Apr 5 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 25

A readthrough of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and FireWelcome 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 25 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapters 43 (“Arya”) and 44 (“Jaime”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler 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!

Scheduling note: The fifth annual JordanCon, and my duties as its Toastmaster, doth frighteningly rapidly approacheth! Therefore! The Read of Ice and Fire will be on hiatus! For the Fridays of both April 19th and 26th! Take note!



Chapter 43: Arya

What Happens
The Brotherhood makes camp on High Heart, where Thoros stares into the fire, trying to see visions. Gendry says his old master told him Thoros was “a sot and a fraud,” and Thoros laughs and agrees that he was a bad priest, which is why he was sent to Westeros, but Robert enjoyed his tricks with flaming swords. Beric remarks that fire consumes, and that “six times is too many.”

That night, Arya watches hidden as an ancient, red-eyed dwarf lady comes to join Beric, Thoros and Lem at their fire. She calls Beric “His Grace the Lord of Corpses,” to his annoyance, and demands wine and a kiss from Lem for her news. Lem refuses, and she accepts a song from Tom o’ Sevens instead. She tells them “the wet one, the kraken king” is dead, and the “iron squids” turn on one another. She makes a number of other cryptic pronouncements, then calls Arya out from her hiding place. Arya approaches reluctantly. The woman calls Arya “wolf child” and “blood child” and begins to weep, declaring she smells of death, and imploring Arya to take her “dark heart” away from her hill. Beric assures her they are leaving to take Arya to Riverrun the next day, but the old woman tells him if it’s the mother they want, they should go to the Twins, where she went to a wedding.

It rains later, and several of the company come down with chills, so the next day they head to a long-abandoned village for shelter. Arya talks with Ned, Beric’s squire, who turns out to be Lord Edric Dayne of Starfall, and who is startled when Arya asks him if he’s killed anyone. He protests that he’s only twelve, and Arya thinks of the number of people she’s already killed, directly and indirectly, and feels sad. Then Ned asks about her bastard brother, Jon Snow, and tells her that he and Jon were milk brothers.

“My lady mother had no milk when I was little, so Wylla had to nurse me.”

Arya was lost. “Who’s Wylla?”

“Jon Snow’s mother. He never told you? She’s served us for years and years. Since before I was born.”

Arya is astonished, as she knows Jon doesn’t know who his mother is, and resolves to remember the information to tell Jon when next she sees him. Ned then talks of his aunt, Lady Ashara Dayne, who killed herself before Ned was born, and reluctantly reveals that she did so over a broken heart, and that she had fallen in love with Arya’s father Ned Stark at Harrenhal. This angers Arya, who insists her father had honor, but Gendry points out that he still fathered a bastard. Later, Harwin tells her that he doesn’t think the story about Ned Stark and Lady Ashara is true, but even if it was, that they would have met while Ned’s brother Brandon was still alive and betrothed to the Lady Catelyn, so Ned’s honor is intact. Harwin opines that the lady’s suicide was due to her brother Arthur Dayne’s death, but implores Arya not to mention any of this to Catelyn.

At the village, Thoros sees a vision in the fire that he believes means that the Lannisters will soon lay siege to Riverrun. Arya is horrified, but Thoros says that he saw neither Catelyn nor Robb in the flames, and thinks the old woman is right that they have gone to the Twins. Beric, Lem, Thoros and Tom argue over whether they should continue on to Riverrun or head for the Twins instead, and Beric decides they will head to Acorn Hall first and see if Lady Smallwood knows anything. At hearing this, Arya runs for the door and out into the rain, berating herself for taking Gendry and Hot Pie with her out of Harrenhal. Then someone grabs her arm, and she sees it is not one of the brothers, but Sandor Clegane.

“Bugger that, wolf girl. You’re mine.” He needed only one hand to yank her off her feet and drag her kicking toward his waiting horse. The cold rain lashed them both and washed away her shouts, and all that Arya could think of was the question he had asked her. Do you know what dogs do to wolves?

Well, that’s probably not good.

Clegane’s got a soft spot for the Stark girls, true, but he’s unstable as hell, so who knows what he’ll do. The logical thing would be for him to take Arya back to Beric and demand his gold back in exchange. Or, I suppose, take her to Riverrun himself, but he surely can’t think he’d get a very warm reception there. Beric’s the safer bet, especially since (as I understand it), it would be bad form for Beric to kill Clegane after Clegane bested him in Stupid Drumhead Combat Trial. Whereas the Starks and Tullys would have no such compunctions.

So let’s hope Clegane does the rational thing. I’m not holding my breath about it, though.

Also, a plethora of portentous prophecies were pronounced! Some more comprehensible than others, of course.

I’m not a big fan of R’hllor thus far, but I do give him props for being (evidently) fairly straightforward with his visions of the future. It’s so rare you get a fictional deity who isn’t all with the coy bullshit, prophecy-wise. Unlike possible-child-o’-the-forest dwarf lady, whose pronouncements made mostly no sense whatsoever. To me, anyway.

Although, her one about “the kraken king” seems pretty straightforward, admittedly. I assume this refers to Balon Greyjoy (making Theon and Asha the squabbling “iron squids,” which is hilarious). If so, well, that’s not particularly sad-making news, but still, when did Balon die? Did I miss a memo, or is this the first time we’re hearing of this?

Then there’s this one:

“In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him.”

Joffrey as a goat? Sure, I’ll take it. Not sure that’s actually correct, though, since describing Joffrey as “alone” seems really wrong; Cersei’s existence alone puts the lie to that. So, dunno.

“I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no one heard his grief,”

Ghost? He’d be in snow, though, not rain, right?

“I dreamt such a clangor I thought my head might burst, drums and horns and pipes and screams, but the saddest sound was the little bells. I dreamt of a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs. And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow.”

…Um. Yeah, I got nothing.

Her reaction to Arya was… worrying. C’mon, Arya doesn’t have a “dark heart”! Not yet. It’s more kind of… smudged. Really!

And I’m not sure what the reference to “gorging on grief at Summerhall” was about, or if even I’m supposed to know at this point.

“Six times, Thoros? Six times is too many.”

I wonder if Beric is objecting to being resurrected six times on theological or personal grounds. Both, probably, but if I were him it’d be personal. I know I said it already but it bears repeating: the kind of immortality where you have to cart around all your accumulated death wounds is some seriously crappy immortality, y’all.

And speaking of crappy immortality:

“My hair comes out in handfuls and no one has kissed me for a thousand years. It is hard to be so old.”

Yeah, that’s not much better. Assuming dwarf lady is speaking literally, of course. Which she might not be, but then again she might.

And then there’s the big Dun! moment in this chapter, which is of course Ned’s claim that he was “milk brothers” with Jon Snow.


Okay, wow. I think when it was originally suggested, way back when, that Lady Ashara Dayne was Jon’s mother, I more or less pooh-poohed the theory as a red herring, but I may have to reconsider my stance now. So, Ashara fell in love with Ned Stark (at Harrenhal, apparently; what, were there drugs in the water or something at that tournament? Holy crap), and then threw herself off a cliff right before Ned-the-squire was born? And then Ned-the-squire’s wetnurse also had a nursing baby, purportedly her own? Yeeaaah.

It’s not ironclad, but it’s definitely enough to make me raise a speculative eyebrow or two.

One thing I don’t get, though, is if Lady Ashara (great name, by the way) is Jon’s mother, then according to Harwin she and Ned Stark met (and had theoretical sexy impregnating times) before Ned married or was even engaged to Catelyn. So if Ned didn’t actually cheat on Catelyn when he fathered Jon, why does Catelyn think he did, and hate Jon for it?

…On re-reading, I think the error I may be making here is that Ned-the-squire doesn’t actually say how long it was before his birth that Lady Ashara killed herself. I was assuming it was right before Ned-the-squire’s birth, but it could have been years earlier for all I know, in which case the timeframe would be wrong for Ashara to be Jon’s mother. Right?

Plus, Ned-the-squire says that he’s twelve, which makes Jon at least two years older than him, right? So how does that work? (I suppose Jon could have still been nursing at two years old, technically, but I would have thought that children in this kind of environment would tend to be weaned as early as possible…)

Um. So, in conclusion, dunno. Also, my brain hurts.


Chapter 44: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime sets out from Harrenhal eagerly, accompanied by Walton Steelshanks and his men, at the same time Roose Bolton leaves to tracks Ser Aenys Frey, leaving Vargo Hoat and his men behind with Brienne. Jaime makes a point of reminding Rorge and the others that a Lannister always repays his debts before he leaves. Jaime realizes that the route they are taking to King’s Landing is the same one he took from Harrenhal after being made one of the Kingsguard. Aerys had made a huge show of his investiture, but then sent him back to King’s Landing the next day, preventing him from participating in the tourney, and Jaime had understood then that the white cloak was not a reward for him but a punishment for his father Tywin, to rob him of his heir.

Maester Qyburn asks slyly after the serving girl he’d sent Jaime the night before. Jaime had sent her away, telling himself he already had a woman. Qyburn mentions that he had examined Brienne to make sure her virginity was still intact, and that her father had answered Hoat’s ransom demands for the non-existent sapphires with a counteroffer of three hundred dragons. And, Qyburn says, Vargo Hoat does not haggle. Jaime makes rough jests at the news, and tells himself he doesn’t care.

Jaime wonders on his reception by his father when they arrive, and thinks that Tywin will hate having a cripple for a son as well as a dwarf. That night he takes dreamwine for the pain, and has a vivid dream in which he is back at Casterly Rock, naked and surrounded by enemies but whole and unmaimed. He is forced down into a deep cavern under the Rock, where Cersei tells him this is his darkness, and goes to leave. He begs her to stay, and Tywin tells him he left Jaime a sword. Jaime finds it, and sees that it glows silvery-blue. He finds Brienne, also naked and chained up, repeating that she swore an oath to keep him safe. Jaime frees her, and then she has a glowy sword too. He thinks she almost looks beautiful here.

Then a group of riders approach: Oswell Whent, Jon Darry, Lewyn Martell, Gerold Hightower. Ser Arthur Dayne, and Rhaegar Targaryen. Jaime tells them that Aerys was going to burn the city, but Whent answers that he’d sworn to keep the king safe. Rhaegar says he’d left his wife and children in Jaime’s hands, and as they continue to accuse him, the light on his blade fades and goes out, and Jaime jerks awake screaming. He tells Walton that he has to go back to Harrenhal for something he forgot. Walton is about to refuse, but Jaime threatens and then bribes him, and Walton reluctantly agrees.

They arrive at Harrenhal, and Jaime realizes that the Mummers are all at the bear pit. He races there to see Brienne in the pit with a maddened bear, with no armor and only a dulled blade to defend herself. Jaime calls on Hoat to free her, but Hoat is infuriated that she’d bitten off his ear, and refuses. He tells Jaime if he wants her to go get her, and so he jumps into the pit. Brienne is astonished to see him, and they argue briefly about who should be protecting whom. The bear is charging when Steelshanks and his men intervene, shooting the bear dead. This infuriates Hoat and the Mummers, and there is a tense standoff, but Steelshanks’ men outnumber them two to one, and Hoat backs down. Once away from Harrenhal, Brienne asks Jaime why he came back.

A dozen quips came to mind, each crueler than the one before, but Jaime only shrugged. “I dreamed of you,” he said.

Conclusion: Jaime Lannister is completely in love with Brienne Tarth.

Like, stupid in love, you guys. Because, come on. He jumped into a bear pit for her. I mean, that’s not even a metaphor, there was an actual bear involved. I have no idea whether to laugh uproariously at this or… no, I’m pretty much going with “laugh uproariously.” Ha!


So, that’s good to know. Hopefully at some point he will also actually realize that he’s in love with her. Hopefully at some point he will also actually admit it out loud. Preferably, to her. And then we’ll have…

Um. Well, we’ll have a shitstorm, actually, once Cersei finds out about it. Fun! But you know, honesty with oneself is totes important and stuff. Plus I am rather horribly gleeful at the prospect of a falling-out between the Wonder Incest Twins. The only damper to my enthusiasm is that Brienne is actually the most likely to be the biggest casualty of such a thing, and I think Brienne should win all the things. Including, really, a better person than Jaime Lannister to be in love with her, but hey.

I’m terribly interested to discover whether Brienne feels anything near the same for Jaime as he does for her. I tend to think not – just because we know that Jaime’s horrible behavior toward her was camouflage for how he really felt doesn’t mean that Brienne realized that, and even if she did realize it, there’s no real reason why she should regard that as an acceptable excuse. Because honestly, it isn’t one. I’m terribly interested in finding out Brienne’s feelings toward Jaime, but I don’t know that I can honestly say that I hope she does reciprocate his feelings, because a large part of me really kind of thinks she shouldn’t.

So, the following two paragraphs are ones I had written before I got to the part of the chapter where Jaime decides to turn around and rescue Brienne, which I’m leaving in because I find it amusing:

The dream was fairly straightforward, as these things go, and was a fairly concise summary of Jaime’s Issues Thus Far. The part I found the most interesting, though, was not the dialogue about his betrayal of his oath (which, honestly, is pretty well-trodden ground by now), but his reactions to dream-Brienne. Especially when he turns in shame to hide his arousal re: Cersei from her. That’s really interesting, because up till now Jaime’s attitude toward his incest with Cersei has been that it is very much something he has notbeen ashamed of. That, even more than how dream-Brienne is mysteriously hotter than real-life Brienne, indicates to me how high a place she holds in his regard – whether he admits it or not.

That said, I totally rolled my eyes too, because of course she had to be naked while wielding a sword in the dream. Subtle, Jaime.

Hah. And then he jumped into a frickin’ bear pit and I was like, yeah, “high regard” nothing, he is totally butt-crazy in love with her, the end.


“You thlew my bear!” Vargo Hoat shrieked.

I am a terrible person, maybe, but I completely cracked up at this line.

Also, nice that in Jaime’s dream, Brienne asks him twice if there is a bear down in the cave with them. Foreshadowing, we has it.

It’s funny how easy it is for the little yet horrific things to pass you by. I almost missed it myself until I was actually summarizing the chapter. But here’s something to think about: Brienne was not, technically, raped in this chapter, but consider Qyburn’s casual statement that he “examined” Brienne to make sure her maidenhead was intact, and consider what exactly such an “examination” would entail, and ask yourself how far “technically” gets you.

Then there was this bit re: Walton Steelshanks:

Jaime had served with his sort all his life. Men like Walton would kill at their lord’s command, rape when their blood was up after battle, and plunder wherever they could, but once the war was done they would go back to their homes, trade their spears for hoes, wed their neighbors’ daughters, and raise a pack of squalling children.

I find this incredibly depressing. This right here is why we can’t have nice things.

Jaime’s thoughts in this chapter on why Aerys had chosen him for the Kingsguard were a little baffling. Hadn’t Jaime thought earlier about how he’d finagled that posting, so that he could be near Cersei? Because here he kind of makes it sound like he’d had nothing to do with the decision. Am mildly confused. And, probably, forgetting something. As usual.

Jaime’s repeated reference to Vargo Hoat as “the goat” here makes me think that perhaps he was what the dwarf lady’s prophecy in the previous chapter was referring to, not Joffrey. But then I don’t get the dog reference, since Jaime is a lion, right?

Eh. Perhaps it wasn’t referring to this incident, but something further down the line. Maybe it means that Sandor Clegane is taking Arya to Harrenhal, which, NOOOOOO. Or that Sandor’s giant asshole of a brother is going there. I hope so; and then I hope that he and Hoat kill each other off. Painfully. Ugh.

Jaime’s thoughts on Tywin possibly rejecting him now that he is maimed are… accurate. I mean, of course they are, as no one is presumably in a better position to judge Tywin’s essential reptilian nature than his own children, but it’s worth mentioning, if only so I can say something scathing about the type of parentage that measures the worth of one’s offspring solely by their utility. That’s just gross, man. Which is possibly not the most scathing thing I could have come up with to say, but it does have the virtue of being very true.

But, the important thing is: Brienne is not dead or raped (mostly). FUCKIN’ A. Whew.

And that is the extent of my weekly ramble pour vous! Have a weekend as usual, and I will see you next Friday!

Sorcha O
1. sushisushi
The bear! the bear! and the maiden fair!

I would refer the honourable re-reader back to the chapter at the start of ASoS where the Tyrells are asking Sansa about Joffrey and their fool is singing a VERY LOUD SONG. Heh.
2. Rootboy

Literally lol'ed at that, great writeup!
At the beginning of this book you would not have waffled on whether Brienne should return Jaime's regard.

You're coming to the dark side and you don't even realize it.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
Chapter 43 -- Arya:The old prophetic woman again. She seems to sense the death that surrounds Arya--I guess that means Arya will keep alive but maybe step up her killing. The wedding refers to Edmund Tully going to marry a Frey, I would think. Otherwise, I think old small woman has been snacking on some questionable mushrooms. Her prophecies are a tad oddly worded like:
In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him.
There are a few places that could qualify as "halls of the Kings." Obviously, Kingslanding's throne room could work but Joff doesn't really fit there. The crypt under Winterfell with all of the old dead Stark Kings could work as well.

Ned says that Wylla was his wetnurse and implies that she was Jon's mother. No real evidence she was anything other than Jon's wetnurse also.
The rumor of Ned Stark and the Lady Ashara Dayne has been mentioned before, I think. I'm not buying it and call Red Herring.
Riverrun to be besieged by Lannister's--that doesn't bode well.
Oh,my! Arya has been caught by the Hound. She won't like it, but I don't know if it is bad or not. I don't think Beric's group had much of a chance of really getting her anywhere and this pretty much removes them. Unless Sandor bargains with them with Arya. My guess is that he won't harm her but this will lead to more uncomfortable adventures for Arya.
5. Black Dread
I remember the dwarf witch well but had totally forgotten about Edric Dayne of Starfall. Are you a "milk-brother" if you nurse from the same woman years apart? That must be what he means.

Weird that there is a Dayne with "Ned" as a nickname given their stormy family history. If the kid is 12, then he can't be Ned Jr.
Karen Morrell
6. karenm83
long time lurker on this re-read and the WoT reread, first time commentator. :) I was going to say I'd imagine the nursing would have had to been fairly close together since the milk dries up within a couple weeks of weening an infant. I doubt it could have been years apart.
7. superkicker
Leigh I think you need to realize that most of the things the "dwarf"
(parenthesis here because think of her description) woman states have not yet happened.

Thats why you cant make sense of most of them. Keep them in mind... (and you just might figure them out) you are on the right track with the goat though!

It funny how deeply foreshadowing they are when you read them after the fact. Its just like facepalm those are so obvious!
@6 In some cultures there were professional wetnurses. As long as they keep nursing someone's child they keep lactating. So it is conceivable one could nurse children several years apart.
9. Jamie Loves Brienne
and Leigh loves Jamie.
10. obviousisobvious
In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him.
Hall of kings = Harrenhall

There are 2 dogs that we know of so without giving anything away pick and chose.

And the only person ever called goat is vargo... not sure why you thought joffrey on this reference.
11. Black Dread
@6 / 8: Or just have another child of your own during the intervening years.
Karen Morrell
12. karenm83
@8 true, as long as they nursed continually without any significant interuptions between. To bad know one has a vague time line besides the 2 years apart :/
Peter Stone
14. Peter1742
Yes, this is the first we've heard of Balon's death (although it was foreshadowed by an earlier prophecy).
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
This is another one of those frustrating chapters, when you've read ahead. Because you can't SAY ANYTHING without going into spoilers.

But it was a great write up, Leigh. The "ACTUAL BEAR" line takes me back to Ba Sing Se.

Aang You mean, platypus bear?
Katara No, it just says 'bear'.
Sokka Certainly you mean his pet skunk bear.
Toph Or his armadillo bear.
Aang Gopher bear?
Katara Just... bear.
Toph This place... is weird.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
My, aren't we chatty. Lots to talk about - almost too much to talk about.

One point I had not picked up on previously - in Jaime's dream, Rhaegar T instructed him to save his wife and kids. Query whether a major reason for killing Aerys is to protect Rhaegar's family from being burned up in violation of Jaime's vow of service. If true, wow. Vilified for killing the King in violation of Kingsgurrd vows but actually acting to uphold a vow to Rhaegar. Wonder if this happened in fact or is Jaime confabulating after the fact. Interesting in either event.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Chapter 44 -- Jaime: OK, well Jaime went quite a ways to becoming a decent person there.
“Oh, good,” Jaime said. “I only rescue maidens.” To Hoat he said, “You’ll have your ransom. For both of us. A Lannister pays his debts. Now fetch some ropes and get us out of here.”
Ha! Especially maidens named Brienne I think at this point. Maybe having his hand cut off will be good for him.

And, since:
“Three hundred dragons is a fair ransom for a knight. The goat should take what he can get.”
So Vargo is a goat and that means that the Crazy Old Woman from last chapter is probably referring to him alone in Harrenhal and I would guess that Gregor Clegane will be paying him a visit--A Lanister pays his debts. Indeed.
Marie Veek
18. SlackerSpice
I'll say it again: I can't really blame ZomBeric for being so morose - he's stuck with the wounds, and he's losing more of himself every times Thoros brings him back. No wonder he's courting death.

(PS - Does anyone else here use Chrome? For some reason, the post editor options aren't working for me.)
Vincent Lane
19. Aegnor
Yeah, there are several classes of prophesy.

1) Those that are relatively obvious (Beric's prophesy on Riverrun, Old Woman's prophesy on Balon and the Goat).
2) Those prophesies that aren't that clear, even after they are fulfilled. Lots of examples in WoT.
3) Those prophesies that make no sense ahead of time, but are extremely clear in hindsight.
James Kendall
20. JKsilver
Oh, Arya. In the world of ASOIAF, running away from people who are actually trying to help you out (albeit in a roundabout way that benefits them at the same time, but still!) is a very silly idea.

Also, it seems odd in retrospect that, as Jaime was the only KG left in Kings Landing during the Sack, the entire royal family wasn't kept in one place. Kind of made it unnecessarily hard for him to guard Aerys and Elia and her children at the same time.
21. Aellinsar
Other people have thought about this way more than me, but I don't think "milk brother" means they necessarily shared a wet nurse at the same time. Presumably Wylla had some other child a the same time Dayne was born 12 years ago.

The prophesies/cryptic statements are always fun to read after the fact.
Deana Whitney
22. Braid_Tug
So much greatness from you Leigh!

Re: Wet nurses… Agree with @8, TBGH
Real world: many women would continue to keep their milk by offering their “services” to noble women. It paid better and you were normally keep in better clothes and feed better than the typical maid servant of a medieval household.
Thus a woman’s child could be five years old, but she could have nursed several different children. I bet if pressed, young Ned would admit that he and Jon had several “milk brothers.”

If you think about it, since there was term for it, that meant it was a common practice in GRRM world. As it was in ours, the term just didn’t survive.

On a personal note – OUCH!
Will stop there.
23. i can't think of an alias
As far as the difference in ages between Ned and Jon, I speculate that's a detail that GRRM overlooked. Hard to keep everything straight over several decades and about a zillion pages .
25. MRCHalifax
Leigh, your journey towards learning to love Jaime Lannister continues!

@20 Careful there, you're hinting at one of the big 'right there in the open, but not at all obvious' things Leigh hasn't caught on to yet...

Capitcha: "Occasional Odariff." Hoat the Goat has invaded the system, and is complaining about the smell of something.
George Jong
26. IndependentGeorge
Also, I don't think Jaime was being awful to Brienne because he was in love with her. Remember, he was at his worst when first set off on the journey; he didn't soften until they were captured by the Bloody Mummers and had to rely on each other to survive.
David Simmons
27. bgdaves

You will have to read chapter 43 again once you finish the book, things might make more sense then.

Also, I thought Jon's age was closer to 16
28. Nymeria
@27: You are right, IIRC Jon starts the novels at 15 so he would be 16 or so by now. This means that he and Ned may have been "milk brothers," but it would have been several years apart.
Ross Newberry
29. rossnewberry
When I first read, "I dreamed of you," I thought it was the most romantic thing ever. Then I realized that it wasn't really a very romantic thing to say, in the grand scheme of things, and only stood out because of its inclusion among so many horrible things.

Jaime's journey uphill from incestuous child-defenestrator continues apace.
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl
@16, I think there were a lot of factors going on in Jaime's decision to kill Aerys. Protecting the people of KL, including Rhaegar's family was surely one of them. See you in the SPOILER THREAD to elaborate more!
31. Dragonriding Moogle
I find it really interesting that Brienne is the only woman Jaime seems to have *any* attraction/feelings towards aside from Cersei. Combined with the part where he turns down the girl, it makes me think Jaime's just not a hypersexual guy. Whether it be personality or his early experiences with his sister, he doesn't get interested in someone until he knows them very well. And Brienne is pretty much the only non-relative female he'd get to know very well, and get to respect. So it makes complete sense to me that he'd fall for her on some level.
Sorcha O
32. sushisushi
DragonridingMoogle@31 I think the added fillip with Brienne is her undoubted skill with a sword, something that Jaime would respect in a man, but is so stuck in a patriarchal mindset that he would never expect in a woman in a million years. The fact that Brienne lives in his world of physical strength and swords means that she's on his radar in a way that only Cersei has ever been, in her own Incestuous Twin 'part of me' way.

Jaime's also not the most reflective of people, so I think his sub-conscious is getting quite the workout here, from the sound of his dream...
33. Dan the Stannis man
The Hall of Kings is harrenhal, which was the seat of the Hoare Ironborn conquerer Kings. The Goat is, well, the Goat, Vargo Hoat.

Sigils are important to understanding this, the Hound is the Hound, because the Clegane sigil is three dogs. The Great Dog is likely then his older, larger brother, Gregor. The rest is prophecy, you've guessed some of it (the Iron Squids bit is pretty obvious), but the rest will become clear soon.
David Scotton
34. Kaxon
On re-reading, I think the error I may be making here is that Ned-the-squire doesn’t actually say how long it was before his birth that Lady Ashara killed herself. I was assuming it was right before Ned-the-squire’s birth, but it could have been years earlier for all I know, in which case the timeframe would be wrong for Ashara to be Jon’s mother.

FYI, as you mentioned in your writeup of this chapter, Harwin said he thinks Ashara's suicide was because of her brother's death. And we know from earlier in the series that Ser Arthur Dayne, The Sword of the Morning, died at the very end of Robert's Rebellion.
Brandy Thomas
35. Roese
Just a couple notes on nursing. The natural weaning age for most children is between 2 and as late as 7 years old. As long as a woman has a good supply and keeps nursing she shouldn't dry up. Also, most women of this kind of world are having children every couple of years anyway.

Also, they would want to nurse as long as possiable because that is less solid food you need to feed the child, which may be in short supply. Nursing, generally speaking, also helps with the natural spacing of children. If a woman is nursing full time on demand(obviously formula is not an option) fertility is usually delayed a bit in returning. Current modern recommendations are to nurse for the first year and ideally till the child's second birthday. I don't think a more primitive time would be doing less.
Sanne Jense
36. Cassanne
Actually, I doubt that's true (in Westeros at least, I'll not start this discussion about reality...).
1. To my surprise, Martin's nobles do not usually employ wet nurses. They are only mentioned when a mother is dead. I suppose yhe reason for this is the presence of the maester, who seem to have some actual skill in medicine. As opposed to our 15th century or whatever age these books are based upon.
2. Yet, they do not seem very close to their small children. Rickon's running wild at three, Cersei mostly ignores Tommen and Myrcella, etc. I also don't see the natural spacing you mention as evidence. Arya and Sansa are very close in age, Tommen and Myrcella seem only a year apart - that latter fact actually disturbs me rather. It means she was sleeping with both husband and brother, just weeks after having her daughter... And presumably still nursing her a lot too. Where does the woman even find the energy?? (Yes, I know, more likely Martin just didn't think through his logic here ;) )
3. Catelyn (most motherly character of all) was shocked and disturbed to see a 4-year old at the breast. She was basically thinking 'breastfeeding is for babies and will harm children'.
Rob Munnelly
38. RobMRobM
Misc thoughts
- small, white and red eyes, . lives among chopped down weirwood trees, reminds Arya of Ghost. What's up with the lady of High Heart?
- Summerhall? Shown on the ASOS map as a ruined castle just north of Dorne. Mentioned earlier by the Florent in prison with Davos in connection with failed dreams of dragons. Those who've read ahead know more but will remain quiet.
- Milk brothers? Could be simple - Jon is Wylla's kid, she stays in milk (or has another kid) and feeds Ned several years later. No need for it to be simultaneous (and not likely given age difference between Jon and Ned). Could be somewhat less simple - Jon is someone else's kid, Wylla feeds Jon (perhaps still in milk from an earlier baby) and claims Jon to protect the identity of the mother. Can't tell at this point.
- Agree it is very likely that Goat = Hoat and Great Dog= Gregor and Kraken King = Balon - but, no Leigh, we haven't heard of any death of Balon in text.
- Statements about Arya are troubling, agreed. "Smudged heart" FTW. Nicely said.
- Re Ned and Ashara - per Meera's story, the quiet wolf danced with a woman with purple eyes., so talk of a relationship there (and/or continued at some future date) ould be true. Re Harwin's statement that Ashara likely killed herself over her beloved brother's death: of course, Ned and his team killed Arthur and the other members of the KG (as discussed back in AGoT). Tangled threads indeed.

39. Courtney Souden
Calling Tywin's nature reptilian is an insult to reptiles.
Roberto Burtoni
40. MadCardigan
If I remember correctly, it was Cersei who suggested Jaime take the white to be near her in a way that Tywin would not be able to protest against.
Maiane Bakroeva
42. Isilel

Ned and Ashara - per Meera's story, the quiet wolf danced with a woman with purple eyes., so talk of a relationship there (and/or continued at some future date) ould be true
But at the same time, Robert, who was also there at Harrenhal, and knew Ned best, didn't mention any relationship with Ashara when talking about how Ned "never was a boy he was". In fact, according to Robert, Ned never had any romances before his marriage, just the one with Wylla that allegedly produced Jon... and Robert never saw the woman.
. So far, people seem to link Ned to Ashara mostly because she suicided shortly after Ned's visit at Starfall with her dead brother's sword.

Cassanne @36:

Arya and Sansa are at least 2 years apart according to appendices, ditto Arya and Bran, while it is true that Tommen and Myrcella are less than 2 years apart... but then stuff like that happens. Breastfeeding is not a 100% protection from pregnancy.

As to Rober Arryn, he was 6 years old or more - clearly too old to be still nursed, particularly for a noble child, who wouldn't have problem with getting food.
Dreama Pritt
43. gotcha42
18. SlackerSpice: "ZomBeric"? hahahahaha
James Kendall
44. JKsilver
You also have to love the resolution of the bear-pit fight. In most stories, Jaime and Brienne would have killed it with a sharpened bone or something. Instead, they barely manage to fend it off for a few minutes before it's shot to death by the crossbowmen, who were doubtlessly more concerned about what would happen to them if Jaime died than saving Brienne.
Not quite as heroic, but probably more realistic.
46. HeySwanSong
"I hope (Gregor) and Hoat kill each other off. Painfully."

Come on now, when has a dog ever been defeated by a goat?
47. phuzz
Jamie is a bit confused by how he got his white cloke, because basically, he was a pawn in several people's schemes.
He was played basically.
Chris Nelly
48. Aeryl
This is my understanding of how Jaime got his cloak, hopefully I'm not pulling from ahead.

Cersei was supposed to go to KL, so Tywin could marry her to Rhaegar as he and Joanna intended. Cersei, unwilling to part with Jaime, convinced him to join the KG. Aerys jumped on the chance to deprive Tywin of his heir, leaving him with only Tyrion as an heir in the male line, and accepted him. He then proceeded to mistreat Jaime when he joined, curing Jaime of his starry eyed idealism in guarding the king. Rhaegar married someone else, and Cersei was left behind in Casterly Rock.
Matthew Ernest
49. radarskiy
“I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no one heard his grief,”

Arya is refered to as "wolf"chld" by the old woman and as "wolf girl" by Clegane. The latter drags her away in the middle of a storm. She shouts for help but no one can hear her in the storm.

It's just the "his" that is confusing.
James Whitehead
50. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@46HeySwanSong, well there was this old lady with a spider problem that she handled in a unique way...

51. Black Dread
35. Roese - That isn't really relevant as there are several flashback scenes talking about Eddard arriving home from the war with Jon as a babe - not a toddler. And nothing indicates Wylla was with him.

A Game of Thrones, Part 7 Re-Read - Robert assumes Wylla is Jon's mother. Ned refused to discuss.
Chris Nelly
52. Aeryl
They counted Rickon as a "babe" when he was a toddler, so that isn't concrete.

And it was relevant because people were wondering if they nursed at the same time.
Brandy Thomas
53. Roese
42. Isilel --Thank you

@36 Two years is a more natural spacing. More so then 10 months between kids. Also, most doctors now reconmend waiting six weeks after childbirth before having sex but if a woman feels up to it before then it's not really a problem either.
Deana Whitney
56. Braid_Tug
@ Everyone, Leigh missed her WoT re-read post due to illness today.
We are all wishing her well. Hopeing she is better by Friday.
George Jong
57. IndependentGeorge
@53, 36: Have you ever heard the expression, "Irish Twins"? It refers to two children born within the same calendar year. It's a mildly racist term, but it happens.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
58. AlirozTheConfused
Don't you remember, Leigh

"Okay, so… uh, if I had Jaime Lannister in front of me and a gun in my hand right now, I would probably be going to jail. It is extremely fortunate for me (and for him, I suppose) that he is a fictional character.
A fucking incestuous murdering ASSHOLE BASTARD of a fictional character who deserves to have his fictional nuts torn off and fed to the fictional crows instead of (fictional) corn. WHILE HE WATCHES. FICTIONALLY.

Also, there’s just no way someone can be capable of shoving a seven-year-old off a window ledge (Jesus) without being either psychotic, or so incredibly egocentric as to render the lives of everyone around you meaningless, except in how their lives (or the loss of them) affect your own. And I think Jaime Lannister is a lot of things, most of those things being, shall we say, somewhat uncomplimentary—but I don’t think he’s crazy.
I also don’t think there’s much chance he’s going to be suddenly eaten by a grizzly in the next chapter, either. Which SUCKS.
Ugh, I don’t want to think about it anymore, that poor boy. The unfairness of it, an innocent child’s life destroyed for the sake of ambition, is simply monstrous. The only thing I can hope for here, I guess, is that Bran recovers enough to point the finger at Mr. and Mrs. Severely Need To Be Mauled By Diseased Bears, but I’m not holding my breath that justice will be served, frankly. Certainly not this early on, anyway. "
anything that involves smacking around a Lannister is JUST FINE with me right now. I LOL’d, seriously.

And having said that, I have this terrible suspicion the narrative is going to try to make me see things from Jaime’s perspective at some point, because Robert is seriously looking like more and more of a douchebag, and I’m really doing that squinched-mouth-averted-head thing kids do when you’re trying to make them eat their vegetables, because DO NOT WANT.
The man pushed a kid off a window ledge, okay, and I claim my right to hate him forever and ever, dammit. And even if you don’t know about that (as, obviously, no one else does at this point), the idea of a man whose OBVIOUS wealth of ambition is only matched by the utter dearth of scruples he has to go with it, being in charge of (if I’m interpreting this correctly) basically the bulk of the kingdom’s military puissance, should be frankly terrifying to anyone with half a brain. And yet Robert sees nothing wrong with it!

Joffrey: contending strongly with his uncle Jaime for the title of Biggest Tool of This Series. Actually, Joffrey probably wins, simply because the rank of “Tool” is kind of below Jaime’s paygrade at this point. I’m pretty sure “shoving a seven-year-old off a window ledge and then sending an assassin after him” rates more like a “Monster.”
But hey, no worries! I’m sure the way Joffrey’s headed he’ll catch up with his darling uncle Real Soon Now! *headdesk*
Jeez. Why do people suck so much sometimes?

In other total non-news, Jaime Lannister is an asshole. Poor Jory. And, er, the other guy, too. Okay, yes, his brother’s been taken hostage, I understand that’s kind of a thing that annoys people, but that’s no excuse to kill (relatively) innocent men. At the very least, this is deliberate escalation of hostilities. Gosh, it’s like the Lannisters want a civil war! Uh-huh.

That said, they are still both monsters who threw a kid off a window ledge, and are well on their way to plunging an entire nation into war just to give Robert a big genealogical fuck you, so thus far my admiration of their cleverness does not diminish my desire to see them both get their extremely well-deserved come-uppance.

Okay, before I even start reading this chapter, I just have to note: goddammit, a Jaime POV. I do not want to get in this guy’s head! I do not want to start sympathizing with him! DO NOT WANT! Curse you, GRRM!"

Yeah, Leigh. What would your younger self say to you.
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
Saw this: "What would Game of Thrones look like if done by Disney":
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
There is some truly great GoT fan humor on the web. For those watching the TV show, try to find on the web the guys who are summarizing each show using Facebook page entries. It is awe inspiringly brilliant. (Hodor changes his relationship status to "Hodor"; Sansa Stark - "Joffrey is handsome, kind, wonderful ..."; Sansa Stark, Margaery Tyrell and Lady Oleanna Tyrell change privacy settings - Sansa Stark - "Joff is a monster", etc.)
Chris Nelly
62. Aeryl
There's a video of Jaime & Brienne's swordfight, with lightsabers.
63. RowanEkko
I must admit, I'm not convinced that Jaime's return for Brienne is an indication that he is 'falling' for her. If this were a lighter, more romantic story then absolutely, yes - but I don't think a burgeoning affection has prompted his actions in this instance. To me, the scene reads more as a stirring of his long-sleeping conscience. He basically abandoned a person who had only ever dealt honourably with him (prickly conversation aside) and one he respected for the very things that define his identity - physical strength and fighting ability. His dream brings his guilt/unease about leaving Brienne to a nasty fate to the surface, so he turns around to help her out. That's not to say that he won't fall for her later on, but I don't think that's why he's 'rescuing' her in this chapter.

Am loving this read, btw. I've read the first four books, but it was ages ago and I've forgotten pretty much everything. Having said that though, some of the clues and prophecies seem more ....guessable(?) this time around. Pretty sure I know who Jon's mother must be, though how anyone will ever find out with Ned being dead and all is beyond me!
Andrew Mills
65. ajmills
I've commented in a similar vein in a previous entry.

This is probably the first time Jaime has spent any significant time away from his father and/or sister, and their influence on him. He is growing as a person and is undergoing a personal journey and is becoming a better person for it.

That's the thing with with GRRM's characters, there is no black or white, just shades of grey. Jaime's just moving along the spectrum a little.

Is he in love with Brienne? Quite possibly. If so, I can imagine the reunion with Cersei when he rejects her and tells her he now loves someone else. Imagine how Cersei will also react when she finds out who it is (someone much less beautiful than her). A veritible
Maiane Bakroeva
66. Isilel
Ajmills @65:

This is probably the first time Jaime has spent any significant time away from his father and/or sister, and their influence on him.

Well, that's not quite true. Jaime didn't spend much time with Tywin growing up in the first place, since Tywin was a Hand at King's Landing and visited home a couple times a year or so. Then Jaime was squired to "old Lord Crakehall" at 11 and spent most of his time at his castle, so interactions with Tywin were reduced even further and he was away from Cersei too, likely for months at a time.
And when Jaime was named to the Kingsguard, he spent more than a year away from both of them - but of course, it can be argued that _Aerys's_ influence that culminated in the trauma of the kingslaying and corresponding cynicism and reputation, was far worse.
After all, despite Tywin and Cersei, Jaime who took the White was still an idealistic youth with considerable sense of empathy and drive to defend the helpless. Jaime the Kingslayer, not so much, as we have seen.

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