Fri
Jan 11 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 13

A Read of Ice and Fire on Tor.com: A Storm of Swords, Part 13Welcome 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 13 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 22 (“Arya”).

I seriously did not intend to start off the year with another short post, but I have been half-dead this entire week with the flu, and frankly I’m amazed I got one chapter in, so. Also, get your flu shots, because seriously people, you do not want the crap I’ve been dealing with. Ugh.

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 22: Arya

What Happens
Arya, Gendry and their captors spend the night in a small keep with an addled old knight; his maester tells them that he’d heard Lord Beric was hanged by the Lannisters. Lem tells him Beric was, but that Thoros cut him down before it took. They leave the next day and go find “the Lady of the Leaves,” who lives in a concealed village in the trees. She tells them she heard that the Mountain caught Lord Beric and killed him with a knife through the eye. Lem tells her that’s a false tale, which thrills her.

They spend the next night in a looted sept, and Arya is angered and shamed to hear the desecration had been done by Northmen. Anguy lets Arya try his bow, and offers to make her one at Riverrun, but Tom interjects that Hoster and Edmure are unlikely to be that hospitable to outlaws, and they’ll only be there long enough to collect the ransom. Harwin explains to Arya that they use the ransom they get from highborn captives to buy all their supplies, and Arya worries whether Robb or her mother will even want to ransom her, after all the things she’s done.

The next day they go to High Heart, a place once sacred to the children of the forest. In the night, Arya wakes and comes upon Lem, Greenbeard and Tom talking with a tiny, frail-looking old woman, who tells them of her dreams and demands payment for them; Tom obliges by playing her a song, soft and sad. Arya asks about her the next day, and Tom says she’s just an old woman, if “a queer one” and “evil-eyed.” Arya asks why Beric hides from his own men, and Tom tells her that if no one knows where he is or what his plans are, then no one can betray him. Arya reveals that she has firsthand knowledge of the ways men can torture information out of people, and Harwin remarks that Beric says this war started when the Hand sent him out to deal with Gregor Clegane, “and that’s how he means for it to end.”

They stay the next night at Acorn Hall, where Lady Smallwood is incensed to see Arya in such a state, and drags her off to bathe and dress her in “proper” clothes. She asks Arya what she likes to do; Arya tells her “needlework.” At dinner, Lady Smallwood tells them Beric and Thoros were at the keep less than two weeks earlier, driving sheep. She banters with Tom about his philandering ways, and advises them to look for Beric down near Stoney Sept and the Threepenny Wood. She also mentions “a pack of wolves” came by looking for Jaime Lannister; Arya recognizes the sigil she describes as the Karstarks’, and contemplates trying to get to them. Lady Smallwood adds that they claimed Lady Catelyn was the one who freed Jaime Lannister, at which point Harwin sends Arya out despite her protests.

Gendry follows her and asks if she wants to see the smithy. They go, and Gendry tells her about how Thoros used to have to buy a new sword from Gendry’s master in King’s Landing after every tourney, since the wildfire he used to make the swords flame ruins the steel. Arya wishes she had a flaming sword. Gendry compliments her on looking (and smelling) like “a proper little girl,” and this promptly results in a wrestling match which leaves them both filthy. The outlaws all find this hilarious, and Lady Smallwood insists on bathing and dressing her again, and giving her riding clothes too. Arya apologizes for ruining the first dress, and Lady Smallwood tells her to be brave.

Commentary
So, I feel like a lot of very little actually happened in this chapter despite how it managed to be super long, but okay. Mainly what I got out of it was that Lord Beric is basically Mr. Snuffleupagus. If, you know, Mr. Snuffleupagus killed people a lot. And apparently also got supposedly-but-not-really killed himself a lot. Actually Snuffleupagus is probably not the best analogy I could have come up with.

Okay, so I’m pretty sure the analogy I’m supposed to be getting from this, assuming I’m supposed to be getting any at all, is that Beric is the ASOIAF version of Robin Hood. Or, in other words, “a super fucked-up and dark version of Robin Hood.” I mean, I’m just going on previous evidence here.

It does seem to be fairly counterproductive to hide so effectively from even your own men, but given that by all appearances everybody in the world has tried to kill this guy at one time or another, maybe the paranoia isn’t all that outlandish. I really wish I could make some kind of prediction on whether he will treat Arya well or not, but honestly it could go either way at this point.

Instead of guessing on that, then, I will merely hope really hard that Arya does not get a chance to put her plan in motion of escaping and going to find the Karstarks, because wooooow with how much that would be a terrible idea right now. Not that Arya would have any way of knowing that at this point, but yikes.

I love how I was all rooting for her to get away from her captors before, and now I am hoping for the exact opposite. Well, but there you are: I’m rooting for whatever course of action results in the least possibility of Arya getting killed. Before, it was getting away from Beric’s men; now, it’s staying away from Karstark’s men.

In other news, Lady Smallwood is kind of awesome:

“A pack of wolves came howling around my gates, thinking I might have Jaime Lannister in here.”

[…] “What did m’lady tell them?” asked Jack-Be-Lucky.

“Why, that I had Ser Jaime naked in my bed, but I’d left him much too exhausted to come down.”

*snort*

Then there’s all this hoopla:

“I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror.”

Lord, I bet this all means things that I’m probably supposed to be able to guess and/or keep track of, doesn’t it? Oy.

Well, the first one is actually pretty easy to guess. I mean, there’s very little else that could be referring to other than Melisandre and Stannis, though I’m not sure if the “butchering” part is literal or metaphorical—is she killing Stannis, or the House of Baratheon? Either way, I’m not going to be terribly shocked.

The others, though—I’m kind of drawing a blank. Like, both images seem tantalizingly familiar and/or bell-ring-y (as in, they ring a bell. Look, leave me alone), but not enough for me to make a solid connection. Though I kind of vaguely feel that maybe the second one refers to Theon Greyjoy and the third maybe to Catelyn? But I’m pretty sure those are both completely wrong, so whatever, I’ll wait and see.

And last but not least, good LORD with the pigtail-pulling, Gendry. There’s all kinds of things I could say about this sort of thing, but mainly right now I’m just remembering 4th-ish through 6th-ish grade, and how there seemed to be some unspoken conclusion among the boys that girls were, of course, icky and full of cooties and not at all interesting, no sir, but fighting with girls was just fine. Because that didn’t count as wanting to be around girls, that was just, like, incidental to the whole fighting them thing.

Behold, the superior logic of eight-to-eleven-year-olds. Because really, darlings, you were fooling no one with that act, any more than Gendry is. Except, perhaps, Arya and himself.


All right, back to bed with me. I hope your 2013 is going well so far, and I’ll see you next time!

29 comments
AllHailTheDragonQueen
2. AllHailTheDragonQueen
Sorry your sick Leigh, but thanks for getting the chapter out. As for the first vision, it's the shadow killing Renly. Won't spoil the other two.
Scott Silver
3. hihosilver28
Leigh, bookmark this chapter. I had completely forgotten about that dream.

Also, hope you feel better soon.
paul Hend
4. tugthis
Nicely done, and welcome back from all the Memory of Light hoopla.
Marty Beck
5. martytargaryen
Thank you for the post Leigh. Hope you feel all better straight away!
AllHailTheDragonQueen
6. NoName
Ha! "Needle"-work.
David Goodhart
7. Davyd
And wow. I totally forgot about the Dream. I am glad for this Read, because Leigh always manages to include the right stuff for me to go back and say, Oh Yeah! And then, things click.

Also, Sad Arya. Why so sad? JK. But how gut wrenching is it that she thinks Rob and Cat wouldn't want her? Not only after all she's done, but after all she's been through. What keeps her going?

Hope you feel better Leigh, just getting over the Carolina Crud myself. Probably the worst feeling crud around. It is known.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
8. Black Dread
At some point - maybe between books - you should go back to the various proficy scenes of the first 3 books and see which ones can be checked off.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
9. DougL
Welcome back, hope you had a nice holiday season. Well, you don't have to remember all the dreams and stuff, but you've been through this with the Wheel of Time, so it should be old hat for you by now.
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
You can't think of any men without a face you've met in the story??

Wow, that paragraph though, like Dany's trip to the House of the Undying, gives me the chills.
Vincent Lane
11. Aegnor
Yeah, I totally missed that 2nd one until now. It makes perfect sense.
Kat Blom
12. pro_star
Feel better Leigh!!! Juice and rest and good stuff :(
Nathan Martin
13. lerris
Regarding the prophetic dream, I read the first one as Melisandre's assassination of Renly Baratheon. The other two fall firmly into the category of RAFO.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Chapter 22: Arya: Odd beginning, it seemed almost dreamlike in quality. Some time and distance seems to have passed since we last saw this group. Hmm,
"May the Warrior defend him, and the red priest too." The red priest would be Thoros.
Arya is still almost just eleven--her worries that no one would ransom her are heart tugging.

Another prophecy:
I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror.
The Baratheon's were Stags, so the first part is probably about Melisandre and either Stannis or Renly. A man without a face could be the assassin who was able to change his appearance but whose name I don't recall right now. The crow's are what the Night's Watch are called--and also there is Bran and the three eyed crow.

Arya is getting scrubbed and then:
Needlework -- ha!
Emmet O'Brien
15. EmmetAOBrien
IIRC, as well as the stories mentioned in this chapter, there are different rumours of various people killing Beric Dondarrion as background incidentals all through A Clash of Kings; very easy things to miss on a first reading.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
16. MRCHalifax
The prophecy there is a fun one. The women is the one I find most interesting. Cat is one possibility, but her sister is another. Arya herself may qualify given her Tully heritage, as may Sansa, depending on how things go. Asha is another strong possibility. Even Jeyne is a potential candidate IMO.

Any way you look at it, something bad is probably going to happen to said woman.

Mind you, in this series, saying "bad things will happen to character X" is a given. The only question is whether or not they'll survive the bad things in question.
Marie Veek
17. SlackerSpice
There is also another reference to 'Tansy", this time talking about tansy tea, likely a contraceptive.

"Her nostrils flared. 'The riverlands are full of maids you've pleased, all drinking tansy tea. You'd think a man as old as you would know to spill his seed on their bellies. Men will be calling you Tom Sevensons before much longer.'"
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
Fun chapter.
- Robin Hood and his Merry Men FTW!
- Makes one think what the heck is up with the little woman of High Heart, eh?
- Karstarks certainly have become trouble, post-Robb.
- Lady Smallwood is awesome. That is all.
- From the description in text, tansy seems to be more of a morning (or month) after plant rather than a contraceptive.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
20. JohnnyMac
Sorry to hear you are sick! Thank you for coming through with another post despite the dread mocus. Hope you are better soonest.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
Something about Arya running around with an acorn on her shirt amuses me. Of course, it's better than the Flayed Man of Bolton that used to be there.
Marie Veek
22. SlackerSpice
@19 - Yeah, sorry, I meant an abortifacient.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
23. Teka Lynn
Get well soon, Leigh!
Rob Munnelly
24. RobMRobM
Looking through the chapter ...
- Tom having made a funny song about Edmure Tully, as a floppy fish with his first woman, is very funny.
- Woman of High Heart: white skin...., RED EYES? WTF!
AllHailTheDragonQueen
25. Cass314
@24

Well she is the "Ghost" of High Heart, after all. It seems appropriate in light of other Ghosts we know.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
26. westernstorm
I always felt for arya when she wonders if anybody in the family would pay the ransom for her.
Mo -
27. Astus
Get well soon, Leigh! What's a cold when Tarmon Gai'don was only a few days ago, lol.

Good to see that this is back. I remember being pretty stressed out and worried for Arya during these chapters. Things move so quickly and who can you trust in Westeros?
I'm now going to be stuck imagining all the BWB members wearing tights and singing now though.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
28. corejay
Well... They already got a singer in Tom Sevenstreams, and Anguy looks like a good archer. Maybe Thoros is their Brother Tuck?
AllHailTheDragonQueen
29. stellabymoor
@26 - Me, too. It's awful that she's afraid her family wouldn't want her anymore not just because of everything she's been through and done, but just because she doesn't look like a little lady.
AllHailTheDragonQueen
30. phuzz
When they catch up to this bit in the the telly show, I'm looking forward to how cross Arya will look being forced to wear a dress :)
Also, these prohacies are tricksy, even after having read everything I can think of several interpretations for some of them, which I think is GRRM's point, all of his prophacies and foretellings are authentically difficult to interpret and wooly.

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