Fri
Sep 7 2012 3:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 32

A Song of Ice and Fire readthrough on Tor.com: The last part of A Clash of KingsWelcome 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 32 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 67 (“Tyrion”), 68 (“Jon”) and 69 (“Bran”).

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 67: Tyrion

What Happens
Lying in his own filth in the infirmary, Tyrion dreams that he is running through the carnage remaining of the battlefield outside the city, watching the silent sisters stripping the corpses with no mouth to speak with. He wakes alone, remembering the Ser Mandon had tried to kill him, and sleep again to dream that Cersei and Tywin and Varys and Littlefinger are standing over him. He slowly realizes that him being alive means they must have won the battle.

He wakes again to find Podrick Payne in the room, and that his head is wrapped in plaster. A maester gives him milk of the poppy, and he sleeps again to dream he is at a great victory feast where Jaime knights him and Shae kisses him for his brave deeds. He wakes again and realizes he is not in his own bedchamber, then sleeps again and dreams of his time with Tysha, the woman he’d thought he’d married, and how she’d told him she loved him, and how it was all a lie.

He wakes again, and the maester (Ballabar) tries to give him more milk of the poppy, but Tyrion refuses it, and insists that the man remove the bandages around his head. Ballabar is reluctant, but obeys. He washes the wound on Tyrion’s face and tells him that his wounds are clean. Tyrion demands a mirror, and finds that he now has a gash running from his left eye across his nose and lips to his right jaw; most of his nose is gone.

Pretty,” he croaked, flinging the glass aside.

He thinks that Mandon must have been paid by Cersei to make sure Tyrion never returned from the battlefield. Ballabar tells him he is in Maegor’s Holdfast because Lord Tywin is now the King’s Hand. Tyrion is confused, and Ballabar explains that Tywin saved the city with Lord Tyrell and Lord Littlefinger and possibly Renly’s ghost, falling on Stannis’s forces from behind. Tyrion asks for Podrick Payne, and Ballabar goes.

Podrick enters, and Tyrion tells him to bring him dreamwine, and to watch them make it, and to find Bronn. Podrick tells him Bronn has been made a knight. Tyrion asks about Mandon, and Podrick tells him the knight was “drowned.” Tyrion says to never tell anyone about how he really died. Podrick leaves, and Tyrion wonders what Tysha would say if she could see him now.

Commentary

Help me, someone help me. Jaime, Shae, Mother, someone . . . Tysha . . .

Tysha? Who is Tysha? *a few pages later* Oh, that’s who Tysha was. Damn, that was kind of heart-breaking.

Well, the whole chapter is, really. God, I’m trying to picture losing your whole nose, and it is shudder-worthy. Jeez, did we really have to give Tyrion cause to hate his own body even more?

As for Tyrion’s assumption that Ser Mandon tried to kill him on Cersei’s orders, I… have no reason to dispute that, really. Sounds exactly like something Cersei would do. The only reason I hesitate to agree with it completely is that it seems a little too obvious, and in my fiction-consuming career I have often been given cause to be highly suspicious of the obvious answer. Still, until something comes along to specifically contradict the idea I don’t see any reason not to go along with it.

 

Chapter 68: Jon

What Happens
Jon knows they are doomed when Qhorin tells him to make a fire. They are the only two left of the five rangers that fled the Skirling Pass; Squire Dalbridge had fallen holding off the the wildlings in the pass, Ebben had been sent ahead to try and reach the other Rangers, and Stonesnake had stayed behind to delay their pursuit after his horse had broken a leg. The eagle has always kept them in sight.

Qhorin asks Jon if he remembers his vow to the Night’s Watch, and makes him recite it again, and then tells him that if they are captured, Jon must yield, and pretend to go over to the wildlings, so that he can learn what they are planning and eventually report it to Lord Mormont. Jon is astonished, but agrees reluctantly; he asks that Qhorin tell Mormont of the plan, and Qhorin promises to do so “when I see him next.”

They ride on, leaving the fire as a decoy, and Qhorin leads them to a passageway hidden behind a waterfall, which he says leads through the heart of the mountain. After resting, Jon and Qhorin make their way through the tunnel, but the eagle finds them on the opposite side, and Qhorin decides they will make a stand, and warns Jon to keep Ghost in hand. Soon the wildlings find them, some fourteen in number, and their leader comes down, his mount and armor covered in bones. Qhorin calls him “Rattleshirt,” which infuriates him, but he does not respond to Qhorin’s taunt to come and face him.

One of the other wildlings shows them their trophy of Ebben’s head, and Qhorin warns Jon to ignore their taunts. Rattleshirt calls for the archers to shoot them, but Jon calls out that they yield, and Qhorin pretends to disdain him. Rattleshirt says they have no need of cravens, but then Ygritte reveals herself and speaks up for him. Rattleshirt wants to kill him.

On a rock above them, the eagle flapped its wings and split the air with a scream of fury.

“The bird hates you, Jon Snow,” said Ygritte. “And well he might. He was a man, before you killed him.”

“I did not know,” said Jon truthfully, trying to remember the face of the man he had slain in the pass.

Rattleshirt demands that Jon prove his willingness to join them by killing Qhorin, and Qhorin immediately attacks Jon, forcing him to defend himself. Then Ghost joins in and hamstrings Qhorin, and Jon kills him. Jon thinks numbly that Qhorin knew it would come to this, and wonders who he is now. Ygritte tells the others who Jon is. Rattelshirt still wants to kill him, calling him a warg and a crow both, but Ygritte and several others defend him, and Rattleshirt yields. They burn Qhorin’s body, and Jon asks Ygritte if they will return to the Skirling Pass.

“No,” she said. “There’s nothing behind us.” The look she gave him was sad. “By now Mance is well down the Milkwater, marching on your Wall.”

Commentary
Maaaaaan.

So Jon’s a double agent now, huh? And had to kill Qhorin to do it, wow. So of course all the Night Watch is going to be completely convinced Jon is a traitor now. That ought to make for some fun times down the road, no doubt.

I do have to wonder how much of Qhorin’s orders to Jon on that count were really for the spy thing, and how much of it was just to save Jon’s life. I know banking on altruism is an exceptionally risky proposition in this particular series, but since it’s pretty much a moot point anyway I will choose to believe it anyway.

Will [Ghost] howl for me when I’m dead, as Bran’s wolf howled when he fell? Jon wondered. Will Shaggydog howl, far off in Winterfell, and Grey Wind and Nymeria, wherever they might be?

Interesting that Jon left Lady out of that tally. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Jon could have no way of knowing that Lady is dead. No non-supernatural way to know, anyway. Gaffe, or clue? Not sure.

Also, I learned a new word from this chapter. I did not know before that “garron” is a term for a small, sturdy horse or pony. I think the term was used before this in the book, actually, but this is the first time I noted it and actually bothered to look it up, so there you go. I’m not sure this knowledge is going to particularly enrich my life in any way, but it’s fun to learn new things in any case.

“The bird hates you, Jon Snow,” said Ygritte. “And well he might. He was a man, before you killed him.”

Hmm. Veddy interestink. So does this mean that if you’re a warg (warg warg warg) and your human body dies you can go hang out in your chosen animal’s body? That’s… kind of awesome and sucky at the same time. I mean, obviously it would be cool to get to swoop around as an eagle or run around as a wolf, but at the end of the day I’d want to get back to being human me. To have that option taken away would be… claustrophobic, to say the least. Or something.

 

Chapter 69: Bran

What Happens
Bran/Summer lurks in the trees with his brother, watching as Winterfell burns. They fight over a horse corpse briefly, and Summer’s brother yields. Summer doesn’t want to go back to the dark place underground, but a voice rouses Bran from sleep, and he wakes to find Meera. They are in the catacombs below Winterfell, huddled beneath Eddard Stark’s empty tomb, and Jojen tells Bran he’s been “out” for three days. He tells them what he saw, and worries that at some point he won’t be able to come back.

Osha and Rickon and Hodor are there too, and Bran insists they need to go up and see what’s happened to Winterfell. Osha thinks it is a bad idea, but concedes that they are almost out of food. She wonders if it is day or night, and Bran reaches out to Summer to check, and tells her it is daytime. Rickon is excited to be going back to Shaggydog. The party gathers up and heads back to the surface; Osha has taken the sword from Ned’s tomb, while Meera has taken Lord Rickard’s and Bran from his namesake and uncle’s tomb, though he does not think it will be of much use to him.

Osha goes ahead, and returns to report that something is blocking the door. They go up and have Hodor try it, and after great effort Hodor succeeds in forcing the door open. They emerge into the First Keep, which is now a burnt-out ruin. Shaggydog and Summer come to meet them, and Jojen thinks they should go before other less friendly wolves show up. Osha agrees, but has them search the castle for food first. As they move through the destruction, Bran opines that Theon did this, but Osha points out the corpses of some of Theon’s men, and they find a body with the sigil of the Dreadfort on his clothes. Then Summer howls and heads for the godswood, and the others follow.

They find Maester Luwin there, grievously wounded but still alive. Luwin smiles when he sees Bran and Rickon, and says he knew they were alive. Luwin says he is dying, and implores Osha to separate the boys. She agrees, but doesn’t know where to go. Luwin isn’t sure either, but gasps out “White Harbor . . . the Umbers.” He tells Bran that he must be strong, and that he is his father’s son. Osha sends the others out of the grove, staying behind to give Luwin “water.”

She rejoins the others and says she will take Rickon (and Shaggydog) east on the kingsroad, and Hodor and the Reeds will stay with Bran. Rickon sobs at their farewell. After he and Osha are gone, Hodor, Meera, Jojen, Bran and Summer leave by the Hunter’s Gate. Bran asks if they are going to the Reeds’ father in Greywater Watch, but Jojen says they are heading north. As they walk away, Bran looks back at the ruins of Winterfell.

The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.

Commentary
That’s right, Bran, you’re not! HAHAHAHA STARK BOYS NOT DEAD.

I knew that already, of course, but it’s nice to get confirmation of it.

And they hid in the crypts! I shoulda oughta thought of that—especially since it was prophesized by Jojen, who apparently isn’t a psychic Debbie Downer so much as he is incredibly misleading. Figures.

But, very clever, hiding in the crypts. And, given all the madness in the surrounding countryside, probably the only reason they’re still alive thus far.

[Bran] had never feared the crypts; they were part of his home and who he was, and he had always known that one day he would lie here too.

But now he was not so certain. If I go up, will I ever come back down? Where will I go when I die?

Oh, sweetie. I wish I knew.

I can see the logic of splitting the boys up, but that still doesn’t make it any less sad-making, though. Now all the Stark children are scattered to the winds. Though I don’t know if calling any of them “children” really even applies anymore, even to Rickon.

I also foresee Problems down the road with Bran and his wolf-astral-projection skinwalking thing. (I was tempted to say he’s too strongly in the wolf dream, but that’s another series, hah.) I can certainly see the attraction, though. Getting to run around as a wolf has got to be about a hundred times more alluring even than it would normally be, when your real body doesn’t even work right anymore.

And Bran and the Swamp Wonder Twins are heading north, eh? All the way to the Wall, perhaps, hmm, hmm? We shall see!

 

And thus ends Book Two!

Haha, and still no Winter. I reiterate my wild amusement if I get to the end of all the currently published books and winter still hasn’t happened.

In general, I got much more of a “settling in” feel from A Clash of Kings, if that makes any sense. A Game of Thrones was (quite properly) a “set-up” book, but it also felt much more self-contained than this one did, which I note is often the case with first installments, usually as a precaution in case you don’t get to make/write any more.

The second book, though, obviously isn’t worried about that at all, and so proceeds to go about getting us hunkered down for the long haul. Which is good news for those of us who like our book serieseseses nice and thick and meaty, but does inevitably also mean that the book suffers a wee bit in excitement as compared to AGOT. Not that exciting things didn’t happen, and not that ACOK wasn’t a very good book, but in an overall sense I think it lacked, possibly by design, some of the sheer dynamism the first book possessed.

Of course, I’m wondering what could really hope to trump something like Ned’s death in AGOT anyway. That’s the kind of stunt you generally only get to play once. We shall see if Martin manages to top it in the future, but as of the end of ACOK he hasn’t.

That said, good book. I am sometimes very frustrated with the relentless downer-ness of the tone of this series, but I am definitely invested in the characters and definitely want to find out what happens to them. Which is basically the reaction you want from your readers. As long as they still want to know what happens next, you’re good to go.

Also, I read over my posts from this book, and some of my declarations are… well, here, see for yourself.

[From the Prologue] Yeah. So I’m gonna go ahead and say [Melisandre will] be Trouble.

*snort*

And then later:

Maybe all her power is good for is shrugging off poisonous substances, how would I know?

Welp, I’m going to go with a big fat WRONG on that one…

it would be ten kinds of awesome if Arya got to be the one to kill [Joffrey], but I’m still banking that it’s going to end up being Mommy Dearest who offs the little snotstain

Yeah, I don’t know why I had this idea that Cersei would kill Joffrey, because now it seems obvious to me that that’s the last thing she would do. Her devotion to her children, in fact, is probably her Achilles’ heel.

my earlier Arya prediction, which was that she’ll end up joining up with Robb.

This one’s still up for grabs, whoo!

Oh, I hope Arya and Nymeria get back together and Nymeria forgives Arya for throwing rocks and they are an awesome team. Is that too optimistic? Probably. Sigh.

This one too, I hope? Pretty please?

And Uncle Ben: frozen zombified or not? I vote yes.

Still don’t actually know the answer to this for sure, but now I think my answer tends more toward Uncle Ben just being dead. I suspect Jon’s going to find out for sure in the next book, though.

And while Tyrion may be right that he is much better at playing Cersei’s game than either Jon Arryn or Ned were, I think Cersei still has the edge in sheer ruthlessness.

If he’s right that she engineered his mid-battle assassination attempt, then I was right on the money here.

Ergo, I think Stannis has something up his sleeve, something that probably rhymes with “Schmelischmandre,” and Renly is in for a nasty surprise come morning.

HAHAHA. And yet, I had NO IDEA.

Re: Jojen’s dream that Reek would slice Bran and Rickon’s faces off:

One possibility that leaps to my mind is that faces indicate who a person is; you destroy someone’s face, that makes it pretty hard to identify them, especially in the days before dental records and DNA-typing and whatnot. So maybe Reek somehow takes away Rickon and Bran’s identity? But how the hell would he do that? And why?

Nice, me. I didn’t quite get it, but I came awful close.

Of course, maybe I’m really seriously off, and Littlefinger is going to be angelically loyal and go do exactly what he’s been told and no more. Anything’s possible, I suppose. I’ll just be over here looking extremely skeptical about it, mmkay?

And then he apparently… was totally angelically loyal and did exactly what he’d been told. I am flabbergasted, you guys.

On first meeting Qhorin:

I personally would be rather less enthused than Jon is to be under the command of a man who seems to regard the lives of his men to be commodities so easily spent.

Ow. There is me seriously misjudging a character there, isn’t it?

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

Score on that. Go me!

And then, of course, there is everything from this post, in which I really managed to not make any concrete predictions whatsoever. And really, on re-reading I still don’t have much better ideas than I did then. That will definitely be a post to come back to again later, though.

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.

I think she kind of did both, really.

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*

Hmm. Hey, why didn’t Melisandre send over a magical shadow assassin baby during the battle? That’s kind of puzzlement-making, there.

Whose head is Cersei after? Well, I’m betting that if Joffrey doesn’t come back from the battle, it’s probably going to be Tyrion’s.

Heh. Turns out it was Tyrion’s anyway.

And last but not least, of course, not ONE of my many many pleas for Joffrey to die throughout this book was heeded. So inconsiderate, y’all. I ask for so little, throw me a frickin’ bone here, maaaaan. Here’s hoping for it to happen in the next book, then! Whoo! Yeah! Whoo!


And thus ends the second section of A Read of Ice And Fire! Normally I would take a week off at this point, but given the hurricane-related delays these past couple of weeks, I think I’m going to just go ahead and start Book Three next Friday. So join me then for Moar, me hearties!

73 comments
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
OK, I can finally add my Chapter 67 comment (and then go read 68 and 69). Yeah, getting a nasty slash and your nose chopped off is pretty harsh. In addition to the problems Tyrion has with stature in Westeros. And, he isn't the Hand anymore. And, he seems to be being held captive? By Cersei?
But, of course, he is still better off than most of the people in the world (peasants and such). He is alive, being fed, getting medical attention (of a sort) and not being actively assaulted.
Paul Stark
3. Paul Stark
I've been really enjoying this blog so far, Leigh. I love seeing your reactions to big moments and reading your predictions after knowing what happens is a lot of fun.

I'm really glad to see you finally start A storm of Swords! I consider it the best of the ASOIAF books. You're in for a wild ride. :D
Paul Stark
4. Black Dread
Your Book 2 wrap-up comments were highly amusing. I can only say that GRRM is immune to such predictions - and you are going to love SOS. Easily the best and most emotionally wracking fantasy book I've read.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Leigh - glad to see that you're back. Beginning to wonder if some kind of magical geas was preventing you from posting the last two weeks. The two hour delay was making all of us a bit nervous.

I'm a bit surprised you didn't take a shot at what went down in Winterfell while Bran and co. were in the crypt.

Good point re Jon-Lady. Magic, authorial mistake or some news from Kings Landing that was not mentioned in the text.

Tyrion - kind of stinks to be him, eh?
Paul Stark
6. TG12
"I’m wondering what could really hope to trump something like Ned’s death in AGOT anyway."

Oh child, strap in, is all I can say...

Much looking forward to the readthrough of Storm of Swords; in the opinion of my self and I think many others, it's the high point of the series thus far.

Oh yeah, and I went looking (and not finding at first, it wasn't in my dictionary) for the definition of "garron" when I first ran into it... in the prologue of the first book!
Pat .
7. dolphineus
Yay! Post is here! /happydance
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.
You know nothing Leigh Butler.
Sorry, had to do it :)

@6 TG12
I was looking for a way to say something that wasn't spoilery. Cuz there's the feast, and the battle, and doesn't someone get married?
Marty Beck
8. martytargaryen
Thanks so much Leigh for this and all your posts. They really are awsome. Glad you are doing well with power and everything.

Now we have to comment without spoilers, guys.
Paul Stark
9. Black Dread
dolphineus - Thanks for the Friday laugh.
Paul Stark
10. Cadmon
Great post, Leigh. And enjoy A Storm of Swords next week. Book 1 and 2 are good, but ASoS is on a whole other level. The word masterpiece gets thrown around way too much, but ASoS is a genuine one.
Paul Stark
11. OsRavan
Thanks Leigh.

I just wanted to say, despite having read these books dozens of times, ive REALLY enjoyed your comemntary. It has been tons of fun following along with you as you read. I cant wait till book 3 which is my favorite!
David Goodhart
12. Davyd
I love your predictions. I think aSoIaF has definitely put all of us on edge with our fantasy-fu, so we never really know what to think. It's always in retrospect that we realize how much our past fantasy experience is involved in how we interpret these books. I know I bull-dozed through the first three without stopping to think much, well, more books 2-3, and only because GoT threw me for a loop so bad. Only on subsequent re-reads and entry into the fandom did I start to put a lot of the peices together and realize how much I had missed.

ANYWAY. I'm so glad we made it through CoK, which brings us to SoS, which is, hands down, my fave of the series so far. Looking forward to your Read!
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
"Hmm. Hey, why didn’t Melisandre send over a magical shadow assassin baby during the battle? That’s kind of puzzlement-making, there."

Simple answer: I don't think Stannis brought her to the battle. Based on the Renly situation, she needs to be close to make magic happen.

More potentially complex answer: Perhaps there are limits on her shadowmaking power but, if so, not mentioned in text to date.

Hilarious answer: she saw Renly defeating the KL invasion in the flames, arranges for Renly to be killed to prevent dream from becoming reality, and Stannis is defeated by Renly's ghost (or at perhaps someone who had the bright idea of wearing Renly's armor to mess with Stannis' former Renly-ite bannermen. Jojen may not be the only one whose dreams are seriously misleading.... )
Marty Beck
14. martytargaryen
Tyrion - I felt so awful for him. Look up "life isn't fair" in the encyclopedia... But then, points well taken shalter@2. It's just, Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on Tyrion L.

Jon - What really stuck out to me in this chapter was the speech Qhorin gave Jon about how his oaths are more important than his honor or his name.

Bran - I felt this chapter left us with a sense of hope for the young Stark lords.

Very well done with your insight and predictions, Leigh.
Sky Thibedeau
15. SkylarkThibedeau
Now i need to reread Feast for Crows as she pointed out something I missed.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
Re ACOK, I like it but I like others better. Too many Greyjoys - I'm not a big Ironborn guy (except for Asha).

One general, nonspoilery comment: beware of the longer chapters. Lots to cover and some apparently unimportant things towards the latter end of the chapter can get glossed over and skipped in the summaries and analyses and - BAM - you've been GRRM'd. There were a couple of things hiding just below the surface of ACOK that you'll just have to experience as they happen in ASOS, without the subtly hidden preview.

Also, while I actually like the Harry Potter books, the loss of ASOS to a weak Potter, Goblet of Fire, is one of the biggest travesties in Hugo history. Just saying.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Chapter 68:Yeah, well that was pretty harsh also. Double Agent Jon, but no one knows that except Jon.
And,
“The bird hates you, Jon Snow,” said Ygritte. “And well he might. He was a man, before you killed him.”
That is really interesting as Leigh noted.
Antoni Ivanov
18. tonka
at 5. RobMRobM and Leigh

You both forget that Lady died some time ago (a long time before Eddard Stark did) and more importantly they do have ravens on the Wall. Do you really think that something that major for the Starks Rob and et al would not share with Jon. It seems logical that they would keep in touch
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
"Getting us hunkered down for the long haul."
Okay, I find this comment really funny, considering how long it's taken GRRM to write up to book 5. And I didn't read it for the first time until 2007!

Love the wrap up! So looking forward to the "Storm."

How does Tyrion breath now? It's not like they have plastic surgery. Any ideas?
Paul Stark
20. Mona NicLeoid
First of all, great to see you back and hope everything is fine. Then of course, I'm soooo looking forward to you starting to read the third book, it's definitely the best one of the whole series so far!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
21. Lisamarie
I agree that Storm of Swords is the best so far (I'm only about 100 pages into Dance with Dragons so far). I can't WAIT to see some of the reactions to that!
Paul Stark
22. DRickard
These may be spoilery...
Never doubt that winter is coming.
Never forget that Littlefinger told Ned not to trust him... so don't start doing it yourself, Leigh.
Paul Stark
23. Aduiavas
Yay, Leigh is back :D

I've really enjoyed your read so far, you have almost made me want to go back and reread the series again (something I meant not to do after suffering myself through the forth book)
Paul Stark
24. DRickard
@19 Mouth breathing... may not be pretty or couth, but it works.
David Scotton
25. Kaxon
Glad these are back! I can't say much except I'm looking forward to the Storm of Swords posts... that one is the best book in the series, and the best book I've ever read.

Oh, AND, you should really read The Hedge Knight before you go any farther.
Paul Stark
26. andNowMyWatchBegins
@13. RobMRobM

RE: Mel not being there, I'm not 100% if it came from Davos or Stannis but While Mel wanted to be there the decision was made to leave her at home so that his new (and old) bannermen did not credit her with the Victory rather than him, thus undermining Stannis' influence and power

She may have also told him he would lose without her...Cant remember completely
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Chapter 69: Yay, the finish. Both 68 & 69 ended with uncertainty. All three of the lads are off on an uncertain adventure. Arya is off on an uncertain adventure also, now that I think of it.
Robb hasn't really been heard from directly in this book. Sansha is sitting around to an uncertain fate--but at least she's comfortable until it happens.
I agree completely with Leigh that this was mostly the continuation book--getting us ready for the long haul. Good to see that the next portion starts next Friday.
In general, this was quite a good book. We got some interesting prophecies and more magic in general. There wasn't a lot of actual clashing between kings, but there are certainly fewer of them now than at the beginning.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
shalter@27 - Kings going in: Joff, Robb, Stannis, Renly - arguably Mance

Kings at end: Joff, Robb, Stannis, Balon - arguably Mance.

Looks like the same to me. :-/
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
tonka @ 18 - I didn't forget - Rmail was one of my three possible options.
George Jong
30. IndependentGeorge
I just want to echo what others have said - A Storm of Swords is regarded as the best book of the series, and I mostly have been anxious for this post just so we could move on to that book. It's also the longest volume of the series, so we'll be there for a good long while.

Without spoiling, I'm already cackling maliciously at the thought of Leigh's reaction to the first POV chapter. My favorite supporting character makes her first appearance early on, too.

I'm putting it white, but all of these quotes are out of context and meaningless to anyone who doesn't already know what they mean. There are so many great moments in SOS, but these are the scenes I anticipate the most:

//
1. "Ah. That is a pity."
2. "I haven't lost it. It's right here around my neck."
3. "Not my hair. always loved my hair."
4. "Is there gold in the village?"
5. "ELLIAAAAAAAA!"
6. "Only Cat."
7. "Wherever whores go."
//
Paul Stark
31. Tenesmus
ASOS is the high water mark for this series. Everything is taken to a whole new level. Enjoy.
Rob Munnelly
32. RobMRobM
@26 - am avoiding detailed statements for fear of misremembering text and inadvertently spoiling.

@25 - Hedge Knight is delightful, and all D and E should be read before ADWD, but I'm not sure why Hedge Knight needs to be read before ASOS. Can you advise why without being spoilerly?

(I'm aware the certain events in D and E era and thereafter are discussed in ASOS backstory, but not sure Leigh needs Hedge Knight to understand them. I do think they are needed prior to ADWD in order to fully understand what is going on.)
Paul Stark
33. MJF
@30: Most of the quotes I get, but what's the first one?

Also, I can't wait for Leigh's reaction to what last week's spoilerthread has nicknamed the KOF.
Sanctume Spiritstone
34. Sanctume
I wondered if nose picking is easier now for Tyrion.
Steven Halter
35. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@28:
Kings at end: Joff, Robb, Stannis, Balon - arguably Mance.
Well, a different set anyway. :-) I was thinking Stannis got killed in the King's Landing battle. Ser Dontos:
The river, Stannis was neck deep in the river, and they took him from the rear.
Looking back, that could be a generic "him".
Paul Stark
37. nancym
I have to confess, when I first read Clash of Kings and feared that Bran & Rickon were dead, I cried and threw the book across the room, turned off my light and lay awake cursing GRRM, seriously upset. An hour or so later I couldn't stand it anymore, got up and retrieved the book from under my desk. I frantically flipped f0rward until I saw a chapter entitled "Bran". Only then could I get to sleep!

I'm eagerly looking forward to the read of Storm of Swords. It will be HARD to not comment on that one, my favorite of the series so far. Truly a brilliant book.
George Jong
38. IndependentGeorge
#33 - whited out below.

//The Queen of Thorns, to Sansa. I love love love the Queen of Thorns, and she gets introduced with a bang.//
Rob Munnelly
39. RobMRobM
Shalter - I should have asterisked stannis and renly - there is amgiuity there.

Too many kudos for asos - hope no one has expectations too high.

By the way the asos video posted on tor this week is one of the funniest ever. Too spoilery, sorry.
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@39:Yeah (that was two posts I couldn't look at), it is like Stubby is trying to tempt me. :-) Get thee behind me Stubby!
alex
41. jerec84
It's so awesome reading predictions from someone who doesn't know what's ahead.
Paul Stark
42. David B
You ask why Melisandre didn't send a shadow baby after Tyrion - that's easy; he's not considered important enough. I mean, if it weren't for the timely intervention of Highgarden in the battle, Stannis was probably winning that battle - at the very least he wasn't being routed.

I think it's obvious that that level of magic is not something casually called on (more detailed speculation could be spoilery, since I don't remember where the details I'm thinking of come from), but when we're talking about giving birth to an assassin, I think it's clear that this is a bit of magic you can only do at least every few months...

Also, looking forward to the next book, and wondering - during off weeks are you not reading, or are you just not posting?
Paul Stark
43. KathrynM
Love the read Leigh it's giving so much enjoyment while we wait for tWoW, love ALL your predictions, the uncanny spot ons & the way offs! Really looking forward to ASOS.
Julian Augustus
44. Alisonwonderland
I am not one of those who think aSoS is the best book in the series, though I realize I'm hugely in the minority. True, by far the most powerful single event in the series so far (TRW) occurs in it, and there were a few other highlights (like Joffrey's wedding and the Red Viper), but on the whole I found the book unremmitingly depressing. I've read each of the books a number of times, and while I always really enjoy aCoK and look forward to reading it, I have a hard time enjoying all the misery that is served up in aSoS.
Bill Stusser
45. billiam
Jon knows that Lady is dead from the first time he warged Ghost earlier in this book.
When he closed his eyes he dreamed of direwolves.
There were five of them when there should have been six, and they were scattered, each apart from the others. He felt an emptiness, a sense of incompletenes. The forest was vast and cold, and they were so small, so lost. His brothers were out there somewhere, and his sister, but he had lost their scent. He sat on his haunches and lifted his head to the darkening sky, and his cry echoed through the forest, a long lonely mournful sound.
Ghost knows that there are only five direwolves left and that the one missing was one of his sisters. Since he can tell the difference between the wolves it seems obvious that he knows the sister that is missing is Lady.

Also, so one of the wildlings Jon killed was also a warg. Guess the Starks do have some things in common with the free folk after all, huh?

Can't wait for ASoS, not only my favorite ASoIaF book but one of my favorite books peiod.
Paul Stark
46. OsRavan
Good catch billiam.

Also not to mention it could have happened off-screen. Jon has been recieving communications and updates from the south post that time chronologicaly. You could in theory argue it happened off screen and wasnt important enough to show us. But considering that was news that could have spread before war broke down communications, ive no issue with jon knowing. You would hope ned was scribbling a letter or two to both winterfell and the wall somtime while he was in kingslanding, even if it wasnt important enough to show on screen.
Lindy Brown
47. lbrown
@39.RobMRobM
By the way the asos video posted on tor this week is one of the funniest ever. Too spoilery, sorry.
Funny thing, I just finished SoS a week ago and felt that video was posted just for me. :)
Lindy Brown
48. lbrown
@ 5. RobMRobM
Tyrion - kind of stinks to be him, eh?
And now nothing stinks to him, assuming that he now can't smell, or can he?
Paul Stark
49. James Reid
Great post, Leigh!

//
Can't wait for Leigh's reactions to all the weddings in ASoS!

//
Bob Musser
50. dogshouse
@48 - Your sense of smell is located in the olfactory epithelium, which is higher up in the nasal cavity, though I'm sure not having nostrils would have some effect. In another sense, Tyrion probably smells pretty awful at this point in the story!
Rikka Cordin
51. Rikka
chapter 68 was done so WRONG in the HBO series :(


Also, I am practically giddy with anticipation for Leigh's reread of SOS, easily the best book. I cannot wait!
Paul Stark
52. KingsGambit
Good to have your posts back!

I just want to add my voice to the others saying you should read The Hedge Knight. You can read ASOS without it, but you'll miss some fun references in AFFC and some background that's important to ADWD.

There are three novella's: The Hedge Knight was published before ASOS, The Sworn Sword before AFFC and The Mystery Knight before ADWD. If you read them in that order, you won't be spoiled for one by the other. They appear to get more interconnected as the series progresses.

After reading The Hedge Knight I was very relieved to learn that GRRM can finish a story. He then wrote two sequals, but it's still a finished story set in the Song of Ice and Fire world. To use a quote from book 4 that's way too random to be a spoiler: "That is good to know."
Peter Stone
53. Peter1742
Using magical shadow baby assassins ensured the surrender of Stannis's and Lord Penrose's armies. But how would killing Joffrey further Stannis and Melisandre's plans? He has two younger siblings. It would have helped Sansa, but I don't think Melisandre cares.
Peter Stone
54. Peter1742
Reading order for the Dunk and Egg series: I would say you'll enjoy them more if you read all of them at once, so wait until after A Storm of Swords and read all four (assuming the fourth is out by that time).
mediumHigh
55. mediumHigh
Magically shadow assasin killing Jofferey needed Mel pretty close to the action, and Mel stayed home. In which case Mel used the shadow baby assassin twice, and I'm roughly guessing due to the nature of magical shadow baby birth a third time wasn't a charm (particular because it requires Stannis to get off his high horse and double down on some chowder...).
Paul Stark
56. av willis
One aspect that everyone seems to be overlooking as far as the shadow baby question is that this is some pretty scary shit. Dontos is Stannis' man to the hilt and the sight of mel squirting the forces of darkness out her hoo-ha was nearly enough to cause him to do a 180 on the whole affair. Mel isn't just kingmaking, she's establishing a new religion and supplanting 2 old belief systems. And while part of her campaign is based on the appeal to Stannis that she can bring real power to the table, it's also based off the notion that she is really on the side of good. Blatantly wielding her power may provide short term results but it also has the potential to the inevitable accusations of witchcraft. After that someone would no doubt accuse her of turning him into a newt and the next thing anyone knows she'll be sitting on a giant scale across from a duck
Paul Stark
57. Jadey
Tyrion can still breath thru his nose. He still has nostril holes, he only lost their "covering"
Paul Stark
58. KingsGambit
@54 I suppose the reading order isn't that important. The message 'read them' is.

Well, not as important as surviving hurricanes or remembering to breathe. Only important in the sense that I would like to read Leigh's reaction to them and I think these stories add some nice background to the series.
Rob Munnelly
59. RobMRobM
Yes, Leigh should read D and E in this read series. I vote after ASOS ( and would also support after FFC).
Paul Stark
60. Aellinsar
@44 "=I cannot disagree. While well-writen, I also find ASoS to be terribly depressing.
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
A couple of more thoughts on the series so far:
1) Arya is (to me) by far the most interesting character. Next, is basically a three way tie with Bran, Jon and Dany and then Tyrion.
2)Robb being a no show in this book seems like an interesting choice. Obviously, he is doing stuff but we only get to see some of it very indirectly. It will be interesting if GRRM makes up for this is ASOS.
3)The slow build up of magic could result in some pretty powerful stuff down the line.
David Scotton
62. Kaxon
There are two reasons I think it's better to read THK before ASoS.
1) It's closer to publication order (THK was actually published before ACoK).
2) There is at least one direct reference to THK in ASoS that will go over your head if you haven't read it. It's not important, but it is fun. I'm talking about when Jaime reads the history of the Kingsguard and refers to Ser Duncan the Tall as a former commander of the Kingsguard.
Rob Munnelly
63. RobMRobM
Kaxon - very true, but I'm not going to recommend Leigh stopping now to read them after the build up most of us gave ASOS earlier in this thread, LOL.

Shalter - interesting order. What about poor Sansa, in the belly of the beast. Or Robb, Mr. "Not Appearing in this Book." Or Schmelisandre....Or Loveable Joff.....Or the golden sexy twins.....Lots of interesting folk.
Paul Stark
64. MickeyDee
SoS = best fantasy novel I have read in over four decades of reading novels. When I heard that HBO were making AGoT I just hoped that it would get the ratings to allow SoS to be made. It has and they are. In fact they may be splitting this book into two series. I now fear that they (Benioff & Weiss) will shy away from the greatest "Oh Fuck, what just happened?" moment out of the numerous "Oh Fuck, what just happened?" moments that are in this book.

This is not a spoiler (if you haven't realised it yet then you are extremely short on memory or unable to evaluate the evidence in front of you): don't get fond of any of the characters!

@56 - I think you mean Davos?
Steven Halter
65. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@63:Sansa is growing on me. She is more sympathetic than in the first book as she seems to be gaining some agency.
Robb has been pushed in the background (by being in the literal background) and even in the first book was less appealing to me than Jon. Robb seems pretty straightforward as a character (I've got my duty and my wolf).
Joff is most interesting in providing anticipation for the moment of his demise. :-) Again, he seems pretty shallow--basically a spoiled psychopath.
Arya, Jon, Bran and Dany seem to have very interesting character arcs that could happen. Maybe GRRM will kill them all off in the next book (I don't think so), but they seem to have a lot of depth to their stories.
Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
@66. I can understand your perspectives on all you've mentioned above. I'm sure GRRM won't kill "all" of them off in the next book or three. *whistles*

P.s Is "deth" a typo for "depth" or "death", LOL
Steven Halter
67. stevenhalter
@66:lol, depth is what it should have been and is edited to--although death also oddly works.
Paul Stark
68. FellKnight
I am chortling so hard at some of theep up the good work, Leigh!
Paul Stark
69. phuzz
billiam"Also, so one of the wildlings Jon killed was also a warg. Guess the Starks do have some things in common with the free folk after all, huh?"

The Starks are descended from the First Men (of the north), and presumably a lot of the free folk are as well. The starks probably have more in common (both genetically and culturally) with the wildings than they do with most of Westeros.
Rob Munnelly
70. RobMRobM
Phuzz - indeed. More info as the series progresses. Just re-read ASOS prologue and first chapter. Can't wait.
Birgit
71. birgit
ASoIaF read posting statistics up to the end of ACoK

- different spellings of usernames are counted separately
- punctuation is counted as words

top 59 posters by number of comments
username;comments;words;average words per comment
1: RobMRobM;388;64754;166.0
2: Aegnor;112;10609;94.0
3: shalter;83;8227;99.0
4: toryx;82;10928;133.0
5: tnh;73;10917;149.0
6: Wortmauer;72;30880;428.0
7: Juliet_Kestrel;61;12305;201.0
8: anthonypero;59;4351;73.0
9: matthew1215;45;8186;181.0
10: Lsana;44;6471;147.0
11: Tektonica;43;6018;139.0
12: SkylarkThibedeau;42;2295;54.0
13: Bergmaniac;41;6221;151.0
14: The SmilingKnight;41;7255;176.0
15: sofrina;40;5070;126.0
16: Black Dread;38;2420;63.0
17: subwoofer;38;9884;260.0
18: EliBishop;37;4605;124.0
19: Randalator;34;4049;119.0
20: carolynh;34;5189;152.0
21: Naraoia;33;4788;145.0
22: Alisonwonderland;33;5070;153.0
23: Peter1742;32;3045;95.0
24: Isilel;30;9523;317.0
25: fanganga;28;3637;129.0
26: ryamano;25;4924;196.0
27: billiam;24;3684;153.0
28: birgit;23;3147;136.0
29: Tenesmus;22;1098;49.0
30: leighdb;21;1501;71.0
31: EvilClosetMonkey;21;3116;148.0
32: David B;21;2646;126.0
33: Megaduck;20;4627;231.0
34: joev;20;3680;184.0
35: Joel Prophet;20;2423;121.0
36: lakesidey;20;2988;149.0
37: womzilla;19;2322;122.0
38: lbrown;18;1636;90.0
39: pro_star;18;1425;79.0
40: deebee;18;2336;129.0
41: welltemperedwriter;18;2273;126.0
42: MickeyDee;17;2785;163.0
43: tonka;17;2358;138.0
44: nancym;15;1395;93.0
45: Dolphineus;15;2043;136.0
46: dolphineus;15;1738;115.0
47: JoeNotCharles;15;1770;118.0
48: decarillion;15;1721;114.0
49: oraymw;14;1987;141.0
50: benpmoldovan;14;1373;98.0
51: pike747;14;3113;222.0
52: Ryamano;14;1888;134.0
53: altarego;14;810;57.0
54: mike shupp;14;3391;242.0
55: Sanctume;14;737;52.0
56: dsolo;14;2040;145.0
57: HArai;14;964;68.0
58: IndependentGeorge;14;1525;108.0
59: Braid_Tug;14;1193;85.0

top 50 posters by number of words
username;words;comments;average words per comment
1: RobMRobM;64754;388;166.0
2: Wortmauer;30880;72;428.0
3: Juliet_Kestrel;12305;61;201.0
4: toryx;10928;82;133.0
5: tnh;10917;73;149.0
6: Aegnor;10609;112;94.0
7: subwoofer;9884;38;260.0
8: Isilel;9523;30;317.0
9: shalter;8227;83;99.0
10: matthew1215;8186;45;181.0
11: The SmilingKnight;7255;41;176.0
12: Lsana;6471;44;147.0
13: Bergmaniac;6221;41;151.0
14: Tektonica;6018;43;139.0
15: carolynh;5189;34;152.0
16: Reader;5179;11;470.0
17: sofrina;5070;40;126.0
18: Alisonwonderland;5070;33;153.0
19: ryamano;4924;25;196.0
20: Naraoia;4788;33;145.0
21: Megaduck;4627;20;231.0
22: EliBishop;4605;37;124.0
23: anthonypero;4351;59;73.0
24: Randalator;4049;34;119.0
25: billiam;3684;24;153.0
26: joev;3680;20;184.0
27: Trooth;3648;9;405.0
28: fanganga;3637;28;129.0
29: mike shupp;3391;14;242.0
30: birgit;3147;23;136.0
31: EvilClosetMonkey;3116;21;148.0
32: pike747;3113;14;222.0
33: Peter1742;3045;32;95.0
34: lakesidey;2988;20;149.0
35: MickeyDee;2785;17;163.0
36: David B;2646;21;126.0
37: Carolyn H;2535;12;211.0
38: Joel Prophet;2423;20;121.0
39: Black Dread;2420;38;63.0
40: Wetlandernw;2391;11;217.0
41: tonka;2358;17;138.0
42: deebee;2336;18;129.0
43: womzilla;2322;19;122.0
44: SkylarkThibedeau;2295;42;54.0
45: welltemperedwriter;2273;18;126.0
46: Fiddler;2153;13;165.0
47: wickedkinetic;2052;6;342.0
48: Dolphineus;2043;15;136.0
49: dsolo;2040;14;145.0
50: Looking Glass;2030;7;290.0

There were 835 different usernames; 435 appeared only once.
Brandon Lammers
72. wickedkinetic
I thought I made the list by being the most big-mouthed commenter here... but by average words-per-post I'm like 4th. I bow to those who out-worded me, my paltry 342 is almost an embarassment compared to the 400 club!

Reader (470)
Wortmauer (428)
Trooth (405)

Valar Morghulis you three!

(and this post isn't helping my average.....)

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