Fri
May 3 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 27

A Read of Ice and Fire A Storm of Swords George R.R. Martin  27Welcome 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 27 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapters 46 (“Samwell”) and 47 (“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 Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread in the forums here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 46: Samwell

What Happens
Sam and Gilly come to a deserted wildling village Sam prays is Whitetree, but he is not sure that it is the same place, which means they may be lost. They are running out of food, and Sam prays to the old gods for help. They camp in the abandoned longhall, and Sam tells Gilly stories of the food and warmth and singing they will have when they reach Castle Black. At her behest, he sings her a song about the Seven, and remembers how his father used to belittle and punish him for singing instead of fighting. He thinks of telling his father how he’d killed one of the Others, but doesn’t think his father would believe him.

Sam wakes from a dream in which he is the lord in his father’s hold with Gilly as his wife, to realize a wight has followed them to the village, what used to be Small Paul. He wets himself with terror, but urges Gilly to take the horse and flee while he gets Mormont’s dragonglass dagger. He tries to keep the wight’s attention off Gilly by “sniveling,” but the horse panics, and the wight goes to attack. Sam leaps on it and stabs it with the dragonglass dagger, but it shatters on Small Paul’s mail. The wight almost strangles Sam, but Sam manages to grab a brand from the fire and burns it up.

Then he sees that there are at least a score of wights surrounding Gilly out by the weirwood tree, many of whom were his brothers. He is about to despair when he also sees that the tree is filled with thousands of ravens, which fly down and attack the wights, but leave Gilly, the baby, and Sam untouched. One raven advises Sam to “go, go, go,” and he grabs Gilly and runs. Then he see a hooded man wrapped in grey and black astride a giant elk, who calls Sam “Brother” and calls for them to go to him. Sam assumes he is of the Night Watch and runs eagerly to him.

“Here,” the rider said, reaching down with a gloved hand to pull Gilly up behind him. Then it was Sam’s turn. “My thanks,” he puffed. Only when he grasped the offered hand did he realize that the rider wore no glove. His hand was black and cold, with fingers hard as stone.

Commentary
Whaaaaat.

Dude. Did Gilly and Sam just get a lift from The Stranger?

*wibbles*

I mean, okay, maybe that’s a stupid idea, because… er, well, I have no idea how to say this without making Martin sound elitist, which is not really my intention, but nevertheless, I kind of suspect having actual gods show up and mingle with the hoi polloi is a fantasy trope that’s, um, sort of below this series’ paygrade? Maybe? Which is not how I wanted to put it, but I’ve been rewriting this paragraph for twenty minutes, so it’s probably time to just hope y’all get what I mean and move on.

That said, I’m just a little eeeehhhhh, but maybe it ISN’T, because whoever Elk Dude is, he’s not human. Unless there are humans around who can summon and control thousands of conveniently Hitchcockian ravens. Which, hey, maybe there are, maybe that’s like a seriously multiple personality disorder version of warging, but I am raising a skeptical eyebrow at that idea, just so you know. And he’s also not a frozen zombie, okay fine wight, unless I missed a memo and some of them can be both verbal and non-homicidal, which I’m guessing no.

PLUS, Sam prayed AND sang AND talked about the Seven right before shit went down, so even if it is a completely wrong conclusion for me to leap to, it certainly was one I was firmly nudged toward by the text. So there.

“Did you only sing of six gods? Craster always told us you southrons had seven.”

“Seven,” he agreed, “but no one sings of the Stranger.” The Stranger’s face was the face of death. Even talking of him made Sam uncomfortable.

See?!? That’s, like, evidence, you guys. *nodnod*

Then again, Elk Dude also called Sam “Brother,” and is wearing at least a reasonable facsimile of a Night Watch uniform. So that’s a point against the theory, since I would tend to doubt that the Westeros exegesis of the anthropomorphic personification of the concept of Death would be into joining puny and (from a cosmic point of view) arbitrary human clubs.

(Then again, at least one version was evidently into goth clubs, so who knows.)

So, in conclusion, dunno. There, glad I could help. But I am definitely very annoyed that now I have to wait till however long to find out!

I am very worried that Samwell lost his dragonglass dagger. Also, new info: obsidian kills Others, but not wights, evidently. Suppadat? Aren’t they in the same supernatural creature phylum? Shouldn’t arbitrary lethal Achilles heel for the goose also be arbitrary lethal Achilles heel for the gander? But no, apparently it’s volcanic glass for one and fire for the other. Not that I can’t see the connection there, obviously, but still. Damn frozen zombies makin’ shit complicated, I swear.

The Wall is three hundred miles long and seven hundred feet high, Sam reminded himself. If they kept going south, they had to find it, sooner or later.

Ah, such boundless optimism, young Samwell. Which is really rather unlike you.

Also, can you please stop calling yourself a coward, ffs, because you are seriously pretty much the complete opposite and I want to shaaaaake you that you don’t see that. Grr.

Also also, your father is an SAE-rated tool, and it is one of my probably-wishful fantasies that you get to kick him in the balls someday. Preferably right after you badassedly kill a frozen zombie in front of him, and be all, “Yeah, I just did that. SUCK IT, DAD.”

That would be sweet.

(Also, now I’m picturing Sam throwing devil horns and it is cracking my shit up. Sometimes I am terribly easily amused.)

 

Chapter 47: Arya

What Happens
Arya and Clegane reach a river which Arya thinks might be the Blackwater, but it is flooded far beyond its banks and impassable, to Clegane’s dismay. Arya has tried several times to escape, but failed each time, and Clegane threatens her anew at every attempt; Arya tries to reassure herself that Beric will catch up with them soon. They follow the river downstream through driving miserable rain until they reach Harroway town, which is almost completely flooded as well, but the ferry is still in operation. Clegane calls to the ferrymen, promising he can pay, and they come to get him. The ferryman demands three dragons for passage; Clegane promises on knight’s honor to pay once they’re across.

It takes over a dozen men manning the ferry to navigate the swollen river, but the wind and rain and current are pushing them downstream, away from the ferry point. Arya realizes this is her best chance to get away while everyone including Clegane is distracted, and decides that chancing drowning is better than going back to Joffrey. She is about to jump when a giant uprooted tree almost rams the ferry. The ferrymen manage to stave it off, but one of them falls in the river and is gone instantly. Arya reconsiders trying to swim.

They finally come ashore two miles downstream, and the lead ferryman demands six dragons now as compensation for the man he lost. Clegane hands him a “dead man’s” promissory note for nine thousand dragons, and promises to be back for the extra someday, before galloping off. He comments to Arya that the ferrymen won’t be accepting paper promises from anyone else anytime soon, and that her following friends will need to be “bloody strong swimmers” to catch them now. Arya recites her list to herself, with the Hound’s name prominent.

Arya’s chills are growing worse. When they stop to camp, Clegane attempts to make a fire, but everything is too wet. As he feeds her, he comments to Arya that he never beat her sister, but he will beat Arya if she doesn’t stop trying to kill him. He points out that even if she escaped she would only wind up with someone worse. She replies that there is no one worse, and he says she’s wrong, and tells her how his brother Gregor once killed one of his own men for snoring.

He is surprised when she reveals she knows Gregor and his men, and she tells him about the village where Gregor caught her and her friends. Sandor is delighted at the idea that Gregor never even knew what he had captured, and anticipates telling him right before killing him. Arya is confused, and he taunts her that she wants to kill Sansa. She denies it, and he tells her that maybe he is a monster for killing Mycah, but he also saved Sansa’s life from a mob. When he finds out she thinks they are going back to King’s Landing, he curses the Lannisters roundly, and tells her the river was the Trident, not the Blackwater: he’s taking her to the Twins to return her to her mother. He supposes she’s worth twice what Beric took from him, and maybe Robb will even make him one of his knights. Arya spits back that Robb would never take him.

“Then I’ll take as much gold as I can carry, laugh in his face, and ride off. If he doesn’t take me, he’d be wise to kill me, but he won’t. Too much his father’s son, from what I hear. Fine with me. Either way I win. And so do you, she-wolf. So stop whimpering and snapping at me, I’m sick of it. Keep your mouth shut and do as I tell you, and maybe we’ll even be in time for your uncle’s bloody wedding.”

Commentary
Is it sad that I’m all proud of myself because I went and checked the map right away after Sandor mentioned Harroway’s town, and figured out the river had to be the Trident and not the Blackwater? It probably is, but I’m choosing to be proud of myself for actually checking the map instead of just resigning myself to be confused.

Not that I am not still partially confused, because I have no idea how on earth Sandor even knows about Edmure’s impending wedding in the first place. Not that it’s a secret or anything, but hasn’t he been flopping around in the wilderness all this time healing his burns and stuff?

*shrug* Guess not. And, I guess, even when the country’s gone to hell in a handbasket, there’s still nothing that travels faster than gossip. So okay.

And apparently I was right when I doubted Sandor was going to do the rational thing, which in my opinion was taking Arya back to Beric. But then, that wouldn’t have been the rational decision to him, would it. Because what I didn’t really consider was that Sandor’s pride would far outstrip his sense of personal safety. Which is kind of a no-brainer in retrospect.

So yeah, now it seems kind of obvious that of course he would be all “fuck the Lannisters, and fuck Beric, and fuck everyone who screwed me over, and now I’m going to the one faction who at least hasn’t screwed me over directly yet. And if they kill me, well, fuck them too.” It’s not exactly the most healthy philosophy on life (nor the most poetic), but you’ve got to give it points for consistency.

Also, I’m pretty sure his soft spot for the Stark girls is a fair sight wider than I had supposed, too. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure anyone else trying the stuff on him that Arya has been would have been a hell of a lot more than just threatened with beatings. Not that I’m saying this makes Sandor’s actions okay or anything, but when you adjust your moral compass to “Clegane” settings, it’s fairly obvious that, by his more-than-a-little-deranged standards, he’s treating Arya like a queen on this little outing.

Still, drowning might be better than King’s Landing. She thought about Joffrey and crept up to the prow.

…Yeah, girl’s got a point.

Which is also the other data point to consider in Sandor’s definition of “a rational move.” Because it also so happens that going to the Starks, instead of Beric or the Lannisters, is what Arya wants. Which is something, amazingly, that Sandor actually cares about, even if he’d never admit it directly. So that’s… sort of sweet? For really, really, really messed-up values of “sweet”? Oy.

Also: so I guess this means the Hound and Arya might be crashing Edmure’s wedding?

ZOMG.

*weebles all over in anticipation*

Though I should know better than to get my hopes up, shouldn’t I. But dammit, there had damn well better be at LEAST one Stark reunion in this book or I will seriously have to throw a hissy fit. Because COME ON. Throw me a frickin’ bone here, Martin. It will not destroy your street cred to have a mere one-fifth of Catelyn’s current crushing amount of grief lifted, I totally swear. Sheesh.

Last and randomly least, I am totally laughing that Sandor calls his horse “Stranger.” He would name his horse that. Like a dude in a heavily Christian community naming his car “Satan.” Heh.


And that’s our show, kiddie kadanzies! See you next Friday!

80 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Leigh - welcome back.

The amusing thing that the Hound and Arya don't know is that she's putatively engaged to one of the Frey children (Elmar, if memory serves.) So she can show up, have a reunion with her family and enhance Robb's efforts to make peace with Walder Frey at the same time. Thanks, GRRM!
Ross Newberry
2. rossnewberry
Serving as the lackey of a sociopathic monarch kills your rep every time. Sandor is so misunderstood.
David B
3. David B
Hee! I love knowing what's coming up.
Aaron McGrady
4. westernstorm
Glad to see you back, Sandor is kinda crazy but cunning. He knows the ferry man will not take the other knights across with notes and that he is safe from them. Also, going to the Twins and the Starks is the last place anybody will think to look or find them.
Pat .
5. dolphineus
(whited-out for potential spoilers) (Also: so I guess this means the Hound and Arya might be crashing Edmure’s wedding?
Ah, springtime! Weddings in Westeros are on the menu.
Huge affairs with nobles and kings and queens and arranged marriages.
Food and fun. Music and dancing.
Oh how I long to hear the Rains of Castamere once more.
Such wonderful memories it provokes!
I think I even know this dance ...
David B
6. AllHailTheDragonQueen
Welcome back Leigh!

So, how could Sandor know about the wedding? I don't know if it's ever stated outright in the book but I'm pretty sure he heard about from the Brotherhood without Banners, who, if you will remember, heard about it from the woods witch who does fortune telling for them.

Also, I'm surprised you didn't include the "even dogs get tired of being kicked" line.
David B
7. TG12
Argghh. So much to say, so little of it non-spoilery!

I do love this Sam chapter; I've always thought it's had great atmosphere and some very fine horror beats.
First, wake up from a dream to find an ice zombie is In Da House! After a pause for a little peeing of the pants (c'mon, you totally would too, amirite?), heroically kill said zombie. Yay, we're saved! Let's go, Gil...oh s**t! It's a horde of MF'in ice zombies. We're doomed! But what's that? A parliament of vengeful ravens and a mysterious brother of the watch on giant *frickin'* elk? Yay, we're saved! But wait, whaddahell is up with this dude's hands? gulp...

Good times, good times.
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
Yeah, no one, including Arya, would imagine Sandor Clegane taking her back to the Starks. Beric's men are probably scrambling to find her, hoping to "rescue" her(cuz I did feel they genuinely wanted Arya to get back to her family, they just wanted to get paid too), when in actuality she's with the person who will get her there the fastest.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
9. AlirozTheConfused
Oh dear, it looks like Arya's just might

have to marry that young Frey Boy

Now, friends and foes, that'd be a sight

A girl like her and a boy like him; on a horse of hobbledehoy
David B
12. Black Dread
I hope it isn't spoilerific to predict that comments are going to drop-off for while – because people are paranoid about spoiling.
David B
13. Halibulu
Leigh- only thing you need to know in regards to "the stranger" is the "new" gods, that being the 7, have no "power" in the North where the Old Gods still rule.
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
Oy,, I had some comments on Sam but were eaten by Internet gremlins.
- Mysterious stranger as The Stranger? Interesting theory. Can't say more, sorry.
- Others can be killed by dragonglass, Wights by fire - still not sure if there is any overlap (perhaps obsidian could have killed Small Paul but it got caught on his protective garments).
- Ultracreepy that Others get a two-fer - kill enemies and them send them in zomboni form to kill more enemies. Nice!
David B
16. dankness
The scene with Sam, Gilly and the ravens is probably my favorite of the entire series. Gave me goosebumps the first time I read it.
James Kendall
17. JKsilver
Arya's chapter here was the first time I ever respected the Hound (albiet grudgingly). Mostly for being not-completely-horrible to Arya, but also for being clever enough to bluff his way across the river whilst simulataneously making it impossible for the Brotherhood Without Banners to do the same.

I also really love the song Sam sings to Gilly and the baby - it's a very sweet moment in a very dark book, and I hope it's included in the TV version.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
18. AlirozTheConfused
treesinger:

It's a murder of crows

And of ravens an unkindliness

Of Magpies I just don't knows

of Rooks a parliament
David B
19. MDNY
Long-time reader of both your posts, Leigh, first-time poster.
Regarding chapter 46, I remember being just as confused regarding the apparently dead, talking man who seems to be a brother of the Night's Watch. He seems to be something new, something I still have no clue about 2.5 full series reads later. That's all I can say for now, though on first reading I wondered if it could be the 1 brother we've all been wondering about for a loooong time.
Chapter 47 establishes possible union of storylines with Arya being brought towards Rob and Cat. For me, it mostly establishes how awesome Sandor is. It's a wonder he has any honor and humanity at all considering he's brother to one of the most unambiguously evil characters in the whole series, and served for years as bodyguard to another.
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
Hey - whoever is today's Moderator, check over in the spoiler thread. Some action is requested on some of the posts from today. Thanks!
Chris Nelly
21. Aeryl
I really can't believe Leigh didn't guess the first person I thought of when this new guy showed up with the black hands.

Benjen.

It makes perfect sense.

He's believed dead(black hands for wights).

He's a Brother.

It's the PERFECT time for him to show up again, as he's been gone since book 1, just like Beric.

Now how Benjen could have overcome the whole "being dead and controlled by ice zombies" thing, IDK.
David B
22. DougL
Well, as moral event horizons go, killing a kid that theoretically attacked your tool of a Prince (he clearly thinks Joff is an ass, and probably alwasy has), is not quite the same thing as beating a child, Arya might be 10 at this point.

He probably recognizes that she is not trying to kill him just because it's him, but because he has her captive, and well, I won't say anything else.
Tricia Irish
23. Tektonica
Leigh....you crack me up!
".....but when you adjust your moral compass to “Clegane” settings, it’s fairly obvious that, by his more-than-a-little-deranged standards, he’s treating Arya like a queen on this little outing."

Sandor does tend to grow on you, in a twisted kind of way. I mean the list of characters you get to choose from for heros, is pretty paltry. Tyrion...Clegane....it's a miracle when someone does something unexpectedly humane.

Oh, and yay, Sam! Who is that masked man?
Jamie Watkins
24. Treesinger
What is the difference between a Raven and a Crow? I always thought that a raven was just a smarter version of a crow. I am sorry but when I think of that scene with the wights I keep thinking of the old "Heckle and Jeckle" cartoons.
Deana Whitney
25. Braid_Tug
Happy Birthday to you Leigh!
Thanks for the present to your devoted fans – the Restart of the GRRM Read!

How did I forget about this Sam episode? How?!
Great to revisit it like it was shiny and new.

Your "Clegane" setting is a great way of putting it. Thank you.


Re: Shouts to Moderators -
Remember to use the wonderful "Flag" button. (If you wear the Black.) That actually sends a note to one of them, rather than waiting for them to read the messages.


Re: Clever “I’m not saying it, but I’m hinting heavily to a Spoiler”
Y’all, just stop. Leigh can’t read the comments too much because of them. You are just making us role our eyes. Please send them to the Spoiler Tread.

Margot Virzana
26. LuvURphleb
Happy for another re read! Yay. *reads re read* uhhhhhhh.....what to say.... Clegane has some humanity in him! he could put on his résumé to the Starks. "Will not kill all people on sight."
Katharine Duckett
27. Katharine
@MDNY Edited your post to make it spoiler-safe--I know there was some debate about what is and isn't a spoiler, but we're erring on the safe side. Thanks!
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
@27 - take another peek at spoiler thread.
Deana Whitney
29. Braid_Tug
Post self-deleted - didn't have right information.

Thanks @33, Aegnor!
Katharine Duckett
30. Katharine
@28 Think I caught what you were talking about, but flag the problem if not and I'll take care of it. Thanks!
Genevieve Williams
31. welltemperedwriter
@24 they're two different species, though they're in the same genus and thus similar in many respects. Ravens are usually seen solo or in mated pairs and don't typically flock the way crows do, though there are exceptions. Both birds are highly intelligent and demonstrate problem-solving skills, but ravens have bigger brains and my stepgrandma's father had one that could say a few human words.
David B
32. baturcotte
@LuvURphleb, it may say something about a world when even a Clegane can't kill all the people who need killing there...
Vincent Lane
33. Aegnor
Braid_Tug@29,

Read @27's post again. She wasn't asking to edit the post, just informing that an edit had been done.
Jamie Watkins
34. Treesinger
Sam's Ravens could say "Snow" and "Corn"
Melanie DeJulis
35. Shonagon
WB Leigh, and happy birthday?

I never noticed the repetitive Stranger theme of these two characters -- how like GRRM. So glad you brought that to my attention! Both Arya and Sam/Gilly were saved by "Strangers"...?

... multiple personality disorder version of warging... LOL thank you.
David B
36. alienketchup
Regarding dragonglass and wights, the knife shattered when Sam hit his mail. So yes, he lost his knife, but don't rule out its effectiveness on wights.
David B
37. Mark Z.
#1 RobMRobM: As I remember it, part of the fallout from Robb breaking his deal with the Freys is that Elmar is no longer engaged. Elmar was briefly seen in Harrenhal (as a hostage, I think? why else would he be in Harrenhal?) complaining about it to Arya, with no idea who she was. (She, of course, didn't know about the engagement at all.)
David B
38. Ser Tom
@21 RE: Elk Dude, If he is a certain missing ranger, he could have theoretically survived this long. After all, the Wildlings survive in the North. As for his fingers, could be frostbite. That'll blacken your digits.

RE: The ravens. They could just naturally hate wights. No need for hocus pocus.

Owls also congregate in Parliaments.
David B
39. owleyes
I didn't make the connection between The Stranger and Coldhands, thanks for pointing that out, Leigh! My first assumption was that Coldhands was the long lost Uncle Benjen, but I have no idea whether that has ever been confirmed. It brings up all sorts of crazy speculation on how he could have retained sentience after becomming a wight. Maybe it's just regular old frostbite?
George Jong
40. IndependentGeorge
Owls also congregate in Parliaments.
Whenever I encounter a parliament of owls, I always get the mental image of them performing in the funk band. I can't help it.
Elizabeth Doolin
41. mochabean
Yay! Recaps are back!::happy dance::
I've read the books multiple times but it never occured to me that Sam and Gilly's rescuer resembled The Stranger -- so very cool to point that out. And the new gods and the old gods are going to have to get on the same page when the white walkers come knocking.

@18 I always liked a synod of cardinals
Elizabeth Doolin
42. mochabean
@40 You are not alone in this -- the funkadelic owls will not be denied
Scott Silver
43. hihosilver28
Remind me, why was Robb stopping by the Freys before going to his next battle? Couldn't Edmure's wedding be delayed? Also, what is his next sortie?
Julian Niquille
44. Gesar
Benjen being Coldhands seems too convenient for Martin's world. We associate them because of storyline meta, not because of the story itself: Benjen was a cool character and it would be nice to have him continue to play a role for the good guys, yet there's no specific reason that he would remain sentient when all the other wights haven't. In a classic fantasy setting, of course Coldhands would be Benjen. Here I highly doubt it, for pretty much the same reason why I doubt Syrio Forel is still alive.

On another note, glad we're back :) and gee, 43 comments in a few hours, I see I'm not the only one^^
David B
45. ale.x7
Why would Sandor take her back to Beric?!? Beric is totally broke, that's why can't follow them across the river, and he sent Clegane's gold South already to pay for seed.

Re: his reception by the Starks. I dont' think they'd know the details of his role in killing the Stark guard in AGOT, but they would know he deserted the Lannisters, and that he's one of the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms. He shows up at the Twins, saying he's had enough of the Lannisters, here's their little girl (and Robb & Cat would KNOW he was a tolerant man if he brought her to them unharmed), he'd like to serve them. You think they'd say "aww thanks, for bringing her to us!" *THWACK*?? nah I think at worst they'd turn him away.
David B
46. owleyes
@44 Gesar: I don't think it would be too "convenient," there has to be some plot predictability, otherwise there's no story. There's been a ton of foreshadowing that Benjen will show up again, the most recent being the cache of obsidian being attributed to him and Sam using one of the blades from it in the chapter right before this.
David B
47. D-Mac
FYI, "...mingle with the hoi polloi". Hoi actually means "the", so no need for the "the" in front of hoi.

Thats all from the latin grammar police for the day.
George Jong
48. IndependentGeorge
@43 - Robb needs to reach the kingsroad to head north to Moat Cailin, and the Freys control the only crossing over the Trident (which, as noted in Arya's chapter, is already flooded due to autumn rains) which can acommodate his army.
Melanie DeJulis
49. Shonagon
@48 Indeed. And appeasing the Freys post haste is probably in Robb's best interests.
Julian Niquille
50. Gesar
@ 46, unless I forgot something, the cache of obsidian wasn't attributed to Benjen, it was only Jon's hope that it would be his cloak. "The cloak he had found beneath the Fist could well have belonged to his uncle or one of his men, even the Old Bear admitted as much". This is closer to wishful thinking than foreshadowing.
David B
51. owleyes
@ 50, I consider that to be foreshadowing, after all, GRRM chose to write it in, even in the form of wishful thinking by a character. But you may be right; there's really not enough evidence to say either way.
David B
52. PieTester
@37Mark Z. : Bolton and Frey men took Harrenhal after the weasle soup incident, if I'm not mistaken. And yes, Elmar was a bit distraught; tears and everything over losing a princess. Arya had other places to be though, so she said, "I hope your princess dies," and went on her merry way.
Steven Halter
53. stevenhalter
ch. 46 -- Samwell: OK, so Sam is still on the other side of the wall--hoping for the known village of Whitetree. Sam is walking while Gilly rides their only horse. Sam is a good guy. Oh. oh, he cut himself and has been afraid to look at the cut--could be trouble. Sam is brave as well as good. He burns wight Small Paul and then the Ravens save them--was Sam's prayer to the Old Gods effective? Who is the guy on the giant elk? Is he a new kind of wight or something else? Very interesting.
David B
54. Ser Tom
@43,48,49 - It's not merely a matter of needing to cross the Twins. Rob also needs the Frey house army to retake the North. Edmure's marriage to a Frey girl, I forget her name, was the deal they had to make to appease Lord Frey after Rob reneged on the previous marriage deal made by Cat.
David Goldfarb
55. David_Goldfarb
Thats all from the latin grammar police for the day.
Greek, actually, rather than Latin.
Maiane Bakroeva
56. Isilel
Well, I am not ready to let Sandor off the hook. In AGOT before he became fascinated with Sansa, when we saw him and Joff together, he seemed to do his best to encourage Joff's bad behaviour. I.e. backed Joff's idiotic demand to spar with Robb using live steel, mocked Tyrion and denigrated his attempts to make Joff behave, etc.

IMHO, Sandor could have brought Mycah back alive, but he just didn't bother. He also laughed about Mycah's death and mocked Ned's shock and sadness over it.

I am also really annoyed by the massive "shipping" movement of the Hound and Sansa. Because, really? He may be becoming better, but he has so many issues and a lot to answer for. And she is a victimized 13-14 year-old girl.

Speaking of which - Sandor seems to like Arya and sees that they have much in common. But he also wants her family to reward him and take him in. So, not beating her is purely pragmatic.

Re: the Twins, Robb needs their bridge to get back to the North. It is Autumn and the rivers are swollen. He can't cross anywhere else with an army, not in a sensible time-frame.
David B
57. Aerona Greenjoy
Just finished reading through this blog and am now thoroughly hooked. Thank you, Leigh!!

I believe wights are corpses imbued with some malevolent spirit by Others. They have some weird traits (bits of them can fight even when cut off, they don't feel pain, and can sorta go into stasis in the cold like Othor and Jafer), but they're still flesh and bone garbed in cloth and metal. If this is so, obsidian might have no particular effect. Whereas Others are of some supernatural substance which can resist normal weapons but for some reason destructible by obsidian and...nothing else we can be sure of thus far.

(As a WoT reader, I think of Others as being like Myrdraal with nearly Gholam-level indestructibility. Wights are sorta like zombie Trollocs except that Others make them instead of the reverse. Fain-esque, perhaps.)
David B
58. KathrynM
Welcome back Leigh, we've really missed you!

& I really love The Stranger/Elk Dude/Horse Stranger association. Thank you for the insight!
David B
59. D-Mac
@55 I stand corrected...thats what i get for trying to be a "know-it-all"
Tyler Durden
60. Balance
The Hound has always been consistant. A younger brother of a legend for terror. Just a man trying to make his way in this fucked up world. He despises the hypocracy of Knighthood, but has his own set of moral values. He is also a realist. He accepts the world as it is, and does what he can to stay alive. I started liking him ever since King's Landing.
David B
61. phuzz
re "The unkonown man with cold black hands = The Stanger."
that's an interesting theory that I'd not heard before, but suddenly it makes sense.
I wouldn't put it past GRRM to have inserted avatars for the gods as characters, for example:
cold hands == The Stranger
Caytlin == The mother (I recons)
Robert Baratheon == The Warrior (perhaps? several other posibillities I guess, includuing Jamie)
Ned Stark/Tywin Lanister == The Father
and so on. Pleanty to argue about there.

Also, I recon both of these chapters will be cropping up in one form or the other in the telly show this week.
Steven Halter
62. stevenhalter
Chapter 47--Arya: The last chapter is the first I recall that Stranger was mentioned and I don't think it was a chance that is the horse's name. Nice juxtaposition that made me chuckle. The Lord of the dead.
The Hound is taking her to the Stark's. That's pretty much where I thought. It seems clear he wouldn't go back to King's Landing.
They have a ways to go; I fear that riding down the road may be a bad choice. The game of who has Arya seems unlikely to end that easily.
Lindy Brown
63. lbrown
But dammit, there had damn well better be at LEAST one Stark reunion in this book or I will seriously have to throw a hissy fit. Because COME ON.
Man, I felt this exact same way when I was at this point in the book.
David B
64. Aerona Greenjoy
So did I, especially in regard to Cat's despair about four of her childrens' likely fates.
Birgit
68. birgit
You think they'd say "aww thanks, for bringing her to us!" *THWACK*??

That's what Stannis would do: reward him for bringing Arya back and punish him for killing Mycah.

The mysterious rider is a Stranger because he wandered in from a Ghibli movie:
Jeremy Morton
69. Raistlan
Welcome back, Leigh! I had just read all of these recaps right before your vacation, and I'm looking forward to more frequent recaps. It's amazingly awesome to read someone's fresh take on something you've read a couple of times.
David B
70. Xyst3rness
On the subject of Mycah and the Hound- not that I condone it- but I think the boy was spared a worse fate. Had he been brought back to Joffrey alive, he might've wished for a quicker death. Hoping the Hound will eventually become one of the more prominent characters, though I'm not sure if I want to read his pov.
Also, great to have you back Leigh!
David B
71. targeryen
The scene with the raven attack and hooded figure reminds me of the First Zealot/Brotherhood of the Raven from Bioshock Infinite..Am I the only one?
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
One possibility (out of many) for "Elk Rider Dude" is some sort of undead Benjen Stark. Perhaps his essential Starkness? is enabling him to somewhat resist being just an ordinary undead ice wight. Or the old gods.
This would explain his calling Sam "Brother" and having ragged garments of the Night Watch.
Mo -
73. Astus
Glad to have the reread back!

GRRM has a tendency of making you like or at least sympathise with characters you thought irredeemable and/or evil in the past, haha. Much, much easier to draw lines in the WoT. :)

As for the Undead NW Brother, I'm not really sure of what to make of him. Still trying to come to grips with the magic of this world. He could be Benjen, I suppose, but he could also be another Brother lost over the years. I'm curious as to who and what exactly he is. :)
B. Dowdle
74. Lancer
Very nice analysis Leigh, as I have come to expect w/ your re-reads...But you did miss something in Hindsight...
(roll over for possible spoilers)
"...uncle’s bloody wedding."

If that isnt foreshowding then I dunno what is!

My friend is reading the series for the first time and she like you is lementing the fact that there hasnt been a Stark reunion on any level yet...Man I cannot wait for the Stark Retrobution Train!
David B
75. Cornell
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
David Scotton
76. Kaxon
I loved seeing Arya and the Hound travelling together. In spite of the fact that she hates him... they're actually kind of similar, and I think the Hound shows some awareness of it here.
David B
77. a1ay
As for his fingers, could be frostbite. That'll blacken your digits.

Yes, but not permanently. They go white from being frozen, then they go black from necrosis, then they drop off (or you get blood poisoning and die). You don't walk around with functional black digits.

I wouldn't put it past GRRM to have inserted avatars for the gods as characters, for example:

The Seven Gods are just the classic divisions of humanity from mediaeval Europe. You have "those who work, those who fight and those who rule" - the Smith, the Warrior and the Father - and then on the other side you have the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone as the three ages of womanhood.
Chris Nelly
78. Aeryl
The Faith(the name of the religion of the Seven, hasn't come up yet I think) has always struck me as the "fake" religion. It's somewhat simplistic. It just feels manufactured in a way that the other religions don't, and it has yet to demonstrate any godly power.

The Old Gods of the North at least have their tree avatars, with some hints they have power(Osha has dialog in the show that points this out, but it's not in the books I think). R'hllor, while we've seen Melisandre wield magical power, but it hasn't been confirmed if it's R'hllor's power, or hers as a shadowbinder, but Thoros on the other hand, well....

So my opinion of the Seven, is that it's a manufactured religions, based on those divisions of humanity. It's simple, and it's a recipe to ensure that the currect power structures are maintained. When you are born to a particular station, if you have a god devoted to help you accepting that station, that can help prevent social upheaval. I also can't help but wonder if Targ magical power with dragons began to dissipate when Baelor converted to the Faith.
David B
79. GarrettC
@Aeryl78

That interpretation probably depends on how much your mileage varies with regard to Davos's encounter/hallucination with the Mother earlier in this book.
Chris Nelly
80. Aeryl
@79, Yeah wasn't that when he was out at sea for days, with no water or food? Of course, most religious texts tell you to fast awhile before attempting godly communion, so who knows! LOL
Rob Munnelly
81. RobMRobM
LOL-ing at the synchronicity with the HBO show. Sam sang the song to Gilly last week. Fun times to come next week....

Arya is still with the BWB, but big money bet that her re-encounter with the Hound will be next week as well.
Chris Nelly
82. Aeryl
Yup, it's gotta happen soon! They've explained why she'll want to run off real well too. Nice that they got another character to give the foreboding about Arya's future, since they skipped High Heart.
Julian Niquille
83. Gesar
@79: Still pretty sure Davos was talking (it's a theory but I'm still whiting it just in case someone doesn't want to read it) to a merling there. The voice accused Davos of having "burned us", and Davos thinks of the statues because that's what Davos would think, but what burned more recently was the Blackwater, and why not, some of the creatures living under the sea nearby.
David B
84. Josh L
Why would the rational course be to take Arya to Beric when Sandor knows they don't have much gold?
David B
85. CarpeComputer
"But no, apparently it’s volcanic glass for one and fire for the other.
Not that I can’t see the connection there, obviously, but still."

When I read the description, I kind of like the symetry that is shown here. Ancient creatures of ice can be stopped by ancient fire (lava hardened into dragonglass) and recently made cretures of ice can be stopped by living fire. Kind of cool.

@ 44, I did not give much thought to whenever Syrio is alive, as I classified him into the category of characters who are "probably dead in the mind of the author but I'll just keep believing they survived"... however upon reading this I just got a wonderfull conspiracy theory (whitened in case it is true and subsequent books confirm it) - perhaps Jaqen H'garr is Syrio? Dspite being an awesome warrior (like Syrio), H'garr was captured in King's Landing (where Syrio was last seen in dire circumstances), he is a Bravosi (like Syrio) and he likes Arya from the start and knows her identity (like Syrio would) :D

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