Sep 21 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 2

A Read of Ice and Fire on A Storm of Swords, Part 2Welcome 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 2 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 2 (“Catelyn”) and Chapter 3 (“Arya”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new thread here on 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 2: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn is regretful that the master-at-arms, Ser Desmond Grell, and the steward, Utherydes Wayn, have to be responsible for confining her for her traitorous behavior in freeing Jaime Lannister. The two men are appalled at the notion of locking her up, but Catelyn insists that if they fail to punish her people will believe they are complicit in her crime. They compromise by confining her in her father’s rooms, so that she can be with her father while waiting for Edmure’s return. Wayn tells her that her betrayal was for nothing, as Desmond has sent Ser Robin Ryger after Jaime. Catelyn prays for Brienne.

Later, she is sitting at Hoster’s bedside when he wakes and begins raving about someone named “Tansy,” begging her forgiveness. Catelyn asks him who that is and whether she is still alive, but Hoster groans “Dead,” and thinking Catelyn is Tansy, promises her that she will have “others… Sweet babes, and trueborn” if she is a good wife. When Maester Vyman comes to treat Hoster, Catelyn asks him if he knows of a “Tansy,” but Vyman does not. He returns the next day and tells her that Wayn says there has never been a “Tansy” at Riverrun as long as he’s been there. He also reports reluctantly that Robb was wounded while storming the Crag, but that he insists in his message that it is not serious, and leaves.

Catelyn thinks on the mystery, and concludes that she cannot believe her father would have fathered a bastard on this Tansy. She wonders if perhaps it could have been a nickname for her sister Lysa, who had miscarried many times. Catelyn thought that that had never happened at Riverrun, but considers that perhaps it had after their joint wedding; Catelyn had just thought Lysa’s courses were late. She realizes that Lysa’s wedding to Jon Arryn had been imposed on Arryn by their father, in return for the Tullys’ support in the uprising; she thinks it not surprising that their marriage was so loveless, now. She writes Lysa a letter, begging her once more to come see their father or at least write to him before he dies, although she knows it probably too late for either.

Edmure returns later that day, and keeps her waiting for two hours before coming to see her. Edmure looks pale and drawn, and tells her that Stannis’s army was routed at King’s Landing, and Highgarden and all the south has declared for Joffrey, and meanwhile she has set the Kingslayer free. Catelyn declares she had a mother’s right, and Edmure says she had no right to do it. He says Cersei will never release Catelyn’s daughters, and Catelyn says Tyrion will.

Edmure retorts that the Imp took an axe to the head during the battle, and will probably be dead before Jaime could reach King’s Landing. Catelyn is aghast at the news, and Edmure continues that he has sent ravens to Lord Bolton saying Jaime had escaped, and offering a reward for his recapture. Catelyn is horrified.

“If this was an escape,” she said softly, “and not an exchange of hostages, why should the Lannisters give my daughters to Brienne?”

“It will never come to that. The Kingslayer will be returned to us, I have made certain of it.”

“All you have made certain is that I shall never see my daughters again. Brienne might have gotten him to King’s Landing safely… so long as no one was hunting for them. But now…” Catelyn could not go on.

She tells him to leave her to her grief.

Well, yeah… but Catelyn, how could you have expected that wouldn’t happen?

Of course Edmure was going to get the alert out and try to get Jaime back. For a variety of reasons, but not least among them because for him not to do so is tantamount to colluding with Catelyn in her treason. I mean, I suppose it’s debatable whether Robb himself would view it that way, but Edmure wouldn’t take that chance in any case.

That said, ugh, what a sucky situation. I think Catelyn’s plan was terribly ill-advised, but it’s really hard not to see where she was coming from when she concocted it. She keeps insisting she’s not mad with grief, but… I gotta kinda doubt her objectivity on that one.

(Though you do have to love that her grief expresses itself in the form of jailbreaks. Hey, at least it’s proactive!)

I hope Arya by some miracle ends up going to Riverrun so at least Catelyn can have one of her children back, but I’m pretty sure that if Arya’s going to go anywhere it’ll be to Winterfell. Which is currently an abandoned, smoking ruin, so that ought to be a fun homecoming.

And then there’s the “Tansy” thing, which I don’t really have much idea what to make of at this point except to be convinced that Catelyn’s interpretation of the matter (namely, that “Tansy” = Lysa) is so, so wrong. Because really, if your father had ever referred to your sister by a completely nonsensical nickname, don’t you think you (or Wayn or Vyman) would have at least heard it before?

Plus, you know Catelyn’s wrong because it would be way too easy if she were right, and take away a prime opportunity for Martin to give us A Shocking Revelation. And that’s just crazy talk!

However, while I think Catelyn’s wrong, wrong, wrong about “Tansy” being Lysa, the rest of her theory about what Hoster’s talking about with the blood and trueborn children and alla that sounds pretty reasonable to me. From what I have so far, it sounds like Hoster got this Tansy person knocked up with a bastard child, and then the kid died in childbirth, maybe? And he was very upset about it, and promised her she’d have more? And married her off to someone so she could have legit babies and live at least semi-happily ever after?

…Yeah, so it all sounds like that. Which is probably a red flag to suspect that the truth of it is nothing like that at all.

I do admit I had some fleeting thoughts here about Jon Snow’s still-unidentified mother, and was kind of oooh, you think? But on reflection that doesn’t really make any sense. Because for one thing, unless I’ve been doing a lot of hallucinating lately (shaddup), Jon Snow didn’t die in childbirth. And for another, as long as we go with the notion that Ned is definitely Jon’s father (and I have no reason at this point to think otherwise), then I can’t see why on earth Hoster Tully would have been all weepy and lovey-dovey over the woman Ned was cheating on his daughter with.

So, in conclusion, Dunno. I’m sure all of this speculation will turn out to be completely hilarious later on.


Chapter 3: Arya

What Happens
Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry ride north, and Arya thinks of the horrible things she’s sure Roose Bolton will do to them if they are caught, but she finds herself unafraid for the first time in a long time. They come across three wolves eating a deer, but Arya just says to back off slowly, and they move on without incident. She also eats an apple from a tree with corpses hanging from it.

Arya explains to the boys that they’re going to Riverrun, where they will be safe, though she does not explain to Hot Pie why. She frets as they push on that they’re going too slowly, that Bolton’s men will be sure to catch them. Hot Pie and Gendry are having a lot of trouble with riding, and Arya knows she would go faster without them, but she will not leave them. Hot Pie is excited when they come to a river, thinking it the Trident, but Arya explains that it will take them days to reach the Trident. She and Gendry argue over whether she is going in the right direction, and Arya eventually declares she is fording the river, and the other two can come or not. They follow her.

They ford another river after that, and Arya will not let them stop even though all of them are exhausted. When she falls asleep in the saddle, though, Gendry insists that they stop and get some rest. She lies down and sleeps, and dreams that she is a wolf, hunting the Bloody Mummers with her pack.

They thought they were hunting her, she knew with all the strange sharp certainty of dreams, but they were wrong. She was hunting them.

There is a short but bloody fight, and Arya dreams that she tears off the arm of the last of the Mummers, a Dothraki, with her teeth.

Before I actually read this chapter, let me note: Well, speak of the devil. Once again it is proven to be more fun when I write the commentary to one chapter before turning to the next. Heh.

And now that I’ve read it, I have one thing to say:




There are times in a blogger’s life, sez I, where the only comment that will satisfy is a big, obnoxious, sparkly Yay. They are rare, but they are immutable. This is one of those times.

Because, OMG! Nymeria! Arya wolf-walking with Nymeria! Nymeria saving Arya! I am asquee! Which is a little like being agog, but with more high-pitched noises.

Oh, that’s awesome. Especially since it seems clear that there’s no way Arya and Co. would have escaped Bolton’s men if Nymeria hadn’t had their backs. And I think we can all agree that not getting caught by Bolton is a very, very good thing. Yeesh.

And by the way, I did not miss that Arya mentally referred to Gendry and Hot Pie as her “pack” in this chapter. Not to mention that she felt safe in a wolf-infested forest, and even spent some time howling at some of them. Very subtly done, that, the clues that Arya is through her connection to Nymeria already part of Nymeria’s pack, before the big reveal at the end of the chapter. Nice.

Also, I love it, that I was all “oh, Arya won’t go to Riverrun!” and then in the very next chapter she’s all “we’re going to Riverrun!” I believe the operative phrase is d’oh. My mad skillz of deduction, let me show you them.

Squee aside, I found the apple thing a little disturbing. Stay good, Arya!

Gendry had his own secret, though even he didn’t seem to know what it was.

*tilts head* Had Arya figured out before that Gendry was Robert’s bastard, or is this a new development? I can’t remember. Oh, well. In any case, smart Arya, figuring that out.

I left it out of the summary, but I got a little sad when Hot Pie was all awed that Arya could read. People not being able to read is just tragic, in my opinion. Everyone should be able to read! Reading is awesome! We should all be like, um, *checks Wikipedia*…

…Wow, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world? I thought for sure it was Sweden or Norway. Huh. Well, then, we should all be like Cuba! Reading! Whoo!

Er. Anyway.

There was a Dothraki in the Bloody Mummers? I… am bemused by this, for some reason.

“Which way is north?”

She used her cheese to point. “That way.”

“But there’s no sun. How do you know?”

“From the moss. See how it grows mostly on one side of the trees? That’s south.”

I totally learned that trick from when I was in the Girl Scouts, yo. And like Gendry, I’m still rather suspicious of its efficacy.

(And y’all can stop being mock-shocked I was in the Girl Scouts any time now. Because I was a kickass Girl Scout, thankyouverymuch. I tied knots and built campfires and harassed people into buying Samoas and everything. (In MY day they were called Caramel Delites, but nevertheless: mmm, Samoas.) And let me just say, I am really really glad that my wilderness training came via The Girl Scouts of America and not the way Arya learned it. Mine had way more cookies and way less carnage, and I am all for that particular ratio to continue undisturbed in my life.)

And on that random note, we out! Have a delightful weekend, as is ever my wish for you, and remember: giant sparkly Yays are for sharing. Y'all come back next week now, hear?

Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Leigh, I had completely forgotten that Nymeria comes to Arya's rescue. Pretty cool stuff.
Pat .
2. dolphineus
Mine had way more cookies and way less carnage, and I am all for that particular ratio to continue undisturbed in my life.
Oh Leigh. You make me LOL so much in these re-reads. And thats an actual laugh out loud, not an internet meh-LOL. Perhaps even a guffaw.

I yearn for the day Nymeria and Arya are reunited. But alas, today is not that day :( I also like Arya taking care of her pack, even though Hot Pie is mostly dead weight.

On the moss issue ...
It is generally believed that in northern latitudes, the north side of trees and rocks will generally have more luxuriant moss growth on average than other sides. This is assumed to be because the sun on the south side creates a dry environment. South of the equator the reverse would be true. However, naturalists feel that mosses grow on the damper side of trees and rocks
I feel sorry for Catelyn. She is really just heartbroken and emotionally destittute at this point. Basically everything has been taken from her. Her father is dying, her sister is bat-shit crazy. Husband dead. Two sons dead. Daughters prisoner. Might make for some selfish decision-making. Hmmm ... wonder what the law of unintended consequences will have to say on this ...
3. KingsGambit
Arya doesn't know Gendry's secret that Gendry doesn't know himself. She does know he has one. Early in ACOK, goldcloaks came looking for her by order of Cersei, but Yoren refused to give him up. Arya thought they were coming for her and both she and Gendry were surprised to learn they were looking for Gendry.

I think Cat's thinking when she released Jaime was properly explained in this chapter.
4. Black Dread
On the road with Arrya and the gang like a buddy movie.

Good times.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Tansy - of course, can't say anything about it other than it is yet another puzzle for your puzzler to solve over time.

Can we have a head-desk for Edmure? Perhaps talk to your sister and think about consequences before you tell the world a story that isn't true? So GRRM to have ill-advised prisoner release with ill-advised spin on said prisoner release.

"And by the way, I did not miss that Arya mentally referred to Gendry and Hot Pie as her “pack” in this chapter."

I never saw that before. Excellent catch.

"I totally learned that trick from when I was in the Girl Scouts, yo. And like Gendry, I’m still rather suspicious of its efficacy."

*chuckles* Guess we'll just have to see how it all turns out.
Melanie DeJulis
6. Shonagon
Yay for more warging! Yay for Nymeria!

Also, go Arya, go!! I so want Arya to arrive quickly and be a comfort to Catelyn. (Hopefully Catelyn doesn't find her too... is hardened the right word? What will she think...)
Pat .
7. dolphineus
@6 Shonagon
Comfort? Comfort?
What do you think you are reading here?
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
Ah, I see that Chapter 2 is Catelyn. Maybe we'll get some insight (one way or another) into why she released Jaime.She is taking responsibility for the action, but no explanation yet.
Her father seems sunk in poppy dreams. Who is "Tansy"? Robb is wounded storming the Crag, but the Crag maester will tend to him--does that mean they took the Crag (I've forgotten)? Tansy may be Lysa but I don't really think it could be that easy.
Not a lot of info. It looks like Catelyn freed Jaime as an exchange for Sansa and Arya. She is pinning her hopes on Tyrion's word. That isn't a bad pinning, but I don't think Tyrion is in any position to free Sansa and of course, Arya is not there at all.
George Jong
9. IndependentGeorge
#7 - It's even better when you read that in Jim Mora's voice.

Comfort? Don't talk about - comfort?!! You kidding me? Comfort? We're just trying to survive a chapter here!
Melanie DeJulis
10. Shonagon
*thinking hard to try to find an example of comfort in the series*

Well... Bran woke up...... mumble...

*retreats to the corner*
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
Yay, Arya for Chapter 3. The three are fleeing so this is pretty much right after she escapes. This thought:
It’s better if he’s scared of me, she told herself. That way he’ll do like I say, instead of something stupid.
Seems to be falling into the "it's better to be feared than liked" category of leadership.

But then:
She was only ten, a skinny girl on a stolen horse with a dark forest ahead of her and men behind who would gladly cut off her feet.
Gives us a perspective of just what kind of a situation she is in. She's handling things better than I could, I think.

Oh, my:
...and then reached up and plucked an apple from among the dead men as she rode beneath them. It was mushy and overripe, but she ate it worms and all.
That is a bit disturbing.
Ah, she is planning on going to Riverrun rather than all the way to Winterfell. That seems like a good plan.
They may be lost, But I think she is right in not going downstream.
Ah, this dream seems like a warg dream with Nymeria. So the mummers are probably not chasing them anymore.
12. sofrina
i think seeing arya as she is now would break catelyn's heart. they'd both be relieved and thrilled at first, but this is not the tomboy she sent south to become a lady at court. arya has been broken down by degrees - most significantly in the custody of the tickler & co. - and harrenhal has burned away the child in her. the apple thing is just a symptom. the willful murder of the gate guard, as opposed to the accidental stabbing of the stable boy in king's landing, is the proof of what she has become.

i really wonder if arya can be restored.
Deana Whitney
13. Braid_Tug
Ahw... gotta love the set up chapters.

As for Girl Scouts, I really don't remember if that was part of my training or not. Remember the rope tying and advanced cookie salesmanship.

I think this proves Nymeria forgave Arya for throwing the rocks.
But I really have to question the whole “pack” thing. Considering how often the people of Westros go around saying “I’m a … therefore ” , to me it’s just Arya thinking of herself as a Stark / Direwolf.
The Starks are a pack, but broken at the moment, so she’s searching for a new family and has created her new pack. Just like Nymeria had to do when ran off because of Joff. Amazing how many reasons there are for hating that kid.
14. Black Dread
@11. shalter
Lot of precedence for her traveling companions doing something really stupid. I might try to intimidate them for a while too given their track record although they probably won't start yelling "I yield" again.
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Black Dread@14:Oh, yeah, Hot Pie in particular has been a bother. But, it is a slippery path and it echo's Cersei, so I marked it as something we should keep in mind.
That line and the worm apple and using valar morghulis as a pray ending are certainly signposts of dark things. Hopefully Arya, the Dark side consumed will not be.
On the other hand, it's hard not to see where a little darkness won't be helpful to her here.
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
By the way, I shake my fist in the general direction of Stubby (I am not decieved by your "management services" label) as it tries once more to tempt me by moving the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread out into the open.
17. Iarvin
@15 I would agree, a little darkness seems to be good for the chance of Arya surviving.

In this series it seems like being a killer that is willing to be loyal to friends is about as good as its possible to be while still being survivable. Being a total jerk to friends and enemies alike definately seems to be survivable too, but so far both Robb, Arya, and Tyrion with the killer/loyal thing going on are winning against the killer/jerk types Joffree, Ser Gregor, Vargo Hoat and the killer/jerkish/loyalish types Tywin, Jaime, The Hound, etcetera.

Sansa seems to be the exception. She's non-killer/loyal, and she's still alive.
18. SKM
Tangent Alert: Just want to toss out there that Carmel Delites are to this day called Carmel Delites. There are two different bakeries that make Girl Scout Cookies, and each one tradmarks its names (with the exception of Thin Mints--GSUSA holds the trademark on that, so both bakeries use it). If you live in a region that uses ABC Bakeries, you get Carmel Delites; if your region uses Little Brownie Bakeries, you get Samoas.

Former woodsy Girl Scouts of the world unite! *munches a Peanut Butter Patty and tries not to think about corpse-tree apples*
Bridget McGovern
19. BMcGovern
@shalter: It's true. Managment Services is nothing but Stubby wearing a tie...and a devious smile.

Stubby loves spoilers. And also Nymeria.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
@17: It occurs to me that Tyrion is now the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
21. Delafina
Tansy is also an herb with contraceptive/abortifacient properties, due to its toxicity. (It's possible to take a dose large enough to kill a fetus but small enough not to kill the mother, especially in combination with pennyroyal.)
22. Sad Doctor
I had never even noticed the line before, but plucking an apple from a tree of hanged men really is a fantastic thematically-loaded line, isn't it?
23. Tenesmus
When does Arya meet up with Logain Ninefingers and defeat Sauron for control of the White Tower?
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter

Sad Doctor@22:Yes. The dead men in the tree are evocative of Odin and death in general. The apple gives us fresh life, but it is wormy and so not so fresh and full of suspect. So, life from death into decay.
From the apple we also get the general "fruit of the tree of good and evil" ... Also the capture into Hades of Persephone (although that was a
Also, it can't have smelled that good around the tree.
Peter Stone
25. Peter1742
Bran hasn't killed anybody either, has he? Of course, there's no telling what will happen now after he gets his hands on the Elder Wand...
Melanie DeJulis
26. Shonagon
@17 LOL. I like the alignments of killer/non-killer and jerk/loyal.
27. David B
Ah, cynical. Maybe a dangling reference is just a bit of flavor text, to add weight to the character. Sometimes a cigar *is* just a cigar.

Yeah, I'm not buying that either.
28. KingsGambit
@21 That's a bit of a spoiler.

Speaking of, RE: Jon's parents: most of the more popular theories have been around since book one and most of the hints for these theories are in book one. Not sure what the spoiler policy is on that, though.

Maybe after the WOT reread, there's time for a Song of Ice and Fire reread, while your still on the original read (if that makes sense)?

Two of the last three chapters (Jaime and Arya) are typical GRRM first chapters from a particular POV in a book: resolve the cliffhanger (if there was any) and send them on their way on a long journey. We've seen that before and we'll see it again.
Matthew wise
30. MDW
I figured out the Tansy business on the first read through so it doesn't seem like a spoiler to me, but apparently a particular bit of lore is less commonly known than I thought.

And Sad Doctor, Shalter, you are so right about that line, and I didn't notice it before.
31. Wiliam Woolsey

Thank you so much. I just discovered your blow-by-blow account of the Song of Ice and Fire yesterday. I have enjoyed it very much.
(Edit: Roll over text for potential spoilers)

Jon Arryn's killer has been revealed. You almost got it right. (I was surprised by the reveal in my first reading.)

Jon Snow's mother remains a mystery. Still, there is a dominant theory that is seen as obvious to most readers as the theory that Taim is Demodred. So, it might be wrong. You were almost there, but you dropped it.

Thanks again.
Bridget McGovern
32. BMcGovern
@William Woolsey: Hi, and welcome to the read-along! I've edited your comment by whiting out potential spoilers in the text, since we try to avoid dropping hints about future events in the series. But if you're interested, you can also stop by our official spoiler thread to discuss Leigh's posts and the books themselves with other folks who are all caught up--thanks!
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
Looking ahead, Leigh should try to do three chapters next week. All three are in the same geographic area of Westeros (the next couple go elsewhere) and the second one is relatively short and doesn't offer all that much for Leigh to comment on. The third one, however, is lots of fun and will amuse Leigh to no end (this I predict). It is the chapter that the publishers chose as the teaser chapter attached at the back end of my copy of ACOK.

So...Leigh, recommend that next week you go for three.

34. papertiger41
Ah, Chapter 2. Clear-cut proof that Catelyn, for all her political acumen, is in fact the dumbest character in the series. Man oh man, I wanted to strangle her for freeing Jaime! Seriously, her actions are indefensible.
Peter Stone
35. Peter1742
When I first read it, I assumed that "they were hunting her" meant her
—Nymeria the wolf. But rereading, I see Leigh is correct. They are hunting her—Arya the girl. While she—Nymeria the wolf—is hunting them. And they are totally unprepared for wolves.

I like it better Leigh's way.
George Jong
36. IndependentGeorge
#33 - I second your motion! I never thought of the geography of it, but you're right; besides being one of my favorites, it fits perfectly as a block.

Incidentally, I read all of ASOIAF on my Kindle, so I don't really have a physical copy to reference. Is it me, or are the opening chapters in SOS shorter than usual? I'm doing a parallel re-read, and it seems like they've been going by really quickly. I don't know how Leigh does it.
Rob Munnelly
37. RobMRobM
*twitch* Really hoping that Leigh covers the third chapter, with perhaps the most fun character introduction we've yet seen in the entire series.
38. Wortmauer
RobM: ...And she didn't. I can hardly BEAR the wait for that one. I suppose two chapters at a time is only FAIR, but now we'll have to wait for another post, from here to THERE. Good thing it'll be before her vacation or we might all be pulling out our HAIR.
39. Aellinsar
I'm running behind on the not-a-reread's, and just caught up with this one. I never nited the Nymeria saving Arya bit. One of the things I like about this. And Even after many times thorugh the series, I'm hazy ont he Tansy bit. Off to tower of the hand...

@9. IndependentGeorge - that was awesome. Thanks.

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