Fri
Mar 22 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 23

A Read of Ice and Fire A Storm of Swords George R.R. Martin Bran Stark Jon SnowWelcome 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 23 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 40 (“Bran”) and Chapter 41 (“Jon”).

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 Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler 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!

Before we begin, quick scheduling note: As some of you probably already know, the fifth annual JordanCon is happening juuust slightly less than a month from now, and yours truly is not only going, I will be this year’s Toastmaster. Which is super exciting, but also means I am going to be insanely, nay, maniacally busy in that general temporal arena, and thereafter temporarily mostly dead until I recover.

Therefore! The Read of Ice and Fire will be on hiatus for the Fridays of both April 19th and 26th. Take note, me hearties.

Onward!

Chapter 40: Bran

What Happens
Bran, Meera, Jojen, Hodor and Summer come to an abandoned village near a lake with a tower on an island in it. Bran explains that the land here, fifty leagues out to the Wall, was gifted to the Night’s Watch, but since the Watch’s decline the people have moved away for fear of wildlings’ raids. Jojen senses a storm coming, but the village buildings are rotted out, and Bran suggests going to the tower. Meera points out they have no boat, but Bran tells them Old Nan told him that there is a causeway from the shore to the island hidden under the water. They find the causeway and cross to the island safely (leaving Summer behind), though Hodor almost falls twice.

At the tower, they initially cannot get beyond the strongroom entrance, until Bran pulls the grating loose from the murder hole in the ceiling. They get Hodor up through it with some difficulty, and climb up to the roof, where they marvel at the clear view for leagues around. Bran asks what they will do when they get to the Wall, and Jojen answers that they will try to get through or over it via one of the abandoned castles along its periphery. Bran thinks they should just go to Castle Black and find Jon and his uncle, but Jojen says the risk of the news of Bran’s survival getting back to the ironmen or Bolton is too great.

They see a lone rider approaching the village in the distance, and go back inside the tower to avoid being seen. It starts to rain, and Meera reports that the rider has taken shelter at the remains of the village inn. Jojen refuses to let them have a fire, so they eat their dinner cold. After darkness falls, the rain strengthens to a thunderstorm, which frightens Hodor badly; he grabs a sword and begins bellowing “HODOR.” Meera takes the sword from him, and Bran begs Hodor to quiet down so they won’t be heard. Jojen goes to the window and sees that there are more men in the village now; he can see that they’re armed and unmounted, but little else, except that there are “too many to count.” They argue about whether the men are likely to try to come to the tower for shelter, but then Hodor grows terrified again and starts shouting, ignoring the others’ pleas for him to be quiet.

“Be quiet!” Bran said in a shrill scared voice, reaching up uselessly for Hodor’s leg as he crashed past, reaching, reaching.

Hodor staggered, and closed his mouth. He shook his head slowly from side to side, sank back to the floor, and sat crosslegged. When the thunder boomed, he scarcely seemed to hear it.

Stunned, Meera asks what Bran did. Bran says he doesn’t know, but to himself thinks that he had reached for Hodor the same way he did Summer, and had been Hodor for a moment. The realization frightens him. Jojen reports that he thinks he saw one of the men point at the Tower, but Bran points out that the men don’t know about the causeway, and probably couldn’t find it in the dark and storm even if they did. Jojen worries about what will happen in the morning, though. Bran lets himself slip into Summer’s skin, and sees through the wolf’s eyes the men huddling in the ruins, and smells their fear.

Commentary
Who are the men in the village? It won’t be Samwell et al, because Bran’s quite right that they would be mounted. Maybe it’s Jon’s group? Ooh, because then Jon and Bran would be reunited, yes? Yes! Maybe! Hopefully! I suspect I will find out in the next chapter!

Meanwhile: Whoa. Bran warged Hodor! And apparently the power of warging includes mind control! Or something! Egad.

I mean, that was sort of implied already, maybe, with Bran’s adventures with Summer, but if so I don’t think that was explicitly laid out, mainly because from what I recall Bran was mostly just along for the ride. If he ever made Summer do something Summer didn’t actually want to do, I can’t remember it off the top of my head.

Anyway, well. That’s… kind of cool, but the implications are more creepy than they are cool, honestly. I’m sure I don’t need to point out all the ways in which such an ability could be used for morally dubious purposes—or just flat-out evil ones, too.

That said, if Bran actually gets this ability under control it would be one hell of an effective self-defense mechanism. Which given Bran’s relatively helpless physical state is something he needs pretty badly. So, hopefully he will use it and not abuse it, right?

Also, I have to wonder whether warging people, and not just direwolf familiars, is an ability unique to Bran, or whether all the Stark children could do it if they knew to try.

Because if so, uh. Wow. I’m fairly wide-eyed just mulling over the possible consequences of such a scenario. Because for damn sure not all of them would be good.

Also, Hodor is really not a fan of thunderstorms, apparently. I think that’s probably perfectly understandable for someone who appears to have the mentality of a child, but my paranoia still leads me to wonder if there isn’t more to it than that.

Other, much more random notes:

I am oddly charmed by the idea of a walkway to an island hidden just under the water. Maybe because you could make “walking on water” jokes while doing it. Because I am very strange sometimes. Although admittedly, a bridge you have to get wet while crossing would probably not be nearly as much fun in the dead of winter. Which I hear is coming.

Also, “murder hole” is such a chillingly awesome term. You’ve got to love the days when violence and architecture needed to complement each other to the point that “murder” is a descriptive adjective for it.

Relatedly, the mention of the privy chute in the tower reminds me of a story my 7th grade History teacher told us once, about how the invention of such things actually led to the overthrow of a castle, as the chute created an overlooked gap in the fortifications that the invading soldiers used to get inside the fortress and take it from the inside. She took great glee in grossing us out with the description of what it must have been like for the invaders to squirm up a tunnel encrusted with years’ worth of shit and piss—though of course she didn’t phrase it exactly like that. (Mrs. Miller’s philosophy was that you do what you need to to make things stick in her students’ minds, and I guess she had a point because here it is *mumblety* years later and I still recall that particular lecture vividly, along with several other of her infamous “gory stories.” She was one of the more awesome teachers I ever had.)

 

Chapter 41: Jon

What Happens
As Jon and Ygritte ride through Brandon’s Gift south of the Wall, Ygritte is astounded by the size of the small towers dotted about; Jon longs to show her Winterfell, but knows it will never happen. Jon explains to her how many of the holdfasts were abandoned because of raiders, and Ygritte says they should have stayed and fought if they’d wanted the land. Jon says maybe they got tired of having everything stolen from them all the time, but Ygritte counters that it is the southern kings who stole everything, instead of leaving the land for all to share.

Jon points out that they steal women too, and Ygritte answers that a man would have to be very brave and cunning to steal her, so why wouldn’t she like that? Jon asks, what if the man beats her, and Ygritte tells him she would slit his throat as he slept if he did. Jon is reminded sharply of how different they are, and knows he cannot risk telling her the truth about his purpose. Jon tries to explain to her that there is no way Mance’s plan will work, that disciplined troops beat even the bravest when they do not fight as one, but Ygritte does not believe him.

Jon worries about how he will escape the wildlings, who keep a very close eye on him, and worries even more that even aside from Ygritte, he is getting to know and like many of Styr’s men. He agonizes over how much he’s been forced to tell the Magnar about Castle Black, and how fundamentally undefended the place will be with the rangers all gone; he knows that if the raiders reach Castle Black before Jon can warn them it will be a slaughter.

They find a ruined village next to a lake for shelter as a storm approaches. By the time Jon gets there, the other raiders have found and captured a lone rider, an old man, who’d reached the place first, and are going through his things. Jon tries not to think about the fact that they will kill the man. Ygritte sits with him by the lake, and mentions that some of the guards thought they heard shouting from the island tower, but Jon dismisses it as thunder. He tells her the story of the queen who visited the place until a Thenn interrupts with a summons from the Magnar.

Jon and Ygritte go to the remains of the inn, where Styr commands Jon to kill the old man. Jon remembers what Qhorin Halfhand had told him about doing whatever he had to to keep his cover, and tries to convince himself to do it, but finds that he cannot. Ygritte urges him to prove he is no crow, but Jon refuses, telling Styr he commands Thenns, not free folk. Styr replies that he only sees a crow and “his crow wife,” and Ygritte shrieks that she is no crow wife, and leaps to slit the old man’s throat.

Styr gives a command, but no one has time to react, as a huge creature attacks them out of nowhere, killing a man instantly and causing chaos. Jon thinks at first it is Ghost, but then sees that while it is a wolf, it is grey, not white. He realizes this is the best chance he will get, and leaps into the fray, cutting down the wildling holding the old man’s horse and leaping astride. He gallops off into the night wildly, stopping hours later to find he’d been shot in the leg with an arrow. He forces the arrow through the muscle, almost passing out from the pain, and wonders if it is one of Ygritte’s. He binds the wound as best he can, and sets out for Castle Black, feeling hollow inside.

Commentary
As I click to the next page and see the header “Jon”: Ooh!

As I get to the part where Jon tells Ygritte about Brandon’s Gift, where they are: Ooh!

Yay, I was right! Are Jon and Bran gonna meet are they huh huh are they ooh yay *crosses fingers*

At the end of the chapter: GODDAMMIT!

*flips table over*

Man, that was just mean.

Sigh. Well, I did kind of figure it would have been too good to be true. Not to mention, it would have been fairly disastrous if they had met under the circumstances, considering Jon was surrounded by raiders with orders to kill “kneelers” on sight. So, fine.

But still. Am sad now.

But! Jon got away from the raiders! With Summer’s help! (And Bran’s help?) Yay!

So now I’m dying to know, assuming that Bran was still warging it up with Summer during the attack, how much Bran actually understood of what was going on after seeing it via direwolf filter. Did he know it was Jon? Was that why Summer attacked? Did he see how it ended and that Jon got away? Maybe Bran will be able to convince the others to follow Jon! Because Summer could totally track him considering Jon’s leaving a blood trail a mile wide! Maybe I will still have my reunion after all!

Assuming the raiders don’t get to Jon first, of course. Ygritte, at least, will be highly motivated to find Jon. Probably to kill him more than to get her man back, assuming the other raiders don’t kill her first for Jon’s betrayal, because I’m pretty sure Ygritte’s not going to take said betrayal very well at all.

Speaking of which, Jon actually left Ygritte behind, wow. I kind of wondered if he would have the will to do it, before; Martin has been doing an excellent job of conveying the terrible dilemma Jon’s feelings for her presented to him. Of course, the way things fell out, he didn’t exactly have a lot of time to agonize over the decision once the opportunity to escape presented itself, which probably made it easier, but even so, I am impressed. And sad for Jon as well, of course. First loves are often a rocky experience, but I think this one probably qualifies for Very Large Boulder status.

(Geddit? Because, “rocky,” and boulders, and… hey, where are you going?)

It distresses me that Jon has apparently lost contact with Ghost. You wouldn’t think mystical animal familiar soul bonds could be stretched beyond capacity, but if any fictional universe were to allow such a thing, it would be this one. Well, maybe it’ll snap back once Jon and Ghost both reach Castle Black and are in close proximity again. Assuming that happens, of course.

Other notes:

“In Oldtown there’s a tower taller than the Wall.” [Jon] could tell [Ygritte] did not believe him.

I wouldn’t either, honestly, because if the earlier assertions that the Wall is seven hundred feet tall are accurate, then that’s taller than most modern skyscrapers. (As a metric, One Shell Square, the tallest building in New Orleans (and Louisiana), is fifty-one stories and just under seven hundred feet in height. That’s not all that impressive compared to many of the skyscrapers in New York (not to even mention this ridiculousness), but rest assured, from a pseudo-medievalish perspective that is fucking tall.) And see, there’s a reason people couldn’t build freestanding structures that high before the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Yes, even if they’d had giants to help, Mr. Martin. So, yeah.

“A man can own a woman or a man can own a knife,” Ygritte told him, “but no man can own both. Every little girl learns that from her mother.”

*raises eyebrow* As tempting as it is to nod along with this in a spirit of feminine kickassedness solidarity, I… have some issues with the logic of this particular aphorism. Even setting aside the “a man can own a woman” bit of it, which makes my eye twitch on general principle.

Because, WTF, over. I would just really like to know how Ygritte (and all the wildlings, really) reconciles her fierce allegiance to the notion of “being free” to her astounding apparent concurrent belief that one person can steal/own another—as long as the owned person is female. I try to avoid saying this phrase as a general rule, but sometimes there’s nothing else for it: that is fucking patriarchy, right there.

Ugh. It may not be a formalized slavery deal, and yeah cultural jargon different word meanings yadda, but the very fact that the wildlings’ most supposedly female-empowering proverb equates a woman with an inanimate object makes me want to throw something. A knife, maybe.

Glargh.

Anyway. Aside from some very large sticking points, philosophically, I do like and admire Ygritte quite a bit, and am rather sad that it doesn’t currently look like her and Jon’s love was meant to be. That said, I tend to doubt very much that we’ve seen the last of Ygritte, so who knows.


Not me, fo sho! Have a weekend! Come back Friday!

57 comments
MRCHalifax
1. MRCHalifax
As sexist as the wildling system is, it's still less sexist than the systems of arranged marriage to the south. If Jon and Ygritte had stayed together and he tried to force himself on her, and she killed him, her people would shrug and say he had it coming. In King's Landing, she's be a murderer.
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Leigh - so...not too bad after all. Bran etc find shelter, Jon gets away with the help of Summer. Happy times ASOIF style. I take it you can see why it was suggested for these chapters to be grouped. See you don't ALWAYS have to be pessimistic re upcoming chapters.

By the way, you slipped another of those prescient thoughts that we'll no doubt discuss with glee in the spoiler thread. Maybe even more than one. You are quite good at those.
George Jong
3. IndependentGeorge
Er, Ygritte's point is that you can't actually own a woman; she decides for herself if she's going to stay with him. The only way he can actually keep her there against her will is if he never sleeps, and leaves nothing around the house which she can kill him with. Which, basically, amounts to being a vampire living in a cave with no wood around. And if that's the case, well, he can use his vampire powers to enthrall her, which means he actually does own her.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
Re wildling system - the part that makes it acceptable, I guess, is that the woman reserves the right to fight and kill the kidnapper if unacceptable. So acceptance = consent. *blinks*
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Tor Chris - the above link to Spoiler thread goes to old Spoiler thread rather than the shiny new one. Best to fix that.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
Chapter 40 Bran--So, he can ride Hodor also. I wonder who those men are and what they mean to do--no idea.
Except that everyone wanted this chapter and the next read together so GRRM is probably doing something cute/clever and the people are really people that Bran and co. shouldn't be afraid of like Jon or someone they actually want to meet like the crow they are looking for. Haven't looked at the next title chapter yet, so we will see. (See, this is an example of what info hints may leak--we'll see when we get to the next chapter if this was indeed the case.)
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
I don't think the aphorism is equating the two, though it is still problematic. You can "own" a woman but you better treat her right, because if you don't she'll kill you. And this is considered acceptable amongst the free folk, which makes it better than our world, IMO, since there are many stories about what happens to women who try to defend themselves with violence.

There are definitely somethings the Wildlings get better than those south of the Wall.

And my reading on Summer's attack wasn't that Bran had control at the time, it's that Summer instictually recognized Jon as his "litter
brother" b/c of his connection with Ghost.
MRCHalifax
8. arby64
Am i the only one who thinks that the three week break is coming at an infuriating time?
MRCHalifax
9. Delta1212
You can "own" a woman, or you can own a knife, but not both, because if you treat a woman like property and have a knife around, she'll use it on you.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
10. AlirozTheConfused
Leigh, Leigh, it's pains me to say

That Bran and Jon were 'bout 100 metres away

Martin loves to pull this trick

Yeah, it really makes us sick

But we can still hope

For reunions and rope

For maybe Martin'll subvert Missed-Him-By-That-Much this here trope?
MRCHalifax
11. Asbjorn
I always thought the reason Hodor shutted up was not that Bran intentionally forced him to do it, but rather that he was very shocked by the warging.

Also: Isn't Leigh exactly halfway though all the published book now?
MRCHalifax
12. Nymeria
I think Ygritte's point is less anti-feminist than it initially comes across, when you think about the wildling culture in general. In a warrior society where most men would own weapons, "A man can own a w0man, or he can own a knife" implies that the only way to own a woman is to prevent all possible avenues of her self-defense...which means that Ygritte is of the opinion that a woman is 100% entitled to defend herself against any man who tries to "own" her. The "stealing" of a woman seems to be more a display of strength and cunning than an actual model for the relationship. She says Jon stole her, based on how he captured her, but clearly she is not with him because of that -- she merely respects him for it, and then stays with him out of choice.
Bryan Cogswell
13. shmoo
just a guess here (and something that annoyed me about the tower)

A bridge that you have to get wet to cross wouldn't be all that bad in the winter... .cause ice and whatnot.

I'd guess that year long winters make moats kinda unimportant - cause sleds and stuff.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Chapter 41: Jon -- So, yep the group is Jon & co. I really wonder how much of Winterfell is left. From Jon's description it would be a terrible shame if it is really destroyed.
I didn't think Bran and Jon would meet--two ships passing, ... But, Summer helping out was very cool and Jon is now free; in some sense Jon is free anyway, although he had to abandon Ygritte and so he is also caught.
MRCHalifax
15. Rancho Unicorno
This is my riflewoman. There are many like ither, but this oneshe is mine. My riflewoman is my best friend. ItShe is my life. I must master ither as I must master my life. My riflewoman, without me, is useless. Without my riflewoman, I am useless

That's how I make sense of Ygritte's comment. It isn't that women are viewed as property, but rather as an essential part of the man's life. I still haven't totally reconciled the "stealing" part, but I'm willing to bet that she could make sense out of it without too much mental contortion. Probably something to the effect of "when a man wants to steal a woman, she isn't going to be stolen unless she wants to be - no diffrent than the courting rituals of the kneelers." Although, I'm sure she'd actually make more sense.
Bridget McGovern
16. BMcGovern
RobM @5: Fixed! Thanks for the heads up :)
MRCHalifax
17. eriktdahl
One does not simply "warg" into Hodor...
MRCHalifax
18. David Still
Those of us who have the edition of this book that is divided in two, will know that the end of this Jon chapter is where the first book ends. I wonder how far they will come in the TV show, with only 10 episodes for this entire book.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
@18 - quite a few more chapters, if one looks at the Tor.com article a few weeks ago re where the TV show will end. We can of course discuss in the spoiler thread, as needed.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
@8. No, you are not the only one!
Deana Whitney
21. Braid_Tug
Leigh, love the reactions as always. Especially the "flips table over."

@ 8; I just calculated it out. Sorry. On the plus side, maybe she'll do more chapters to catch up?

@ 15; fun take on it. Of course now I have Full Metal Jacket running in my head.
Guess GRRM is playing with the cultures that require kidnapping as part of the courtship.
How many of us from the WOT group remember that part of the Aiel marriage ceremony?

Edit: Fixed movie reference
MRCHalifax
22. o.m.
@ RobM in 4: Not only can she fight, apparently it is socially acceptable to cut his throat while sleeping.

Today, that would likely be seen as murder rather than self-defense.
Stefan Mitev
24. Bergmaniac
Jon Snow's plotline is so annoying and different from everyone else it's like it belongs to a different series altogether. This here is a prime example. If it was any other ASOIF character, he'd either be dead or would've had to kill the old man to continue with his mission. But no, Jon Snow gets to have his cake and eat it too. He stays morally pure and doesn't pay the price for it due to an incredible stroke of luck - Summer's presence.
MRCHalifax
25. sofrina
“A man can own a woman or a man can own a knife,” Ygritte told him, “but no man can own both. Every little girl learns that from her mother.”

apparently no one told craster's wives or his daughters. were all his wives stolen from south of the wall?
Chris Nelly
26. Aeryl
@25, Good point! I would assume that they were kept in isolation from other Wildlings so they wouldn't learn this wisdom. But yeah, his first wife had to come from somewhere. Maybe then, he didn't keep any weapons around until he'd beaten her into submission. Or killed her after giving birth to the first girl so she couldn't teach them.

Craster's is one of those things that I kinda fault Martin for, because it seemed to be put in just to show you how bad this guy was, without any logic(like why haven't they killed him). At the same time, harems(which is what Craster's was) have been shown to be places where women are in strict competition for favorable treatment, which leads them to be adversarial with one another, instead of cooperative, and that indoctrination into that lifestyle is hard to overcome. But I don't know if that's anthropologically accurate.
RowanSpirit
27. RowanSpirit
I've been wanting to post a comment for about a week now, and have waited until the day of release so it would actually be read! XD

As it is apparently a spoiler, I will link it to Bran instead. As he seems able to Warg-it-up in other things outside of his wolf (I.E. Hodor):

DRAGON WARGING!
Nathan Martin
28. lerris
@24
Not true. He blew his cover, but he escaped with his life and took an arrow to the kneeleg. He may have retained his Stark honor... somewhat... but he still paid a price, including leaving Ygritte.
Nathan Martin
29. lerris
@27 - You are not alone in that, but the rest of the community has generally agreed to embargo that particular theory. Please treat it as a spoiler.
Stefan Mitev
30. Bergmaniac
Jon took an arrow to the leg in a situation in which he looked doomed. How is that not a miraculously lucky escape?

And he left a murderer who basically raped him behind - what an incredible sacrifice....
RowanSpirit
31. RowanSpirit
@29 - So even though all the reasons it's thought to be the case come from the books before where we currently are, and it's just a theory, it's considered a spoiler? o_o;; That makes no sense! T_T
Nisheeth Pandey
32. Nisheeth
@31, RowanSpirit:
Yes. Please read the comments in part 21 of the read. There was a long discussion on what is considered a spoiler in these posts.
Chris Nelly
33. Aeryl
@31, Speculations like that are considered spoilers in this particular thread. If that is too restrictive, there are a bunch of other places that don't have it. Until Leigh speculates it, it's off limits.

There is a spoiler thread linked at the top, where we talk about this stuff all week long.
Nathan Martin
34. lerris
@30 I'm not discussing it further outside the spoiler thread.
@31 yes, not necessarily by a "textbook" definition of spoiler but by established social convention. Leigh's missed a few things on her first read that most of us don't catch until her second, and we've agreed not to influence her thought processes unduly so that she can appreciate it from a fresh perspective. It's why we have a separate spoiler thread.
MRCHalifax
35. David Still
@Rowan - I think there has been massive discussion about this before, so I don't want to get more involved than to say that I believe the general consensus is that even things that has already happened might be considered spoilers if it's something that you have to piece together yourself. It's kind of like being given the answer to a riddle - you feel cheated out of the experience of figuring it out yourself.

Since this particular theory is one that I had 'spoiled' to me some time ago, I feel particularly strongly about it. A friend of mine directed me to a website that discussed it, and the more I read about it, the more convinced I became. But at the same time, the more I started to wish I had never heard about it. When (or if) the big reveal is being made by GRRM, I'd much rather be going "OMG!!!!" thant "oh, so that was true then". Then I woudl get a reason to flip through all the older books, looking for clues that I had missed. Instead, I've read someone else list all the references for me on several web sited. Spoiled!
RowanSpirit
36. RowanSpirit
I apparently missed that particular conversation, so my post has been edited to contain only the thought provoked by Bran's warging into Hodor. ^-^ I also hadn't realized that it was on a bunch of different sites, though I guess I should have! *laugh*
MRCHalifax
37. GarrettC
I was particularly pleased with the decision to have Jon GTFO of there as fast as possible at the first opportunity. I was quite dreading having to read hundreds of pages of agonized indecision over his loyalties to either the Watch or Ygritte because, yuck. Also, Jon's ability to make snap decisions, when necessary, which support his top priorities (the Watch, the North, the Realm) over his secondary priorities (Ygritte, whatever friends he's made of the wildlings) without mudding them may help to reconcile the problem that his story doesn't go the way of other characters. He's decisive, one, which helps him do things like GTFO of there with only an arrow to the leg, but he's also one of the very few characters who has a clear set of priorities which demonstrates a belief that the welfare of individuals is less concerning than the welfare of societies.

Of course, he is being selective as to which society's welfare he's concerned with, but that's a longer comment altogether.

But the combination of those two qualities seems important. Ned was concerned with the realm, but he let his need to give an individual a chance to get away with her skin delay his actions w/ regard to the realm. Others may be decisive, but in a looking out for number 1 way.
Rob Munnelly
38. RobMRobM
@37. Nicely worded.

@27, 31,36. If you are a newbie who is reading along with Leigh, projections and theories are fair game. Just make clear to all that what you're doing is a guess, based solely on the chapters you have read up to this point and you haven't gone beyond.

If you've read ahead, we treat projections and theories as spoilers as they may be, and likely would be, influenced by info you've read in future books that Leigh and the other newbies haven't read yet.

Does that help?
MRCHalifax
39. Donald Simmons
Regarding the height of the Wall, Martin said in an interview he didn't really think about it much until he saw the CGI mockup of the Wall for the series and realized just how high he had made it. It would be shorter now if he could go back and change it.
Chris Nelly
40. Aeryl
40. Yeah, for such good books, there are definitely some things he didn't think about at first, like the kids ages, geography....
MRCHalifax
41. Lsana
@25, 26,

Ygritte and Jon discuss Craster at one point, and Ygritte says that she doesn't really consider Craster to be one of them. It's pretty clear the Wildlings don't socialize much at his place.

Ygritte also said that this particular piece of wisdom was one that daughters learn from their mothers, and since the mothers of Craster's wives also have a tendancy to be Craster's wives, you can see how some of this matriarchal wisdom might be lost.

(Though as a side note, it's worth pointing out that Ygritte's solution was precisely the one that Mormont suggested Craster's wives should take).
MRCHalifax
42. Crusader75
When I toured Blarney Castle the murder holes were prominently labeled. I like complete lack of euphemism about the purpose of that architectural feature. Especially since it is the delivery system for such lovely defensive weapons as boiling oil. I am thinking Ygritte and Faile from WoT would understand each other very well as to what kind of man they respect. Are guys in good with wolves just catnip to these women?
MRCHalifax
43. Meraxes
It was very funny reading all these post derying Yggrite. Very funny indeed. Bad Yggrite dared to steal Jon away from Leigh. nya, nya, nyaa.
and she even bonkered him and he liked it.

God it was so obvious.

Stealing a woman - is wildling way od courtship.
Whether the woman stays with him, or cuts off his privates - is entirely another matter.

geniouses.
Birgit
44. birgit
If he ever made Summer do something Summer didn’t actually want to do, I can’t remember it off the top of my head.

Earlier Jojen wants Bran to try to make Summer do things, but Bran keeps getting distracted and forgets.
George Jong
45. IndependentGeorge
Now I'm trying to think of good euphemisms for the murder holes.

Welcome ports? Greeting gates? Hello holes?
MRCHalifax
46. AllHailTheDragonQueen
@40 For geography, I think that was another thing George admitted he didn't really worry about. The age of the children however was intentional.

One of the big things George wanted to do with these books was show how life could really be like during this time. One part of that he focused on was the complete abscence of adolescence. During this time, you were either a child or an adult, with little room inbetween. People have mentioned to him their disbelief of 15, 14, even 13 year old leaders. His reply was basically yeah, alot of teens would suck at the job (*cough* Joffery *cough*), but a few teens, you know prodigy types, could do the job, and if you look at actual history; did do you job and did it well. (Paraphased from Martin)
Maiane Bakroeva
47. Isilel
Re: Bran making Summer do stuff - what about their escape from Winterfell? The direwolf attack had to be coordinated with Osha's distraction of the guards and I have always thought that Bran had to be in the driving seat for that one.

Re: ages of children - didn't GRRM admit that he originally intended to move the time-line along faster, so that the kids would have aged more? And that if he was doing it all over again, he would have made them older, particularly Bran and the girls.

Frankly, I never understood why the time-line doesn't, in fact, progress faster. Given the size of Westeros and distances involved, I'd have thought that assembling and moving all those armies alone would have taken much more time.

Re: teenagers doing well historically, well, there are some rare examples, depending on one's criteria, but even then, it is not always clear whether there weren't some competent older people effectively propping and directing them from the background.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
48. Lisamarie
While I can appreciate the kick ass-ness of the wildling women and Ygritte and their 'take no crap' attitude, I still find it a bit troubling for my standards - it's still contingent on the woman to be able to defend herself with that knife. I have never liked the idea that I should have to do violence or carry a weapon to keep myself safe.
MRCHalifax
49. KingsGambit
I thought these two chapters were great. A random 'lucky' meeting between two characters GRRM style. I fully agree with Leigh that the moral dilemma is well done. Also, the tower with the under water causeway felt a bit fairy-tale spooky to me. I loved the idea, even with the possible flaw of the water freezing over.

In general, I don't really like using modern day values to judge these characters. In ASOIAF even less then in other fantasy. This series shows a pretty realistic (European) medieval world, that was simply not a good time to be a feminist, or like human rights.

Personally, I'm very much against the death penalty, but I wouldn't like reading about kings who shy away from it in medieval fantasy, just like I wouldn't want Jon to get his cell-phone out to tell Bran he saw Summer.


Some other random thoughts:
- I always felt Bran could warg into Hodor because he was simpleminded. Maybe I got that from some other fantasy.-
- I thought the remark about owning both a woman and a knife was more a threat then a statement about the position of women. "Don't treat a woman like proberty, or else..."
MRCHalifax
50. GarrettC
@49: I don't see a reason to hold these characters up to modern day values, but I think it's often valuable to hold their author to them. I don't mean that to sound as a contradiction. GRRM can be perfectly capable of portraying characters who conform to a particular set of, say, antifeminist values without endorsing them through the writing. In general, I think GRRM does a pretty decent job of this, actually, though he does have his slippery moments.

I'm also not sure that I believe we should necessarily hold this world up to a medeival European standard. It's modeled, certainly, on European medeival conventions (and some slivers of actual history, I believe), but it's also pretty clearly it's own magic planet (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/03/how-big-is-the-planet-that-westeros-is-on), inhabited by people whose behavior and life cycles--and genetics--don't always match up with what we know or understand to be human. And where their values differ from what we know to be medeival and European, it's probably appropriate to adjust the set of values we hold them to accordingly. Which, again, says nothing for the values we hold the author to.


To the other points: I've never really been comfortable with the idea that Bran can warg with Hodor because he's developmentally disabled. That seems... squicky. Though one can understand the rationale if that's the case, I'm not sure the implications are... good.

I also wouldn't say that the wildling saying being more of a threat than a statement gets it off the hook. I agree certainly that it's a threat, but what does it say about the position of women that the threat needs to exist? As others have mentioned, even if we can do the gymnastics to divorce the intent from the concept of ownership, it's not an especially supportable threat. There are plenty of ways for a man who is cunning and strong enough to manipulate, overpower, and steal a woman successfully to ensure that she can't kill him. Chains come to mind, for one. A man can certainly own a woman and a set of chains, and consequently own a knife or two.
Vincent Lane
51. Aegnor
Lisamarie@48,

"I have never liked the idea that I should have to do violence or carry a weapon to keep myself safe."

Unfortunately it is the case, even in today's modern society, that the only thing keeping you safe is the threat of violence. Whether it be from you carrying a weapon with which you carry out the violence, or if it is a cellphone that you use to call the police who carry out the violence. The threat of violence is the only thing that holds society together, ironically. It is all wrapped up and clothed in laws and rules, but at it's essence it comes down to "Do/don't do this, or we will enact violence upon you."
MRCHalifax
52. Gentleman Farmer
I'm not sure when the appropriate time is (or if it might be on the spoiler thread), but in terms of advancing the plotline, I'd find it interesting to discuss (what I understand was GRRM's) original intention to have a five year gap between certain books to give kids time to age and some of the time lines to spread out. I find it interesting to think about how the books would have been different, and which timeline(s) did not permit him to do the 5 year gap.
MRCHalifax
53. phuzz
I wonder, is this the closest that two adjacent chapters get? Normally we get one chapter from one place and the next chapter will be from the other side of the continent, but these two effectively cross therough the exact same location, I assume mainly so that GRRM can screw with us all by making us think that Bran and Jon will meet up.
Of course that wasn't going to happen, because nice things don't happen in Westeros. :(
Chris Nelly
54. Aeryl
@53, No. And that's all I'll say on that.
Rob Munnelly
55. RobMRobM
Awesome chapters coming today - two of the very best.
MRCHalifax
57. mjd
I know people think Bran and Jon meeting up would have been good...but it really wouldn't have been good at all, especially given Jon's current company.

It actually would have been quite a disaster. And likely would have ended with both of them dead...because they would want to kill Bran, Jon would be forced to defend him, and then all would be killed.

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