Sep 14 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 1

A Readthrough of the Song of Ice and Fire series on A Storm of Swords, Part 1Welcome 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 1 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover The Prologue and Chapter 1 (“Jaime”).

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!

Before we start, a short procedural note: I saw that people were asking about whether I was planning to include the shorter novellas Martin has written in this universe as well as the main novels in this Read, and if so in what order. I myself have no clue in which order they should be read, of course, so I appealed to The Authorities to tell me what they thought I should do.

And after some discussion, it was decided that I should go ahead and read ASOS now, and then read the first of the novellas (The Hedge Knight, I believe) after that. So barring further developments, that is the plan.

Hence, today we start A Storm of Swords, in which, I gather, Things Happen. So let’s get to it, shall we? Booyah!



What Happens
Chett, Small Paul and Lark the Sisterman are out hunting bear, but the hounds are starving and refuse to hunt. Lark opines that it doesn’t matter if they come back empty-handed, as Mormont will be dead before daybreak anyway. Small Paul is uncertain that killing the Old Bear is really necessary, but Lark retorts that Mormont will be sure to hunt them down unless he is dead. He’s in favor of killing all the officers, but Chett says that only a select few need to die.

Chett thinks of how the wildlings were coming down the Milkwater in force, some twenty or thirty thousand strong against the Watch’s three hundred (though many of those are women and children, laden with supplies and possessions), and of how Smallwood and Wythers between them were on the verge of convincing Mormont to attack them, and opines to himself that he intends to live, and has thirteen others ready to leave with him that night. He is especially looking forward to killing “Ser Piggy,” as he thinks of Sam Tarly, whom he deeply resents for taking over his old job of tending to Maester Aemon.

The men head back to the Fist, discussing where they’ll go once they’ve escaped the Watch, and Chett entertains a fantasy of killing Craster and taking over his harem. He thinks of how he’d ended up on the Wall, sent there after stabbing a woman to death for refusing to sleep with him. Small Paul, who is not too bright, insists that he should get to keep Mormont’s raven after killing the old man. They arrive back at the Fist, where Dolorous Edd and Grenn are encouraging Sam at archery practice. Chett makes fun of him, but Edd turns his barbs back on him, and Chett storms off.

It’s growing colder as night falls, and Dywen comments at supper that there’s no sign of wildlife in the woods anymore. Then they are called to assemble at the central fire, where Mormont announces that they will ride at dawn to attack the wildlings’ train, to do as much damage as they can. Someone calls that they will die, and Mormont agrees that they might, but says this is the reason they are here. He leads them in reaffirming their oaths, and Chett worries that this might weaken the resolve of some of his fellow mutineers.

He goes to his blankets, waiting for the third watch, but all his plans are dashed when it begins snowing, which makes their getaway impossible not to track. Maddened, he determines to at least kill Sam Tarly, and creeps to where Sam is sleeping. He is about to slit Sam’s throat when Sam is woken by three long calls on the horn, rousing the camp.

Samwell Tarly stood shaking, his face the same color as the snow that swirled down all around them. “Three,” he squeaked to Chett, “that was three, I heard three. They never blow three. Not for hundreds and thousands of years. Three means—”

“—Others.” Chett made a sound that was half a laugh and half a sob, and suddenly his smallclothes were wet, and he could feel the piss running down his leg, see steam rising off the front of his breeches.


Ooh, does this mean we will actually see some frozen zombies on screen? For the first time since the AGOT frickin’ Prologue, apparently, since I am assured the reanimated dudes who tried to kill Mormont and Jon back in the day were not official FDA-approved Frozen Zombies™, but like their cheap knockoff thrift store cousins. Or something. I dunno, it seems to me that if you were dead, and then you weren’t, and you’re icy cold and also trying to kill people, then saying you’re not a real frozen zombie is just nitpicking. But, okay, whatever.

And, well. Chett is a delightful human being, isn’t he? I mean, I’m sure growing up disfigured does not exactly make for happy fun times under any circumstances, but that’s still not getting you a pass on being a murderous asshole, dude. As his neighbors evidently agreed, which I suppose is a tiny bit of justice in a world distinctly lacking that quality most of the time.

Still, murderous bastard or no, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised that some of these guys were like “fuck this Night Watch shit” and planned a mutiny. I’m just more surprised it apparently doesn’t happen more often. If my life was that shitty I’d probably think about it, too.

On the upside for Chett (not that I care about having an upside for him beyond the sheer mental exercise of it), he’s the first POV character of a ASOIAF Prologue thus far who’s actually survived the experience, so that’s… something, I guess. Not that his survival chances beyond this are looking that spectacular. Not that I’m planning to shed a bitter tear over this.

And really, thank God his plans fell through, if for no other reason than that no one is allowed to kill Samwell Tarly, you guys! HANDS OFF THE SAM, I mean it. Otherwise I will get angry, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. There will be flailing and headdesking and book throwing, and it will be VERY UNPLEASANT. Ye be Warned.

His father had spent his life grubbing in other men’s fields and collecting leeches. He’d strip down bare but for a thick leather clout, and go wading in the murky waters. When he climbed out he’d be covered from nipple to ankle.

Leeches, eewwww. You know that scene in Stand By Me? Well, I’ve seen something like that happen in real life, and trust me, I never need to see that shit again. Ever. And actually doing it for a living… *shudder*

“Nothing ever goes missing that they don’t look at me, ever since that time I lost my horse. As if that could be helped. He was white and it was snowing, what did they expect?”

Ahahhaha. Oh, Dolorous Edd. You are the Rodney Dangerfield of the Night Watch. I heart you from a careful distance. Hope you don’t die of frozen zombieness!


Chapter 1: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime rides in a boat on the Red Fork River with his cousin Ser Cleos and a big “cow-like” wench, fettered with chains but enjoying immensely being in the open air after being in a dungeon for so long. He had been too drunk to remember most of their escape from Riverrun, engineered by Lady Catelyn, which he thinks Tyrion would find hilarious. He taunts the wench, who insists that her name is Brienne, though she refuses to call him anything but “Kingslayer.”

Catelyn had made Jaime swear in the dungeons that if she let him go back to Cersei, he would never again take up arms against the Tullys or Starks, and would compel his brother to return her daughters unharmed. Jaime thinks her a strange woman to trust the oaths of a man “with shit for honor,” especially those given at swordpoint while dead drunk, but thinks that Catelyn is probably putting her faith in Tyrion rather than in himself. He gets Brienne’s family name out of her, but then she tells him she has “no words for monsters.”

“A man who would violate his own sister, murder his king, and fling an innocent child to his death deserves no other name.”

Innocent? The wretched boy was spying on us. All Jaime had wanted was an hour alone with Cersei.

He taunts Brienne some more, comparing her to a milk cow decked out in battle barding. Cleos nervously declares it all lies, and Jaime derides him privately as a lickspittle. He thinks Cersei had been irate with him for the incident with Bran Stark, and wonders if she had sent the assassin later, but thinks that Cersei would have sent Jaime himself if she’d wanted the boy dead. Jaime asks Cleos to shave him bald, so that he will be less recognizable.

They come to a tree where numerous corpses of women have been hung in the trees, and Brienne insists on stopping to cut them down and give them proper burials. Jaime cheerfully points out to her the sign which proves that her own side did this, not the Lannisters, as punishment for sleeping with/serving his father’s soldiers. They discuss who might be responsible, and Jaime is concerned by the news that Roose Bolton has taken Harrenhal, as that means both the Trident and kingsroad will likely be watched. Brienne is uncertain, but insists that he is under her protection.

Their task is interrupted by the appearance of another boat. They hasten back on the river, but the other craft soon overtakes them, and Jaime prepares to go down fighting. The pursuing galley is commanded by Ser Robin Ryger, who trades shouted barbs with Jaime before demanding their surrender. Jaime tells him he was freed by Lady Catelyn, but Ryger replies that Lady Catelyn does not rule in Riverrun. Brienne steers their skiff into a narrow channel between high bluffs, and Jaime observes that she does not seem panicked, only determined. She orders them to take the oars, and jumps overboard to start climbing up one of the bluffs.

Ryger’s galley enters the channel, and Jaime distracts him from noticing Brienne climbing up the escarpment by challenging him to single combat. Ryger is about to order his archers to fire when Brienne reaches the top and succeeds in dislodging a large boulder, sending it crashing down and scuttling the galley. The skiff emerges from the channel, and Jaime thinks himself free of the “homely wench” for a moment, but then sees she has cut across to meet them and dove into the river. Jaime contemplates braining her with his oar, but instead helps her back aboard. He tells she is stupid, and asks if she expects him to thank her.

“I want none of your thanks, Kingslayer. I swore an oath to bring you safe to King’s Landing.”

“And you actually mean to keep it?” Jaime gave her his brightest smile. “Now there’s a wonder.”

Okay, before I even start reading this chapter, I just have to note: goddammit, a Jaime POV. I do not want to get in this guy’s head! I do not want to start sympathizing with him! DO NOT WANT! Curse you, GRRM!

And I tried not to examine the table of contents too closely as I skimmed past it, but even so I couldn’t help but notice that this is far from the only Jaime POV in this book, either.

GodDAMMIT. *sulks*

And now that I’ve read the chapter: What the hell is this shit? Catelyn’s letting Jaime GO? Why in God’s name would she do that? Jaime is Robb’s trump card! She just took away like 80% of her son’s leverage! This is the worst decision ever! I don’t understand!

Seriously, I am beboggled here. Not least by Catelyn’s apparent faith that Tyrion (and more significantly, Cersei) will keep their word to release Arya and Sansa (well, if they had both Arya and Sansa to release, of course) when they’ll already have Jaime back, which seems like a plan just demanding a double-cross if you ask me, but also by the thinking that this little party will actually even make it to King’s Landing with just three people, one of them in chains and one of them a wuss.

Oh, no worries because Jaime swore he’d be good? Whatever. Not to mention that Jaime actually has a point about the questionable validity of oaths given under duress AND under the influence. The whole thing is just Looney Tunes, y’all.

I have to assume Catelyn came to the conclusion that Cersei was never going to release her daughters for anything short of Jaime’s return, and further that Robb was probably never going to let Jaime go, and that this is her version of cutting the Gordian Knot. Which, okay, but see above re: STUPID PLAN. And also, Catelyn, what the hell do you think Robb will do when he finds out you played his trump card behind his back? Cheer? Give you hugs and puppies? Because, I’m going with NO on the hugs/puppies/cheer front on this one.

So, the reader begins to get a handle on Jaime’s character in this chapter—even if the reader is totally against doing that—and one thing that becomes clear is that Jaime seems to pretty much entirely define himself by his ability to fight. But, that he is also smart enough to recognize this, and mock himself for it, which is more than can be said about a lot of guys whose self-worth is measured entirely by their muscles.

And he respects battle prowess in others, clearly, because that is the only possible reason he helped Brienne instead of braining her at the end of the chapter. Because c’mon, we all know that trick with the boulder was pretty badass. Including Jaime, apparently.

That said, he’s certainly not endearing himself to me with his taunts to Brienne about her looks throughout this chapter. Because expecting pretty people not to make fun of an ugly girl is apparently like expecting pigs to fly, or Uwe Boll to win an Academy Award, i.e. screamingly unlikely. Sigh.

Also, this thought on Jaime shaving his head:

I don’t look as much like Cersei this way. She’ll hate that.

Yeeeeaaaaah. No narcissism in this incest! Sheesh.

crupper, crinet, and chamfron

Wow. It’s been a while since I came across three words in a row that I have literally never heard of before. Well, I’ve maybe seen “crupper” before, but the other two, never. And I certainly didn’t know what a crupper actually was before this.

And now I’ve looked them up, and know more about horse armor than I think I ever needed to. And worse, now I will never be able to erase the notion from my brain that cruppers are the equine version of G-strings. This was not an image I needed, people. Gah.

So Jaime doesn’t think Cersei ordered the assassination on Bran, does he? I can’t even remember at this point who I last thought was responsible for it, but I’m pretty sure I thought it was Cersei. But if anyone would be in a position to know what Cersei would and would not be likely to do, I have to admit it would be Jaime, so now I’m confused. Because if it wasn’t Cersei, and it wasn’t Jaime, and it wasn’t Tyrion, then who the hell was it? Who besides the Lannister siblings would care about the secret Bran knew, or be in a position to know about that secret in the first place?

This leads to interesting thoughts about Lord Tywin, and whether he knows that his darling twin offspring have been fucking like bunnies (and producing illegitimate incestuous baby bunnies) since forever. I mean, he has to have at least heard (if not necessarily believed) Stannis’s accusations by now, but I’m wondering whether he knew before. I wouldn’t put it past him to have figured it out; he is a giant dick, but he’s not stupid from what I’ve seen. And if he did know, then he’s certainly cold enough to have ordered a hit on a seven-year-old.

Hmm. I shall keep this thought in the back of my mind, though the whole thing with Littlefinger’s dagger makes it less likely that Tywin was involved, since if I recall correctly (admittedly, there’s a distinct possibility I’m not recalling correctly) the two were nowhere near each other when all this crap originally went down, so the logic here is pretty thin altogether. Tywin’s just the only other person I can think of offhand besides his children who would have the motive to shut Bran up.

Either way, Jaime’s mild and backhanded regrets expressed here about shoving a child out of a window does little or nothing to mollify my thoughts against him—nor Brienne’s either, evidently, for which I give her kudos, though I think in her case it’s more loyalty to Catelyn that inspires her disgust than objections on sheer principle. Well, no, I take that back: Brienne’s reaction to the hanged tavern wenches proves that she’s got more principle than about 95% of the rest of the characters in this series put together—as Jaime’s words at the end of the chapter serve to highlight.

So, okay, but my point is, seriously, defenestrating children = beyond the pale, still.

But for better or worse, Jaime Lannister is out in the world again, and I will evidently have to be in his head a lot in coming weeks. We shall see whether Martin will succeed in making me hate him less. And you know, I’m pretty damn stubborn, but I have a sinking feeling that Martin is stubborner. Or something.

And on that disgruntling note, we out! Happy new book, peoples! Keep it spoiler-free below, and have a lovely weekend, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Pat .
1. dolphineus
goddammit, a Jaime POV. I do not want to get in this guy’s head! I do not want to start sympathizing with him! DO NOT WANT! Curse you, GRRM!
Yeah, know how you feel there Leigh. And it won't be the last time GRRM does that to you either.
Brienne’s reaction to the hanged tavern wenches proves that she’s got more principle than about 95% of the rest of the characters in this series put together
Except maybe for that Lord Stark guy. You complained an awful lot about how his principles made him stupid and vulnerable. Not that I disagree, I just like people who have some common decency. In Martin's world, it gets you dead. Fast. We'll see whether Brienne deals with the world any better.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
oh man oh man oh man. *settles in for the ride*

I am so excited for your reaction to about 5 things in this book.

Totally agreed that this is NOT one of Catelyn's good decisions!
3. DougL
Well, you are going to love this book I think. In my opinion it's better than Clash, but they are all good.

Thanks Leigh, have a good weekend.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
I see that GRRM makes a note that some of these chapters are happening at the same time as the last part of "A Clash of Kings"--interesting and making for a tightly woven set.

I like that we just step right back into the story--no long explanation of what has happened.
Now, Chett isn't a particularly nice POV to get into. I second Leigh's "hands off the SAM." Since the story has been pretty brutal so far, I wasn't altogether certain that GRRM wouldn't let the mutiny happen and was relieved when it didn't.
Hopefully we will be seeing "The Others". Ice magic somethings that can create frozen zombie things are cool.

Now on to read Chapter 1.
Francesco Paonessa
5. ErrantKnave

Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay!

*Sing* this is my favourite book */sing*

Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
@1 - LOL. Lot of POVs in a 5 book series. Just wait. *evil grin*

Re Catelyn letting Jaime go - temporary insanity in the wake of learning that her two younger boys are dead and both daughters (allegedly) are in Lannister hands? That, plus what you observed - Robb's bannermen won't let him let Jaime go, and Cersei won't ransom them for anything less than Jaime. So, Catelyn steps in and exeunt Jamie and Brienne. Desperate people do desperate things, and Cat is now officially desperate. Note that Jaime is probably right - Cat is trusting Tyrion's honor. Unfortunately, let's see what is situation is going to be vis a vis Cersei and Dad, shall we?

Re Bran assassination suspects - I can't say but probably best to bookmark this post for review later in the read. Looking forward to your future thoughts on this point.

"But for better or worse, Jaime Lannister is out in the world again, and I will evidently have to be in his head a lot in coming weeks. We shall see whether Martin will succeed in making me hate him less. And you know, I’m pretty damn stubborn, but I have a sinking feeling that Martin is stubborner. Or something."

Best to bookmark this one too, for future discussion.
7. DavidStill
Dolorous Edd is the best!

I'm waiting both for the next season of the show, and the next book, so I decided to spend the time re-reading SoS in the same tempo as your blog. This will be interesting/fun/nerdy.
Scott Silver
8. hihosilver28
"Okay, before I even start reading this chapter, I just have to note: goddammit, a Jaime POV. I do not want to get in this guy’s head! I do not want to start sympathizing with him! DO NOT WANT! Curse you, GRRM!"

HAHAHA, that was largely my reaction when I first read the book too. I'm excited to see what you think of this book as you go through it. It is by far the best of the 5 and I'm psyched for your read and commentary.
9. TG12
Jaime's actually one of the funner/more interesting POV characters, even going into it with a strong disinclination to approve of being in his head. He's got a good portion of Tyrion's wit, and he's got some background/history and some issues to work through (obviously) that are pretty interesting, in my opinion. You may still hate/disapprove, but it's a decent journey..

Also, in my opinion, the reanimated corpses (what the characters in text often/usually refer to as "wights") totally do qualify as "frozen zombies," because, duh, reanimated corpses. They just don't qualify as "Others" i.e. "White Walkers," but rather the pawns of the Others.
10. Black Dread
Welcome to SOS and 1200 pages of discomfort.

I loved the way Martin wrote the Prologue. Just 3 horn blasts and Sam saying “oh no” would not have had nearly the impact. Chett forgetting what he’s doing and pissing his pants is a much better way to show the terror of knowing the Others are coming.

Martin doesn't make it clear if the frozen undead alone would get the 3 blasts or just the real Others.
David Goodhart
11. Davyd
I can already tell this is going to be my fave Read. Delightful!
So Jaime doesn’t think Cersei ordered the assassination on Bran, does he? I can’t even remember at this point who I last thought was responsible for it, but I’m pretty sure I thought it was Cersei. But if anyone would be in a position to know what Cersei would and would not be likely to do, I have to admit it would be Jaime, so now I’m confused. Because if it wasn’t Cersei, and it wasn’t Jaime, and it wasn’t Tyrion, then who the hell was it?
Marty Beck
12. martytargaryen
Thanks so much for the enjoyable post.

Leigh: "Brienne’s reaction to the hanged tavern wenches proves that she’s gotmore principle than about 95% of the rest of the characters in this series put together..."

Really Leigh, 95%? That's very conservative.

And I think the basis of her principles is more that she will keep her word than true heart-felt loyalty to Cat. 'Tho I could be wrong.

Anyway, not only do I love this chapters and this book, I think that is one of the best Prologues in the history of Prologues. With the two-book build-up re. Others... "Dun!" indeed!
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
Leigh - I predict that after reading the Hedge Knight you're going to want to proceed on with more of the Dunk and Egg stories (might even be four by the time we're done with ASOS). Definitely want to read all of them before diving into ADWD (i.e., non-spoilerish hint: the background is useful to understanding/enjoyment of certain ADWD plot points). If you want a middle ground, I'd propose that you read Hedge Knight and Sworn Sword after ASOS and Mystery Knight and the as yet untitled D and E IV (expected Spring 2013 publication) after AFFC.
Marty Beck
14. martytargaryen
I think from inside of Jaime's head is the best way to learn the most about the way Cersei ticks. I loved the line about her going to hate that he won't look like her anymore.
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Chapter 1:
Exact same reaction as Leigh. Also, interesting choice in starting the book with two POV's that aren't from our "favorite" people.
I'll second the "What is Catelyn thinking here thoughts. My first thought was not even that they were getting away, but it was a move--but then Jaime quashed that with saying it was an escape. Doesn't seem like a well thought out plan, but I guess we'll see.
Brienne is not only more honest than 95% of the "Sers", but she is more badass: climbing a cliff, rolling a boulder and then the swan dive--way cool. Hopefully she will survive for a bit.
So, I am also at somewhat of a loss for suspects who were there for the Bran stabbing attempt.
Whoever did it would have had to know there was some reason that Bran shouldn't wake up. Either this would have required Cersei talking to someone (no one else talked that I recall), someone spying on Jaime & Cersei and seeing Bran also, or maybe someone wanting Bran dead for other reasons--like knowing about his "wargnessishism."
George Jong
16. IndependentGeorge
Heh. I distinctly remember letting out an exhasperated sigh when I saw the heading to chapter one. I will note in non-spoiler way that just getting into a character's head does not necessarily make you more sympathetic with them. Depending on the character, you can actually think even less of them when you realize what they're actually thinking.

Anyway, I'm giddy for the SOS recap. Leigh's reaction to Jaime's first POV chapter was one of many things I've been eagerly anticipating; the next one should be in three weeks or so (Sansa I).

You're now officially further than where the HBO show left off, so I feel safe in saying that there is going to be a LOT of fodder for Arrested Westeros in this volume.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
@16 -
"You're now officially further than where the HBO show left off, so I feel safe in saying that there is going to be a LOT of fodder for Arrested Westeros in this volume."

Be careful - close but not quite (e.g., last scene of HBO show goes beyond where we are today).
18. Joel Prophet
Who tried to have Bran killed in his bed? At this point in the book I was looking at Littlefinger. Weather he knew who pushed Bran out the window or not, he wanted the guilt to point to the Lannesters'. My thought he was playing some (game of houses) to better he possition and open warfare between two powerfull houses could very well be part of the plan. (I don't think this theory counts as a spoiler because almost everyone disagrees with me now but I'm sticking to my theory).
19. KingsGambit
I think we learned somewhere that there have been other revolts within the Night's Watch. They used to be a larger order with more members who joined of their own free will (like Benjen and Jon) and less criminals who were forced into it.

RobM is spot on (as usual) about Catelyn. She'd just learned Bran and Rickon had died and she went into the dungeon to speak with Jaime while the rest of the castle was celebrating some insignificant victory. Her only surviving son (as far as she knows) is fighting a larger army led my a more experienced general and her two daughters are held captive by the enemy. It does get progressively harder to remember who knows what.

BTW: if you start threatning to throw the book in the prologue, I hope you have a spare copy...
20. litg
Regarding continuing to hate Jaime... just you wait :-)
George Jong
21. IndependentGeorge
I was ready to throw the book myself, except I read it on an eBook, and those things are expensive.

And yes, it's a stupid plan by Cat, but she's every bit as grief-stricken as when Jon came to visit Bran.
lake sidey
22. lakesidey
I do not want to get in this guy’s head!

I can already see the reread for this book is going to be an interesting ride.

Because if it wasn’t Cersei, and it wasn’t Jaime, and it wasn’t Tyrion, then who the hell was it?

You know nothing, Leigh Butler. But all I can say is....RAFO.

Oh, and if I might make a suggestion? Buy half a dozen soft, padded desks. I see much headdesking in your immediate future.

Deana Whitney
23. Braid_Tug
You know, if they "never" blow the horns 3 times, how often are the men reminded this is a signal for the "Others?"

Chett sure pissed his pants fast enought.

Jamie... others have alredy covered it.

Leigh - keep pillows handy, or bouncy balls.
24. MRCHalifax
Jaime's POV is one of the most entertaining in the series. And Leigh, you're having the exact same reaction that everyone has when they get to his POV. People seem to either come down on hating him or loving him, but just about everyone finds him nearly as entertaining as Tyrion.
Vincent Lane
25. Aegnor
There is no evidence that the Others are undead and certainly none that they were ever humans that died and became undead. The ice zombies are the wights, like what Jon found back in book 1. The Others were in the prologue of GoT and have their own language.
Joseph Haines
26. IamJoseph
@23. Braid_Tug

I figure it's become something akin to a joke nowadays. One blast for rangers returning, two for enemies, and (jokingly) three when the others come to get you.
27. o.m.
@10 - Would your average Crow be able to tell the difference between the assorted menaces beyond the wall? They haven't been back for centuries. Three blasts for anything that isn't quite human ...

By the way, doesn't the alert signal strike you as a bit risky? One blast and an arrow before the sentry can catch another breath, and the camp will expect friends.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
@27 - plus one for the second paragraph. LOL.

Re the horn, the TV show made it easy by having Sam tell everyone ahead of time that he read it in ancient book.

@25 - agree - Others may be chilly but very much alive and powerful. Very different from the Wights (a/k/a the Zombonis, to use a humorous term).
Steven Halter
29. stevenhalter
@25&@28:I agree, the Others being some other type of being is how it struck me.
Zombonis--I like it. :-)
Dave Thompson
30. DKT
It always turns out that I'm just about finished with one of these books right around the time Leigh starts them, and it's immense fun to watch from this angle, and also track how my feelings changed over the book. Frex:
goddammit, a Jaime POV. I do not want to get in this guy’s head! I do not want to start sympathizing with him! DO NOT WANT! Curse you, GRRM!
This is pretty much how I felt when I started listening. Jaime's crime (pushing Bran, not killing the mad king) is unforgiveable, and I still hated him for it after this chapter. I still hate him for it, actually, but I don't hate him (as much) now.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
@30:Yes, it is definitely the pushing Bran that makes me Jaime averse. Mad King killing--I'm pretty much for that in the 4C.
Pat .
32. dolphineus
So, @28 RobM, Plants vs Zombies fan?
33. Black Dread
I'm sure it the horn blast thing must be part of Night's Watch basic training. The equivalent would be the MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) levels (0 through 4) we were trained in the Marines. Level 4 means all protective equipment including gas mask.

None of us ever thought we would hear the signal for MOPP Level 4, ever - until Desert Storm when a detection unit for nerve gas went off (mistakenly I guess). I can't even describe the sinking feeling I got when that alert went up. I didn't piss myself like Chett, but things were feeling kinda loose down there. Visions of absolutely horrible deaths were running through our minds at high speed while that mask was going on.
34. Karlitos
In regards to the order of reading. The Hedge Knight was published prior to the release of A Storm of Swords in the Legends anthology. Reading it, or any of the other novellas is not required. The benefits to reading the series and the stories in published order are that there are Easter Eggs from the Dunk & Egg stories that you can find in the main seuquence and you get an appreciation for the history of the world.
Rob Munnelly
35. RobMRobM
@34 - Agreed but I'd say it goes beyond mere Easter Eggs into information that enhances understanding of the events in the principal volumes (none of which developments I can discuss here, of course).

@33 - that's interesting, and a good analogy.

@32 - nope (whatever that is).

Zombonis is a term from Television Without Pity's Completely Unspoiled Speculation forum relative to the HBO show - posters all commit to speculate wildly about GRRM's world without ever looking at anything other than the four corners of the TV show.
36. SKM
@25, there is actually one hint that some Others may have once been human. It's just quite vague: Later in SoS, (rollover for spoilers) one of Craster's wives tells Sam that "the sons are coming"--meaning Craster's sons--in an apparent reference to the Others.
Pat .
37. dolphineus
@35 It's a game. Zomboni is one of the enemies, a zombie on a zamboni.
38. SKM
Crap on a cracker, that spoiler text was white in "preview post!" Can an admin fix that, please? I'm so sorry.
39. Tenesmus
Leigh, For some reason I felt like re-reading some of your earlier comments from AGOT. : Below are your exact words from your summary of Chapter 9:

"The wolf howling is making Tyrion uneasy. He reminds the septon, Chayle, to return the books he’s borrowed, and heads out for breakfast. On the way, he overhears Prince Joffrey and his bodyguard, Sandor Clegane (called “the Hound”), discussing Bran. Clegane wishes the boy would hurry up and die, but Joffrey is more annoyed that his wolf won’t shut up. Clegane offers to kill it for him, which delights Joffrey. Tyrion interrupts to point out that the Starks would be likely to notice that. Clegane mocks him, but Tyrion ignores him to tell Joffrey he needs to go pay his respects to the Starks. Joffrey replies that the Stark boy is nothing to him, and Tyrion slaps him, twice, and orders Joffrey to do as he’s told. Sniveling, Joffrey runs off; Clegane remarks threateningly that the prince won’t forget that, and Tyrion replies that he hopes he doesn’t."
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
@39:Joffrey being the root of evil works well. That fits into my it's unconnected to Jaime&Cersei supposition from @15.
Genevieve Williams
41. welltemperedwriter
I remember being very pleased about getting a Jaime POV. Not because I like him, exactly (though he's a likeable guy, or maybe it's more accurate to say that he has a charming personality--I know people like him IRL, minus the defenestrating small children of course, and they are always fun to hang out with) but because up to this point GRRM had made him sufficiently interesting that I was wondering what made him tick.

There are other characters who have since been given POVs who I don't like any more after getting inside their heads, and at least one whom I actually like less. And there's ONE character in particular who I hope NEVER gets a POV. *shudder*
42. William O'Brien
I had the same reaction as Leigh to Chapter 1. Each time I would see Jaime's name at the top of a chapter, I would groan. At some point those groans became grins, and nowadays I think Jaime is right there with his brother as the best written POV character in the series.
43. KingsGambit
@27 I think the horn was meant to be used safely from the top of the wall. Maybe not completely safe from arrows, but not terribly dangerous either.

(or am I taking a joke much too seriously?)
David Goldfarb
44. David_Goldfarb
Months ago when you finished A Game of Thrones, in your wrapup post you wrote this about Jaime:
I also reluctantly suspect that pretty soon I am going to be forced to Get To Know Him Better as a character, and that Martin’s going to pull out all this stuff about how despite all the pushing kids off window ledges and so forth, he’s really Not That Bad! Just like he did with Sandor Clegane, dammit. He’s SNEAKY that way.

I plan to sulk about this, just so you know. Grar.
I laughed and laughed.
45. jerec84
The harder you resist liking Jaime, the worse you'll break. Have fun!
47. Nu
Aw yeah. ASoS is easily my favorite book in the series, mostly for how thoroughly it ripped my heart out of my chest, and this blog is the one I've been waiting for all along. It's a roller coaster. And yes, as others have corroborated, your reaction to the Jaime POV is pretty much the same as mine and all my friends' who read it. It only gets worse from there; GRRM is a devious, awful man. :)
Church Tucker
48. Church
Re: the creatures, the Wights are the zombies that are created by the Others (AKA White Walkers) . It's not yet clear what the Others are, exactly, but they're not the same as the Wights.

Re: Dunk and Egg, the publishing order is:

The Hedge Knight
The Sworn Sword
The Mystery Knight
Upcoming untitled D&E story
Rikka Cordin
49. Rikka
I'm so excited for this reread! :D


Seeing someone else's reactions just brings me so much glee. Living vicariously through you, Leigh!
Rob Munnelly
50. RobMRobM
Based on the clarification offered by @48 (thanks!), it seems even more a good idea to do Hedge Knight and Sworn Sword back to back after ASOS and then Mystery Knight and the new one after FFC. (Note - the next one should be awesome - D and E go to Winterfell for an anthology with the working title Dangerous Women!!).
Cory Hill
51. Cory-Lee-Hill
The Dunk and Egg stories can be read at pretty much any time, they clarify elements of the books and bring more relevence to some of the historical references made throughout the books. I would recomend reading them sometime in between book 3-4 though because that's when the references start to pick up. They aren't nessesary but they due , I feel, enhance the enjoyment of the main books. It's kind of funny because in ACoK one character tells another the ending to the Hedge Knight, but you wouldn't know it if you hadn't read the story all ready.
52. David B
*gets out the popcorn*

I can already tell - your reactions to this book are going to way too much fun. Are you sure you don't want to read it more quickly?
53. Auga
Can people just not try to nudge Leah deliberately and sneakily to a particular conclusion? It's no better than posting an outright spoiler. This thread isn't the first time I've seen it being done. I just don't see why you want to give out hints that you probably would not have appreciated being given. Can't you at least white it out so it's her choice whether she reads clues?
George Jong
56. IndependentGeorge
Can people just not try to nudge Leah deliberately and sneakily to a particular conclusion? It's no better than posting an outright spoiler.
I agree - I don't want to specify which post it is for fear of confirming it as a spoiler, but the person who posted should know whom we're referring to. I hate to backseat moderate, but it really irks me.
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
@56 - Probably best to note in the public post that you'll discuss concerns in the spoiler forum - at least then the potential spoiler can know for sure that it is his/her post that is at issue.

@54 - that's an interesting WoT point. Nice.
58. TBGH
I just want to say that I am really looking forward to reading your thoughts on certain events in this book. I won't be posting much because I can't think of what to say without giving stuff away, but I'm sure I'm one of many silent fans that are enjoying the headdesking and book-throwing reactions immensely.
Vincent Lane
59. Aegnor
Regarding Jamie, it is important to see events from him side. Jamie is not a good person, by an means, but he isn't the monster that throwning an 8 year old out a window would seem indicate.

If he doesn't do that, and Bran told, then the woman he loves, their three children, and himself of course, would have likely died horrible deaths. His excuses don't make him a good person by any stretch, but they do move him out of the monster category IMO.
Julian Augustus
60. Alisonwonderland

I think you are starting to get a glimpse of why more than half the fandom (I daresay) hate Catelyn. She gives away Robb's trump card, Jaime, for purely selfish reasons (getting her daughters back), and makes Robb's currently difficult position even more dire.
George Jong
61. IndependentGeorge
#59 - I've read that argument many times, and I maintain that it actually makes Jaime even worse. He's already sired three illegitimate children, and their lives depends on him keeping it secret. So what does he do? He has a nooner with his sister in the middle of a foreign castle, and then attempts to murder a child when he gets caught. Besides the fact that he's the one endangering his children in the first place, I just don't think of felony murder (the murder itself is not pre-meditated, but it is committed while in the act of another crime) as being any better than regular old murder.
Jakub Wrobel
62. ptyx
I don't think it's relevant at all. For me it doesn't make Jamie "better" or "worse".
Using RPG terms, I would say that he is "lawful evil" instead of "chaotic evil", committing evil deeds for a reason, not just for fun (like Joffrey, for example).
63. corejay
I don't think Jaime is Lawful in any way. Killing Aerys certainly was one of the least Lawful events in the books, although it's hard to say if it was good or evil, at least at this point.

Still, Jaime certainly isn't a nice (or even good) person. I just think 'Lawful Evil' is about the most inaccurate description of Jaime possible.
Vincent Lane
64. Aegnor

As I said, Jamie isn't a good person (yet). I think RPG terms are too simplistic here (maybe a true neutral, to somewhat neutral-evil). But his actions were absolutely done for love. It is definitely true that he did some messed up things to end up in that particular situation, but once he was there he didn't have many options.
Steven Halter
65. stevenhalter
Jaime was engaged in activity in the tower that he obviously knew would have dire consequences if discovered. He saw that a child had seen him doing this. He then reacted and his instinctual reaction was to kill.
How someone reacts in a crisis can often tell a lot about that person. Jaime seems to fall into the "Problem? Kill it." category.
He also doesn't seem to have fretted overly much about this decision to date. So, no--not a Jaime fan.
Vincent Lane
66. Aegnor
Though he had absolutely no reason to believe they could be discovered. It was just extremely poor luck and timing, and lack of knowledge of Bran's extreme climbing ability.

Oh and it is true that Jamie is a very impulsive person. As for remorse, we have no knowledge one way or the other whether he has any remorse at this point.
67. Ser Ramas
I've just caught up with you in reading I&F. I can't imagine I will be able to read as slowly as you are, so this is likely my one and only post with exactly the knowlege base Leigh has.

- Loved the prologue - I hope we get more on the internal politics of the watch, I never really understood how an army full of rapists and murderers is kept under control.

- Jamie felt a bit lazy compared to for example the Theon chapters. There was a little too much of the 'rawwrr I am a bad guy'. What I did like is you come to understand that he's a bit stupid, and he knows it. He reads as frustrated that he couldn't think of a better plan to deal with Bran or his situation on the river. He believes he is compelled to have a role in events as a Lannister but has no idea why anyone expects him to be able to do more than swing a sword and look good in gold. I did like it when he started comparing himself to Tyrion - I really want to see those two together, a Jamie & Tyrion vs the world has lots of potential to bring redemption both of them.

Brienne I dislike intensely - much like Catelyn her overdeveloped sense of self righteousness is clearly going to prevent growth and she is inevitably going to pull some stupid shit that fucks everything up. I do love these having these worthless characters with worthy backgrounds.

As for Catelyn's actions prior to the chapter, for two volumes now she has shown no empathy or consideration for other people, and no interest in anything beyond the needs of her immeadiate trueborn family. She is basically the same character as Cersei only with POV chapters to make a case for her. Her treatment of Jon at the start of GoT is a clear set up for her character, and her POV discussion of Robb's actions have shown her unwilling to consider even her own son might know what he is doing unless he happens to agree with her. The sooner she gets run through by a random bandit the better off the North and the River lands will be.
68. Rinmarin

Now, that's not fair. I understand, rereading that scene is not much fun, but do it. Jaime actually saved Bran. And after that, 'doing things for love and all', he threw him. So, his instinctual reaction was to save.

That's how he is. He is the one, who will do everything for love.
Steven Halter
69. stevenhalter
@68:Bran slipped but caught himself and was dangling by one hand. He slipped some more and then Jaime says "Take my hand before you fall."
bran does and Jaime hauls Bran up and asks him how old he is. "Seven," Bran said.
Jaime says, "The things I do for love." Then he shoves Bran off the ledge.
Whether Bran would have fallen or not is open to interpretation. We had been told that he had a lot of experience and skill at climbing around the castle. He was in a precarious situation, but he might have regained his hold in the next moment had Jaime not intervened--there is no way to tell at this time.
Jaime told him to grab his hand and shoved him once he knew he was seven--old enough to recall what he had seen. It is possible had Bran answered some lower age Jaime might have hauled him in--again, we'll never know.
So, the scene is ambiguous with might have beens, however what really happened was Jaime pushing Bran in cold blood. On rereading, the scene seems actually worse for Jaime than what I recalled. He was very calculating about the push.
70. Rinmarin

Well, my point is, that it was not his istinctual reaction, that's all. He used his brain, and not finding better way he shoved Bran out. Stupid and cruel, yes. He was like that at the time. One not good decision leads to a worse one, and so on, and so on, and than he finds himself in position with seemingly no other way except for killing child. He has brain, smart mouth and all, but he's trying really hard not to use it. And that is what he gets at the end.
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
@70:Yes, I was recalling a quicker scene. It was good to reread that scene now (wow, on looking back at the index, we read that a year and a half ago--time flies) and be reminded that Jaime can be so very cold.
George Jong
72. IndependentGeorge
My point is that on a sliding scale of evil, I rate pre-meditated murder far worse than a crime of passion, and Jaime's felony murder is more the former than the latter.
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
@72:Yes, cold blooded and calculated--Murder 1.
74. TBGH
I know that the following situation is not legally equivalent to Jaime's, but let's try it on for size.

Imagine you and your Jewish family are hiding in an attic in Nazi Germany. A kid who likes to hop from roof to roof discovers you. If he goes home and tells his Nazi parents, your whole family dies.

Now clearly Jaime and Cersei are more guilty than the fictional parents above. Prior to the defenestration however, Jaime was disgusting but not what you would call evil. You can come up with other scenarios if you don't like mine, but the fact is many people will do evil things to save themselves and even more will do it to save their families.
George Jong
75. IndependentGeorge
#74 - I don't think your example is either legally or morally equivalent. I have a better example:

You and your wife hit a rough patch financially, and decide to steal money from your boss. You're both in on it, though, so if you get caught, both of you go to jail, and your kids get put in foster care. You get away with it, and forget about it for years until one day, you hit another rough patch. You decide to do it again, only this time, the boss's seven year-old kid is playing in the office balcony while the two of you are emptying the petty cash box. When you notice it, there's a moment's hesitation before you sigh, "The things I do for love," and shove the kid over the railing and clean up your tracks.

We continue to exchange counterexamples and play this game all day - the point I'm making is that "doing it for the children" can only be carried so far, and it rings especially hollow when you're the one who put them in danger in the first place.
Melanie DeJulis
76. Shonagon
* claps excitedly *

I’m currently reading ASOIAF for the second time, and have really been enjoying all the juicy tidbits that a re-read uncovers. I’ve been following along with your (Leigh) read from the start of my re-read, and your insights have been so much fun; thank you very much for sharing them. I’ve also really appreciated the comments from everyone on each post, so I wanted to thank you all for letting me silently (until now) enjoy your discussions. I’m finally caught up with you in my re-read now, and so wanted to add my voice to the conversation.

@39 Tenesmus, I never caught that in the context of this particular mystery – thank you!

Re: Jaime’s morality, I do think a lot of it has to do with POV. @67 Ser Ramus, I absolutely agree with your comparison of Catelyn and Cersei. But mostly I’d like to say that one of the reasons I love this series is that it engenders just this type of discussion.
Stefan Mitev
77. Bergmaniac
In defence of Catelyn, the release of jaime was before Blackwater and before the alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells became known. At this point it seemed by far the most likely development in the war was for Stannis to take over KL, Sansa to die or become a hostage of Stannis, and Jaime to lose nearly all of his value as a captive since his side would've been on the verge of losing the war. So Cat had to act quickly to have a realistic chance of getting her deaughters back based on what she knew at the time. It was a big risk, sure, but hardly insane or idiotic.
78. Ser Ramus

That logic only really works as a justification if you are a sociopathic narcissist who believes that the wellbeing of yourself and your family should be the only consideration in matters of state and law, and that you personally are the only person in the realm capable of accurately predicting the outcome of future events despite having nothing but incomplete rumour to base those predictions on, and despite copious evidence from prior adventures that matters of statecraft and diplomacy are not your strength.
79. TBGH
@75 I wasn't going for legal or moral equivalency. I was going for equivalency of consequences. The fact is that if Bran tells what he sees, Joffrey et al don't get "sent to foster care," they get killed (or at the very least have to flee for their lives). This was a life or death scenario for all of the Lannisters.

And while it is evil to take the lives of innocents (as opposed to someone attacking you) to preserve your own life or the life of your loved ones, it is also something that many would struggle with.
Stefan Mitev
80. Bergmaniac
@78 - I wanted to write a detailed reply, then I saw that you wrote previously things like "for Catelyn's actions prior to the chapter, for two volumes now she has shown no empathy or consideration for other people, and no interest in anything beyond the needs of her immeadiate trueborn family. She is basically the same character as Cersei only with POV chapters to make a case for her.", so I see we won't find a common ground and it would be pointless. If after reading how Catelyn saved Brienne for example you still think she has shown no empathy or consideration for other people, and think she's the same character as Cersei, I see no reason to waste my time arguing with you about her.
81. Ser Ramus

I'm pretty sure you're right - Catelyn is a lost cause on me unless she does something remarkable in future.

If it were a 'moral' judgement I guess you can argue that events are driving her mad, and her sociopathy has got worse and worse as a response, which is fine but the cause doesn't change the diagnosis.

I will say I really enjoy chuckling while reading a POV so remarkably self centred as Catelyn's or Theon's though.
82. Josh L
Perhaps you won't hate Jaime any less, Leigh, but you might not hate the man he once had the chance to become.

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