of their liege lord. Girls would only become (slightly) relevant at marriable age, and even then their looks would probably be less interesting than their family connections. Arya was still way younger than that, and given that she also probably looks like a peasant boy at the moment makes it quite plausible that no one looks at her twice.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
Skylark@18:That's interesting. Jaqen does say to take the coin to any Braavos. On the other hand, Syrio seemed much nicer than Jaqen.
22. Mona NicLeoid
I don't actually find it that surprising or far-fetched that no one has recognised Arya yet. None of those lords would give a girl child more than a passing glance, even if she was the daughter of their liege lord. Girls would only become (slightly) relevant at marriable age, and even then their looks would probably be less interesting than their family connections. Arya was still way younger than that, and given that she also probably looks like a peasant boy at the moment makes it quite plausible that no one looks at her twice.
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
@19: Mordor is just an example. Mor is a death root in many Indo-European languages. Murder, Mortal, Morior -- Martin is (may be) just cribbing from the same roots.
Pat .
24. dolphineus
Holy crap, I LOL'd at "Wonder Swamp Twins!" Great one Leigh.
"what “Valar morghulis” means, because other than my strong suspicionthat the phrase probably doesn’t translate to “hugs and puppies,” I got nothing"
And another hearty giggle. You are dead on that it don't mean hugs and puppies :)

Me too on the WTF is up with your death wishes Arya! But then again, it's easy to forget she is nine. At nine, making the bully who is tormenting you disappear is a pretty good strategy!

As for the Bloody Mummers, they are mercenaries, and ones with very bad reputations. Varga Hoat and Amory Lorch loathe each other. I always just read this as Hoat being opportunistic mercenaries and getting a chance to screw Lorch. Plus, the more you learn about the Boltons ... hello! Flayed Man! /shiver

@18. SkylarkThibedeau
Nope. Not happening. Becoming a "dancing master" takes serious dedication and a lifetime of study. Becoming a Faceless man
takes serious dedication and a lifetime of study. Ok, not a lifetime, but a serious apprenticeship. No way one person was both. For 8 years Syrio was the First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos. That means he was the accomplished dancing master before those 8 years.
I have lost my copy of A Game of Thrones, but I would love to re-read the fight scene with the Kings Guard. While it wasn't on screen, I'm pretty sure we heard Syrio die.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
25. tnh
I really don't want to have to explain again that identifying things that are going to be important later, or making meta-comments about cool episodes to come, can also be a spoiler.

This is not just me kvetching. Your fellow readers complain about it. I know y'all're enthusiastic, and justly so -- it's a great series -- but could you please contrive to be happy in ways that don't interfere so much with others' enjoyment of it?
26. JimmyMac80
I don't really think that Joffrey would have been that great a name, other than the enjoyment we'd get as readers seeing Joffrey die. Sansa would be better off, but that's about the only good that would come of it. Tywin on the other hand, especially since he was right there when she first got her chance at three names would have been the best choice by far. Plus, it would have made Tyrion Lord of Casterly Rock.

As for those who missed that the northmen had plotted with Hoat, here's the evidence, “This of the soup, that was clever,” the man Glover was saying. “I did not expect that. Was it Lord Hoat’s idea?” . . . “You were not with Hoat when he came to Lord Bolton’s encampment. Are you of the Brave Companions?” Rorge wiped the snot off his chin with the back of his hand. “We are now.” It's obvious that "Lord" Hoat met with Bolton and planned the whole capture and planned on freeing them. The Lordship is likely the reason Hoat switched sides too. Tywin was willing to pay him money, but Bolton apparently offered lands and titles.
Asa Zernik
27. AsaZernik
...I really hope I’m not supposed to recognize his true appearance...
Who says either of those is his true appearance? Can't they both be disguises?
28. D-MAC
@25. tnh

especially those that feel the need to recap the recap, and point out the relevance of certain passages to things to come later, or the need to put the reading in a certain context, or hint at if her predictions are on or off the mark...thats all spoiler territory. I think Leigh has proved perceptive enough not to need this kind of aide from the learned commentors. As i read Leigh's commentary, i've often thought some of the same things the other commenter's have written, but i resist posting them...its called "impulse" control.
Peter Stone
29. Peter1742
In defense of Arya, she probably didn't realize the full extent of Jaqen's powers until Weese was attacked by his own dog. So she may not have considered Tywin or Joffrey as a serious possibility for the first two names (both of them would be much better protected than Chiswyck or Weese). And for the third death, she was currently in too much danger to do anything other than what she did.
Rob Munnelly
30. RobMRobM
Teresa - I'm hoping that my suggestion to Leigh that she make sure to give adequate time to preparation of her next post, without any mention of how or why I believed it is was the best in the book (0r even the entire series), is not what you are pointing to @25. That post was as content free as I make them.

Julian Augustus
31. Alisonwonderland
RobM @11:
the next chapter is (IMO) by far the best one in the entire book - and, potentially, the entire series
For me, this scene is the best in the entire book and, potentially , the entire series. The way Arya, a nine year old, was able to manouver Yaqen into helping her free the prisoners is nothing short of amazing. The brilliance of the ploy just blows my mind. I defy anyone whose name is not GRRM to come up with such a stratagem even if his life depended on it.

To appreciate the beauty of Arya's ploy, here's the whole thing in its entirety. Genius.
He looked down at her pitilessly. "Three lives were snatched from a god. Three lives must be repaid. The gods are not mocked." His voice was silk and steel.
"I never mocked." She thought for a moment. "The name . . . can I name anyone? And you'll kill him?"
Jaqen H'ghar inclined his head. "A man has said."
"Anyone?" she repeated. "A man, a woman, a little baby, or Lord Tywin, or the High Septon, or your father?"
"A man's sire is long dead, but did he live, and did you know his name, he would die at your command."
"Swear it," Arya said. "Swear it by the gods."
"By all the gods of sea and air, and even him of fire, I swear it." He placed a hand in the mouth of the weirwood. "By the seven new gods and the old gods beyond count, I swear it."
He has sworn. "Even if I named the king ...."
"Speak the name, and death will come. On the morrow, at the turn of the moon, a year from this day, it will come. A man does not fly like a bird, but one foot moves and then another and one day a man is there, and a king dies." He knelt beside her, so they were face-to-face, "A girl whispers if she fears to speak aloud. Whisper it now. Is it Joffrey?"
Arya put her lips to his ear. "It's Jaqen H'ghar.
"Even in the burning barn, with walls of flame towering all around and him in chains, he had not seemed so distraught as he did now. "A girl . . . she makes a jest."
"You swore. The gods heard you swear."
"The gods did hear," There was a knife in his hand suddenly, its blade thin as her little finger. Whether it was meant for her or him, Arya could not say. "A girl will weep. A girl will lose her only friend."
"You're not my friend. A friend would help me." She stepped away from him, balanced on the balls of her feet in case he threw his knife. "I'd never kill a friend."
Jaqen's smile came and went. "A girl might . . . name another name then, if a friend did help?"
"A girl might," she said. "If a friend did help."
The knife vanished. "Come."
"Now?" She had never thought he would act so quickly."
A man hears the whisper of sand in a glass. A man will not sleep until a girl unsays a certain name. Now, evil child."
I'm not an evil child, she thought, I am a direwolf, and the ghost in Harrenhal. She put her broomstick back in its hiding place and followed him from the godswood.
Jennifer McBride
32. vegetathalas
Likewise to tnh, I'd appreciate people not posting "reminders" about things. A lot of the fun is watching Leah's first-time reactions to things, and not all of us who read the first time had an encyclopic memory. If Leah remembers this stuff on her own, fine, but if she doesn't, you may be steering her down paths she wouldn't have otherwise taken.

Pointing out things to keep in mind could potentially also be spoiler-rific because of your own selection bias. If you say "remember, the color of Renly's socks was green", you may be saying Renly's sock color is important to future plot developments. Then you suck away some of Leah's/newbies' surprise and enjoyment when Arya is eaten by the Renly sock monster.

Just be careful, that's all I'm saying.
Maitrey Deshpande
33. LittleWolf
@ various

Jaqen is Lorathi (i.e. from the Free City of Lorath), not Braavosi. Although, that could just be one of his identities.

Just sayin'
Nathan Martin
34. lerris
You're wrong about one thing, Leigh.
Valar Morghulis does in fact mean hugs and puppies. Its sister saying Valar Dohaeris means hugs and kittens.

Hope that clears things up a little :)
35. D-MAC
@30. RobMRobM

"Me thinks he doth protest too much"

Of course she's referring to your post(s)... as was I. Apparently, most of us have a much looser definition of what constitutes a "spoiler" than you seem to, but however you may try to defend your "content", you must realize by now that you are percieved as a habitual offender, and for all intents and purposes, perception IS the reality. While I can appreciate the place this comes from, you need to put your enthusiasm in check, and excercise a little more restraint, and consider how your post might be "percieved" by others, and maybe use that as your guide. I hope you take this in the spirit in which it was offered, as i also find your posts can be insightful at times, at least when you stay within the confines of the reading.
36. a1ay
I have lost my copy of A Game of Thrones, but I would love to re-read
the fight scene with the Kings Guard. While it wasn't on screen, I'm
pretty sure we heard Syrio die.

No, we don't. Just checked. He takes down the four guards, Ser Meryn appears in armour, the last thing we see is Syrio having his weighted practice stick cut in two by Ser Meryn's sword, then Arya runs away.

Things don't look good for him, but we don't see him die. Or get captured, for that matter. And, by this stage, we haven't heard anything more about him: no one's mentioned him again.
37. Klytus Im Bored
To start, I've read all the books several times. So there's not a spoiler around that would spoil me. I enjoy reading Leigh's commentary simply to hear her thoughts on situations, characters and plots. Fresh eyes, if you will.

However, some of you guys just don't know when to put a sock in it. It's great that you are enthusiastic, but even by preferencing certain topics over the others, you are spoiling things. How about sticking to commentary that strictly adheres to the current chapters, or any prior chapters? How hard could that truly truly be?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
38. tnh
RobM, how many times do you have to hear this before you hear it?
Rob Munnelly
39. RobMRobM
Teresa (and D-Mac) - I work hard to avoid express or implied spoilers here. As we've done on the longstanding WoT re-read, the group is working throough the grey areas to see what works and what doesn't. (E.g., I've learned that reminding readers who Roose Bolton is, as done upthread, is not welcomed by the group and it is something I've avoided for quite some time. And the Renly sock issue, as discussed beautifully, is another.) But I didn't think what I posted - telling Leigh that the next chapter, to me, was the best in the book, without detail, and asking her to get started early and to do justice to it - would be considered problematical. I asked the question upthread seriously and in good faith. If it is a problem for the group or the mod, I'll try to avoid it.

Lindy Brown
41. lbrown
First time reader here. I just read these chapters today. I've been following the read since April when I picked up the first book and have now caught up.

I definitely was surprised to read Leigh say the prisoners were a set up but looking back all the clues were there. So Arya's act of awesome wasn't even that. Disappointing. Why did Jaquen give her the coin and pass phrase, or whatever it was? It seems his debt to her was paid so why did he give her those? Does he just like her?

I figured that Joffrey seems to be next on Stannis and Melisandre's hit list, so didn't think it would be any good for Arya to choose him as her 3rd choice.
42. a1ay
Why did Jaquen give her the coin and pass phrase, or whatever it was? It seems his debt to her was paid so why did he give her those? Does he just like her?

My own take was that the three deaths he gave her were his repaying the debt - three lives for the three lives (his, Biter's, Rorge's) that Arya saved. The coin is just in recognition of her ruthlessness.

Of course, we don't yet know what's going to happen when Arya tries to spend that coin. Might not be anything nice.
43. Amal
Wow... I am at the same point of the story... :D :)
44. Black Dread
Why did Jaquen give her the coin and pass phrase...?

I always assumed Jaquen recognized two things in Arya and was trying to recruit her:
1. Talent - he has seen Arya fight and handle herself in a crisis.
2. Ruthlessness and Brains - he has observed her choices and her utter lack of hesitation to kill with a word or a knife.

Everyone loves Arya, but damn, she could become something truly terrible in every sense of the word.
Gary Singer
45. AhoyMatey
Eight boo's, Leigh? Well done, that must be a record! :)

Arya definitely has the killer instinct. When reading the name she whispered, years ago, I thought it was a brilliant move on her part to get what she wanted.

As far as Joffrey is concerned, I'd say everyone wants him dead, even George RR Martin himself! In one of his interviews, he said something to the effect of "Everyone wishes the little s**t was dead!".
46. faiz Imam
re: Spoiling by hilighting upcoming scenes.

Leigh has a history(unless she is lying on her own posts) of procrastinating and sometimes writing these recaps at the last minute. There have also been previous examples of posts where many found that her work did not do justice to the material at hand(I do not know to what extent these two phenomena overlap).

Thus I personally find that it is not spoilery to say that the next(not soon, or in a while, but specifically next) chapter is somewhat content heavy and may require uncharacteristically longer time to process.
47. Wortmauer
Spoilers: Much as I respect tnh*, I have to support RobMRobM on this one. He has very much changed his ways. As I recall, I was pretty hard on him for spoilery behavior for the first, I dunno, half dozen reread posts? What he does now is nothing like what he did in the early days. And for this week's brouhaha, I think my own post @16 was more spoilery than his @7, @11. (None of them were IMO over the line.)
* And yes, I recognise that "it's not just me kvetching" and she was reacting to other readers kvetching.
Anyway, just saying, I don't think it's fair to paint Rob as someone who can't learn from his mistakes. I don't think he's "protesting too much" or playing dumb, I think this time he had good reason to not understand what was objectionable.

lbrown@44: I definitely was surprised to read Leigh say the prisoners were a set up but looking back all the clues were there. So Arya's act of awesome wasn't even that. Disappointing.
I think it was pretty awesome, she's one of my favorite preteen sociopaths (they'd better have metal detectors at her elementary school, is what I'm saying), but yeah, in the end it wasn't very meaningful. Oh and good catch, those of you first-timers who caught that the mercenary thing was a setup from the start. I certainly didn't.
I figured that Joffrey seems to be next on Stannis and Melisandre's hit list, so didn't think it would be any good for Arya to choose him as her 3rd choice.
They do seem to be on a roll, don't they? I think I'd like to read the scene where both Jaqen and Melisandre are trying to assassinate Joffrey by magic at the same time, though. I mean, that would be so full of win. Then they could try to take out each other.
49. Cloglord
Uhm, I think that all the complaining about the potential for potential possible spoilers is way more offensive to me than anything I've read in the comments to this point, and I've been following this walkthrough and its comments since its inception.

I get it, some people think that its okay to test the boundaries of what would be considered a spoiler, and some people take it upon themselves to police them. I have kids and they often test the line of appropriate. They also often take it upon themselves to berate each other for percieved slights. Neither behavior is one that welcome from my children, and I find it equally childish here.

If the Mod or Leigh want to weigh in as the "parents" here, by all means, but in the meantime please recognize that the bickering that is going on here is more annying and distracting to my enjoyment of this process than any spoiler that has appeared here.
Lindy Brown
50. lbrown
Thanks @42 & 44. Makes sense.

@ 43 Race you to the end of the book. :) No, you'll probably get there first. I'm a slow reader.

@ 47. Wortmauer
They do seem to be on a roll, don't they? I think I'd like to read the scene where both Jaqen and Melisandre are trying to assassinate Joffrey by magic at the same time, though. I mean, that would be so full of win. Then they could try to take out each other.

That would be so awesome. Whoever won would be my new favorite character.
51. Phonos
I have to admit I'm very surprised with how people have responded to RobM's post #11, calling it a spoiler. If someone lent you a book and said "I really enjoyed it" would you tell them they were spoiling it? I hope not, but that's what some comments here amounting to. If this level of commenting is considered spoiling, then can I strongly suggest that either:

1) Comments are just turned off for this read.

2) People who think that the book is being spoiled by such comments don't bother looking at the comments at all.


3) (for the particularly sensitive) don't read leigh's post at all, because they may spoil the book for you.
Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
"I think it was pretty awesome, she's one of my favorite preteen sociopaths"
I wouldn't categorize Arya as a sociopath. She is concerned about others (her family, her wolf, ...). She's in a bad spot and is almost certainly traumatized to some extent but I don't see sociopathy. Joffrey on the other hand seems to have many indications. No empathy, actively enjoys killing, poor impulse control, grandiose thoughts, ...
Rob Munnelly
53. RobMRobM
@47, 52. I strongly agree with shalter on this.

p.s. I'm having deja vu on this topic. Did we discuss this earlier in this re-read or am I thinking of some other ASOIF group? I recall an indepth discussion somewhere, sometime, that even got a bit testy.
Jeremy Raiz
54. Jezdynamite
Hey RobMRobM
I don't think your comments above are spoilers at all.
56. Pat_Pat
Comment from a consistent lurker:
If people (tnh, D-MAC) want to complain about spoilers, perhaps they should target posts like 16, 18, 24, 33, and perhaps a couple others. Having read most of the posts in this thread, I must agree with Cloglord @49, in that the near weekly bickering about what is and isn't a spoiler is more distracting and irritating than any of the potential spoilers. If someone needs to be 'chastised', do it privately, so that the rest of us don't have to see it... Rob @11 is not particularly spoiler-esque anyway.
...and back to lurking.
57. phuzz
my 2p worth
I don't think saying that the next chapter is awsome is much of a spoiler, after all, we all know by now that GRRM is more than capable of writing awsome chapters. Personally, although I've read the books, I can't remember what's coming up next and now I'm full of anticipation for what's going to happen, and Leigh's reaction. It's defenitely much less spoilery than the 'Coming up next week!' bit you get at the end of far to many TV series (dear tv companies please stop doing that, thanks).
A spoiler would be more like saying "if you thought X was amazing in this chapter just wait until next week!". This is more like that feeling you get when there's not many pages left in the book and you just know there's going to be some kind of final resolution before the end of the story...

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