Jul 11 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 35

A Storm of Swords George R R MartinWelcome 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 35 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 57 (“Daenerys”) and Chapter 58 (“Tyrion”).

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!

Chapter 57: Daenerys

What Happens
Dany and her army watch the city of Meereen, where a lone “hero,” Oznak zo Pahl, has exited the city walls to challenge Dany’s champion to single combat. Dany is inclined to ignore him, and Jorah agrees, but Arstan argues that honor demands they answer the challenger’s insults. Dany silences them, more concerned with her starving troops, and her anger at the dozens of slave children the Meereenese had crucified and left for her to find on the way to the city. But Oznak’s insults continue, and Dany decides to send Strong Belwas to fight him.

Belwas defeats Oznak, takes a (literal) dump on the corpse, and returns to a raucously cheering camp. Dany badgers him into treating his wounds, and then holds a conference with her commanders. They discuss mining, attacking from the sea side, and a frontal assault on the gates, but all are deemed either fruitless or too costly. Jorah argues that she should let Meereen be and turn her attention to Westeros, but Dany refuses. Then Brown Ben Plumm, the new commander of the Second Sons, tells how he once (narrowly) escaped Meereen via the sewer systems, and suggests that a way out is a way back in, but Dany is leery of the idea, and decides to think more on it. She learns that Brown Ben claims a small amount of Targaryen blood when one of her dragons shows him favor (though he also claims his ancestor had a six-foot cock).

Alone, Dany thinks about Daario and his semi-subtle attempts to court her; she is attracted to the mercenary, but knows how dangerous and potentially treacherous he is. She wonders if he could be one of the other two “heads of the dragon,” and whether she should perhaps just marry Daario and Jorah both and be done with it. She decides to go inspect the camp, and takes only Arstan with her. In the freedmen’s section, a man grabs her off her horse, and she recognizes Mero. Arstan challenges Mero, and to her amazement defeats and kills Mero with contemptuous ease. Back in her tent, Jorah is immediately suspicious of Arstan’s fighting prowess, and Arstan confesses enough that Jorah recognizes him:

Khaleesi, before you kneels Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, who betrayed your House to serve the Usurper Robert Baratheon.”

Barristan admits it, but insists that when Joffrey cast him aside, he knew that he must find his true king (or queen) and serve her. He begs her forgiveness for concealing the truth, but says he could not reveal his true name to her, because of the spy in her ranks, reporting to Lord Varys. Dany realizes he means Jorah, and pleads with him for it not to be true, but Jorah admits it in turn. He insists that he stopped once he fell in love with her, but remembering the prophecy, Dany only wants to know if it was for gold. Jorah answers that he was promised a return home. Dany is enraged, and orders both of them to get out of her sight. Barristan asks where they should go, and Dany wants to exile them on pain of death, but cannot bring herself to do it.

They betrayed me. But they saved me. But they lied. “You go…” My bear, my fierce strong bear, what will I do without him? And the old man, my brother’s friend. “You go… go…” Where?

And then she knew.

Holy crap, Arstan is Ser Barristan!?!

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. *marvels*

I mean, it makes perfect sense in retrospect—Barristan betrayed the Targaryens for the Baratheons, the Baratheons (read: Joffrey, because he is a MORON) betrayed him back, so where else would he determine his honor demanded he go, but back to the family he originally betrayed, to try to make amends?—but I sure as hell never saw it coming.

Not, honestly, that I was looking that hard. I figured Barristan would turn up when he turned up. I was kind of absently expecting him to stay within Westeros, though.

So, yeah. Nicely played, Martin. Nicely played.

Of course, this immediately begs the question of whether Illyrio knew who Arstan really was before sending him to Dany. That’s all very tangled, because I seem (dimly) to recall that one time Arya caught Illyrio (or someone I decided was Illyrio, anyway) hanging out in an abandoned section of King’s Landing chatting with… Varys? I think it was Varys. And what the hell that implies, I couldn’t even tell you.

Except that it makes it even more confusing for us to find out that Jorah is Varys’s informant. Though the bare fact of it is… not anywhere near as shocking as the revelation about Barristan, I have to say. I’m not going to claim I called it beforehand, because I definitely didn’t, but even so it doesn’t really surprise me. Because honestly, such duplicity is actually just about what I would have expected from Jorah, who is unlikely to win any prizes for moral rectitude anytime soon.

…Well. As long as you don’t compare him to, er, half the other characters, that is. But dammit, I’m going to at least attempt to not grade these assholes on a frickin’ curve here. God.

In any case, ten bucks says Dany’s going to punish Barristan and Jorah by making them infiltrate Meereen via sewer. And while I viscerally shudder mightily at the mere thought of it, that’s actually a time-honored tactic for breaking into walled cities. (I think. Or maybe I’m just thinking of Ladyhawke.)

“The harpy is a craven thing,” Daario Naharis said when he saw [the monument]. “She has a woman’s heart and a chicken’s legs. Small wonder her sons hide behind their walls.”

First of all: dude, you do realize your general/leader/ruler type person you’re saying this to is in fact a woman, right? Ill-advised sexism much?

And second: er. Who the hell is Daario Naharis?

[later in the chapter] Ohhh, okay, now I remember. Jeez, it’s been too long since I read a Dany chapter. Fortunately Martin is rather good at providing non-clunky reminders within the text of who the various millions of characters the reader needs to keep track of are. I’m not sure the previous sentence made actual grammatical sense, but you probably got what I meant.

Of course, he doesn’t always, which is occasionally frustrating. Like Mero: I know I know that name, but I cannot for the life of me place who he is or why he hates Dany so much. (Well, actually Martin did provide a clue, but “Titan’s Bastard” is ringing no bells for me either, because my brain, she farts sometimes.) But, I suppose it is a moot point, seeing as he’s dead and all.

In any case, I reeeeally really hope Dany does not decide to go ahead and hit that, Daario I mean, because I have a baaaad feeling about how that would go. (Hey, if Martin can unnecessarily repeat vowels so can I!) And taking on him and Jorah as lovers? Or husbands? Hell no, girl. Even before we found out Jorah was a spy, that sounds like the surest recipe for betrayal possible.

Because yeah, it could be that Jorah’s protestations that he turned over a new leaf once he fell in love with Dany are true, but personally I raise the most skeptical of eyebrows at that declaration. And I know we have a prophecy about being betrayed for love on the books already, but that doesn’t mean Dany has to deliberately set herself up for it!

Speaking of which, does Jorah’s spying fulfill the prophecy about Dany being betrayed for love? I guess it could, as long as you mean love in the sense of “love for his homeland” (since that was the prize offered), but I dunno. It seems like being betrayed for love would be more… personal, to Dany herself I mean. And “gold” doesn’t seem to really fit, either. And, as much as I suspect Jorah, thus far it could be argued that he hasn’t completely betrayed her. But was that enough for prophetic purposes? *shrug*

Meanwhile, this part of the world continues to be the exact opposite of awesome, now adding crucified and disemboweled children to the list of Things I Never Needed Mental Images Of, Thanks. (And again with the puppy fetus thing! Ugh!) Martin sure does love his shocking imagery, doesn’t he? Although Belwas taking a Victory Shit™ at the city after killing Oznak was a lot more hilarious than it was disgusting, I must admit.

(Also, a six-foot cock? Really? REALLY? Because, holy shit. The sheer number of jokes I could make here is virtually paralyzing me. ZOMG. I think I will just chortle mightily in this anecdote’s general direction for a moment and then carry on.)

(Because, the pants issue alone—NO NEVER MIND)

Dany’s reasoning behind the decision to send Strong Belwas to fight Oznak, by the way, was really rather brilliant, politically. She’s never been a slouch in the thinking department, but it’s really something to see her continue to grow as a leader and general.

“There are old sellswords and bold sellswords, but no old bold sellswords.”

Hah, I recognize that one.

“Which King Aegon?” Dany asked. “Five Aegons have ruled in Westeros.”

Ugh, monarchies and their naming stutters. Think of the history students, royal people! NAME YOUR KIDS NEW THINGS. Sheesh.

Speaking of Martin and vowel abuse, here’s my most random peeve about this chapter: the name of the city, Meereen, drove me nuts. I itch to take one of those “e”s out, y’all. “Mereen” or “Meeren” is fine, but “Meereen”? Glargh. I have no idea why this is bothering me so much, but it snagged my eye every single time I read it, and it was incredibly annoying. Oh well.

Chapter 58: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion watches Sansa sleep, and remembers how he had refrained from comforting her in her grief at learning of the death of her brother; he thought she would never welcome it from a Lannister. He had tried to keep the more gruesome details from her, though, like how the Freys had sewn Robb’s wolf’s head to his corpse, or thrown her mother’s body naked into the river. He thinks of how he can never forget who and what he is to her, and he wonders if she prays for his death on her daily trips to the godswood.

He is at least pleased that his marriage has allowed him to move into a different part of the castle, far from Cersei. He goes down below the keep to where the dragon skulls are stored, and meets Shae there. They make love after she makes him chase her among the skulls, and she tells him his face is “brave, kind, and good.” Tyrion wishes he agreed.

He has hired Shae as one of Sansa’s maids, but Varys has warned him that if Cersei were to question him about her directly, he will not lie. Varys doesn’t understand why Shae is worth such a risk, and reflected that he is perhaps glad to be a eunuch. Tyrion battles guilt over Shae, telling himself his own wife wants nothing to do with him, and even debates telling Sansa about Shae, but decides he cannot risk that either, considering she had once betrayed her own father to Cersei.

Tyrion considers sending Shae to Chataya, or arranging a marriage for her. He thinks of Ser Tallad, who looks at her wistfully, but knows what will happen if Tallad finds out she was a whore. Shae scampers off as the day dawns, saying she loves him as she goes.

And I love you as well, sweetling. A whore she might well be, but she deserved better than what he had to give her. I will wed her to Ser Tallad. He seems a decent man. And tall…

Oh, jeez.

“And tall.” Ouch, right in the feels, Tyrion. Like that is really any indicator of personal worth! Sigh.

I’ve expressed my doubts about the sincerity of Shae’s feelings in the past, but presented with this new and awful resolution of Tyrion’s, the only prediction I can make, given Martin’s terminal allergy to happiness, is that she is actually really truly head over heels for Tyrion, and then he will try and foist her off on this Tallad guy, and her heart will be broken, and she will do something incredibly stupid, and all kinds of shit will hit the fan, and noooooooooo.

Basically it’s not a question of whether this will go badly; it’s only a question of how badly it’s going to go. Based on previous evidence, I may need to get myself a preemptive kitten to hug or something. Or maybe just a lot of alcohol.



In other news: So, I guess that story Whatshisguts told about Robb’s wolf’s head being sewn onto his body wasn’t a wild fabrication after all. Which is just doubly horrible, that Grey Wind died just as ignominiously as his potential-wargmate. And also, someone reminded me that “a king with a wolf’s head, at a banquet” actually showed up in Dany’s prophetical horror-house acid-trip thingy back in Qaarth or wherever the hell she was at the time. Which, it just frickin’ figures that something any sane seer of visions (assuming that’s not a contradiction in terms, natch) would assume was strictly symbolic was actually horrifically literal.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I’m getting upset about it all over again now. I really hope someone makes Walder Necrotizing Fasciitis Frey eat his own shit until he dies. Or something. Please tell me he dies in a way that’s even worse than what he did to Robb and Catelyn. (Don’t actually tell me, obviously. I’m just saying.)

(Note: if you are even remotely squeamish, DO NOT Google “necrotizing fasciitis.” Trust me on this.)

Winter is coming, warned the Stark words, and truly it had come for them with a vengeance.


And that’s about what I got for this one, kids. Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Thursday! 

Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
Yea! 2 Chapters!
Thanks Leigh!

Edit after reading:
So this is when that gets revealed. Forgot that. Selmy gets to be great twice, then is “discovered.” Understand Dany’s “go….”

Cool! We get a “headdesk” here. Anyone keeping track? Martin doesn’t cause that reaction in Leigh as often. Guess because he blows her right past that stage.
George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
Except that it makes it even more confusing for us to find out that Jorah is Varys’s informant. Though the bare fact of it is… not anywhere near as shocking as the revelation about Barristan, I have to say. I’m not going to claim I called it beforehand, because I definitely didn’t, but even so it doesn’t really surprise me. Because honestly, such duplicity is actually just about what I would have expected from Jorah, who is unlikely to win any prizes for moral rectitude anytime soon.
Actually, this was stated explicitly all the way back in the first book. I actually recall a recap where Leigh specifically mentioned that Dany would flip out when she found out the truth.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Wow, it's been awhile since Game of Thrones, huh? It was all over that book that Jorah was spying on Dany and Viserys for Robert Baratheon. Remember, Ned got so mad that they were relying on the word of a slaver????

That Arstan was Ser Barristan slipped by me too, AND I WAS LOOKING FOR HIM!!! Because of the importance show watchers placed on him when he disappeared, I expected to see him again in the books, but when he did show, I MISSED IT! *headdesk*

I love Daario's name, because of Dany's teenage infatuation with him I always refer to him as DAAAH-rio, in a singsong.

While he's sleazy, I dunno, I just want Dany to be able to CHOOSE her partner for once, so if she wants Daario, I say go for it. Of course, choosing for love in these books never works out well(so far).
George Jong
4. IndependentGeorge
(Also, a six-foot cock? Really? REALLY? Because, holy shit. The sheernumber of jokes I could make here is virtually paralyzing me. ZOMG. I think I will just chortle mightily in this anecdote’s general direction for a moment and then carry on.)
Tormund scoffs in his general direction.

I also take issue with this:
I mean, it makes perfect sense in retrospect—Barristan betrayed the Targaryens for the Baratheons, the Baratheons (read: Joffrey, because he is a MORON) betrayed him back, so where else would he determine his honor demanded he go, but back to the family he originally betrayed, to try to make amends?—but I sure as hell never saw it coming.
Barristan didn't betray anything. Once the Targaryen dynasty was ended, and Barristan's oath ended with it.
Vincent Lane
5. Aegnor
Yeah, Jorah betrayed her, which led to the hit being put out on Dany, which led to Jorah saving her life from the hit-man/wineseller.
Vincent Lane
6. Aegnor
7. AllHailTheDragonQueen
So happy to see Leigh get to the Dany Chapter. I've read the all the books so far a couple of times and Barristan has definatly become one of my favorites. One of the most respected, skilled knights Westeros ever had... and he chooses to follow Dany. (Fist Pump!)
Captain Hammer
8. Randalator
DO NOT Google “necrotizing fasciitis.” Trust me on this.

Schmuck Bait

(Don't klick this unless you like supermassive blackholes of why-is-it-suddenly-early-next-week...)
9. DougL
Welcome back Leigh, I hope you are well.

As to the names thing, well, unfortunately, reading these books at the pace you are, you will run into this issue. Had you read them as you would normally read a book, you would have no doubt remembered everyone. We all appreciate your sacrifice :)
10. KingsGambit
2 chapters! Nice!

How did Barristan betray the Targaryens? I think that was only by serving under Robert after he had won the war. That may technically be betrayel, but it's not like he switched sides during the war. Either way, lovely revelation.

Not sure about Mero, but the Titan's basterd refers to one of the two previously conquered cities on the Slaver's Bay, I think Yunkai. It's not important enough to look up. The slavers in both cities were pretty upset with Dany.

Tyrion's marriage is still depressing. Not much else to say about that chapter.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
I also quibble in stating that Barristan betrayed the Targaryans. I'm sure Dany sees it that way, but objectively, the Targs were defeated when Rhaegar died, and Barristan fought by his side during that battle.

He survived and was pardoned by Baratheon, provided he vowed to Robert instead. So he served the Targs til the fall. The Mad King was still alive, but it was just a matter of time until he fall after Rhaegar died.
12. DougL
@4. IndependentGeorge

Actually, his oath demanded he do his damndest to secure the throne for Vyseris, who probably wasn't even as big a douche as a Joffrey was at the same age (I mean, cutting open cats and abusing his brother, he got there late of course).
13. olethros
Let's just keep our dick jokes confined to Daario's purple hair, shall we?
14. Jeff .
Right, "Immediately go to Viserys" was his most honorable choice, followed closely by "Take the Black". "Turn his cloak to the usurper Robert Baratheon" isn't even close.

The same, of course, applied to Jaime.
Kurt Lorey
15. Shimrod
Curses to the early posters! Now, I must be revealed as a spelling fascist. "s-e-w-n" when one sews something. Perhaps it was just your typing device that auto-corrected incorrectly? Viserys, too (@12). I agree with Leigh that GRRM plays havoc with the vowels. lol
16. Mike G.
Interesting chapters, and an always-entertaining re-read, thanks.

But "sewn" rather than "sown", please, in 2 places (at least). Sowing wolfsheads over corpses would be a very different thing than sewing them :)
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Chapter 57: Daenerys:We sight a new brick city and it has an 800 foot pyramid in the middle. For comparison, the Great pyramid of Giza is 481 feet tall. George does like to have large structures. The Meereen's essentially crucified 163 slave children pointing the way to the city. A pretty clear challenge to everything Dany is standing for. I didn't have any particular doubt that Belwas would make short work of Oznak but it was a nice opening.
I like that we see the debates in Dany's council. How do we crack this nut? This is fun. We'll see if GRRM is setting a pattern with Dany having sudden insight, taking the objective, etc and that some day she will fail just as we think she can never not succeed. Of course, that is a pattern in itself.
Dany seems to like Daario. That seems like a bad plan though and she realizes it. We'll have to see there.
Dany is being attacked. Arstan kills Mero quite easily. Ooh!, Arstan is actually Barriston. He offers Dany his service (she should take it I think) and (wow) reveals to her that Jorah has been selling secrets to Varys. Where is she sending them? I would guess that the obvious answer is that she is sending them through the sewer route. She didn't know who she had to spare and now she has two.
She hints this is her betrayal from love but I'm not so sure there.
Captain Hammer
18. Randalator
@16 Mike G.

Sowing wolfsheads over corpses would be a very different thing than sewing them :)

Direwolf-trees. My weird, overimaginative brain is intrigued...
Adam S.
19. MDNY
Aw yeah, Barristan the Bold. He is so badass he makes everyone else look like children in their daddies' armor. I'm actually shocked you never twigged that one, Leigh, considering that last book you were wondering where he was if he never was with Stannis or Renly. Plus, he didn't really betray the Targaryens, he was injured fighting for them against the usurper Robert, and by the time he woke up in the hospital they were all dead or had fled the country, so he agreed to kneel to Robert and remain in the kingsguard. Now he has to go on a suicidal trip through shit-filled tunnels to prove his loyalty. Better than staying with Joff, I guess.
Fat Balwas is absolutely one of the best minor characters in the series. Makes me laugh with nearly everything he says or does, and the shit thing was one of his best moments.
Daario was the commander of the Stormcrows who killed the others and gave Dany their heads, and agreed to lead the attack on Yunkai. And I always kind of liked him, he's sleazy but he knows and admits it.
Tyrion and Shae gettin it on with the dragon yeah. Varys' line about being grateful to be a eunuch was pretty damn funny, too.
Church Tucker
20. Church
I imagine Ben's ancestor was more grower than shower.

Anyhoo, glad to have two chapters this week!
21. Cass314
Yay indeed for two chapters! And hope you had a nice holiday weekend last week also.

I've always personally believed that Jorah doesn't count as a betrayal re: House of the Undying, because he was first loyal to Westeros before changing his alleigance to Dany. If he betrayed anyone, it was King Robert when he saved Dany from assassination.


There are a number of things Barristan could have done, which have been enumerated by other commenters--he could have taken the Black or gone to find Viserys and Dany, for example. Instead, he chose to serve the man who killed his crown prince and welcomed the death of the king he swore to defend and that king's grandchildren.

I think it's most instructive to compare his actions to the actions of Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower. Ned tried to give them a way out, and they fought to the death fulfilling Rhaegar's last order. Or to compare to Ser Willem Darry, not even of the Kingsguard, who risked everything smuggling Viserys and Danaerys to safety.

In some sense Barristan chose the office of King over the family who sat the throne, which is fine in principle, except that Robert was so damn unsuited to be king and so was his son. He stayed through Robert's reign, and he would have stayed through Joffrey's too if Joffrey hadn't thrown him out on his ass at Cersei's order. Intruigingly, he also protected Aerys and stood in silence while he tortured and even raped and burned his own sister. How intruiging that it only became important to find the "true" and just ruler once he was personally snubbed. Sometimes I do wonder what would have happened to King's Landing if it had been Ser Barristan in the throne room that fateful day instead of Jaime.

Not that I don't like him an awful lot. I refer to him as "Barristan the Badass" because he's just so cool, but I don't exactly think he's honorable as all getout.
George Jong
22. IndependentGeorge
Right, "Immediately go to Viserys" was his most honorable choice, followed closely by "Take the Black". "Turn his cloak to the usurper Robert Baratheon" isn't even close.
Except that goes against all conventions in Westerosi and European warfare. There was no such thing as total war - that's the whole point of Tywin's admonishment to Joffrey about showing mercy to foes that concede defeat.

The only place that level of behavior existed was Japan - and even then, it was largely the romanticized product of a unified and peaceful Japan. During the actual warring states period, the honor code tended to be much more 'flexible' in actual practice. The term 'bushido' didn't even exist until the Tokugawa era.

This is why I can never get behind the idea of the Targs as the 'true' royal family. They won by conquest, and they lost by conquest. The Baratheon dynasty is the new ruling family. And as long as the Lannisters claim the throne by right of Joffrey's (nonexistant) Baratheon lineage, then I consider Stanins the 'true' king. If they ever decided to say, 'screw it, Joffrey's a pure Lannister and he's the king because we won', then I'd say they've won the throne by default.
23. AsbjornGV
Would it be a spoiler to reveal to Leigh what a person from Meereen is called, or will it just be a fun fact?
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
Chapter 58:Tyrion:So, we seem to get real confirmation here that Frey
really is a nasty piece of work and had the head of the dire wolf sewn
onto Robb's body and threw the naked body of Cat into the river like so
much kitchen trash. Frey really does need to get stomped.
Tyrion is still meeting Shae. That seems dangerous for both of them, but mostly Shae. His idea of marrying her off also seems fraught.
George Jong
25. IndependentGeorge
Really, the best thing Tyrion can do now is to tell Shae specifically about Tywin's credible threats, and send her off to Essos with a trunk full of gold and tell her she can either wait for him to follow, or move on with her life. Either way, she is safe, and gives her some modicum of control her own destiny.

Instead, he's selfishly (1) keeping her in the dark as to just how dangerous things are, while (2) continuing to tempt fate by continuing to see her. I understand (and sympathize) with the myriad pathologies making him do this, but it's not just stupid, but outright selfish and wrong. Remember - if they get caught, she's the one who would pay the price, not Tyrion.

If he really loved her more than he loves his wealth and privilege, than he'd be seeing to her safety instead of his happiness. He'd rather continue to pretend it's real love than risk proving to himself that it's all a lie.
26. MjF
The Titan's Bastard was the commander of one of the mercenary companies that defended Yunkai. He was captured in the battle but escaped, which nobody bothered to tell Daenerys.
28. Black Dread
Strong Belwas crapping in the general direction of an entire city with thousands of spectators - it doesn't get more awesome.
Joe Vondracek
30. joev
Also, a six-foot cock? Really?
That would be a drag, literally.
I really hope someone makes Walder Necrotizing Fasciitis Frey eat his own shit until he dies.
Maybe Strong Belwas could hold Walder Frey down and suffocate him by taking a massive dump on his face.
31. Ryamano
Kingsguard swore on oath for life to defend the king. Some kings use them to defend their family as well and some kingsguard aren't really true to their oaths (having mistresses, for example). Nevertheless, considering it's feudalism, one must see that swearing an oath of fealty for a king and his family doesn't end until the said family is completely gone. After a king dies a kingsguard's duty is to protect the next in line to the throne (that's what Boros Blount, etc did, defending Joffrey after Robert died). It gets fuzzy when there's a change of dynastyes, since it has never happened before in Westeros, but I think the kingsguard should've remained faithful to the family they swore their oath to, considering how personal things are in feudalism. In feudalism all the bonds that tie the realm together are based on persons and family lines, not on rules written on paper or solely on principles. Barristan did not swear an oath "to the realm of Westeros" (whoever is in power), but to king Aerys, to defend him, his descendants and his family.
32. Tenesmus
Jeez... Sorry. I thought there was a precendent for that type of thing. Read at whatever pace you find most rewarding. We will all still be here enjoying. Ironic that folks can whip out six foot cocks and shit on people's faces, but make a simple request on how to proceed... and BAM! Deleted.
33. KingsGambit
I do agree that what Ser Barristan did was treachrous in principle. I don't recall the exact circumstances, but if he was indeed knocked out and woke up to find his world changed...

I concider myself quite principled, but sometimes practicality has to win.

@21 (and others)
Some of the examples you give are examples of opportunity. If Ser Barristan had found himself close to Dany and Viserys when the war was over, things might have gone differently.

Dayne, Whent and Hightower are a special case and there's a lot of speculation as to why they were where they were. I'd suggest they still had something to fight for.

All of those are very different then the choice between just dying and accomplishing nothing or swearing fealty to the new king.

I also think it's funny you say he should have gone to Viserys and use the fact that Robert was a terrible king in one argument. I know that's not how you meant it and it doesn't change the argument in any way, but it's still funny :)

Something else that doesn't make a difference: it wasn't clear at the time that Robert was a bad king. He was a great leader and general, the bad king came after that.

Anyway, I agree with everyone who said Barristan did betray the Targs. I just think that if he was indeed unconcious and captured after the battle of the Trident, there was nothing usefull he could do for the Targs. The dynasty had ended by then (babies on the run don't count until they hatch dragons).
34. Ibid
I don't think it's fair to say that Barristan betrayed the Targaryens, and should have flown to Dragonstone (or was it Storm's End) to be with Viserys. He wasn't sworn to the Targaryens. He wasn't a Targaryen loyalist. He was a sworn member of the Kingsguard.... Lord Commander in fact.

If it were accepted that Robert was the new king, whether by conquest or the fact that all of the great houses had bent the knee, then it's not his decision necessarily who is the king. He's Kingsguard. Not Kingmaker.

The regime changed while he was gravely injured and recovering.
George Jong
35. IndependentGeorge
Some info hasn't been revealed yet, so I'm putting my entire answer behind the spoiler bar:

//Barristan wasn't just unconscious; he very nearly died fighting for Rhaegar on the Trident. In the white book, he describes it as being "wounded by spear, sword, and arrow"; in DWD, he specifically recounts being glad he was unconscious when Tywin presented Aegon and Rhaenys to Robert, else he might have attacked them all on the spot.

The only reason Barristan even survived in the first place is because Robert purposely sent his own maester to tend to his wounds after the battle, against the wishes of most of his advisors. So he wasn't only spared and pardoned by Robert; he was actively saved by him.

By the time he recovered, there was a new dynasty in place, Viserys was across the ocean, and literally every lord in Westeros had sworn allegiance to the new King. That's not a betrayal - he literally fought to his dying breath. He just happened to get better afterwards, when a new dynasty was established.//

@34 - Gerold Hightower was Lord Commander under Aerys.
36. Igorlex
The Baratheons were the next legitimate in line (through Steffon's mother) after the Targs. So Robert, as the eldest, was the legitimate heir if the realm had chosen to depose the otherwise-rightful king (Viserys) and select his next in line. This is what happened, and no one knew at age 20 Robert would be an 'unsuccesful' king - whereas the instability of a boy monarch with no clear regent figure is well-known.
Karen Simley
37. Simka
Love the quote from Ladyhawke, Leigh, thank you! Now I'm going to have to go home and watch it again!!

Edit: "quotes" from Ladyhawke... Well, a quote and a reference, anyway.
Melanie DeJulis
39. Shonagon
Great post, Leigh, thank you for the chuckles!!

@36 Re: the regent figure, wouldn't that have pretty clearly been Jon Arryn? Jon fostered Robert before the rebellion, then he served as Hand under Robert, and Robert's ruling style was always to let the Hand pretty much take care of business. It's just unfortunate that neither of the men who served as Hand could rein in Robert's spending.

Anyway, so I think Robert's reign probably looked pretty good at the outset, especially since it would be hard to be upstaged by Aerys... However, I'm still of the opinion that Barristan's decision to side with Robert wasn't really the "honorable" option. As a member of the Kingsguard, his loyalty upon Aerys' death should have transferred to Viserys. If Aerys' heirs had all perished in the fighting while Barristan was down and out, then maybe he could be considered free of his oath to protect them, but IMO even in that scenario it would still be a little difficult to excuse his choice to turn around and serve the same guy who deposed the king Barristan was previously sworn to protect.

Although... I guess in that scenario, maybe Robert could have staked his claim to the throne not only on conquest but also on the Baratheon blood ties to the Targaryens. Then I don't know where Barristan's loyalty should have directed him lol.
40. sowenj
Walder Frey, of the many wives and uncountable grandchildren, will last until the end and die without an heir.
Bill Stusser
41. billiam
The oath of the Kingsguard is to the king, not the king's family. They are sworn to defend the king. While Selmy was out of comission the Targ dynasty was destroyed. When he recovered there was a new king. It makes a kind of sense that he should protect the new king.

And even if the oath was to the dynasty, why would he try to secure the throne for Viserys? It was made perfectly clear back in AGoT that the Kingsguard did not consider Viserys to be the heir to the throne. To say more might be considered a spoiler so off to the spoiler thread I go.
42. Aerona Greenjoy
Targaryens recycled and mix-and-matched names like nobody else, and not just for their trueborn sons:

(I hope that link is useable)

Laughing at #14 and at #4's first point.
Chris Nelly
43. Aeryl
@Shonagun, I think Igorlex is referring to who would be a regent for a young Viserys, which is a really good question. Three centuries of incest left the Targaryens without the typical ties through marriage that allow deposed monarchs to maintain military support.

Look at how many Lannisters there are. Tyrells, Redwynes, Freys... The Stark power was deposed so quickly because the new generation hadn't aged enough to begin making marriage alliances, while the previous generation had died or abstained from parenthood.

The Targs HAD allied with Dorne, but that alliance died with Elia and her children.
44. huh?
The next three chapters go well together. Try to read them at once.
45. GarrettC
I've always had the suspicion that the prophecy wasn't actually saying that Dany would be betrayed for love. It says that she will know treason for love. The phrasing there always struck me as a clear mislead, because it doesn't actually say "you will be betrayed," so I'm waiting rather more seriously for her to end up being the betrayer.

Just a theory.
Theresa Wymer
46. Tekalynn
Oh, Dany, Dany, MUST you have a crush on Doctor Teeth?

Brown Ben it wrong of me to say I'd hit that?
47. Aerona Greenjoy
Whoops, I meant #18, not #14. Direwolf it.

@43 Aeryl: Good point.
48. sowenj
Leigh, re grouping chapters @44: If you can't do three, do two and one rather than one and two.
50. Lord Foul's Bane
(I'd just like to point out that LB is averaging better than 1.5 chapters a post. Just sayin'...)

@3 - Yeah, but she can do better.

@4 - No, won't touch that with a 10ft pole. :)

@8 - Knew what that is, didn't have to look it up. STILL stuck in my head. *hurl in closed mouth*

@16 - I'll just add that spell-check is NOT context-check and people tend to forget that....

@18 - Naw, it's still Diremoles FTW. :)

@22 - Ok... so, cutting off Robb's head and sewing Grey Wind's head to Robb's body isn't total war, right?

@25 - Maybe... I just don't think Shae would go though; she's a risk-taker by nature.

@32 - betcha the mods got tired of all the prior (and sometimes very snarky) requests...

@34 - I have to agree with you and for the very same reason. (Without getting into possible spoilers either...)

@40 - Spoiler?

@43 - Excellent point. Power is simple (but not easy); other people must agree that one has power. (Kind of like art; if you can get enough observers to agree that it's a work of art, then it's a work of art.)

@44 - Far be it for me to pass on the the snippy tone of this one but I think I will. I could be wrong.

Birgit F
51. birgit
Did Brown Ben get his name because of the way he escaped Meereen?
Captain Hammer
52. Randalator
@45 GarrettC

It says that she will know treason for love.

And now Jora betrayed his employers because he loves Dany. Dun. Dun. DUN.

Or possibly *rimshot*. Who knows...
53. MRHD
Another great post, Leigh. It is always fun to read your takes. This made me laugh pretty hard:

"But dammit, I’m going to at least attempt to not grade these assholes on a frickin’ curve here. God."

Pure gold.:) Your reaction to the Barristan reveal was also the same as mine was during my first read. Definitely was a holy crap moment, and not even a holy-crap-I-cant-believe-all-that-is-good-and-pure-is-getting-brutally-slaughtered holy crap moment, which is especially nice when we consider what series we are dealing with. Thanks for sharing your insights with us!
Tabby Alleman
54. Tabbyfl55
@23: I think it would be ok to reveal what someone from Meereen is called, as long as it's done in the context of a limerick.
Adam S.
55. MDNY
@35 Thank you, IG. I didn't have the specifics of when all that was mentioned, but without spoilers I just want to maintain my defense of Barristan as a man of true honor, who has never to my knowledge betrayed it, including remaining in the kingsguard for Robert when all the Targs were dead or gone from Westeros.
@34 Selmy was only named Lord Commander under Robert. Before the rebellion he was a member, but Gerold Hightower, "The White Bull", was the commander; otherwise I agree with you.
Deana Whitney
56. Braid_Tug
@50, re: @40.
Not Spoiler. Reads as speculation about the perfect revenge on the guy who is obsessed with bettering his family with marriage alliances. The Old & New Gods might find this a fitting end.

Just hope that Edmure Tully outlives his Frey wife. Because does anyone else fear for his safety once they have a son? I could just see Walder appointing another Walder as a Steward over Riverrun upon Edmure’s death.

Re: Selmy,
Cool discussion everyone. I admit to never giving it much thought.

@52, oh! just so bad! :-)
57. asdg
necrotizing fasciitis is really f-ed up.
58. Ibid
@35, @55
Yep. I was wrong about Ser Barristan being the Lord Commander at the time. Never let it be said this forum let any incorrect minutiae slip by. ;-)

One of the really interesting things about GRRM's writing is he reveals things in dribs and drabs--often a couple of books later. Sometimes a Certain Mystery is finally revealed to you, and you also realize it's no longer even relevant...

I'm currently on my first re-read of the series and am doing the concurrent Book 4 and Book 5 thing. I'm about 1/3rd of the way through them together. The point being, I have absolutely no idea where it said who was LC of the KG at the time of Robert's Rebellion, and I was flying by the seat of my pants. Obviously I was wrong.
59. Lsana

I agree with you. Walder Frey is the only character in the book I really want to see live. I want to him to outlive all 21 of those sons that he's so proud of having, along with his daughters and grandkids and great-grandkids. I want him to live long enough to see both halves of the twins crumble around him and the bridge between them fall into the river. After that, I want him to live as a pitiful begger until the name "Frey" is no more than a bit of trivia that only those Maesters who specialize in history remember.

Then we talk about a miserable death for him.
Steven Halter
60. stevenhalter
If anyone wishes to here a gripping first hand account of necrotizing fasciitis, Peter Watts documented his experience with it on his blog. He even politely gathered the posts together at:

The chronology begins from the bottom. Not for the faint of heart or squemish. It was fairly frightening in real time.
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
Leigh - nice job as always. Been away on a business trip so haven't been able to post until now.

- Given how things turned out last time Dany insisted someone get minor wounds fixed up, a bit surprised she subjected SB to medical treatment.

- There is a spoilerific explanation of the six foot cock story (referred to in FFC) and it's very good. See Peter's post in Spoiler thread. Sorry we can't explain it to the Unsullied.

- Grading the assholes on a curve - really well played!

- Belwas = Victory Sh*t = Essos mic drop.

- In closing, I'll gently reference my occasionally stated caveat about bewaring long chapters. There was some text somewhere in these two chapters potentially relevant to a mystery you haven't figured out yet.... and you didn't discuss it. Sowwy! Answer in Spoiler post.

62. Rand al'Todd
Re DougL@9
"As to the names thing, well, unfortunately, reading these books at the
pace you are, you will run into this issue. Had you read them as you
would normally read a book, you would have no doubt remembered everyone."

I agree heartily. However, GRRM has assured that no fan from the first book has ever "read them as you would normally read a book." There have been too many years between the books in the series (though admittedly the biggest issue has been the time between book 3 and the two following books). As it is, one has to do a full reread of the entire series, because you can't remember who the major characters were (much less the 'oh by the way folk') by the time the next book appears. And as to who is still alive and who got killed...

Is there a reference like Encyclopaedia-WOT for SOIAF?
63. Aerona Greenjoy
@62: A Wiki of Ice and Fire is the most comprehensive reference website I've found, though there are others.
Peter Stone
64. Peter1742
54 : Tabbyfl55 says:
@23: I think it would be ok to reveal what someone from Meereen is called, as long as it's done in the context of a limerick.
How's this?
There once was a brave young Meereenee,
Who called the Great Masters a teereenee.
"Shhhh", his friends said,
"Or to the beasts you'll be fed."
But he said, about beasts, "I don't feer eenee."
Yes, I know that's not the right name for the Meereenese. But it's easier to rhyme.
65. Scott Wood
@54, @64: How about this (no plot details, just meta stuff about GRRM's writing process):

Daenerys arrived at a spot
That exposed a problem in the plot
They could take a nap
But there won't be a gap
And then George cut the Meereenese Knot.
Sanne Jense
66. Cassanne
@45 Wow, suddenly had another thought about the 'you will know betrayals' line. I think it's betrayals for Dany, not of Dany, or even by Dany (which is also a nice theory, but doesn't seem to fit as well).
- Jorah betrayed people for her because of love.
- Daario beheaded his partners for her, for profit (gold).
- The Blood one is the most interesting, hasn't happened yet I guess. Suggests someone will join her because she's family. Making her not the last Targaryen after all. I once read a theory that Varys and/or Illyrio and/or Illyrio's late wife secretly have Targaryen blood of some kind. So could be them maybe. Or perhaps there's something to Brown Ben Plumm and this blackfyre connection?
Tom Smith
67. phuzz
As well as A Wiki of Ice and Fire, can I also recommend The Tower of the Hand, which if you start digging around, allows you to set how many books you have read, and will hide spoilers.
EG, if you set it to 'No Books Read', then the entry on Ned Stark won't mention that he gets his head chopped off.
Just remember, set it to the last book you have fully read, so
Leigh would set it to A Clash of Kings, NOT a Storm Of Swords.
68. Ibid
@62 --
A Wiki of Ice and Fire is good. I also have an app on my phone which is pretty good as well "A World of Ice and Fire." It's pretty good. It doesn't have absolutely everyone and everything, but the way I see it, if someone isn't in there, then they're not really important-- just a character in passing. I think you get references for each book, and you can set up spoiler filters. It's something like $4-5. As I'm on my first re-read, I actually use it pretty frequently, so I consider it worth it.
69. GarrettC
@67: There's a pretty popular theory about a character who might be revealed in one of the last two books have Targ blood, but I won't say who or why it is expected because this isn't the spoiler thread. I do believe it's a theory that one could have strong suspicions about at the point in the series Leigh is, so I don't hope that my winking in its general direction is a violation here.

But if you know what I'm talking about, your reading of the "know treason for blood" line would seem to paint a pretty clear picture of where these stories are headed.
70. GarrettC
I mean, I DO hope that my winking in its general direction IS NOT a violation here. Oddly stated, above.
Anthony Pero
71. anthonypero
Targs here Targs there, Targs, Targs everywhere.
72. Josh L
I'm glad the Barristan revelation remained a surprise. One of the reasons I love ASoS so much.
eimard canares
73. The Bloody Lion
How could you forget who Mero, the Titan's Bastard is?
Captain of the Second Sons. Roaring musclebound Bravoosi giant the size of the Mountain(thus the Titan's Bastard nickname). Greeted Dany outside of Yunkai by asking if he'd fucked her or her twin sister before. Totally sucker played by Dany when she gifted him with several huge barrels of wine, insuring that he and his company would be roaring drunk by midnight when she unleashed the Unsullied on them alongside the newly joined Stormcrows(under Daario Naharis who had just killed his co-captains and swore himself to Dany). He shaved all his hair off and stripped semi-naked so he could hide among the Freedmen, waiting for a shot at Dany, cuz he was really pissed off about being suckered, defeated and humiliated by a tiny woman he had nothing but contempt for.
Ring any bells?

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