Jun 29 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 25

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 25 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 51 (“Jon”) and 52 (“Sansa”).

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 51: Jon

What Happens
Qhorin Halfhand and the party he’s taken into the Skirling Pass observe the fire high above that has given away the position of Mance Rayder’s scouts, and Halfhand decides to send two to take care of them. Jon and a ranger named Stonesnake volunteer; Halfhand agrees, but tells Jon he must leave Ghost behind. Jon and Stonesnake proceed up the pass, by an extremely precarious route that horses could not have traversed, and Jon thinks to himself that as dangerous as the Frostfangs were, they are beautiful too.

Stonesnake guides them so that they free-climb up above where the scouts are camped, and Jon wishes for the courage Bran used to have when he climbed. They see that there are three wildlings camped below instead of the two they had assumed, but one is asleep, and so the rangers attack. Stonesnake goes for the one with the horn and takes him out before he can blow it and alert the rest of the raiders, and Jon kills the other just as the third wakes up. Jon is about to slit the third scout’s throat when he sees that it is a girl, and freezes. Stonesnake tells him to finish her, but Jon thinks that she reminds him of Arya, and asks if she will yield instead; she agrees.

Stonesnake points out that nothing was said about taking prisoners, and also that she is a “spearwife,” and will gut them the first chance she gets. Jon asks for the girl’s name (Ygritte) and tells her his in return; she shudders, calling “Snow” an evil name, but Jon tells her it is a bastard’s name, and that his father is Lord Eddard Stark. Ygritte tells them they ought to burn the corpses, and Jon agrees, remembering Othor, but Stonesnake rolls them off the cliff to be eaten by shadowcats. Stonesnake and Jon try to interrogate Ygritte about what Rayder’s men are doing in the mountains, but she refuses to answer their questions.

Jon asks if the men were her kin, and she answers “no more than you are.” Jon is confused, and she tells him about “the song of the winter rose,” in which Bael, who was King-beyond-the-Wall a long time ago, decided to prove the Lord Stark of the time (who Ygritte calls “Brandon the Daughterless”) a liar when he said Bael was a coward. Bael posed as a bard and got himself invited into Winterfell, and performed so well Lord Brandon granted him a boon. Bael asked for a winter rose, a rare and beautiful flower; Lord Brandon granted it, but the next day Bael vanished along with Lord Brandon’s only daughter, leaving the rose in her place. Then he returned her a year later with a child, as “payment for the rose he’d plucked unasked,” and that child became the next Lord Stark, so Jon has Bael’s blood in him same as she. Jon declares the whole thing a falsehood, and she shrugs.

“Thirty years later, when Bael was King-beyond-the-Wall and led the free folk south, it was young Lord Stark who met him at the Frozen Ford . . . and killed him, for Bael would not harm his own son when they met sword to sword.”

“So the son slew the father instead,” said Jon.

“Aye,” she said, “but the gods hate kinslayers, even when they kill unknowing. When Lord Stark returned from the battle and his mother saw Bael’s head upon his spear, she threw herself from a tower in her grief. Her son did not long outlive her. One o’ his lords peeled the skin off him and wore him for a cloak.”

“Your Bael was a liar,” he told her, certain now.

“No,” Ygritte said, “but a bard’s truth is different than yours or mine.”

Halfhand and the rest arrive the next morning, and Ygritte watches with shock as Jon greets Ghost affectionately. Qhorin tells Jon they cannot keep Ygritte as a prisoner, and that he must do what needs to be done. He leaves Jon with Ygritte alone, to make it easier. Ygritte briefly tries to recruit Jon to the raiders, but when that fails, accepts her fate quietly. Jon prepares to execute her, and she urges him to make it quick.

Jon lowered his sword. “Go,” he muttered.

Ygritte stared.

“Now,” he said, “before my wits return. Go.”

She went.

Ah, jeez. So many conflicting feelings, so little time.

On the one hand, my immediate response to Jon’s decision at the end of this chapter was to think Aw, Jon, I knew I was right to like you best.

Even with how stupid a move that was, strategically, and how likely it is to get him and maybe all the rest of the Brothers killed, I still can’t do anything but nod and say Yeah, pretty much. Because insofar as I have any inkling at all of how my own feelings about people-killing might go if I was ever (heaven forfend) in a position to have to make that decision personally, I’m fairly certain that I would be right on the same page with Jon when it comes to killing someone in cold blood, versus killing them in, er, hot blood.

Which is to say, the latter is – well, not fine, obviously, but acceptable in combat and/or life-or-death situations, and the former is not. It feels kind of wacky sometimes to make the differentiation between the two when the end result is the same – i.e. a corpse – but dammit, there is a difference. Mostly because, I think, the very condition of “in cold blood” means that the situation is, by definition, no longer a life-or-death one. I can think of exceptions to that, of course (and actually it can be argued pretty persuasively that this case is an exception, considering what I just said about it maybe getting all the Brothers killed), but as a general rule it holds, as least as far as I am concerned.

In any case, right or wrong I feel like I would have felt the same way, and made the same decision, that Jon did here. *shrug*

So there’s that. But on the other hand, there’s why Jon spared Ygritte in the first place, which was because she is a woman, and there, as you might have guessed, I have a problem. Although it is not as unqualified a problem as I might have normally had, because at this point I’m still unclear on what Ygritte’s level of consent is here regarding her presence as a soldier in the first place.

If she didn’t want to be there, but had no choice in the matter, then I have much less of an issue with Jon not killing her; but if she did want to be there, and freely chose to be a “spearwife” (and the very existence of that term tends to make me favor this possibility), then Jon should have killed her and had no qualms about it, in my book. If you choose to be a soldier, then you choose what potentially comes with it, and that should apply regardless of gender.

Of course, there is also the point that Jon could have no way of determining beforehand whether she’d chosen to be there or not. In which case the logical assumption would be that she had, and therefore he should have killed her.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, I agree with Jon’s second decision not to kill Ygritte, but not with his first. Which is kind of hilarious when you think about it.

As for her story about Bael and Lord Brandon, it sounds like total self-aggrandizing bullshit on Bael’s part (I mean, c’mon: dude wrote a heroic epic song about himself), which is probably a sign that every word of it is true, because being narratively contrary is just how Mr. Martin rolls, it seems.

I’m really unclear, though, on how long ago this happened, if it’s true, and even if it is true why anyone should care. So there’s some outcrossing in the Stark line with some less than savory lineages a zillion generations ago, whoopee. And this should concern me why, again? This is probably just my commoner roots showing, of course; it’s probably pretty damn important to noble-type folks whose entire system of ownership and government is based on heredity.

(Although, totally random sidebar: if is to be believed – yeah, I know, shut up, it’s just for fun – if it’s to be believed, I totally have both French and English nobility in my lineage, possibly even (very minor) royalty. I’mma get me some porphyria and a coat of arms, y’all! Whoo!)

Also, dear noble families both fictional and otherwise: please stop naming all your kids the same damn name, it is really pissing me off, kthx. Which the hell Brandon Stark is this, and do I even need to care? I hope not. Well, I think I can be pretty sure it’s not Ned’s brother Brandon Stark (right?), but other than that, blah.

Although that mention of one of the lords wearing Stark’s skin is (a) gross, and (b) maybe a reference to the flayed man that is the sigil of the Boltons, which I only remember the mention of because of (a) gross? So that is also possibly a point in its favor for not being total bullshit.

Anyway, so Ygritte’s run off, and she’s either going to get Jon very killed or she’s going to be the one to save him from being killed. Or she’s going to do something else I haven’t thought of. There, glad I could clear that up!


Chapter 52: Sansa

What Happens
There is fire everywhere near the city, and Dontos tells Sansa at one of their meetings in the godswood that it is Stannis and the Imp’s savages both, each attempting to smoke or starve the other out. He tells her Stannis burned the godswood at Storm’s End, and intends to do the same to the city’s Great Sept as well. Sansa is glad of it, remembering her father’s execution on the steps of the place. Dontos assures her that he has spoken to a certain “good friend” who will hire a ship to take Sansa to safety “when the time is right”. Sansa says they should go now, but Dontos points out that the Imp has the city locked down since Stannis’s vanguard (which by itself equaled the whole of the Guard) appeared two nights ago. Dontos tries to reassure that Stannis will never get across the river, and that he will come through for her; Sansa tries to believe him. He is drunk, and tries to kiss her, but Sansa manages to avoid it, and leaves.

She goes up to the roof of her tower, plagued with fear and sorrow. Clegane finds her there, scaring her badly, and mocks that she was not so afraid of his face when he was saving her from the mob. Sansa remembers it vividly, and tries to thank him, but Clegane mocks this as well. He tells her killing people is the only joy that matters, and reminisces cruelly about Ned’s execution. He rants that knights are for killing, but he outstrips them all at that.

“So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.”

Except your brother, Sansa thought, but she had better sense than to say it aloud.

She asks him if he is afraid of what the gods will do to him for the evil he’s done, but he laughs and says there are no more gods than there are true knights. Sansa flees from him. That night she dreams of the riot again, except in her dream she gets caught by the mob and feels like they are disemboweling her, and wakes to find her bedclothes sticky with blood.

“No, please,” Sansa whimpered, “please, no.” She didn’t want this happening to her, not now, not here, not now, not now, not now, not now.

Crazily, she tries to burn the evidence, including her mattress, until her maids burst in and stop her. They clean her up and send her to the queen, who has summoned her for breakfast. Cersei asks her why she tried to burn her bed, and Sansa replies that the blood frightened her; Cersei tells her it is only her “first flowering.” Sansa says she’d thought it would be “more magical,” and Cersei laughs and tells her a woman’s life is “nine parts mess to one part magic.” She asks if Sansa knows what becoming a woman means.

“It means that I am now fit to be wedded and bedded,” said Sansa, “and to bear children for the king.”

Cersei notes wryly that Sansa no longer seems enthused at the prospect, and acknowledges that Joffrey can be “difficult.” She confides how Robert would run away to his hunting every time Cersei was in labor, but mentions that Jaime would refuse to leave. She says Sansa can’t hope for that kind of devotion from Joffrey, since her sister Arya shamed him in front of Sansa, but that she will love her children even if she doesn’t love her husband.

“I love His Grace with all my heart,” Sansa said.

The queen sighed. “You had best learn some new lies, and quickly. Lord Stannis will not like that one, I promise you.”

Sansa says that the High Septon says Stannis will never win since Joffrey is the rightful king, and Cersei smirks and reminisces about how Joffrey never liked for Robert to hold him, ever, even though all his bastards loved him. She says Robert had the same “disease” as Tyrion: they want to be loved. Sansa replies that everyone wants to be loved.

“I see flowering hasn’t made you any brighter,” said Cersei. “Sansa, permit me to share a bit of womanly wisdom with you on this very special day. Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.”


But, rather uncomfortably supported by the evidence, at least from Cersei’s experience, I guess. And Sansa’s too. Also, I have a dreadful feeling this is Cersei’s version of being nurturing and supportive, which is just terrifying.

Also also, maybe it’s just the benefit of inside knowledge, but wow with how close Cersei is skirting here to spilling the beans about Robert and Jaime and all of that. Is she that convinced Sansa is too stupid to ever get it, or is she deliberately playing with fire, so to speak?

Although, I suppose it probably doesn’t seem like Sansa would have the werewithal to use the information against Cersei even if she did figure it out. But even so, Cersei’s indulging in some seriously risky behavior here, and her comment about Stannis is probably a hint about why. I don’t think Cersei believes they’re going to win, so she’s probably like, why the hell not tell the truth if I’m going to be dead by next week? 

Of course, I think Tyrion’s going to prove her wrong, but then I would.

As for Cersei’s assertion that her darling Joffrey is “difficult”: *coughchokecough*

I do not think that word means what you think it means, madam. Unless it seriously doesn’t mean what I think it means. Gah.

Also: aw, man. Starting your first period is usually at least a tiny bit traumatic (not to mention, as Cersei says, a total mess until you get it under control), but this knocks the usual dread of having to deal with bleeding for days on end into a cocked hat, because oh my God there could not POSSIBLY be worse timing. As Sansa is all too heartbreakingly aware. Poor, poor darling.

Sometimes I feel very, very lucky that a physical mess was all I had to worry about on this score, and that the idea that the onset of menses is the harbinger of what amounts to the involuntary assignment of a life sentence is an utterly foreign one to me. Really.

Dontos continues to seriously worry me. That dude’s cheese is rapidly sliding off his cracker, if you ask me, and it is supremely sucky that this is what Sansa has to settle for in terms of allies. I’m starting to wonder if this “good friend” of his is imaginary. And I’m also starting to think it might be better if he is imaginary, because I think Dontos’s ability to accurately judge acceptable risk and trustworthiness and, you know, to think, period, is rapidly going down the toilet. Better that Sansa be let down than that she be betrayed, sez me.


[Dontos:] “…the Spider pays in gold for any little trifle. I think Moon Boy has been his for years.”

“Moon Boy”? Who the hell is that? Did I miss a memo? (Probably.)

Of course, my worry about Dontos pales next to my worry about Clegane, who is (in my opinion) having a seriously negative reaction to the undeniable (in my opinion) fact that he likes Sansa, as a person even, and worse, that he cares about her, and this is just utterly antithetical to his loudly protested-too-much stance of Fuck Alla Y’all, I Only Care About Me, And Also I Am Evil, Do You Hear Me? EVIL! Fear Me! Phear!

Someone that internally conflicted and also that naturally inclined toward violence in the first place is a walking powderkeg with a lit fuse, and I’m really hoping Sansa manages to survive it when, and not if, the man finally blows.

So here’s hoping this siege/battle actually takes place before the end of the book, because I am kind of over this buildup. Here’s also hoping Melisandre doesn’t harsh my Epic Battle anticipation by sending over one of her magical shadow assassin babies to off… er.

Well, actually, if it offs Joffrey I’m pretty okay with that, really, but it BETTER NOT off Tyrion, because that shit is not on. You keep your hands off my Tyrion, magical shadow assassin babies! *shakes finger*

Well, I guess I’ll find out whether I’m going to have to pitch a shitfit re: magical shadow assassin babies Soon Enough, eh? And in the meantime, you have a weekend to enjoy, don’t you? DON’T YOU? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Later, taters!

1. arcee
Moon Boy is a fool at the court of King's Landing.
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Leigh - Moon Boy is the Court fool in Kings Landing. He was mentioned at some point in AGOT.
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
So, henceforth should we call you Lady Leigh? My Lady.
Stefan Mitev
4. Bergmaniac
The whole scene between Jon and Ygritte is so illogical and cliche. Why would the Halfhand leave this task to Jon and leave him alone? He's the one in charge, it should be his call. And it's obvious that a green recruit grown up in the sexist culture of Westeros would be quite likely to disobey this order.

"What do you think a knight is for, girl? You think it’s all taking favors from ladies and looking fine in gold plate? Knights are for killing.” - I love this passage. The Hound is spot on as usual.
5. corejay
Even though he lived some 100 years ago, and the story is probably false, I think the story of Bael the Bard is pretty significant, if on a slightly parallel level. Harpist King-to-be running off with a Stark girl and disappearing for a year? Didn't that happen some not-so-long time ago in Westeros?
6. faiz Imam
You know nothing Leigh Butler.

sorry ya'll, it had to be said...
7. av willis
Moon boy is the mentally disabled jester that's in the background of the court at kings landing. He's kind of the anti-Hodor.
8. Subbak
I've heard that statistically, almost everyone in Europe is descended from Charlemagne. So allow me to be unimpressed with your claim to nobility...

Other than that, the Stark skin thing is totally a reference to the Bolton. But then again, Bael probably knew about that when he made the tale so there's really no way to know if it's true. And like with most Epic Tales passed from ancient times, it doesn't really matter.
Oh, and for the time: it's King Brandon so it happened before Aegon's Conquest, 300 years before the beginning of the book. Other than that, the Night Watch's been there for 8000 years or so, the Starks have been kings for probably a few thousand years, so there's really no way to tell.
9. Subbak
@Bergmaniac4: Well, wait till Jon's next chapter before you say more about that...
Stefan Mitev
10. Bergmaniac
I've read the next Jon chapter, several times. The explanation there is really weak IMO.
Aaron McGrady
11. westernstorm
Moon Boy is Stannis' fool on Dragon Stone, Davos talked about him in one of his early chapters.
12. Lsana
One subtle thing about the Sansa chapter: someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that that this is the first time Sansa is told that Arya is dead. Prior to this, whenever she thought of Arya, she thought of her as either on a ship somewhere or back in Winterfell. She knew Arya hadn't been caught but assumed she was somewhere happy and safe.

So in addition to dealing with Dontos, the Hound, Cersei, her first period, the fact that she's about to be married to the demon child-king, and the minor matter of a war coming to her doorstep, Sansa also has to deal with her feelings about the death of her sister. This girl's having quite the day, isn't she?


Stannis's fool is named Patchface. Moon Boy is the fool in the court at King's Landing.
13. Black Dread
Patch-face is Stannis' fool.
14. VioletAmnesia
Moon Boy - Kings landing fool
Patchface - Dragonstone fool who plays with Stanis's Daughter
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
The Fool names are pretty cool. I may have to think of one for special occasions.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
"Except your brother, Sansa thought, but she had better sense than to say it aloud."

Yes, our girl has gotten more savvy as the story has progressed, thank goodness.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
Berg - I agree with Sub that it's best to hold off on next Jon chapter talk until said chapter. Then we can have at it, eh?
18. NotInventedHere
I would interpret the "peeled his skin off and wore it like a cloak" to mean that one of the lords took on the mantle of being king, taking Brandon's place. Figurative, not literal; the bard's truth is not the same as yours or mine.

Of course I have no idea what this means or why we should care, but maybe we find out at some point.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
By the way, note the juxtaposition of Osha killing Ironborn while escaping from Winterfell with Bran and the Reeds and Jon interacting with a "spearwife" wildling in the next chapter. If Osha is any indication, Ygritte is probably a pretty tough cookie.
Deana Whitney
20. Braid_Tug
I'm suddenly reminded that GRRM made Sansa 13. Traumatic in the extreme.

And Jon is 15, of a noble house. Sorry, their code of honor and conduct is just different. To expect modern egalitarianism out of this story when it comes to killing (or almost anything) is … a waste of effort?

How clear and logical was anyone’s thinking at those ages?

Since my royal ancestry comes from the distaff side & from an unsanctioned union (bastard) , no arms for me. Darn.
21. EvilClosetMonkey
@ 18, I like that interpretation but I'm pretty sure the skin cloak is literal. I'll attempt to white out why in deference to those with significant spoiler sensitivity. This is mostly flavoring/backstory/history and I personally don't consider it a spoiler:

The Boltons & Starks had a contentious history prior to Aegon's Conquest 300 years ago. IIRC, the Starks never lost the kingship during this time but they did put down several Bolton lead rebellions. The Boltons are well known for flaying their enemies though and did in fact wear the skins of their enemies as cloaks in times past.
Mike Lapp
22. EvilClosetMonkey
Please white out the above portion like I intended. Thanks!
23. TBGH
I was amused and appalled to find I was descended from the evil king in Braveheart. On the other hand, if Braveheart can be believed I'm actually descended from William Wallace which opens the whole can of worms on how far back you can trust geneologies.

Back to the post, I think Jon would have reacted the same way to being told to kill a 13 year-old boy who was with the men. And teenagers and even preteens have a long history of being used in warfare. In the warfare of this era, size and strength matter a lot so he would feel less threatened and therefore less likely to kill anyone a lot smaller and weaker than him whatever their gender.

Poor Sansa and yes the battle needs to get here soon.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
24. tnh
Unless your more recent ancestors belonged to a population whose genealogical data either wasn't written down or didn't survive, it's hard to avoid being traceable back to French/English/Scottish/etc. nobility and royalty, because they're the ones whose lives got recorded.
z drake cupsford
25. zdrakec
"...there’s why Jon spared Ygritte in the first place, which was because she is a woman, and there, as you might have guessed, I have a problem."

Sorry, can't agree (yes, I'm male, but that's not pertinent here). Any reason you can find to spare someone's life, when they are at your mercy, is I think, a good reason.
Deana Whitney
26. Braid_Tug
@ TBGH; never take your history from a popular movie. :-)
You may not be the gay king's relation, but you are not from William Wallace either.
And yes, genealogical data can be very questionable.
George Jong
27. IndependentGeorge
RE Moon Boy: This is a minor point, but I can't remember this has already been revealed in the text, so I'm putting it in white to be safe:

//Sansa once remarked that his comments were so snide and cutting that she thought he was in fact likely smarter than the nobles he was entertaining.//

That's actually kind of frightening if he is indeed one of Varys' creatures.
George Jong
28. IndependentGeorge
/Double. My apologies.
Steven Halter
29. stevenhalter
The Jon chapter had some quite lovely imagery. I thought it was interesting that GRRM has used some of his nicest wrting for this most bleak of places.
Bael's tale may or may not be true, but the blue rose being representative of the Stark daughter is pretty interesting to me.
Sansa's position does seem to have gotten more precarious. None of the people who seem to like her seem all that stable, well I guess none of the people who seem not to like her seem that stable either so, I guess, they are well matched.
Sky Thibedeau
30. SkylarkThibedeau
Info on Ancestry dot com too is as reliable as that on wikipedia. Only so much as the people who entered it are accurate. One distant cousin traced our family line back to Pocahontas on Ancestry dot com but I know by my mother's research in the 70's and all the stories written about our ancestors in Sullivan's Hollow Mississippi we came there from Belfast to SC in 1790 following some of the Troubles. We're no relation to Matoaka Bowling-Sullivan at all. Conveniently all my maternal grandmothers back to 1810 are buried in a line in a baptist church cemetary in the woods.
Rob Munnelly
31. RobMRobM
Records in Ireland tend to go to heck in a handbasket somewhere in the early 1800s. I'm pretty much out of luck at proving myself to be the cousin of Brad Pitt or President Obama unless my handful of Scots and English lines go anywhere (and, to date, they also run out of steam in early 1800s).

My brother traced his wife's family, found out they went back to one of the founding families in Portsmouth NH, and instantly connected to geneologies going back several hundred years. (Coincidentally, they figured out that their babysitter was a member of the same family and was a tenth cousin to my nephews and niece. Weird)
32. TBGH
@26 Never really thought I was descended from William Wallace. Just amusing to see the movie and realize the potential implications for me IF it were true.

And I was mainly appalled at being descended from that particular line of kings because they were selfish enough to invade France and then stupid enough to lose the throne because of it. (To summarize a complicated situation to unforgivable brevity)
33. Black Dread
TBGH - Unless William Wallace impregnated Isabella of France when she was 10, and she had a 7-year pregnancy, you aren't related.

Isabella was quite a woman and Long-Shanks was pretty badass, so I wouldn't be dissappointed.
Zachary Sellinger
34. Archangelxiii
Oh wow. I had completely forgotten about that story of Bael.
Clever Martin is clever. And now I'm really thankful Leigh is doing this read.
35. NotInventedHere
@21: Interesting. I haven't read that far so wasn't aware of the additional back story, I think when I read the books I lost steam in the 2nd, and I'm not even 100% sure I finished it. These chapters are only vaguely tickling my memory. Hopefully I'll make it through the rest with the read through (we do have at least the first 4 in the house, I just lost interest during the long wait between 2 and 3 and never picked 3 up, even after my wife bought it).
36. David B
Anyway, so Ygritte’s run off, and she’s either going to get Jon very killed or she’s going to be the one to save him from being killed. Or she’s going to do something else I haven’t thought of.
Without getting too spoilerific, you are absolutely correct.
Lindy Brown
37. lbrown
@Leigh: So, I guess what I’m saying is, I agree with Jon’s second decision not to kill Ygritte, but not with his first. Which is kind of hilarious when you think about it.
Makes perfect sense to me. :)
Also: aw, man. Starting your first period is usually at least a tiny bit traumatic ….. oh my God there could not POSSIBLY be worse timing.
Well, actually, maybe this is not such bad timing. They don't really have time for a wedding right now, I don't think. The Lannisters have actually offered a union between Joffrey and Margarey, although we don’t know yet if the Tyrells will accept. This actually seems better timing than if it had happened let’s say earlier in the book, before the Lannisters had the whole Lannister-Tyrell union idea and Renly was still alive. We'll just have to see. Of course, I don't think Sansa knows anything about the negotiations between Tyrell and Lannister.
Well, actually, if it offs Joffrey I’m pretty okay with that, really, but it BETTER NOT off Tyrion,
Joffrey is the king so is much more likely to be the target than Tyrion. But I agree, no, don’t kill Tyrion!
Lindy Brown
38. lbrown
@ 12. Lsana-I'm pretty sure that that this is the first time Sansa is told that Arya is dead.
I remember that Sansa didn't seem to have a reaction to this news at all. I thought that odd, unless Sansa totally didn't believe Cersei about her sister's death.
39. TheBB
By the way, in the intro it says that this is part 24, which is extra confusing because part 24 doesn't feature in the overview (jumps straight from 23 to 25).
40. XLCR
I know just from the form of my name that my ancestors were gentry who served in the Polish cavalry. In England they would have been called knights or squires. I do have a Scottish grandmother in there somewhere, but I see her relationship to nobility as unlikely.
Leigh Butler
41. leighdb
TheBB @ 39:

Whoops, that was a typo in the post itself. Corrected!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
42. tnh
RobM: Irish ancestry is notoriously difficult to trace. Early New Englanders are dead easy -- most of the early Mormon converts were descended from them, so the work's already been done for you. That's my lot on my mother's side: John Parker of Lexington, Elder John Crandall of Westerly, Christian Kniep, Ethan Allen, and a passel of Mayflower people. My husband, far more amusingly, is descended from Basil Hayden, the guy on the Old Grand-Dad bourbon label.
43. Red9
@ 32 - ermmm think your history is a bit wrong. Edward III didn't "invade" France - he was already Duke of Aquitaine. He got p****ed off at being asked to swear fealty to his cousin, the son of a mere count when he wasn't offered the throne of France in his own right. His aims were to (a) secure independence for Aquitaine from French overlordship and (b) keep the fighting away from England. He did a pretty good job. Shame his father (and to a lesser extent his son and great great grandson - aided by French dodgy genes) were far less able in the round (though the Black Prince rocked on the battle field). And as to William Wallace - hats off but from an English viewpoint, I give you Halidon Hill and Neville's Cross (both very bloody noses for the Scots long after Bannockburn)
44. owleyes
I'd totally forgotten about Bael's story. The blue flower being representative of the Stark girl is verrrrry interesting, especially considering Dany's vision in the House of the Undying of the blue flower growing in a chink in an ice wall. Lends to certain significant crazy fan theories regarding certain someone's parentage.
45. owleyes
Also, I know there are a lot of WoT fans here, so does anyone else notice some cool similarities between the Aiel and Wildling cultures? Spearwives, Ygritte's red hair, etc..
46. Black Dread
NotInventedHere - You didn't read A Storm of Swords?! And it's sitting right there in your house?

By far my favorite book in the series - maybe the best Fantasy book I've ever read.
Katie McNeal
47. Katiya
Leigh, I find it very amusing that I was recently going back through the WOT re-read, (and I can't remember if this was in one of the older posts or newer), but you made a comment about how you were...perturbed, let's say...about the lack of any name overlap in WOT. And here...well, it made me smile a little.

Spot on commentary as usual though...keep up the good work! Loving it!
Sorcha O
48. sushisushi
I had also totally forgotten about Ygritte's story about Bael, which is interesting on a whole load of levels, not least is a Bolton appearing. This Brandon can't have done all that much else if he was known as Brandon the Daughterless, and not anything more heroic (I bet Maester Luwin wasn't including *that* story in his education of the young Starks…)

Also, I would just like to note that Jon has completely failed to carry out pretty much the exact same action that we started the series with his dad carrying out. Of course, the circumstances are different and Jon is not immune from the gender roles of his society, but he's not so stoic now that it's his turn to swing the sword. On a related point, I wonder how long it is since he's even *seen* a woman, given that he doesn't seem to frequent Mole's Town?

And Sansa, poor Sansa, still not in a good place, and not getting any better. First period day is not a fun time for anyone, either physically or mentally, but she's surrounded by some cast of barely-controlled nutters. The Hound is such a great character - he's pretty much doing exactly what a heroic chivalric knight would do, saving his lady love from danger, watching over her, etc., except his Me Mean front makes it derail into a decidedly non-chivalraic tone of ranting. He's in total denial about the whole thing - if the only thing he cares about is killing, what's he doing up lurking around milady's bedchamber, then?

And yes, I totally get the feeling that Cersei thinks she's being nurturing and supportive and offering helpful womanly advice to her successor. Or at least starting to share the strategies which she has used to survive her the world of highborn relationship politics. I would note that she's still treating Sansa as her future daughter-in-law, at least to her face. Incestual reveals aside, it is a bit mean to talk about her brother staying for the birth of her children when Sansa's brothers are either at the head of an opposing military force or way, way, off the other side of the battle lines (I'm assuming the news about Winterfell hasn't percolated down to King's Landing yet).

RobMRobM@31 and tnh@42 I know a lot of records went up in flames in 1922, but you have to remember that civil registration of births, marriages and deaths is really only a 19th century phenomenon anyway, so if you're going back further than that, you're looking for church records, either way. The survival of 19th century census records would have been *great*, but there's a lot can be gleaned out of the Tithe Applotment Books and Griffith's Valuation, as well.
49. Mors
About Jon and Ygritte: I guess Jon was just surprised to find a girl in a pack of wildling warriors (I doubt it is very common to find a warrior girl in Westeros and, as sushisushi said @48, he hasn't seen any kind of girl in a long, long time), but I don't think he spared her because of her gender.I think he just found hard to kill someone in cold blood, using Leigh's words.
About Bael's story: I totally agree with owleyes @44. That particular vision Dany had in the House of the Undying could have a different significance now that we know what the blue rose means. I guess if it's related to a specific Stark girl or it is a general reference to the Starks and the Wall.
51. Michael F Flynn
One by one, Dany's visions seem to be making sense, or at least making connections. I had forgotten too about the blue rose yarn. GRRM is a subtle beast.

+ + +

The Germans were naturally much better record-keepers, and my mother's family can be traced back to the late 1600s, after the 30 Years War. No nobility among them, Gott sei dank. My wife's mother had such an unusual name that we could run back through Sherman's March, Horseshoe Bend, and Valley Forge, to colonial times. The Irish stopped short in 1806 and my wife's father went no further than her father for the longest time, as the Choctaws kept few records.
Rob Munnelly
52. RobMRobM
TNH - LOL. The guy on the label - that's an ancestor for the record books. I have nothing great on the ancestor front - lots of teachers and farmers, no doubt. On the more contemporary side, a cousin invented the first computer game - Code Name Sector - and family legend is that we are distant cousins of Johnny Carson co-host Ed McMahon, but we still haven't been able to confirm it.

@48 - my brother, the family geneologist, has been digging at all sorts of sources for years. Pretty remarkable he has gotten as far back as he has.

@47 - brilliant point. LOL. On the flip side, Jon seems to share the ta'veren trio's difficulties in killing women.

@45 - never thought much about Aiel and Wildlings. Some similarities but many differences, especially in the area of self-discipline.

Re the post, yes, the Bael story is interesting, including the blue flower reference.
53. Browniesbane
First time through I missed the signficance of the Bael story (like some others.) But something else did strike me-while he was deciding whether to execute Yigrtte, John thinks:

"He was his father' son. Wasn't he? Wasn't he?"

Why repeat "wasn't he" twice? Was Jon having doubts about being a true Stark, or does his doubt go deeper than that and does he have a scintilla of uncertainty about whether Eddard was really his father?
54. MickeyDee
@46 - Soooooo absolutely agree with you Black Dread. I just got my 15 yo neice onto this series with the admonishment that if she did not finish the third book I would disown her! LOL

I rate Storm of Swords as the finest fantasy book I have read. If Martin never finishes this bloody series I will forgive him willingly (well okay begrudgingly then), just because he did finish Book 3.
Rob Munnelly
55. RobMRobM
SoS is my favorite in the series as well. Can't wait until we get there. :-)
Gary Singer
56. AhoyMatey
I always thought you were royalty, Leigh. You were the FAQueen after all...
57. sofrina
@48 - john just saw a whole bunch of women at craster's keep. remember gilly and the rest of craster's wives?

i'm starting to hope the blue rose in the ice wall vision means arya makes it to the wall. and i'd forgotten the one about the white lion in a sea of tall grass. clearly that's the dothraki sea and the only association for lions is lannisters, albeit golden. didn't drogo & co. go hunting and kill a white lion at some point?

i like what bael's story tells us about wildlings and their methods.
Julian Augustus
58. Alisonwonderland
@57 - The white lion in the dothraki sea has got to be Tyrion, methinks. Perhaps we'll see if he does something memorable in the next book
to merit Dany's vision, but he is as of now in the right neighbourhood.
Rob Munnelly
59. RobMRobM
AiW@57 - your commentary is interesting but some might interpret it as a possible spoiler. Can you give it the white-out treatment to be safe?
60. sofrina
i was only musing so it's literally speculation, but thanks for the whiteout.
61. phuzz
I think the general gist of the Bael story (ie, that Jon and Yigrrte come from the same blood stock) is probably true, even if not in that particular instance. After all, the Starks are descended from the First Men, as must be the wildlings (from the way they regard everyone south of the Wall as invaders). Plus we don't have any idea about Jon's mother's ancestry (wild fan speculation notwithstanding).

As a brit I find this speculation about being descended from royals amusing, the royal family of Europe are so inbred they're all practically second cousins of each other, but you can believe that there's been bastards all over the place, we're *all* descended from the randy bastards ;)
62. Kadere
So no post today since its July 4th weekend I take it?
63. Nick S.
Maybe but i don't think we'll find out till tomorow ;)
Leigh Butler
64. leighdb
Hey all,

Owing to the holiday plus personal reasons, there will be no new post tomorrow. The Read will resume as scheduled next Friday. Hope all the Americans in the audience had a great Fourth, and that all the non-Americans in the audience had a great random Wednesday.

Irene Gallo
65. Irene
Thanks, Leigh.

To all -- is taking it slow this whole week. Enjoy some R&R, whether it's a holiday or just a random week.
66. Kadere
@63 Called it! ;)
John Smith
67. TheHardTruth
LOL, Kadere!!!!

Trust me - you weren't the only one! ;-)
70. Looking Glass
No_one @68: Leigh’s argument more or less presupposes that chivalry is the major part of Jon’s motivation. She’s not dismissing chivalry, she’s addressing it- by saying that it’s (a) insulting, and (b) stupid.

(On Jon’s part - it’s no slight on Martin that his characters act in realistically biased ways.)

It’s insulting because it assumes every woman needs to be protected from (because they’re all inherently incomptent at) combat, even if that woman chose to be there and by all other indications is no less competent than her male cohorts*. (You mentioned exceptions, but if Jon won’t count an enemy soldier on the front line, it’s not clear who he would count.) It’s stupid because making that assumption about anyone who is armed and out to kill you is not a great way to go on breathing.

*Yes, she was asleep, and the two others weren’t. That makes perfect sense for a team apparently on 24-hour watch.

Yes, Jon’s chivalrous notions are understandable given his upbringing, and appropriate to the (historically analogous) time period. That’s an explanation, not a justification. Likewise, a pre-civil-war plantation owner’s views on racial superiority might be perfectly in line with what you’d expect from someone of that background and society; that doesn’t mean those views aren’t racist.

Jon’s chivalry does work out in Ygritte’s favor here. Nobody’s arguing otherwise. That’s a big part of why it’s stupid of him, actually, because it leads to him making decisions to the enemy's benefit. It doesn’t make the insulting subtext less insulting either, though Ygritte, like most people, is apparently happy to take a little insulting subtext if it means returning to the fight rather than being killed.

I'm not sure why you think Leigh said anything about Jon wanting to have sex with Ygritte.

This is test of whether brackets can be posted:
This line:
Next line:

Rob Munnelly
71. RobMRobM
@69. I don't see any textual support for Qhorin expecting Jon to rape Ygritte, especially where as far as the Rangers could tell she is an experienced soldier and might be able to kill Jon during the attempt. Also, Qhorin knows Jon is not one of those who was sent to the NW for raping. Let's reserve for the next Jon chapter discussion of how he and Qhorin explain themselves (assuming Jon meets back up with them, of course).

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