Feb 22 2013 2:17pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 19

A readthrough of A Storm of Swords on Tor.comWWelcome 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 19 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 33 (“Samwell”) and Chapter 34 (“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 33: Samwell

What Happens
Samwell huddles in Craster’s hall, trying to feed broth to Bannen, who is dying of his wounds. Only some forty or so of the brothers who escaped from the Fist have lived to make it here, and Sam is wracked with guilt that he is one of them. Craster complains of all the food he is forced to give them, even though the men have been semi-starving for days, and Sam thinks of how Clubfoot Karl is claiming that Craster has a hidden larder he’s refusing to share. Above, Gilly is giving birth, and Craster threatens to beat her if she doesn’t shut up; Sam knows that Gilly is terrified that it will be a boy, and reminds himself that they are under Craster’s roof, and must abide by his rules.

Sam goes outside, reflecting on how there had been no attacks from either wights or Others since they’d arrived at Craster’s; Craster claims there will be none because he has “got right” with the gods. He comes upon where several brothers are practicing archery, and Sweet Donel sees him and calls for him to join them, saying “Slayer” should show them how he killed the Other. Sam points out that it was dragonglass that killed it, not an arrow. He knows they will mock him if he tries to shoot, so he goes to leave and loses a boot in the mud, making them laugh anyway.

He finds Grenn, who also calls him “Slayer”, and Sam pleads for him not to. Grenn is puzzled, and Sam explains that it is just another way for the others to mock him. Grenn points out that Sam came by the name fairly, and surely “Slayer” is better than “Ser Piggy”. Sam thinks of how not all of the brothers had even believed him about the dragonglass, and how they’d foolishly left behind almost all of the large stash of the material Jon had found at the Fist, and thinks the pieces they did have are not nearly enough to defend them. He also doesn’t know whether the dragonglass will work on wights the same way it did on the Other he killed. He wishes Jon were there, and wonders why the gods would take men like Jon and Bannen away and leave someone like Sam behind.

Mormont returns to the hold, and Sam hears him discussing how they must leave even though there are not enough horses left to carry them all back to the Wall. He calls for Sam, and complains to him that they should have known long ago about the dragonglass, and that the Watch has lost sight of its true enemy. He wants more of it; Sam brings up the stash at the Fist, but Mormont says that is lost to them, and they must find more somewhere else. Sam points out that the children of the forest used dragonglass, but Mormont replies that the children of the forest are all dead. Craster comes out and announces he has a son, and needles Mormont that they must leave his hold. Sam offers for them to take the baby, to his own astonishment, but Mormont shuts him up and hustles him inside.

He finds that Bannen has died while he was gone, and Dirk insists it wasn’t his wounds, but the starvation diet Craster’s had them all on that killed him; he is sure Craster is hoarding all the good food for himself. They burn Bannen’s body, and Sam is horrified that he is so hungry he finds the smell appetizing, and throws up. Dolorous Edd finds him and makes several very off-color jokes about crackling, and opines they will all die when they leave the next day.

Craster serves horsemeat that night, but Clubfoot Karl and Dirk begin complaining at the lack of food, and accusing Craster of keeping a secret larder, and several others join in. Mormont orders them to be quiet; Karl challenges him directly, but seems about to back down until Craster jumps in and insists those who insulted him should leave. One of them calls him a bastard, and in a fury Craster attacks. Dirk grabs him and slits his throat. Mormont shouts for them to stop, but Ollo Lophand stabs him in the belly, and all hell breaks loose.

Sam doesn’t remember most of the ensuing fight, but finds himself after with Mormont, who is dying. Mormont tells him he must go back to the Wall, and tell them about the dragonglass. He says his dying wish is for his son Jorah to take the black, and entreats Sam to tell him that he forgives him. Sam protests that he will never reach the Wall, and wants to die.

Three of Craster’s wives approach him with Gilly and her newborn in tow, and remind him he promised to help Gilly, and that he must take her and leave before the other mutineers return. Sam insists he can’t leave Mormont, but the women point out that Mormont has died while they were talking. They tell him to take Mormont’s sword and cloak and go “someplace warm”, and Gilly promises to be his wife. She begs him to take her and the baby before “they” do.

“They?” said Sam, and the raven cocked its black head and echoed, “They. They. They.

“The boy’s brothers,” said the old woman on the left. “Craster’s sons. The white cold’s rising out there, crow. I can feel it in my bones. These poor old bones don’t lie. They’ll be here soon, the sons.”


Well, I guess that answers the question of how Craster appeased “the gods”. Ugh. Though I think I actually knew about this lovely practice of his already from before (mainly because I remember making a joke about frozen zombie daycare), I’d kind of forgotten about it, so this was a completely fun reminder of it, not.

Well, the bastard’s dead now, but it’s remarkable (and typical) of how little his death has improved the situation for anyone involved. Least of all for his greatest victims: his obscene harem of wife-daughters. Bleh.

Also, wow. If ASOIAF chapters had titles, you could probably call this one How To Go From Zero To Mayhem in Sixty Seconds Flat. Or, maybe, Worst Table Manners Ever, An Illustrated Guide. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure “mutiny and wholesale slaughter at the dinner table” would be distinctly frowned upon by Emily Post. Just a feeling I have.


And man, what a way for Mormont to go. He escapes wights and Others and wildlings and hypothermia – only to die on the blade of one of his own men. Damn, that sucks. I am sincerely bummed on his behalf, you guys.

And he wants Jorah to join the family business, so to speak, does he? Well. I’m thinking that’s one message that isn’t going to get delivered in a hurry, not that I think it would do a lot of good if it were. Even if he wasn’t half a world away at the moment, I’m fairly sure Jorah will feel that his present seducing-a-would-be-queen gig offers way better potential benefits than coming to the arctic ass end of nowhere, at the summons of the father who disowned him (with reason, sure, but like Jorah would care about that), to join the tattered, rebellious dregs of an order that already was the dregs of society to begin with. Not to mention that whole frozen zombie/impending coldpocalypse thingy, which probably doesn’t exactly count as, how you say, a job incentive.

I mean, I could certainly be wrong, because God knows it wouldn’t be the first time, but on the face of it I think I’m going with “never happen” on this one.

But hey, if the quest to find Jorah gets Samwell the hell out of Dodge, so to speak, I’m certainly in favor of the attempt, for sure. Do it, Sam! Listen to the wives and leave with Gilly! Get the fuck out!

So, Mormont thought the children of the forest, who so conveniently traditionally fought with obsidian daggers, a material of which the Watch are suddenly in dire need, are all dead? Yeeeaaahh, I’m thinking not. Sorry, dead Mormont.

Also, er, apparently Sam’s got an Insta-Family. Wife and kid, no waiting! I… really wonder what’s going to happen with that.

In other news: Samwell’s new nickname is Slayer?


Oh, wow.  I should feel bad about laughing at that, but the thing is, I’m laughing for a totally different reason than Samwell’s jerkwad comrades are. Heh.

Inadvertent cross-series dissonance aside, I think Grenn is quite right to say that Samwell earned the name fair and square, and should adopt it in pride. Unfortunately, this is the problem with overcoming the effects of a lifetime of bullying; after a certain point, even honest praise starts to sound like bullshit. It’s far too easy to believe that it’s just yet another way to set you up for yet another fall. It certainly doesn’t help matters, either, that generally there’s about an 80% chance that the victim’s paranoia on that score is completely justified.

Peripherally to this train of thought: how come Sam isn’t losing any weight? He’s been on a starvation diet for days if not weeks, and you sure as hell can’t claim he isn’t getting his exercise, so it’s a tad puzzling that apparently he’s still fat. But then again, I can state with certainty that some people’s crappy metabolisms are stubborn in the face of just about any attempt to circumvent them, so there you are.

[Grenn:] “Sometimes I think everyone is just pretending to be brave, and none of us really are. Maybe pretending is how you get brave, I don’t know.”

Out of the mouths of babes…


Chapter 34: Arya

What Happens
Harwin and the others have taken Arya and Gendry and the prisoner to an underground cavern which Lem tells them is a safe haven from both wolves and lions. Arya sees Thoros of Myr but barely recognizes him, he is so changed. The Mad Huntsman drags the prisoner before Thoros, and Thoros welcomes “the dog” to their hall. Sandor Clegane recognizes him with surprise, and Thoros tells him “The Lord of Light has woken in [his] heart”, and these are his brothers. Sandor mocks them, and another man joins in, telling the story of how this group had come together from the original company who rode out to bring justice to Sandor’s brother. Arya sees the man’s skull has been partly caved in; he has a hanging scar on his neck and one of his eyes is gone. He tells Sandor they fight for Robert, and Sandor retorts that Robert is dead; the other answers that they fight for his realm. Sandor scoffs at this, calling the man “Dondarrion”, and Arya is astonished to realize that this is the once-handsome Ser Beric.

Sandor opines that Robert didn’t care about “the realm”: “If he couldn’t fuck it, fight it, or drink it, it bored him”. He laughs at their threats, and challenges them to either face him in a fair fight or kill him and get it over with. The Huntsman brings up the brutal rapes and murders committed at Sherrer and the Mummer’s Ford, and Sandor answers that he wasn’t there, nor did he kill Aerys’s children. He asks if they take him for his brother, and whether merely being born a Clegane is a crime. The people all around call out a long list of names of people who have died at the hands of Lannisters, whom he serves, and Sandor points out that thousands of others do the same, and asks whether all are responsible for the crimes of all the others. He accuses knights of being no different than him, and tells them not to dare call him a murderer and pretend their “shit don’t stink”.

Arya jumps in, and screams that Sandor killed Mycah the butcher’s boy. Sandor recognizes her as the Stark girl who threw Joff’s “pretty sword” in the river, and laughs in astonishment. Sandor admits to the kill, saying Mycah attacked a prince of the blood, but Arya insists that that had been a lie. Sandor said it was what both Joffrey and Sansa said, and Arya says Sansa is a liar. Thoros and Beric confer, and Beric declares that since the truth or falsehood of the accusation cannot be determined, Sandor will be sentenced to trial by battle. Arya shouts a protest, knowing how deadly Sandor is with a blade, but is ignored.

Sandor laughs and asks who will face him, and Beric answers that he will. He takes off his breastplate and quilting, and Arya sees where he had been run through with a lance. She comforts herself that Beric cannot be killed and will surely win. They free Sandor and give him his sword and shield. Beric arms himself similarly, and after Thoros leads the cavern in a prayer to R’hllor, Beric’s sword begins flaming. Sandor curses him and Thoros both, and the duel begins. They fight back and forth, more or less evenly matched. Finally Beric’s sword shatters Sandor’s shield and sets it on fire, but Sandor ignores the flames crawling up his arm to press the attack. He shatters Beric’s sword and cleaves him from shoulder to breastbone, and Arya screams in dismay.

Sandor then pleads for someone to help him with the burns, and Arya is astonished to see he is crying. Several of the men carry Beric’s body away, and the Huntsman opines that they should put Sandor back in the cages anyway. Arya agrees, but Harwin sighs that R’hllor has judged him innocent. In a fury, Arya snatches Greenbeard’s dagger from his belt and lunges for Sandor; Sandor tells her to do it if she wants him dead that badly. Arya is momentarily appalled by the extent of his burns, and hesitates long enough that Lem can grab her and take the knife away. She screams at Sandor that he can go to hell.

“He has,” said a voice scarce stronger than a whisper.

When Arya turned, Lord Beric Dondarrion was standing behind her, his bloody hand clutching Thoros by the shoulder.

Dude, what the hell. I call total magical shenanigans on Beric. No way in hell a guy takes a wound like that and (a) lives, or (b) even if he lives, is hale enough to be standing and talking, without supernatural intervention.

Which apparently he has some of that, because whoops, turns out Beric’s merry men are all Holy R’hllors! Greeeeeeaaaat.

(Oh, what, come on, that joke was just waiting to be made.)

I kind of think this should possibly have occurred to me beforehand, since Thoros has been identified as a red priest from the get go, but somehow I completely failed before now to make the connection between his priesthood and Melisandre’s. Which is really pretty stupid of me, but then again even if I had made the connection, I don’t think I would have had any reason to think before now that Thoros had managed to convert the whole kit and caboodle of Beric’s ragtag posse of whatever into fervent believers. He says himself in this chapter that he wasn’t much for religion until recently. It’s a shame he didn’t stay that way, if you ask me.

So this whole group is instantly much more worrying to me than they were previously, because as I may have opined before, zealotry = DO NOT WANT. And in retrospect I see how well the clues were planted prior to this that Harwin et al were all on the express train to Fanatical Street in Upper Loony Bin, because nobody gets that excited about dying for a dead man (i.e. Robert) without that special flavor of crazy that only hyper-religious mania can impart. Yum yum, gag.

And now I instantly have to wonder what the angle is here, if there is one, and whether Thoros and Melisandre share more than just a religion. I’m not sure supposing they are in cahoots makes total sense, since you’d think that, if so, Thoros would have been guiding Beric et al more away from dear dead Robert and more toward his brother Stannis by now, but I guess it’s possible. However, it’s probably just as possible that they are each pitching their own totally separate revival tent, and never the wacky shall meet, at least not politically.

In fact, given the flaming sword Beric’s waving around here, I’m thinking that maybe Thoros thinks he’s found his own Messiah figure to – er, do whatever it is R’hllor’s chosen dude is supposed to do, I’ve kind of forgotten. If so, no wonder Thoros is investing so much power (?) in keeping Beric from bucking the kicket. That must be quite the fun task, keeping alive a guy who seems bound and determined to run himself through every metaphorical meat grinder that strays into his path.

Sandor Clegane being no exception, naturally, and ha, I was right that that he was the prisoner they brought in. It was kind of a no-brainer, true, but hey, I’ll take my triumphs where I can find them.

It’s a weird thing to find yourself suddenly at odds with your POV character’s wishes, or opinions, or whatever, but that’s totally what happened here. Sandor probably doesn’t deserve the fact that I was rooting for him; after all, Arya is perfectly right in that he’s done some seriously shitty things, Mycah’s murder being only one in a long list of them.

And yet… yeah, I totally wanted him to win the duel, and not Creepy Crazypants Dondarrion over there. Well, it’s not like Sandor’s the first extremely morally ambiguous character I’ve found myself rooting for in this series, and I’m dead sure he won’t be the last, either.

It probably helped that Clegane’s zingers in this chapter were hysterical, and his courage in the face of his greatest fear (fire) to finish and win the duel with Beric was… well, kind of inspiring. Sorry, Arya, normally I am totally on your side, but this time I rather am not. If it helps, though, I totally find this fact a smidge disturbing.

And that’s what that is, O My Peeps. Have a lovely weekend, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
Chapter 33: Samwell--GRRM does like talking about pus. Adds just that special extra touch to a scene. Things do seem pretty bad for the brothers.
Oh, hey, let's add the sacrifice of male children to the list of Westros tourism wonders.
Sam is giving himself far to little credit.
Well, Craster is cheap and very stupid and dead. Attacking 40 armed men seems like a really dumb thing to do. Trying to hide a few loaves of bread wasn't real bright either.
And now Mormont's dead (that sucks and now Tywin's speculation is correct) too and their little band has collapsed.
Oh, and that's an ominous end--just what did Craster do with the sons and what did they become? Cue ominous music and the sounds of frozen zombies and others coming from the forest.
Thank you Leigh!

We were all wondering in the spoiler thread how much you'd remember about Thoros.

. . . and yes I chuckled at Holy R'hllors
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
I share your fear of zealotry, but I think you may be overstating the case here with Dondarrion's men.

First of all, these men who are now followers of R'hllor have all seen miracles. I'm fairly skeptical of religion, but if there were some honest to goodness miracles goin on in front of me, I'd likely change my mind. Secondly, I don't think they claim they serve Robert out of loyalty, but more in remembrance of the PEACE that the commonfolk had under Robert. As much as I dislike them, and the fact that they are giving Arya a hard way to go, they are the only group of people we've met who seem to give a flying fuck about the harm that is being done, while everyone squabbles at thrones. And I don't think Thoros believes Dondarrion is the special guy that Melisandre believes of Stannis, I think he brings him back because he is their leader.

So I'm guessing the Others somehow take the Craster's sons and transform them into more Others? Because I don't understand the purpose of baby-wights.
4. AllHailTheDragonQueen
For this week: And once again Leigh's power of prediction is scary accurate at times, as Mormont indeed died the very next Sam chapter.

For last week: I reread last weeks post while waiting for this one and saw this again.

One of the bloody murmurs impaled the dog. He rode up and said look, I'm carrying the Kingslayers banner. (Paraphasing here)

To which Leigh replied - dude, if your going to insult a guy, at least have it make since.

But if you use the word sigil instead of banner like the murmur did, the insult does make sense. Sigils are supposed to stand for and represent those that carry them - Lannisters are Lions, Starks are Wolfs, Targaryons are Dragons etc. The guy saying Jamie's banner or sigil is a dead dog is comparing Jamie to a dead dog, as in "Look, now the kingslayer is as dangerous as a dead dog."
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Chapter 34: Arya--We're getting a fair amount of Arya in this book. That's a good thing I think. Interesting Weir cave. Sandor Clegane--confirmed.
Arya just can't keep quiet. A flaming sword from blood--everybody has a flaming sword. How does this connect with prophecy and Melis? Since fire is the Hound's special fear this is doubly bad for him. And Beric does seem pretty unkillable--very interesting. Is he some sort of fire zombie as a R'hllor counterpoint to the frozen zombies? We'll find out more about this I am guessing.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
This chapter and the prior one bring home exactly how far the Nights Watch has fallen. Too many rapists and theives, too few honorable former knights. Things really are a mess - especially where much of the cream of the Watch died on the Fist and here.

Mormont, FTW. Farewell, Old Bear.

Dolorous Edd FTW. His humor always crackles.

Sam and Gilly and babe - Road Trip!

Re the Arya chapter - Thoros and Mel are on the same team but don't share the same level of manifest destiny. Impressive that Beric allowed a trial by battle and that his troops actually would let Cleghane go when he prevailed. That's pretty much the opposite of fanaticism.

Leigh - your frozen baby zombie day care center still holds the post as the funniest bit in this entire read, IMO.

Also - yes the WoT crossover dissonance is seriously funny. Look, we can even change his name to I-SAM!!!!!!
Deana Whitney
6. Braid_Tug
What, no rant about the wholesale rape of 20+ women? Expected something more besides the Emily Post joke. Then again, GRRM does kind of start to make you numb to that sort of thing.

Those guys are going to miss Caster and his "dubious hospitality" later. This I predict. Wasn't his house the only "safe house" north of the wall? Now the Watch has gone and killed it. The wives won't be able to hold out for long.
Ah, lovely short sited greed and stupidity. Yes, Caster holding out on the food when you could tell there was a near riot on hand was dumb. The response? Over the top.

You have to feel for Sandor. His one weakness is fire, understandable. Yet here he is having it shoved in his face yet again – literally.
Vincent Lane
8. Aegnor
Hmm...I think you are letting your anti-religious opinions totally skew your view on events.

In your mind it appears:

belief in a religion and following it's tennents = ZEALOTRY! OMGZERS!
Marie Veek
9. SlackerSpice
@8: Considering the last person (Mellisandre) alligned with R'hllor willingly helped murder two people (Renly Baratheon and Cortnay Penrose) and is advocating the eradication of other belief systems, it's not exactly without merit.
10. Black Dread
"how come Sam isn’t losing any weight?"

I had the same thought. Moving on foot in snow and cold burns more calories than anything else. After these scenes, I came to think of Sam like Hurley in Lost - permanently fat despite it being absolutely impossible.

I’ve seen fat Marine recruits lose 30 pounds in month of hard training (but much less demanding than what Sam is going through). I wonder if GRRM's own wide body has something to do with his treatment of Sam.
11. Scafloc
Leigh sometime you are really overdoing your "women are better than men and suffer more and undeserved" song. This is Westeros; everybody suffers, often undeserved.
"his greatest victims: his obscene harem of wife-daughters." In this same chapter the fate of his sons are told as well...
And this is not the first time. You said the same at the battle near King's Landing that women face the worst fate if the city would fall. Do they? Did you remember what happened to the Lhazareen men (of fighting age) after the Dothraki took their city?
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
Let me introduce you to HAES, Healthy At Every Size.

Some people are just fat. Yes, some people when put through a strenuous regiment will lose weight, and suffer the deleterious effects for the rest of their life. Some people, regardless of regiment and diet, will not lose weight. Full Stop.

Gluttony and laziness have never been markers of Sam's character. It's never been discussed that he overeats or won't work. He's not a warrior, but that doesn't mean he's lazy. And more often than not, he's been shown to skip meals when nervous(and he's nervous A LOT) so I don't know why people would think he would trim down in this situation. Sam is who he is, and I respect GRRM for not trying to shove our cultures body issues into the story.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
Oh, yay.

Yes, men die in war, and women are forced to live in it, so no I don't question who has it worse(hint: those who are STILL suffering).

And your point doesn't stand, in re Blackwater, because it wasn't Dothraki invading KL, it was Stannis.
14. Megaduck
I will point out that this is the song of ice and fire.

Sam's chapter has him running from undead brought back to life by the power of ice and cold. (the Others)

Arya's chapter has her encountering a man brought back to life by the power of fire and heat (Rh'ollor)

I do like how GRRM often mirrors the chapters.
15. owleyes
@14 Megaduck, exactly what I was going to point out! I love seeing how all the political intrigue serves as a distraction from the big picture, which is the song of ice and fire. I'm wondering if it will someday set up as Dany's dragons vs. the Others, or possibly Azor Assai vs. Wargs and Old Gods. It also makes me wonder about the Starks and the Targaryens, and their respective connections to ice and fire.

AND (whited out for spoilers) IF R + L = J is true and Jon Snow is a Stark/Targaryen, what does THAT mean in all this, if they are two opposing forces of magic?
16. owleyes
Ah crap, it was whited out in my preview. Can a mod please white that out ASAP??
Chris Mattox
17. SerBastard
"how come Sam isn’t losing any weight?"

In addition to Aeryl's points.

Let's say Sam was 380 pounds when we first met him, which seems possible given his description. If he lost even 50 pounds he would still be fat... even if he lost 100 pounds he'd be fat especially compared to his Brothers in Black.

Oh, and Hurley never lost weight because the actor playing him was stranded on Hawaii and not some deserted Island.
Marc Houle
18. MightyMarc
Chapter 33 makes me want to scream at GRRM. The whole mess at Craster's is yet another reminder of how badly I dislike this book. Why? Because the battle seems completely contrived and pointless. Mormont's behaviour is inconsistent, Craster's attack is bizarre, and everyone just goes berzerk? Clearly GRRM wanted to move the story in a particular direction, but there are far better ways in which Mormont and the rest could have died, while still letting Sam rescue Gilly and baby. Another example of how lazy GRRM was in writing this third book in what was otherwise an excellent series.
Chris Mattox
19. SerBastard
@16 how is that a spoiler? I've suspected that since the 1st book and several prophecies meantioned so far have made me think that even more? Btw I'm still on this book.
Marty Beck
20. martytargaryen
gah! caught up with work and I missed the post...and now I have to go get the kids...guess I'll check it out later.
Anyway, thanks for the post, Leigh
21. owleyes
@19 SerBastard: I guess it's not really a spoiler, it's just that people are touchy about it in the fandom as it's so often assumed to be true, even though it's never actually been confirmed. Kind of funny,really.
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
I would say that speculation counts as a spoiler, as Leigh has never once speculated it, I don't think. If she makes that speculation, I think we could consider it fair game.
23. slybrarian
@18, everyone going 'berzerk' actually seems fairly realistic to me under the circumstances. The majority of the expedition has been killed and the survivors have been harried back to Craster's, and now they're slowly starving to death, both of which are circumstances where discipline tends to quickly break down. Moreover, these aren't really elite picked men but rather the dregs of society. The Watch is noted as having trouble under normal circumstances due to the lack of manpower and non-criminals among them. Once someone snaps and a fight breaks out, it would quickly become pretty much every man for himself, especially in such cramped conditions where you'd have no time to think and would just react on instinct.
24. Jaehaerys
Leigh, followed your WoT re-read and now going through this one with you as a means of refreshing my memory before the tv show's new season...

On that note, I wanted to maybe prompt you to reconsider watching the TV series. I know you want to avoid spoilers and react to things fresh, but (roll over for complete comment) as long as you stay a book ahead of what you watch of the series, you should be more than safe. For example, you should be more than able to watch Season 1 and 2 with no problems. It really is like hearing the same story told by two different gleemen (to use the WoT term). And, really, Tyrion is the most you have to adjust things in your mind, character-wise, from book to TV series. The others are cast and costumed very well, and I find it beneficial to have those images for the characters now that I'm doing the re-read. Now that you are well into Book 3, you should have a good sense of what the characters look like in your own mind by now anyway, so it shouldn't hurt for you to see the roles acted on-screen. The casting and costuming are so good on the show that the transition is really rather seamless, though--except with Tyrion and you already know Peter Dinklage plays him. So, at this point I think you are depriving yourself on that score for no good reason.

There's also the issue of nuances that the show pulled out that the books did not. I'm thinking specifically of Renly/Loras here (without spoiling and saying what, exactly...), but even long-time book readers were surprised to find out some of these things. Jar Jar Martin had later said he'd thought he'd made it clear (if in his hinting sort of way), but given the shock and surprise by even long-time readers (like myself, who usually picks up on these kinds of things) he clearly did not. My point is that there are details that the show brings out that you likely miss if you just read the books (just as the reverse is also true...). So, it's also worth watching the show for that reason.

All that to say that on some level you are uneccessarily depriving yourself of the TV show for no good reason at this point in your read. You should be more than able to watch Seasons 1 and 2 with no major spoilers (except, of course, for the surprises that even avid readers had in watching (and the show does make an effort to keep it interesting for us long-time readers as well). So, please consider it. I think you'll be doing yourself a favor to watch at least Seasons 1 & 2 at this point, and once you finish Book 3, you should be more than able to watch Season 3, which is suppose to cover only the first half of Book 3 (so stuff you've already read at this point). Even if they bring forward some stuff in the latter half of the book, you should still be safe from spoilers having read the whole book first before viewing the season. Anyway, something to think about.
Vincent Lane
25. Aegnor
@8: Considering the last person (Mellisandre) alligned with R'hllor willingly helped murder two people (Renly Baratheon and Cortnay Penrose) and is advocating the eradication of other belief systems, it's not exactly without merit.
Well, just because Mellisandre is a zealot doesn't mean all people of that religion are. I can understand if that is your only exposure to it, but that isn't the case here. We can evaluate the band, Thoros, and Dondarion on thier own merrits.

Leigh said "on the express train to Fanatical Street in Upper Loony Bin, because nobody gets that excited about dying for a dead man (i.e. Robert) without that special flavor of crazy that only hyper-religious mania can impart."

The implication is that they are suffering from "hyper-religious mania". The basis for that? The fact that they actually believe in their religion. That's it. And then she talks about it being crazy that they are "dying for a dead man". I mean holy crap. That is one of the stupid interpretations of events I've ever seen Leigh write. And think that is totally because her anti-religious bias is clouding her judgement on this.

What has this group done? They are protecting the small-folk and bringing justice on those (from both sides of the war) who are brutalizing the common people. Are they bandits? Sure. Completely in the robin hood sense.

Yeah, religious zealotry is bad. But there is no evidence of that here. No evidence of them persecuting those that don't follow their religion (actually quite the opposite). The extent of Leigh's evidence in support of them being zealots is that they believe in a religion. And since zealotry is bad, they are bad.
26. olethros
Someone needs to spike the comment @24 post fucking haste.
Vincent Lane
27. Aegnor

That is one of those non-spoiler spoilers which are hard to deal with. Is it still a spoiler when most of the evidence supporting it has already been covered? I'd say yes. Similar to how it would have been a spoiler to say that Joffrey was Jamie's son before it was revealed (even though there was a ton of evidence indicating that). The only difference here is that it hasn't yet been revealed yet.
28. Tenesmus
I don't think that the butchery at the keep was written in a lazy way. Remember the Prologue? Muitny has been in the air the whole time. Now they all just got thier asses poked by zombie-cicles, are starving, and seeimingly trapped in a small space with with someone who they think has a secret stash of food... definition of a powder keg if I ever saw one. Craster's instigating action is in character. He has the social graces of an ogre living in a squalid hut, he hates having other men around in the first place and Mormont has made it clear that the NW needs to obey Craster. Craster likely thought Mormont would have his back and control his men after he made an example of one of them... but we all know what Thought did. Thought thought he farted, but shit himself.
Chris Mattox
29. SerBastard
@27 Isn't that called speculation when you don't know the answer? I didn't realize speculation was considered spoilery, but then again, I'm new to commenting so correct me if I'm wrong.
Though Ive been reading this thread for a couple months and the WoT one for about a year I was always too far behind to comment so I skipped most of the comments before.
Chris Mattox
30. SerBastard
On top of the things stated already about the Craster's Riot in the Year of Winter-is-comming most of the Watch is made up of criminals at this point, so many of them are unsavory to begin with plus there's sort of a prison mentality where you only behave out of fear of punishment.
31. Gentleman Farmer
@25 is perhaps more strongly worded than I would have chosen for a forum of this nature.

I agree with the substance however that there is an opportunity for contrast here that can enrich the reading of the text which may not have been explored in Leigh's summary.

I see Thoros as a person who has undergone a conversion and through his own actions and exercises in his own faith is inspiring others to believe and follow.

Melisandre is requiring others to believe as she believes and to take actions evidencing the faith which she believes are required.

It might be going too far, but I think Melisandre does the magic/miracles as the purpose or reward of her faith, while I see Thoros as accomplishing miracles as a side effect of carrying out his faith. Both Berric and Stannis suffer from the "miracles" they benefit from. Berric endures it as a martyr to be a symbol of inspiration. He derives suffering, but little or no personal gain. Stannis uses it to further his own ambition.

Thoros has a simple message of help and warmth for the common folk; that of doing good. Melisandre wants to use her message to conquer and defeat enemies.

Melisandre looks to achieve and fulfill prophecies because she thinks she knows what they mean. Thoros wants to discover prophecies (by listening to the ghost of summerhall), but I don't get the sense he's trying to shape events to match them.

There are probably other contrasts and views one could have, but I found this a fascinating exploration of how two different people could take the same religion, the same message and apply it in different ways. I think it's a neat comment, but (like much in this world of GRRM) implies the religion itself, and the magic that flows from it is neither good nor evil, but is what people make of it.

In my view it is going to be important, as the series progresses, to be prepared to see and interpret some of the positive aspects of the organized religions in this world so that these types of contrasts can inform the books and give clues to whose motives are pure and what people's goals are. We'll probably see true believers (ranging from Thoros to zealots), those using it purely for their own ends (ranging from political purposes to magical benefits), and a spectrum across both the axes leading to different actions, decisions and choices by the parties. But if half of the spectrum is viewed solely with cynicism and suspicion, then this aspect of the series will probably yield significantly less enjoyment and sympathy for the characters.

I hesitate to overstate or make a spoiler, but there may at some point in the series be a group or association that has a feeling that much of religion is simply puffery to appease the uneducated, some of whom are fooling themselves, and if that viewpoint is accepted as straight truth, without critical analysis (within the context of the series) and corresponding contrasts then a reader's sympathies may not end up as balanced as GRRM is trying to achieve.

One comment on the suggestion that Leigh watch the HBO series... some of the DVD extras, e.g. on religions of Westeros, may yet contain spoilers up to ADWD.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
32. AlirozTheConfused
Leigh, I hope you're just in confusion
because I cannot support your conclusion
that fervor in dying for one who is dead
means that you're fanatic and have lost your head
Zealotry, sure, I agree is a danger
but your logic here just gets stranger and stranger
Not all the religious are close minded or crazy
to judge people that way is really quite lazy
Leigh, you're a bright girl, and truly no fool
and your writings are often amazing and cool
But it's not cool to judge people by color or creed
or gender or body or the prophet they heed
it's actions for which people are judged
and on this opinion I cannot be budged.

Here's hoping you were just confused
(also, by Holly R'hllors I was amused)
33. Cotterdan

I agree. I'm not religious but her take on that chapter was awful, in my opinion. I still love reading her take on the series, but every time a chapter mentions religion, I know I'm about to get a lecture on how bad it is.
34. deBebbler
Leigh, you never cease to surprise me. Using the mild distaste I had rooting for Clegane as a weathervane, I completely expected you to beat and pound on the table about how you wish that GRRM had just did the bastard in with this chapter, and a couple of *headdesk* paragraphs about how he could/should have done it.

And here I find you rooting for him.

Impressive...most impressive.
35. Dingo
Agree with pretty much all of 3, 8, 25, 31, 32 and 33.

I love this project and gladly check for updates every friday, but to see Leigh jump on the mindless religious hate bandwagon I've seen strolling around the internet lately is quite disheartening.

The chapter review was way too harsh on the Brotherhood simply because of Thoros' religion. This is, for the moment, about one of the only groups (if not the only one) acting on the interest of the poor, the helpless and the victimized by the War of the Five Kings.

Although they act out of a desire for vengeance, under Beric's leadership they have been striving to try and at least do some actual 'justice', if you can call it that... and I think, given the warped and sick reality of Westeros, you actually could call it that.

Did not like the review this time. Sorry, Leigh. Keep up the good work, otherwise :)
36. bajan sea folk
can a mod please white out or erase comment #24
Marie Veek
37. SlackerSpice
Eh, no, still not convinced - unless she's said anything at this length and level of negativity about the Seven or the old gods at some point, her rant isn't anti-religion, but anti-R'hllor. Let's face it, Martin hasn't exactly given the Lord of Light and his followers a glowing (ba-dump-tish!) first impression, and it seems to have rather stuck with her.
38. killtacular
Jesus, people are defensive.

Anyways, @7 "Thats pretty much the opposite of fanaticism" : Could not disagree more.

Guy 1: Ok, lets execute the Hound now. He is a murderer, after all.
Guy 2: No
Guy 1: Ok, fine, lets at least ransom him, like we are going to do with Arya.
Guy 2: No
Guy 1: WHY?
Guy 2: Because he has been victorious in a most honorable combat by trial, and thus has been exonerated by R'hllor.
Guy 1: WHAT???

The brotherhood declines to execute a prominent Lannister who is more complicit in the death and destruction than lots of other people they have (presumably) killed, and they decline to turn him over for money to help their claimed goal of improving the lot of the small folk. Why? Because R'hllor, thats why. That is textbook fanaticism.
39. olethros
killtacular@38: a thousand times yes.

Granted that all of these events are happening in a fictional realm in which sometimes it's the magic, stupid, the sort of decision making depicted in this chapter is precisely how religious zealots think - "screw the actual evidence in the real world, this giant motherfucking warrior won a fight with a much smaller, weaker, and less experienced opponent, so god must think he's special."
Jordan DeLange
40. killtacular

Wait, you are telling me that an incredibly strong warrior bested that half-dead dude with his part of his skull caved in and only one eye? MUST BE R'HLLORS WILL.
41. Jeff R.
Trial by Combat is a tradition in this world that predates and is independent of that particular religion. (Lysa's court certainly weren't acting as R'hllor fanatics when they accepted Bronn's win as 'proof' of Tyrion's innocence.)
Jordan DeLange
42. killtacular

Sure. But the tradition (and it isn't exactly common in this world, I think) is extended (almost certainly) only to the noble types, and by noble types. The Brotherhood has no good reason to go along with it. But they do, because of R'hllor. Or something.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
Plus one to @37. Leigh's not anti-religion, but anti-Rhillor. Melisandre has poisoned that particular well for her. She presumably needs more data before she can consider changing her presumption that Rhillor = trouble.

Trial by combat is common in Westeros among nobles, and Ser Beric is certainly noble. Beric was plainly pretty darned good with the blade and looks to have lost only because his sword broke - a miracle, a miracle! (Recall, Beric wasn't picked by Ned to lead a hundred men to go hunt down the Mountain in the hope he would sweetalk Gregor with pretty words - really safe assumption he was a noted swordsman.)

Gentleman Farmer - nice work. Thoughtful post.

Re role of speculation on Leigh's read. Very tough issue. If Leigh covers it, we can talk about it as long as we don't confirm it by reference to future events - future events must remain unspoken. Ditto re Stevenhalter and others who are reading for the first time along with Leigh. For those of us who have read already, speculation is dangerous because we know how things turn out, and it gives us a false perspective of how easy something is to see from GRRM's careful piecework. Silence and discretion is appropriate for us bookwalkers.

P.s . I'm most of the way through Downtown Abbey and I got spoiled regarding a major plot development. Very aggravated, and it highlighted how certain bells can't be unrung once sounded. It reminded me to try to try to stay careful - and am very glad that someone whited out those paras in @24.
Jordan DeLange
45. killtacular

There is no good evidence that we have seen that trial by combat amongst nobles is common. At all. Good evidence that it happens? Of course. That it is common? No.

However, I'll grant that for the sake of the argument. It still makes no sense for the Brotherhood without the religious justification. You know what is actually common for nobles? The ability to rape and pillage as they see fit during war. And, of course, the Brotherhood fights against that exact thing. Extending privileges to nobles is exactly the opposite of what the Brotherhood is doing. So extending the privilege to Clegane only makes sense if they are not just fighting for the smallfolk, but are also religious fanatics.
Nisheeth Pandey
46. Nisheeth
Trail by Combat is considered to be something Ssacred among the people of westros. It is not only followers of Rh'llor, but any god. Most people at least believe in the gods, but not all of them are fanatics. This is the same here. They believe that the God will not let the criminal win. If you look at the wiki (don't look at it, unless you are fine with being spoiled though), you will see that it is a part of the Laws. There are other examples towards it, but they would go in the spoiler thread, not here.
Emmet O'Brien
47. EmmetAOBrien
This has always struck me as probably the funniest bit of black humour in the whole series.

Remember how all through Clash of Kings we're forever hearing incidental rumours that somebody has killed Beric Dondarrion - IIRC, Gregor twice in different ways ?

Every single one of those rumours would appear to be true.
Marie Veek
48. SlackerSpice
@47: Yep. Rumors of Beric's death are very much *not* exaggerated - and quite frankly, he's lucky none of them involved loss of limb.
Cory Hill
49. Cory-Lee-Hill
@45 Or are you know, led by a very high ranking Nobleman who takes courtesy and chivalry seriously? Just a thought. Beric still uses his title so his conversion doesn't seem to indicate he's abondoned the principals of knighthood or other Westerosi beliefs. Westeros is a pretty religiouly tolerent place, three diffent faiths between four different cultures and all.
Chris Mattox
50. SerBastard
@45 I think they're fighting for justice in general, not just for the smallfolk. Sure the peasents needs more justice (and money) then the nobles, so they bounty who they can without hurting them, assuming they're innocent.

It was meantioned that Beric with give anyone a trial and I'm assumming that it wouldn't always be trial by combat for people who couldn't properly defend themselves.
51. AndrewV
I totally agree with the "Anti-Religious Leigh" crowd, and the couple "women suffer sooo much" people. I prefer my Leigh with a little less religious-hate and feminism zealotry. Love her comments 95% of the time and can't wait to read every new post. I'm even going to buy her WoT Reread e-books when they come out. But when it comes to women's suffrage and religion being depicted in books; I feel like Leigh struggles to portray a realistic picture of events because of her personal points of view. So I generally skim those sections until I get back to the awesome 95% of Leigh I know and love.

What's most distressing to me is that feminists are some of the most zealous, sexist, hate-spewing people I've ever met—if you disagree with them. And yet in this chapter the people who are doing their best to be decent to the common folk and who happen to have a bit of religious drive behind them get excoriated-- despite gaining next to nothing for all the work they are putting into defending the commoners. If their only crime is belief in religion, why are they so awful? What have they done up to this point that’s so bad?

As for the angry comments about letting Sandor off the hook after the duel to prove his innocence or guilt and how religion is totally messing up The Brotherhood’s reasoning skills: makes sense to me. I mean, it's not like we've seen a similar thing happen to Tyrion at the Eyrie in the first book or anything... oh wait.... (/sarcasm)

Sorry, but this has to be driven home: If The Brotherhood was totally non-religious and was behaving in the exact same way they are, would your feelings toward them change? If you answered, "Yes" you are biased against religion. If you answered, "No" but can't find anything else to dislike about their behavior, you are deluding yourself.
Chris Mattox
52. SerBastard
I honestly can't think of an evil thing that Sandor has done off the top of my head up to this point. Killing Mycah was his duty since two witnesses said he attacked the prince.

Sure, he acts like a total scumbag, but up to the Darkwater battle he was just doing his duty, and even refused things like hurting Sansa when ordered to.
Buddy Grizzard
53. aenor
24. Jaehaerys Respectfully disagree. I'm sure Leigh will watch the series when she is good and ready but there are spoilers in season one regarding lineage that we're still not sure about as of ADwD.

25. Aegnor Please get over yourself. These men are risking extinction to carry out the wishes of a dead king's dead hand. That's looney enough without any analysis of Leigh's biases re: religion. Lost sense of self preservation much?

[Funny note: I wrote the above as I scanned through the responses, then found several others taking offense at Leigh's faith bashing. It's like people are being made to feel insecure about their real life faith by something somebody wrote about a fantasy novel on a blog on the internet somewhere. By the way, I'm a person of faith.]

37. SlackerSpice First Holly Rh'ollor and then... oh my...

43. RobMRobM "Really safe assumption he was a noted swordsman." Super safe! We're not sending some pipsqueak to bring down the mountain. "Silence and discretion is appropriate for us bookwalkers." Take heed! Somebody in another forum spoiled me re ADwD and it ruined most of my enjoyment of the book. I'm loving looking over Leigh's shoulder as she discovers all of this for the first time.
Maiane Bakroeva
54. Isilel
Sandor said it was what both Joffrey and Sansa said, and Arya says Sansa is a liar.
Sandor is lying here, though. He had already murdered Mycah by the time Sansa was called to testify before Robert - Ned met his party immediately afterwards, just returned, and they had Mycah's corpse with them. Sansa also told the assembled court that she didn't remember what happened. Before that she truthfully told the whole story to Ned.

And I don't doubt that Sandor did kill innoncents before. He was in Lannister service, he participated in the Sack, even though he was kid, and he follows Cersei's orders re: Mycah unthinkingly and with obvious enjoyment.

Re: Thoros, the thing is - he had a miracle happen to him. He perfunctionarily gave a dead guy last rites, as he has done many times before... and the guy stood up. It is difficult/impossible to maintain a formerly sceptical attitude concerning religion once that happens to you. The same applies to Beric's men.
55. birgit
Slayer is not the only WoT analogue here. Beric was hanged, lost an eye, and died and lived again. That sounds a lot like Mat.
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
birgit@55: archetypes are there for reasons. See Odin and that list.
57. Nessa
I'm with those people who don't think the anti-R'hllorism is necessarily anti-religionism. The BwB is trying to do good, but I don't like followers of R'hllor in general (and I can't blame Leigh for disliking them either, especially after what we've seen with Mel). Also, having a dead guy as a leader is weird. I can't reconcile with dead people going around trying to pass judgement on the living. Also, wasn't Beric supposed to be rounding up Gregor Clegane and company? Why's he wasting time with Sandor for? Just because he's a Lannister supporter and followed the orders of his superiors? Isn't that what pretty much every person in Westeros tries to do?
58. Nessa
@51: Wow, so much hate against feminists. And you think Leigh is letting her personal preferences get the better of her? Not all feminists are sexist and man-hating. Many can (and do) take opposing viewpoints in stride without getting hysterical about it. You want Leigh to stop generalizing on all religions. Maybe you should take your own advice. There's no need to colour all feminists with the same brush.
Chris Nelly
59. Aeryl
@54 I read that more as an ex post facto justification for what he did, not that he was claiming he knew it beforehand.

@51 Your argument is fallacious. If you feel Leigh is being sexist, make that argument, and feminists are not a monolith, so don't generalize that because you feel one particular feminist is sexist, all feminists are "hate-spewing". And also don't equate feminist with religious bashing, because that is erasing the existence of Christain feminists, Morman feminists, Muslim feminists, feminist nuns, of which there are a multitude.

The release of Sandor Clegane is completely in line with the standards of law in justice in Westeros. This is not the first, I don't think it counts a spoiler to say this isn't the last trial by combat in these books.
Bridget McGovern
60. BMcGovern
@51, AndrewV: Stepping in as moderator, here--in a discussion about whether or not sweeping blanket statements are being made (say, about religion), I don't think that massive generalizations like the following are particularly helpful:

"What's most distressing to me is that feminists are some of the most
zealous, sexist, hate-spewing people I've ever met—if you disagree with

However you interpret what Leigh is saying in her post, I don't believe it's constructive to turn around and blatantly attack all people who consider themselves to be feminists. If Leigh or another commenter were to say "religious people are the most zealous, sexist, hate-spewing people out there," it would clearly be extremely problematic--but no one has, and I suggest you dial down your rhetoric in the interest of a civil conversation.
61. Ryamano
When a man of the Brotherhood without Banners says they're King Robert's men they don't mean that literally. They're not following a dead king due to religious fervor. They're following the principles of the order that was given by Ned Stark as Hand of the King. Uphold the King's Justice and defend the smallfolk from attack. Most of the men who were sent at first are already dead, but others came to join them (even dogs according to that kid). People are joining them because they hate what the soldiers are doing to their families and acquaintances on the orders of nobles in a war they don't care about at all. Saying you are King Robert's men in this case seems to be a metaphor for saying you're for justice for the smallfolk. At least that's the way I saw it. So religious fervor might not even be a part of why most are following Beric's orders.

By the way, this might be a spoiler, but there's trial by combat in Hedge Knight and one of the participants isn't a noble by birth. So this doesn't apply only to nobles, I'd say.
Steven Halter
62. stevenhalter
@several:Keep in mind that Leigh is giving you her impressions and interpretations of the story as we read along. You may or may not agree with or like a particular statement at a particular time, but first impressions as the story unfolds is really what this particular read is all about.
If, in reading comments, you find yourself in disagreement, then by all means say so and explain your reasoning. However, note that an impression really is an impression based upon both the story and the person. You really can't say that a person didn't have the impression that they say they had.
Note that participating here is entirely voluntary and free.
63. Jaehaerys
Really not sure why my comments re: the tv show were whited out @24. There were no spoilers in there, just comments on the show. Its not news to Leigh that Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion--she's commented on it several times now, how she found out by watching him win awards for the role.

@ 53 I also don't recall any "lineage" spoilers in season 1 of the show. The only unknown-as-of-ADwD lineage that might be a spoiler (that comes to mind, anyway) would be Jon Snow's mom, and I'm pretty sure the show hasn't gone into any of that at all...
Chris Mattox
64. SerBastard
@63 I'm pretty sure it was whited out because you were talking about a situation that's clear in the TV show but only hinted at in the books and she hasn't made that connection herself yet.
Jordan DeLange
65. killtacular
re: trial by combat.

Well, maybe I am wrong. But what is the evidence that trial by combat is a routine thing, even amongst nobles? Up until now, it has been used exactly once, and in a weird circumstance.

But, again, that is not the point. For the people who are saying that Dondarrion (sp?) is himself a noble: who possibly cares?

The Brotherhood is actively engaged in anti-noble activity, thwarting the wolves and the lions (and, the fish?). Their entire reason for existing is helping the smallfolk survive the predations of the nobles in the service of the realm. Their actions re: Sandor are exactly opposite of that purpose. The reason? Religious fanaticism.
Nisheeth Pandey
66. Nisheeth
@65, killtacular:
As I said before, it is not religious fanaticism. It is believing in God. Their belief is that god, any god (the Seven, Old Gods, Rhllor etc) wouldn't let an guilty person get away without scot-free. If the person won in Trial by Combat, it would be that the gods judged him to be right. Tell me, do you think that Catelyn is a religious fanatic?
Rob Munnelly
67. RobMRobM
The point of the Brotherhood is that are supporting justice for all, and to do that they don't want to execute people without a trial (or, as we saw in the preceding chapter in Saltpans, to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on those being executed). Here, Arya fingered the Hound for a murder, but his culpability was in question (as he said he was justified by the threat to Joff, which Arya denied). Absent a conclusive "legal trial," Dondarrion offered to resolve via TBC. Not religious fanaticism, IMO, but seriousness of purpose.
Rob Munnelly
68. RobMRobM
@63-64 - what 64 said. You suggested something,openly shown on the TV show but only hinted at in the books, that Leigh hasn't figured out in this read. That's why the TV show is dangerous to the read.

Note that I was a follower of an earlier attempt by a site to do an initial read of the books, and the leader began watching the TV show. The whole thing turned into a confusing mess and the read died. Not saying the same thing would happen here, especially as we are now starting Season 3 of the TV show so there are fewer opportuntities for cross-contamination if Leigh starts with Season 1, but I do worry about something being lost in Leigh's read once the somewhat different reality of the TV show, with brilliant acting and set design, burns itself into Leigh's forebrain. She might do what some of us here on the read have done in earlier - assumed something in the TV show is book fact, when it was solely part of the TV show. If so, that will make it harder to put pieces together in an informative and entertaining way as we move forward on the read. So, in sum, I'm glad Leigh's holding off at this point and very appreciative of her restraint.
Jonathan Levy
69. JonathanLevy
31. Gentleman Farmer
I think your comparison of Melisandre and Thoros is very insightful.

38. killtacular
Excellent reasoning, let's apply it to other cases, the better to enjoy more textbook fanaticism:

Guy 1: Ok, lets execute that former football player. He is a murderer, after all.
Guy 2: No
Guy 1: Ok, fine, lets at least throw him in jail for the rest of his life.
Guy 2: No
Guy 1: WHY?
Guy 2: Because twelve randomly chosen men and women did not unanimously agree that he was guilty on a certain date.
Guy 1: WHAT???

Remember how all through Clash of Kings we're forever hearing incidental rumours that somebody has killed Beric Dondarrion - IIRC, Gregor twice in different ways ? Every single one of those rumours would appear to be true.
I know, isn't it great??

51. AndrewV
I'm even going to buy (Leigh's) WoT Reread e-books when they come out
Make sure to re-join us here on the WoT Re-Read Re-Read.

Re: Thoros
That is the perfect explanation for Thoros' behavior, but I think we only learn that in the next Arya chapter.

70. Gesar
Oh wow.

I mean I always knew that people had a tendancy to read with an agenda. I didn't think it would extend to reading other people's reads with an agenda.

This is a two-part argument. First, Leigh has no problem with religion. The Seven or the Old Gods never caused any problems, only the followers of R'hllor. Why ? Cause they have this lovely manichean view of the world in which you can only be for R'hllor and be a good guy or be against R'hllor and be a bad guy. With such view of the world, you can't NOT be a zealot, because if you weren't, you'd be a bad guy. If you think having a problem with that equals having a problem with religion, then well... I don't really know what to tell you.

And second, and I can't even start to stress how much this is the core argument, why o why would you care? This is someome posting their opinion about a fictional system in a fictional world. You're not paying to read it, she doesn't compel you to agree with her if you don't, there's ZERO reason to get upset about this.

Grow up, srsly. This is the kind of feedback that would make me wonder why I even make reads in the first place.
71. Veggiedaniel
, 2) helps its followers, and 3) has some pretty powerful tricks. We have a current real-world example of how followers react to the resurrection of a deceased spiritual leader...hmmmm.
If I were in the Brotherhood, and my leader kept on being revived from the freakin dead by a priest, well, I'd be all in. People become fanatical with far less physical evidence than the Red Priest provides.
Marie Veek
72. SlackerSpice
@57: A dead guy with chunks missing *and* stab wounds, no less. So I'm rather side-eyeing the shit out of this miracle.

Since they've apparently moved on to protecting the people from all comers, I suspect finding Gregor specificially is off the agenda. Then again, the Mountain was responsible for one of Beric's deaths...
73. bint 'irfan
@65, killtacular:

At no point in the books is trial by combat portrayed as routine, whether amongst nobles, or even practiced by Dondarrion himself (although it's been used more than once--Joffrey ordered a pair of knights to fight to the death over a land dispute and this was used as an indication of him being an evil character). If you'll recall, on the walk to Dondarrion's hideout, Arya sees a group of soldiers hanged and one of the Brotherhoood mentions that they always give them a trial before hanging them. Judging by the fact that they were hanged, they probably did not fight a duel to the death with someone beforehand. There's also no reason to believe that trial by combat is commonplace in whatever codes the Red Priests follow.

Using medieval legal codes as an analogue, though, trials by combat and also by ordeal was certainly an option. Sandor gets charged with murder and defends those charges and options for a trial by combat where he wins. Following the particular legal strictures that 7 Kingdoms society presumably does doesn't make Dondarrion a religious fanatic (or at least not any more so than anyone else in the kingdom). Obviously, these sorts of views don't correlate to anything we have in the modern world, but for people in their time and place winning a trial by combat is generally accepted to be a fair trial and Rhllor-based zealotry has nothing to do with that.
74. Iarvin
@70 Gesar

Isn't your comment somewhat ironic? The exact same questions and comments could be made to your own comment!


Leigh seems to be having an understandable gut reaction here, which is accentuated by her own acknowledged leanings. So far there hasn't been a lot of pro or con information on this group of Rhllor, and there has been an overwhelming amount of con information on the only other group we've encountered. So while its not completely rational, it is understandable to have a fair bit of bias against Rhllor in general.

@69 JonathanLevy

That was enjoyable reasoning. I had been trying to pick apart the flaw in that example, and your counter-example made it pretty explicit - People can follow the legal process for the sake of following the legal process without it being religous fervor.
75. Veggiedaniel
My post lost its head! Here it is.

Why WOULDN'T the Brotherhood slip into the perils of fanaticism? There are several religious beliefs in Westeros, but to this point R'hllor is the only diety to show actual magical intervention. Whether your preference is shadow-baby assassins or good old-fashioned reanimation of dead humans, there is no arguing that it appears that R'hllor 1) exists, 2) helps its followers, and 3) has some pretty powerful tricks. We have a current real-world example of how followers react to the resurrection of a deceased spiritual leader...hmmmm.
If I were in the Brotherhood, and my leader kept on being revived from the freakin dead by a priest, well, I'd be all in. People become fanatical with far less physical evidence than the Red Priest provides.
Chris Nelly
76. Aeryl
It was stated back in GOT that Stannis had brought on a Shadowbinder from Asshai, which was Melisandre. I don't think enough has been said about Shadowbinders to know for sure, but my suspicion is that her ability to control shadows, like she did to kill Renly and the castellan at Storm's End, stems from that, and is not necessarily to her devotion to R'hllor.

So while the Holy R'hllors have powers, I don't know if the shadow assasin babies are one of them.
Melanie S
77. starryharlequin
To add another voice to the Sam-still-being-fat comment: I'm quite fat, though not in the category morbidly obese. Even ignoring the fact that when you eat very little your metabolism slows down & you lose less weight than you'd think, I calculated once that getting down into the normal weight range for me would involve the equivalent of not eating at all for 6 months. (Potentially more--I can't remember now if I accounted for the fact that I would need fewer calories the thinner I got.) Sam in the cold with not-very-good-but-mostly-adequate-until-recently food has probably lost some weight, but he would also likely be, y'know, still fat.
78. MJF
Trial by combat: You have to love the hypocrisy involved. I mean, if people in Westeros actually believed in the direct judgement of the gods, the War of the Five Kings would have lasted exactly as long as it took to gather up everyone with a claim to the throne, toss them off a cliff, and crown whoever survived unharmed.
79. a1ay
Let me introduce you to HAES, Healthy At Every Size. Some people are just fat. Yes, some people when put through a strenuous regiment will lose weight, and suffer the deleterious effects for the rest of their life. Some people, regardless of regiment and diet, will not lose weight. Full Stop.

Yeah, no. Regardless of regimen and diet, they won't lose weight? Really? You know, I've seen film of concentration camp inmates in Bosnia, and in Poland and Germany under the Nazis. None of them were fat.

Now, it's true that for some people losing weight is much easier than for others, but what you've said there is nonsense.

On the gripping hand, as 77 points out, Sam isn't starving. Safe to assume that the Night's Watch has considerable knowledge and experience of what rations a man needs to stay fit and healthy while moving around in the snow, since that's what they've been doing for the last few millennia. This is (or was originally) a planned expedition, and the Watch have been doing stuff like this regularly for several thousand years.
Chris Nelly
80. Aeryl
@79 That line ignores the "healthy" aspect of HAES, and it was in response to someone bringing up military boot camp as an indicator of Sam's potential weight loss. Plenty of people undergo boot camp and don't change sizes at all, though they will put on more muscle mass. And people in concentration camps were not being given enough calories to sustain themselves. Now, at this point that may be the case with the NW, but for the human body to start consuming itself, takes prolonged deprivation, which Sam has not had.

Sam, while fat, is also capable of marching for miles in the snow apparently, undergoing the rigorous training of the NW and does not have any indicators of gluttony and overeating. He is obese, but obesity is NOT, contrary to common belief, an indicator of HEALTH, in and of itself. If anything Sam's problems with himself come from that fallacious belief, that because he fat there is something wrong with him, not that there actually is something wrong with him.

With that knowledge, it is completely believable that Sam would not be losing weight. He is not facing extreme deprivation, yet, nor is he undergoing physical labor above and beyond what he is typically capable.
Chris Mattox
81. SerBastard
@79 The word diet refers to an intake of food not to a starvation regimen undergone in concentration camps.....
82. a1ay
for the human body to start consuming itself, takes prolonged deprivation, which Sam has not had.

Not really, no. The body can start to "consume itself" in the sense of burning its fat reserves as soon as an hour or two after a meal (depending on the meal and the level of exercise). You start to break down muscle after prolonged deprivation, when most of your fat reserves are gone, and/or after periods of inactivity (inactivity plus hunger can produce really startling amounts of muscle wastage).

people in concentration camps were not being given enough calories to sustain themselves

Like people on a lot of weight-loss diets, then.

But also see my second point. Sam is doing routine stuff from a Night's Watch point of view - the Night's Watch knows what to feed men doing long marches through the snow so they don't lose weight. After all, there's probably going to be some fighting at some point, and you want to keep the troops in good condition. He's probably a lot fitter and healthier now than he was when he started out, but quite possibly that won't mean losing a lot of weight (as in the boot camp point).
Chris Mattox
83. SerBastard
@82 WTF We aren't even talking about concentration camps so everyone just drop that point right now...unless you work for Godwin's law to feed your family.

The fact is Sam was morbidly obease when he joined the Watch and whether he lost 10 pounds or 110 pounds the story stands: HE IS FAT.
84. Black Dread
a1ay - The USMC knows all about long marches in snow too - but even in great shape and on extra rations, I lost weight at an alarming rate on cold-weather exercises.

Nothing burns calories like a winter march, nothing.
Deana Whitney
85. Braid_Tug
@ Jaehaerys, part of your 24 comment was hidden because it discusses a relationship that has been overlooked. We are all waiting this to be corrected. The more “hints” and “look at me!” that it receives, the more likely she is to be spoiled before her time.
We don’t want that. So let’s move on. Thank you.

Re: Fat Sam.
Be it Lord of Ring Sam, or ASOFAI Sam:
Sam is Fat, because – The Author Wants Sam to be Fat.
End of story.

The points about him being 350 vs 250 are valid, but since GRRM doesn’t give us information to support any viewpoint, it all boils down to he wants Sam to be fat.

And we cannot discount the element of their “liquid bread.” Beer, mead, wine, etc. Water is dangerous unless boiled.
Vincent Lane
86. Aegnor
25. Aegnor Please get over yourself. These men are risking extinction to carry out the wishes of a dead king's dead hand. That's looney enough without any analysis of Leigh's biases re: religion. Lost sense of self preservation much?
Here's the thing though. Carrying out the dead king's wishes has little to do with religion. After all, Robert was definitely not a follower of R’hllor. It is all about maintaining some sense of purpose when the world has gone to hell and is in complete chaos. It is holding onto that bit of sanity in an insane world. I thought it was pretty clear why considered themselves "king's men" and the reasoning behind it. Deciding that the reason for it is that they have the hots for R’hllor is fairly stupid. Leigh has shown herself to be anything but stupid, so I tend to think it is just her anti-religion bias that has clouded her judgement.

As to whether it is due to anti-R’hllor or anti-religion bias is a more interesting question. In any case, there is absolutely zero evidence that they have taken the "express train to Fanatical Street in Upper Loony Bin". If it is a matter of just assuming Mellisandre = bad, Mellisandre is a Holy R'hllor (lol), the band are Holy R'hllor's, therefore the band = bad, then it is just a matter of her being lazy in her analysis. Nearly ALL the evidence so far has indicated that the band = good. Not necessarily good for Arya, but overall their actions fall into the good category (not in every case, but in general). Leigh is dismissing all that evidence and placing them in the bad category solely because they are religious (or perhaps their choice in religion).
Vincent Lane
87. Aegnor
Oh, and regarding trial by combat. Even without going into spoiler territory it is fairly obvious that trial by combat is common.

very slight spoiler:
And when you go into spoiler territory it is even more ridiculous to claim trail by combat isn't common. How many trials by combat have been proposed, carried out, or planned in all the books (including D&E)? They are fairly common. Period.
Marie Veek
88. SlackerSpice
@86: Uh, no, I have to reiterate my earlier point - unless Leigh has complained at similar length and level of vitriol about the North's old gods, or the Faith of the Seven, I would not call her rants anti-religious, simply anti-*extremist* religion.

There's also the effect a negative first impression can have on someone, especially when said first impression involves harming other people. Ol' Mel, our previously sole holy R'hllor, has murdered two people on behalf of her Lord's Chosen (three if we're counting Cressen). When her followers at Dragonstone burned the statues of the Seven, those who tried to stop it were killed or imprisoned. Knowing even *half* of that, I don't blame Leigh for thinking "DO NOT WANT", since our first impression of R'hllor has been of a god that apparently calls for kinslaying, outright murder, the utter destruction of other belief systems, and to Hell with anyone who stands in your way because Our Cause Is Righteous.
Chris Mattox
89. SerBastard
Magic spells definately come at a price in the world od ASOIAF. That price mostly seems to be a person''s life essence. Whether it be Stanis' weakened condition, or his wife's blood, or the House of the Undying's vampirism or whatever that was , or Crazy Mel's burning people or slugs... heck even Varys' wang was offered up for a spell.

Im Baric's case it seems like the life essence being used is his own (and maybe the priest's?) wich is a pretty sweet deal for resurection even though he has to live with the scars. Unless they are secretly burning virgin penises (peni?) to bring him back.
Jordan DeLange
90. killtacular
@66I dunno, the other trial by combats we see are a LOT less religiously motivated. The participants are appropriately cynical about the intervention of the God(s). This time? Not so much.

@67: Yeah, that is the best counterpoint to what I am saying. However, the Brotherhood presumably executed lots of people without giving them the benefit of a TBC.

@68: Wow! You copied the structure of my comment and made it into an OJ joke! You are brilliant!

Seriously, though, that has nothing to do whatsoever with what I have been saying. Unless you think that the jury system is basically the same as TBC. If so ... that is unfortunate.

@70: You are right, of course. But it is the internets, you know. So you have to expect it.

@73: Your first paragraph is a much clearer and better way of saying what I have been trying to say. As for the second part: again, there is no reason to think the Brotherhood is bound by conventional means of operation. Pretty much by definition, they are already outside of that. They want "justice." If they are willing to give that up because, basically, their God says so ... well, that seems somewhat fanatical to me.

@75: Good point!

@87: No it isn't, at all. Is it something that never happens at all? No. Is it fairly common? No.
Jakub Wrobel
91. ptyx
It's enough to check the proper trials that we have had so far to prove whether trial by combat is common or not.

1. There have been trials where the guilt was obvious and the accused admitted to their crimes (Night Watch deserter vs. Ned Stark; Ned Stark vs. Joffrey; the bard who got his tongue ripped vs. Joffrey etc.), so there was no need for a TBC

2. I recall only three trials where the accused denied their guilt and only one of them didn't end up with a TBC - Arya vs. Joffrey - and I have a strong suspicion that this was only because Arya was not savvy enough at that moment to demand a trial by combat, if she had known she had such option, well, that could have been funny.
Nisheeth Pandey
92. Nisheeth
@90, killtacular:
If you don't mind being spoiled(in Dunk and Egg), look up Trail of Sevenin the wiki. The problem is I can't give detailed examples without getting into spoilers. This too is a little spoilerish, but by DWD you will have teh opinion that Trial by Combat is a relatively common method, provided it is logical to do so. What they are doing is fanatical by our standards, but by the standards of Westros, not at all.
Vincent Lane
93. Aegnor

What is your definition of common? Maybe you have a different definition of common? I honestly don't understand where you are coming from. We have a rather small sample size, but I think we can at least draw the conclusion that trial by combat is not uncommon.
94. olethros
Here's what makes the Dog's trial different: all of the other combat trials we've seen have depicted the participants as thinking of it as their only option to reach a not guilty verdict. The observers have all honored that verdict because it's the law of the land, not because god said so. Beric's followers explicitly state that they believe that victory equals innocence because god said so.

Aegnor, I think the bias here is on your end, not Leigh's.
Nisheeth Pandey
95. Nisheeth
@94, olethros:
And why was it made a law? What made it show someone's innocence? They believed in God which lead them to make it a law.
I can only say, read on (ore read D&E), and you will feel begin to feel that the BwB is not fanatical (well Beric and Thoros might barely be), at least no where near Melisandre.
Chris Nelly
96. Aeryl
Just because the Brotherhood states it explicitly, doesn't mean it's not implicit in other TBCs. It's the very foundation of a TBC system, that no diety will allow a guilty party to win in combat.

And I'm pretty sure that Lysa was ALL about how her guy couldn't lose because the gods and justice were on her side, which is why it didn't matter if the guy fought with his own useful sword, instead of her dead husband's ornamental one, and why the TBC was treated as a party instead of a solemn event.
97. olethros
That the tradition had its roots in religion I don't dispute, but the "modern" practitioners of it don't actually believe that god has blessed the winner.

Citing Lysa Arryn as an example of someone not in the throes of fanatical insanity isn't really helping your argument.
98. olethros
Oh, and I meant Aeryl, not Aegnor, was displaying a bias, specifically against any negative characterisation of religion, no matter how warranted.
Rob Munnelly
100. RobMRobM
Do I get to claim the one hunny? EDIT - Indeed.

I appreciate the back and forth dialogue and excellent points, but let's make sure we keep things nice and civil, especially as we hit potentially touchy religious issues. Looking forward to more in this thread.

Chris Nelly
101. Aeryl
And to go back to Lysa, while she may or may not have been in the throes of fanatical insanity, the point is not ONE of the many (sane) people who were attending her had any issues with this either.

The attitude the a diety will ensure the victory of those who are just isn't an uncommon one, and cannot be used as as indicator of fanatacism. Deciding you have the right to kill people, without trials or accusation(i.e. Melisandre) is a sign, but it isn't one the Brotherhood has shown, yet.
Marie Veek
102. SlackerSpice
@98: No, I'm pretty sure that's been Aegnor, all the way.
Vincent Lane
103. Aegnor

Actually it is an integral part of the whole trial-by-trial process that the gods intervene to enable truth to be victorious. That is what it is based on. How much that is believed to be true varies from person to person.

In this particular case the participants believe it to be true. Can you really blame them though? They have personally seen their leader brought back to life multiple times. If you have seen someone brought back to life by a god, is it really that far fetched to think that same god might take a hand in a TBC situation?

As far as bias, I don't believe I am especially biased. And I'm not attacking Leigh here. Some people have their own personal reasons for being biased against organized religion. I'm just trying to figure out why Leigh's analysis was so off in this chapter regarding the Band, and that seems the most likely to me.

Regarding her not showing a bias against other religions...well how many true believers have we seen of other religions? A bit with the Drowned God, which I honestly can't remember her reaction to that. We've not really seen much religious conversation from true believers of the Seven, or any other religion besides R'hllor.
Chris Mattox
104. SerBastard
@103 Whether it be due to relegious devotion or just tradition and sense of honor Ned Stark and his children seeem pretty devoted to the Old Gods without being crazy fanatics.

Ned frequented the Weirwood as well as Sansa (though that started for different reasons at first plus she hangs out in the Sept a lot too.) Also Jon takes his vows said under the Weirwood very seriously and Aria prays daily.

possible spoiler:
Oh and I don't even think we've seen the Drowned God followers yet.
Marie Veek
105. SlackerSpice
@103: That's as may be, but you could have phrased it a lot better than claiming that she's been "blinded" - especially seeing as how her logic behind said bias has been explained several times.
106. phuzz
@91 "only one of them didn't end up with a TBC - Arya vs. Joffrey - and I have a strong suspicion that this was only because Arya was not savvy enough at that moment to demand a trial by combat, if she had known she had such option, well, that could have been funny."
That would have been brilliant! (although I expect the adults would have stepped in at that point, spoilsports). Also all the characters would have gone deaf from the readers cheering Arya on to stab Joffrey in the face.
Nisheeth Pandey
107. Nisheeth
@106 phuzz: Or rather he would have asked someone else to champion for him. He know he cannot beat her in combat.
Chris Nelly
108. Aeryl
@107 Oh, but wouldn't that have been some poetic justice? Prince of the Realm scared to face the Little Wolf Girl? Especially after refusing to fight Robb, because of the wooden swords? Oh, I'd have died!
Rob Munnelly
109. RobMRobM
I would have loved to see Arya versus the Hound as Joff's champion, which would have led to Ned versus Hound as Arya's champion.
Nisheeth Pandey
110. Nisheeth
@108, Aeryl: Indeed! Thinking on it, he wouldn't have been able to chose a champion without her doing so as well. Who would allow a little girl of eight to fight a kinght? I doubt any one would have even takenher demand seriously. But I would have loved to see that happen as well.

@109, RobMRobM: Wasn't Jamie with them at that time? I think that he, as one of the Kingsguard, would be the one to champion for him.
Chris Mattox
111. SerBastard
My first thought was that either Jaime or Sandor could beat Ned, then I realized we never actually saw Ned in a real fight other then the time Jaime ambushed him. Also, I don't think he was a fan of joining Tournies either.

But based on Rob and Jon's skills plus what we've heard of Benjin, I'm guessing Dead Ned was a pretty bad ass fighter.
112. SJB
George Martin actually said Ned wasn't that great of a fighter. He was more of a strategist and a good leader, than a great fighter. Jaime and the Hound could both defeat him in single combat.
Vincent Lane
113. Aegnor
@103: That's as may be, but you could have phrased it a lot better than claiming that she's been "blinded" - especially seeing as how her logic behind said bias has been explained several times.
I don't believe I ever called her blinded. It's just obvious her analysis of the brotherhood is fairly poor (essentially they are a bunch of dangerous religious nutcases). I was just trying to determine why that was.
Lynn Anderson
114. Dovahkiina
I see that others have addressed the "Sam is still fat" issue but... It occurred to me that 1. The actor on the show is not on the same diet and exercise regimen that Sam is and 2. GRRM is either using artistic license keeping Sam obese in spite of conditions that should lead to weight loss or, as someone mentioned above he may have lost a significant amount of weight but still has a lot to lose. I hope the folks above who believe a person can be just as healthy fat as lean can be convinced otherwise. The concept of the "Ideal body weight" has reams of literature and evidence to support the fact that a human body is healthier at its ideal weight. Sam's excess weight plays some important parts in the story though, so for now he needs to stay fat.
Chris Nelly
115. Aeryl
@114,Yes people are healthier at their "ideal" weight which, like every other human feature, is going to vary wildly from person to person due to factors that have very little to do with caloric consumption or exercise level, and more to do with genetics. For example, actress Melissa McCarthy, who was recently degraded and insulted by an ignorant man who thinks she has control over her body type, regularly plays tennis and does Pilates, while eating a healthy balanced diet. She's active, energetic, healthy, and fat.

Healthy and fit =/=skinny. Skinny=/=eating healthy. Fat=/=overeating. Fat=/=lazy. To assume that Sam should be losing extreme amounts of weight, is to assume that just because he was fat and cowardly, he was also unfit and a glutton. Which are pretty hateful assumptions, IMO.
Jordan DeLange
116. killtacular
@92: I actually haven't read the Dunk and Egg stories. So there could easily be stuff there that really undermines my position. I suppose I should get on that!

I disagree that DWD undermines my position at all, but as you say, spoilers. In fact, even saying that might be spoiler. So ... yeah.

@93: TBC is clearly not something invented by the brotherhood. What I am saying is that we have not seen anything to support the idea that it is a common (i.e. regular) practice even amongst the nobility, and - even if it is - absolutely nothing to suggest that it is ever applied to the smallfolk. If anything, the opposite.
Vincent Lane
117. Aegnor
No, it is very unlikely that trial by combat was used by smallfolk. Generally their guilt or innocence would be decided by their local lord. But that isn't relevant in this case of course. No smallfolk were directly involved with the TBC.

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