Welcome 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 6 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 10 (“Davos”) and Chapter 11 (“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, please note that the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new thread here on Tor.com. 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 10: Davos
Davos watches as Shayala’s Dance approaches Dragonstone, his thoughts filled with Melisandre. He thinks that she has broken Stannis to her will, and vows to cut her heart out. The captain of the ship, Khorane Sathmantes, had given him a dirk and treated him very kindly during the trip, but Davos had been sick for most of it, from the rich food and also from a persistent, bloody cough. Khorane had told him of how Stannis had been defeated at King’s Landing, including the rumors of Renly’s shade fighting alongside the Lannisters and how many of Stannis’s supporters had defected as a result.
The ship enters the harbor, and Davos looks in vain for his sons’ (Dalle and Allard) ships among the paltry few at anchor there. Davos intends to go to Stannis immediately when they dock, but the captain insists that he go find Salladhor Saan first. Davos finds him doing inventory on a Pentoshi ship, and Salladhor is astounded and overjoyed to see him alive. He hustles Davos to the cabin and plies him with hot wine and food, and mentions in passing that the ship they’re on once belonged to Illyrio Mopatis, which Salladhor has seized, in keeping, he claims, with his new role as “Lord of Blackwater Bay.”
Davos tells of his escape, and Salladhor is greatly concerned by his obvious ill health. Davos asks after his sons’ ships, and Salladhor regretfully says there was no sign they survived the battle, but relates that his younger son Devan was rescued from one of the wrecks, to Davos’s joy. Salladhor urges Davos to join his company and sail for him, but Davos replies that his duty is to Stannis. Salladhor counters that Stannis has no ships to give him, and warns Davos that the king is changed since the battle, and refuses to see anyone but Melisandre, even his wife and daughter. He talks of rumors that the red priestess and the king go down into the fiery mountain where no one should be able to survive.
Davos declares that the trap on the river was Melisandre’s doing, as punishment for Stannis leaving her behind, and Salladhor warns him to keep such sentiments to himself lest the queen’s men overhear. Davos then declares his intent to kill Melisandre, to Salladhor’s dismay, who opines that Davos’s illness has “cooked his wits,” and urges him to rest and recover. Davos thanks him, but refuses, insisting on going to the castle immediately. Salladhor tells him he will be burned as a traitor whether or not he succeeds, but Davos says he believes that to kill Melisandre is the only reason he was rescued from the sea. He refuses to yield to his friend’s entreaties, and at length Salladhor grows angry and bids him to go.
Davos goes to the castle, where the gate guards almost do not let him in, and when they do, he is sent to Aegon’s Garden instead of the Stone Drum where Stannis resides. While he waits, Princess Shireen runs through, chasing the fool Patchface, and then a boy crashes into him, knocking him down. The boy introduces himself as Edric Storm, King Robert’s son, and Davos recognizes the resemblance. Edric proudly informs Davos that his father came to see and train him every year, and demands to see Davos’s maimed fingers. He declares it ill done on his uncle’s part, and that his father would not have done it.
They are interrupted when Ser Axell Florent enters the gardens flanked by a dozen guards, whom Davos realizes are Queen’s men. He greets Davos grimly, and Davos asks if Florent has come to take him to the king.
“I have come to take you to the dungeon.” Ser Axell waved his men forward. “Seize him, and take his dirk. He means to use it on our lady.”
Well, that’s what you get for blabbing about it, isn’t it, Davos? Pro tip: The first rule of Assassination Club is, you do not tell every Tom, Dick, and Salladhor Saan about your assassination plans!
I’m not actually 100% sure that it was Salladhor who sold Davos out, of course, since it did seem like Salladhor does genuinely like him, and if I’m reading this chapter correctly, it seems like Davos told the captain of the ship who rescued him about his intentions too.
Hell, Davos is clearly not firing on all cylinders here in any case, so God only knows how many people he blathered to about it, really. He definitely should have taken Salladhor’s offer of bed and sick-care, and not just because of the cough.
Don’t get me wrong, I am having zero problems with the idea of Melisandre going to hang with her buddy Rasputin in the afterlife, but I would also prefer that Davos at least have a shot at surviving the process.
But noooo, he had to go be sick and delirious and get himself arrested. Dammit, Davos.
In other, related news, I am HIGHLY suspicious of this whole “no one sees the king” business, which pings my Hinkydar™ like a nuclear sub ramming a Disney cruise ship.
No, I don’t know what that means either. Shaddup.
Because, come on. Either Stannis is totally dead and Melly and Co. are hiding it, or he’s close enough to death’s door that being seen by people would give it away. And/or, he’s experiencing severe shadow shortage, owing to my whole theory about Stannis being the source for Melly’s Magical Shadow Assassin Babies (nope, still doesn’t get old), and shadow shortage makes you, um, I dunno, sick or wasted-looking or something. Or maybe he’s bonk starking ravers. Or all three.
Look, I might not know specifics, but it’s totally gotta be some combination of the above. Unless he’s just really depressed and emo over his battle losses, but that would be super lame if so.
At any rate, assuming he’s not dead, someone should tell him it’s not a good idea to play with zealots in volcanoes, because apparently some people have all the self-preservation instincts of a lemming on crack cocaine. Lordy.
Whatever’s going on, there doesn’t seem much doubt that Melisandre is pretty much calling the shots in Dragonstone nowadays. I will endeavor mightily to contain my profound shock at this astonishing turn of events. *rolls eyes*
It’s interesting that Salladhor has evidently seized one of Illyrio’s ships. I don’t know if it means anything other than that it will likely make Illyrio even more pissed at Dany for essentially doing the same thing, but I am suspicious of coincidences like that.
We also very briefly meet another of Robert’s bastards here. I have no idea if Edric Storm is going to play any kind of major role in events in the future, but based on the little we see here I kinda like him, if for no other reason than that he totally called bullshit on Stannis’s maim-tastic idea of fair play re: Davos. You tell ‘em, Edric.
And last and randomly least:
Dragonmont is restless this morning, Davos thought
*blink blink* Whoa. Cognitive dissonance. Never mind, carry on!
Chapter 11: Jaime
Jaime spies an inn on the bank of the river, and needles Brienne into going ashore to investigate. Jaime is highly amused by the inn’s sign, which depicts the last king of the north (Torrhen) kneeling to Aegon. They are greeted at crossbow-point by a young boy, who demands to know if they are “lion, fish, or wolf?” Brienne tells him they came from Riverrun, and wish to buy food and drink. An older man enters and offers them horsemeat and stale oatcakes. He claims he found the original innkeeper dead, and claimed the place by default.
Over dinner, the man asks them where they are bound. Ser Cleos tells him, King’s Landing, and the man calls them fools, saying he’d heard King Stannis was outside the city with “a hundred thousand men and a magic sword.” Jaime is enraged by the news, but keeps quiet. The man advises them to keep clear of the kingsroad and the river route both, which he says is riddled with brigands, suggesting that they cut overland instead. Brienne points out they would need horses for that, and Jaime points out the convenient fact that there are horses in the stable at the inn.
The stable is piled high with stinking horse manure, even though there are only three horses in it. The man claims the plow horse was there already, the ancient one-eyed gelding wandered in on his own, and the fine knight’s palfrey they found riderless, with a blood stained saddle. Brienne offers him three gold dragons for the horses and provisions, but refuses the offer to stay the night even when the man drops the price. Cleos is disappointed, but Jaime agrees with Brienne. They have to cut the chain between Jaime’s ankle manacles so he can ride, but his hopes of escape are dashed when Brienne puts him on the one-eyed gelding.
They reach the burned-out village the man had told them about, and Brienne takes the opposite road from the one the man had suggested they follow. Jaime is surprised, as he would have made the same decision. Cleos is confused that they are ignoring the innkeep’s advice, and Brienne tells him that was no innkeep, and was probably hoping to heard them into a trap. Jaime agrees, and reflects that the wench “may be ugly but she’s not entirely stupid.”
They ride half the night before making camp, and Brienne takes the first watch. Jaime asks her if she has any siblings, and Brienne slips and almost refers to herself as her father’s son, which makes Jaime laugh, but then thinks she reminds him of Tyrion, and tries to apologize to her. She replies that his crimes are “past forgiving,” and he tells her not to presume to judge what she doesn’t understand. She demands to know why he took the white if he only meant to betray it, and Jaime thinks to himself that she would not like the answer: he had joined for love.
He remembers how Tywin had brought Cersei to court to try and marry her into the Targaryen line, and when Jaime visited the capital Cersei had told him Tywin meant for Jaime to marry Lysa Tully. But if he took the white, she said, they could stay together, and Tywin could not stop it once the king announces it.
“But,” Jaime said, “there’s Casterly Rock . . . ”
“Is it a rock you want? Or me?”
She had made love to him all that night, and in the morning Jaime agreed to the plan. But it did not work out as planned, for Tywin was so enraged that he resigned as King’s Hand and went back to Casterly Rock, taking Cersei with him, and Jaime was left babysitting a mad king.
He tells Brienne she didn’t know Aerys, but Brienne replies that even a mad king is still king, and Jaime broke his oath. In retaliation, Jaime accuses her of committing the same crime, and laughs mockingly when she insists that “a shadow” killed Renly, not her. He continues to needle her, and she almost attacks him, but restrains herself. She says to be a knight of the Kingsuard is a great gift that Jaime soiled; he replies that it was the white cloak that soiled him, not the other way around, and tells her to stop envying that he has a cock and she doesn’t. Furious, she stalks off.
Jaime dreams/remembers the day of the sack of King’s Landing, and how he entered the throne room with the blood of the last Hand (Rossart) on his blade, and how Aerys had soiled himself before Jaime caught him and slit his throat. Jaime remembers thinking it shouldn’t have been so easy. His father’s knights had burst in right then, and seen him standing over the king’s body. Lord Crakehall told him the city is theirs (though that hadn’t been quite true yet), and asked if they should proclaim a new king as well. Jaime knew what he was implying, and was tempted a moment to proclaim for the Targaryen heir (Viserys) with his father as Hand, until he remembered that Aerys’s blood is in Viserys, and told Crakehall to proclaim “who you bloody well like,” and sat on the throne to wait and see who came to claim it. It turned out to be Ned Stark, who Jaime thinks had no right to judge him either.
Brienne wakes him with a kick before dawn, and they set out.
…Yeah, I still don’t like him.
Mainly owing to his oh-so-delightful commentary, both mental and out loud, re: Brienne (most of which I left out of the summary because this chapter would not compress, argh). Because you know, sexism being endemic in a person’s culture does not excuse it, nor make it any less off-putting to hear. And in the same vein, I know Jaime is hardly the first person (in his culture or ours) to conflate physical attractiveness with intelligence/wit/talent/skill, nor will he be the last, but that doesn’t mean I like him any better for falling into such a common (and shallow) trap of a fallacy, either. Plus, all that aside, I happen to think Brienne is awesome, and it sucks when other people fail to acknowledge an awesome person’s awesomeness no matter what the reason may be.
That said, it was interesting to get some more of the backstory of this whole ridiculous mess from Jaime’s perspective. Even though I suspect we still do not have the whole story of why Jaime really decided to kill Aerys, because the way the chapter read I got the distinct impression we had skipped something in there, between Jaime taking the white and the sack of King’s Landing. Whatever it was, it must have been a doozy to piss Jaime off that badly.
Which leads me to believe it must have had something to do with Cersei, since Jaime demonstrably does not give two shits about pretty much anyone else in the world besides her. Aaand there’s a pretty obvious inference to be drawn about what that something might have been, too. However, if I’m reading this right, Cersei was way the hell over in Casterly Rock for most or all of the time Jaime was in the Kingsguard, so logistically that seems problematic. So maybe I’m wrong and it has nothing to do with Cersei. *shrug* I’ll find out, I’m sure.
Most interesting, of course, was the revelation that it was Cersei who effectively derailed Jaime’s entire life for the sake of their illicit and (and I use the word advisedly) sordid love affair. All I could think was, damn, he so should have told her to stuff it.
It’s a little dizzying, in fact, to try and picture how differently things would have gone if Jaime had told Cersei to stuff it; if he’d married Lysa and inherited Casterly Rock and so forth and so on. I kind of wonder whether, if he had, if the usurpation and the war and everything basically going to hell would never have happened.
When I was a kid I was in love with Madeleine L’Engle’s books. If you’ve read A Swiftly Tilting Planet, then you’ll know what I mean when I sadly call Jaime’s remembered conversation with Cersei in this chapter a Might Have Been moment. “Sadly,” because I rather doubt there’s going to be a Charles Wallace (avec unicorn!) around to go back and fix it. More’s the pity.
(If you never read L’Engle’s books, your childhood was a wee bit deprived, dude. Sorry.)
And I want to say something sanctimonious here about how if Cersei had really loved Jaime, she would have let him go, to live a life in which he wouldn’t constantly be in danger of being discovered to be sleeping with his own sister. Because beyond just the obvious fucked-upedness of that, it’s also just no way to live a life, man. But, well, it’s pretty obvious by now that Cersei is not exactly the poster child for noble self-sacrifice. I mean, damn, girl even manipulated Jaime, the supposed love of her life, to get what she wanted, so clearly my sanctimoniousness is wasted here. Sigh.
Brienne, meanwhile, continues to be awesome and clever and about a million times more forebearing than I probably could have been in dealing with Jaime’s bullshit. Even though I do rather disagree with her, in principle at least, on her ironclad hatred of Jaime based on the Kingslayer thing. But then, I was raised in a culture that lionizes a group of men who willfully rebelled against an unjust king, so naturally I would be at least a little more inclined than she to believe that there are circumstances under which betraying a dangerously unfit monarch would be more right than the opposite.
Then again, I’m not sure I would go so far as to condone actually slitting said monarch’s throat in cold blood, so there’s that. But my point is, in my arrogant opinion, Brienne shouldn’t hate Jaime for killing a psycho king; she should hate him because he’s a giant jerk.
…Right. And I just re-read that, and realized that I had just inadvertently suggested that Brienne should judge a man more harshly for his personality flaws than for regicide. This series is breaking my brain, I swear.
So we’ll pause for the nonce, while I get my brain at least temporarily unbroke (De-broked? Dis-broken?), and you have a hopefully fabulous fall week, which may or may not include candy and pumpkins and a no doubt truly excessive number of Avengers-related costumes. Merry early All Hallow’s Eve, my peeps, and see you next Friday!