Aug 8 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 39

A Song of Ice and Fire Storm of SwordsWelcome 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 39 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 64 (“Jon”) and Chapter 65 (“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 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 64: Jon

What Happens
Jon dreams he is in Winterfell, searching for his brothers and father, but the stone kings tell him he is no Stark, and not welcome there. He calls for Ygritte to forgive him, but only sees a grey wolf, bloody and sad. He wakes in his old steward’s cell, alone. He wonders if the wolf he saw in his dreams was Bran’s, and that therefore that Bran is dead. He hears a horn, and forces himself to rise and dress despite the pain in his leg.

Outside, Jon waits with several others (including one of the former whores of Moletown, Zei) to be lifted up the Wall. Satin asks if it is Mance Rayder, and thinking of the Others, Jon replies that he hopes so. Up on top of the Wall, Jon sees the approaching torches and hears a mammoth, and knows it is Mance coming. Donal Noye orders the trebuchets launched with flaming pitch into the forest, and Jon sees that there are over a hundred mammoths below, and Pyp cries that the wildlings are at the gate. The brothers dump pitch and flaming oil down on the invaders, but they keep coming.

Noye calls for backup to guard the tunnel below, and tells Jon he is in charge atop the Wall until he returns. Jon is stunned, but acknowledges the order. The siege goes on for hours, dreamlike to Jon, and Noye does not return. Morning arrives to show the killing field below the Wall, but also the vast host of the wildlings beyond it; Satin wails that there must be a hundred thousand of them, but Jon avers that the Wall will stop them. He shouts to the brothers, reminding them that no mammoth or giant or cavalry can climb the Wall, and they cannot pass so long as the gate holds. His words inspire the others, who roar back at him.

Giants approach with a huge ram, and Jon calls to the archers to aim for them on his order, laughing madly, and the men laughing with him. He waits until the giants are in range, and orders the volley. He calls for caltrops to be spread and the scorpions to fire at will, and the volley to continue. He calls for fire arrows on the ram. A mammoth reaches the gate, and Jon orders flaming oil dumped on it.

The other mammoths break and flee, then, and the rest of the wildlings’ host quickly follow suit. The brothers cheer wildly. Near to collapse from pain, Jon puts Grenn in charge while he goes down (to Grenn’s horror), anxious to see what has become of Noye. Maester Aemon meets him at the tunnel entrance. They find all of Noye’s men and Noye himself dead inside, holding off the advance of the single giant that had gotten through. Jon recognizes him as Mag the Mighty, king of the giants.

Jon says they must block up the tunnel and repair the gate, and calls for someone to find Ser Wynton Stout, the last knight in the castle, but Aemon reminds him that Wynton is too senile to take command. Jon tells Aemon to give the order then, but Aemon replies that a maester serves, not commands.

“Someone must—”

“You. You must lead.”


“Yes, Jon. It need not be for long. Only until such time as the garrison returns. Donal chose you, and Qhorin Halfhand before him. Lord Commander Mormont made you his steward. You are a son of Winterfell, a nephew of Benjen Stark. It must be you or no one. The Wall is yours, Jon Snow.”


*victory dance*

Aw, yeah.

I have been wrong about—or blindsided by—an awful lot of things that have happened thus far in this series (something which, actually, I am grateful for, despite all evidence to the contrary, since nothing will kill interest in a story faster than rote predictability), but this one I totally called from the beginning of Jon’s tenure in the Night Watch, and it makes me happy that this one, at least, I got right.

Er, so far. (She hedges, advisedly.)

It’s worth pointing out, of course, that Jon rising to command of the Brotherhood is one of the few story arcs in which Martin has actually conformed to fantasy tropes, rather than subverting or averting them, so possibly my pride in predicting it is misplaced, but whatever. I liked it, so I’m gonna put a ring on it. Haters to the left, etc.

This is also me blithely ignoring that command of the ragtag remnants of the Night’s Watch in the face of a possibly overwhelming foe is probably the last thing any sane person would want, naturally. I mean, from Jon’s point of view this is hardly a thing to celebrate, I’m sure. But from the reader’s, well. It’s pretty awesome.

Assuming he survives it, of course. Bluh.

It’s a shame Donal Noye is dead, though. He was one of the cooler Brothers they had. But, you know, if you have to go, dying while delivering the death blow to the king of the giants is probably one of the more badass ways to do it.

Anyway. Obviously I elided a lot of the minutiae of the actual siege in the summary, but it was tremendously well-written and exciting to read. And Jon’s speech/exhortation to his troops was genuinely inspiring, not least for how it was so believable in being kind of half-hysterical craziness on Jon’s part. Because seriously, how else would a real person be feeling in such circumstances?

This is the kind of thing, I think, that sells this story so well to the reader. I may rail against the greyness of so many of these characters’ choices, but never (that I recall) have I felt that they were unrealistic, in context. Martin’s characters have often done things I disagree with (sometimes violently), but I don’t think that any of them has ever done something that made me think whoa, wait, that character would never do that.

And that, I feel, is probably a bigger deal than most people realize it is.

I’ve come across so many stories in various mediums (especially those that are stretched across time, like book series or television shows) where I’ve felt at least once or twice that the story has ended up veering off the rails when it comes to character consistency, but I have yet to experience that with ASOIAF, and that is a treat. I am hardly to the end of this story as of yet, I know, but I feel it needs noting that thus far, I don’t think character inconsistency is something Martin can remotely be accused of, and that is worthy of note. And praise.

Lastly: where the hell is Ghost? He’d better turn up, y’all. No more dead wolves, dammit!

Chapter 65: Arya

What Happens
Arya wishes she could sleep all the time to ignore the hole inside where her family used to be. She dreams that she is at the head of a huge pack of wolves, powerful and free. Sandor forces her to get up every day, though. Arya keeps telling herself she will kill him in his sleep, or escape, but she never does, mostly because she doesn’t know where she would go if she did. Winterfell is gone, and she thinks she was stupid to believe that Hot Pie or Gendry were ever her pack.

She asks Sandor where they are going, but he refuses to answer. He tells her she should be grateful he knocked her out rather than let her go into the Freys’ keep to be killed. She is silent, mostly, and Sandor angry. They avoid scouting parties from the Freys hunting for northmen. They come across a survivor from the massacre, loyal to the Tullys, but he is dying from his wounds, and Sandor mercy-kills him at the man’s request. He gives Arya the man’s dagger.

Finally Sandor reveals that he is taking Arya to her Aunt Lysa in the Vale of Arryn. Arya doesn’t know Lysa at all, and thinks they should have gone into the castle to confirm that her brother and mother were really dead. She tells Sandor this, who laughs at the notion and threatens to cut her tongue out if she doesn’t shut up.

She dreams that night that she smells her mother, padding up to the riverside with her pack. She jumps into the river and swims to the source of the smell, but it is dead and cold. She pulls the body to shore, but then men on horseback approach, and she and her pack flee. The next morning, Sandor brings up her mother, but Arya tells him that she knows her mother is dead, that she saw it in a dream. Sandor says nothing, and they ride on.

They come to a village, and Sandor decides to risk going in for provisions. The villagers welcome his labor, and discourage them from braving the passes into the Vale, which they say are full of shadowcats and Burned Men. The villagers assume Arya is Sandor’s daughter, and Arya is too depressed to contradict them. She rebuffs any attempt to be friends. After a while, Sandor tells her that maybe they’ll stay in the village, but once he is done helping them build a palisade, the villagers kick them out, revealing that they know who Sandor really is. Sandor is angry, but leaves, taking a shoddy sword and ale in trade.

He decides to head south for Riverrun instead, even though Arya doesn’t know whether her uncle will even know her. She remembers Jon, and suggests they head to the Wall instead. Sandor points out that the Wall is a thousand leagues away, with innumerable obstacles in between, and she asks if he has lost his belly for fighting.

“There’s nothing wrong with my belly,” he said […], “but I don’t give a rat’s arse for you or your brother. I have a brother too.”

Aw, fuck. He’s not going to take Arya to GREGOR, is he?

Because, Jesus Christ, that is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. Let’s not do that, really, seriously, NO.

…Although, on rereading that last bit, he probably just means that Gregor has demonstrated to him, with crystal clarity, just how much familial ties can be worth precisely shit, depending on who you’re related to. Which, fair point. Just because I know (and Arya knows) that Jon is in fact an awesome brother (or half-brother, technically) doesn’t mean Sandor does, or has any reason to assume so. Not to mention that everything indicates that Sandor would be pleased as punch to never ever see Gregor again, so I guess that was actually a pretty stupid conclusion to leap to. Nyargh.

But at least the Vale idea fell through. I’m kind of curious to see what Lysa’s been doing all this time, but not that curious. And I certainly don’t want Arya (or any character I care about) anywhere near her buckets o’ crazy.

I think Arya is selling Gendry short, though. At least I hope she is, because I still want them to get together at some point.

But this is all peripheral to the most important thing in this chapter, which is ARYA WARGING WITH NYMERIA, ZOMG. I have big giant heart-eyes about this, not gonna lie.

And it was like full-on warging, too, which I don’t think she had really done before. AND it was confirmation (or re-confirmation) that Nymeria is totally in charge of the giant wolf pack we heard about whenever ago, so ha, I was so right.

And Nymeria found Catelyn’s body in the river! Aahhhh, that is so painful. CATELYNNNNN. Shit, that is just so disrespectful and terrible, on every level. Not Nymeria, of course, but Walder Deserves-Curbstomping Frey. I knew that her body had been tossed in the river before this, of course, but this just brought it back home all afresh. So THANKS FOR THAT, MARTIN. Gah.

Anyway, besides that, the most interesting part of this chapter wasn’t actually Arya at all, successful warging aside, but Sandor Clegane. Once again Martin displays his talent for getting his audience to have sympathy for a character who should absolutely not be sympathizable-with, on paper. Arya only kind of perceives it, because she’s understandably distracted by, you know, the crushing grief of losing pretty much her entire family, but even viewed indirectly, I couldn’t help but feel a pang for Sandor at how the villagers treated him here.

I mean, dude: they used him for cheap labor, and then just chucked him out the second they didn’t need him anymore. And this just as Sandor was making noises to Arya about maybe staying there. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I kind of got the impression that he thought maybe he’d actually found a place to stay and forget about his past, and be maybe content or something. But, of course, his past just catches right back up to him and fucks him over again.

And I’m not even saying that it shouldn’t, because God knows he’s done some seriously shady shit in service to My Little Psychopath™, probably even more than we’ve been shown “on-screen,” so to speak, but still. I can’t help but feel a little bad for him.

(Though I do kind of wonder how exactly the villagers knew who he was. I mean, was he actually stupid enough to tell them his real name, which I doubt, or did Joffrey circulate pictures of him or something?)

And that’s it for now, y’all. Share and Enjoy, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
(Though I do kind of wonder how exactly the villagers knew who he was. I mean, was he actually stupid enough to tell them his real name, which I doubt, or did Joffrey circulate pictures of him or something?)

There probably aren't too many 6'6"+ men with half of their faces burned off running around Westeros. At least, I hope not, because, yeesh.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Sandor is hugely disfigured because of Gregor thrusting his head into the flames, he's pretty recognizable.

And I'm pretty sure Sandor has EVERY desire to see his brother, at least one more time.

Jon's chapter is pretty good, I remember being very riveted by it, and moved by Donal Noye's death. In some ways, it's kinda like he was on of the last known links to the past, he made Robert's hammer that killed Rhaegar. All this history that's been teased to us through stories like the Knight of the Laughing Tree, Donal was there and could have given answers to those who thought to ask, and now he can't.
4. OsRavan
I think the villagers probably recognized him because of the burned face... it makes you somewhat famous. While not as tall as his brother, he's a big guy (like 6'6 i think?) with a giant deformed face. So recognizable.

Also, a random comment that your post inspired me to make. In a lot of your reads (and I love them btw) you mention that Martin deliberatly tries to deconstruct tropes. I dont think thats ACTUALLY what he is doing though, and I think you hit on what he is really doing here.

Its not about deconstructing tropes so much as it is about brutal realism and realalistic (gray) characters. The result of brutal realism often means that tropes get broken down (the hero dying and failing like they often do in real life) but it also means if its realalistic they happen as you expect (Jon getting command of the wall in this chapter) or that the bad guys get hurt too (joffery dying.) Just like in real life, sometimes the people you like win, sometimes they lose, and everyone thinks they are in fact the 'good guys;.

So yeah, just something for you to think about maybe? But ive always felt the motivator for Martin was not deconstructing tropes so much as it was 100% realism.
5. Cass314
Yay for Jon!

Also, Leigh, you do remember that Sandor is probably almost seven feet tall and has some particularly...striking facial characteristics, right?
Pat .
6. dolphineus
How did the villagers know him?

He has a distinct appearance and his repuation preceeds him. Plus, there is that very distinctive helm of his. I've always kind of liked The Hound. I wouldn't go so far as to say he is a nice guy, he is certainly a lot more decend to the Stark girls than his reputation would have you believe. He was the only member of the Kingsguard who doesn't beat Sansa at the little shits command. He protected her several times, and gave her really good advice.
Peter Stone
7. Peter1742
And besides being a disfigured giant, his helmet (a hound) also gives him away.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
Chapter 64:Jon--Where is Ghost? Hopefully he will rejoin Jon soon. I don't think he would just be dead and gone.
Mance has arrived at the wall. The gate does seem like the obvious (only) place to attack. Climbing a 700 foot wall of ice while people shoot at you seems pretty impractical. I can't help but be a bit sad at this battle.
The wildlings really shouldn't be the enemy here. Clearly, the Others
are the real threat.
That turned out about like I had thought--charging the wall was maybe not a great idea. I was impressed that the giant made it as far in as he did and caused that much damage.
And for now, the wall is Jon's. He was surprised but I wasn't. He seems the obvious leader there at this point. I think most of the people there
will be pretty supportive of him. We'll have to see if any of the
malcontents show up.
Also, when he hears of Robb's death, it will be
interesting how that affects him. (I don't think he has heard of that
although the dire wolf in his dream could have been the dead Grey Wind.
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
Beautifully crafted chapters, especially the Egwene (I mean Jon) one. I'm glad you noticed the craftmanship but that is the hallmark of ASOS - really well crafted chapters that can glide right by you if you are not paying attention. Love in particular how he did unto Grenn that which was done unto him by Donal Noye.

Arya's chapter is out and out heartbreaking, both for her and the Hound. The warging is tres cool. And who are the men on horseback and come up and cause Arya/Nymeria to flee...? Perhaps we'll learn in a future chapter (No spoilers, please).
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Darn you, double post!!

I should note for Leigh that by December GRRM will come out with a new prequel novella that tells that tale of the so-called "Dance of the Dragons" two hundred or so years before these events - where the King intended for the throne to pass to his eldest daugher but Queen - the King's second wife - wants the throne to go to her son. We should add that to our reading list pre-ADWD.
Vincent Lane
11. Aegnor
Not to mention that everything indicates that Sandor would be pleased as punch to never ever see Gregor again
Nah, he would very much like to see Gregor again. He would like to see the light fade from Gregor's eyes after he shoves a sword through his chest. But yeah, taking Arya to Gregor would be way down there on the list. Somewhere between slitting his own throat and running into a burning building to save Joffrey.

And this isn't the first time we've seen Arya warging. Remember in book 2 when she's fleeing from Harrenhal with Gendry and Hotpie and some of the Bloody Mummers are after her. She wargs into Nymeria then and kills those chasing them.
12. Cannoli
I think I will make a passive-snarky comment about exactly how the villagers recognized Sandor. Or not. It's like the Raines of Castamere being played at Joffrey's wedding by this point, amiright?

ANYWAY, I think an awesome alternate reality story would have been Sandor settling down in the village and eventually becoming its lord or something, and Arya growing into his henchman, and they get a rep and all that. That could be cool, though obviously not a suitable ending for the arc of one of the main characters in a fantasy epic.

BTW, a detail I liked in this was getting the news from the villagers about what Tyrion's old buddies are up to. It's nice that they seem to have profited from their association with the Imp, instead of dying as anonymous fighters whose heroics in defense of King's Landing were forgotten beneath the hoopla surrounding Renly's Ghost.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
Chapter 65:Arya--Yay, finally! See, I was right, she wasn't dead. That
was pretty obvious (I thought) and if George had killed her off like
that there would have been much unhappiness with the books.
Sounds like she was concussed though and depressed to boot. She is only 11 or 12? at this point and as far as she knows most of her family is dead and she is still wandering in the wilds. She is still dreaming of Nymeria.
(Nymeria has bar far the best name of the dire wolves by the way. The
rest are kind of unimaginative names that kids would typically pick for
their pet dire wolf.)
Even though Clegane says that Arya isn't worth anything to him it rings a bit untrue; he isn't just discarding her or killing her.
OK, he plans on taking her to the Eyrie and Aunt Lysa.
Lysa was crazed the last time we saw her, but she might take Arya in,
maybe, or have them shot.
Nymeria seems to smell Cat? Just the corpse it seems dead and cold and Arya believes it too.
Now, off to Riverrun again. I can't really see them getting there or if they get there it will go well.
14. Jeff R.
I'd rather see the upcoming Novella post-aDwD, pre-tWoW (along with any Dunk&Egg stories published between now and then) in the re-read. I mean, we missed the chance for full publication order when we saved the first three D&E's until after this book, but we should try to stay as close to it as we can.
15. Black Dread
I also kind of like The Hound. His absolute refusal to beat Sansa and his sneering disdain for most knights and their B.S. oaths is kind of endearing. Sure he’s big, ugly, and mean – but he has developed his own moral code and isn’t afraid to follow it (unless there is fire involved).
George Jong
16. IndependentGeorge
GOB: You don't hate me, Michael. You kind-of like me.
MICHAEL (shocked): I do kind-of like you.
Tabby Alleman
17. Tabbyfl55
@4 Not that you're wrong about the books simply being brutally realistic, but I would say that the books DO invert tropes because of the way they are structured. The hero of a fantasy series doesn't die in the first book. If he dies in the first book, he is not the hero. Ned Stark is not the Hero of ASoIaF. But the first 75% of the first book makes you THINK he is. Then he dies. There's six more books to go. Obviously he's not the hero. That's the trope-inversion. Sure, it's realistic that would-be heroes die. But usually the author starts the series with the one character who is going to be the Final Hero as the main focus of the book from the beginning. The other good guys might start dying around him, to varying degrees of surprise and consternation, but the one character you know is going to live to the end...lives to the end. That's the trope. At least, that's how I see it.
Adam S.
18. MDNY
YES! Another Leigh post, thank you Leigh.
Jon is (predictably) further forced into the role of leader for the Night's Watch. Poor Donal Noye, definitely a badass one-armed man who will be sorely missed by the watch, which is resorting to using the town whores to help hold the wall (after some time of no recruiting parties making it to the wall thanks to the war). [s]I felt a little sad at Mag the Mighty's death, too, the king of the giants. It reminded me of the song the wildings sing about the last of the giants.
Arya and Sandor continue their search for refuge, which is in short supply. Sandor laughed at Arya claiming he's lost his taste for battle, but he definiely seems to be a changed man from the psychopathic killer he first appeared to be. And as noted above, he is very distinctive with his height and scarred face, plus he carries a distinctive dog's head helm (though he may have kept that hidden), so of coure the villagers figured out who he was. Arya/Nymeria dragging Cat's body fr0m the river and exhorting her to "rise and run with us" was heartbreaking in its own way.
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
If Leigh wants to read the new novella before ADWD that's fine, but since we aren't getting the last Dunk & Egg book yet, I'd rather hold off until they are all published to give everyone(ok, me) a chance to purchase the anthology and read along.
Vincent Lane
20. Aegnor

Assuming you meant Sandor, not Gregor.
21. DougL
Thanks Leigh. Heh, so after last Thursday I was looking through the book and thinking how long it would take to get to the bestest chapter ever at the pace of one chapter per week, so here's hoping we just cut the time in half because oh ya. I shouldn't say I only read the read because I want to see your reactions because I also like your writing but damn, it's the primary reason.

Martin not subverting Jon's rise is nice in a way because if he subverted everything it would be a little predictable.
Ross Smith
22. CaptainCrowbar
BTW Leigh, in case nobody has mentioned this to you yet: You are now past the point where it would be safe to watch the TV series without fear of spoilers.
Adam S.
23. MDNY
@22 Except for some notable things she has not noticed.
Rob Munnelly
24. RobMRobM
CC@22. I don't really agree with that. As an obvious example, there is a big issue with one character that is made clear in the TV show in Season 1 but Leigh has not yet figured out in her chapter by chapter read.

But yes, from the standpoint of comparing the books to Season 3 of the TV show, you are probably past all of the Season 3 plotlines as of the final episode.
25. Subbak
I don't think Sandor kept the snarling hound helm. It makes him way too easy to recognize (as the Hound, but also as someone with money and worth something as a hostage). Or maybe it was taken by the BwB.
But yeah, even without the helm, it's not that hard to figure out who he is.
26. GarrettC
Re: The show... there's this entire storyline with Theon that spans the whole of season 3. And even though it really doesn't go anywhere in the show, there is neither hide nor hair of Theon in SOS.

There's also something related to the Red Wedding that was a pretty big spoiler for me that happened in the show that doesn't happen in the book. I'll elaborate in the spoiler thread.

So, yeah. Don't watch the show.
Tabby Alleman
27. Tabbyfl55
True! We are caught up with the show. That also means Leigh can read this (Warning: HBO content differs significantly from book content in some ways, so read at your own risk):

How many weeks has it been? I was crying real tears of laughter just now, reading some of them.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
@26 - Theon. *nods* a big spoiler.
Tabby Alleman
29. Tabbyfl55
@24: I know what you mean, but is there anything in the remainder of the books that's going to make that any clearer? I think it's safe to assume that Leigh is never going to figure that part out from the books, so she might as well get it from the show, like so many of the rest of us. : )
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl
@27, I don't know if Leigh can/should read that. As Garrett pointed out above, there's a character death at the RW that doesn't happen in the novels, it could ruin lots of fun speculation for Leigh.

If you're curious, SPOILER TEXT BELOW

Talisa's death put a stop to a lot of speculation of Jeyne Westerling's possible pregnancy. I never thought she was, but a lot of people did, and I don't necessarily think we should throw it out that Leigh won't, if given the chance.
As far as that other thing, there's a few more chances left.
David Scotton
31. Kaxon
@10 RobM

I disagree - we should follow publication order.
Bridget McGovern
32. BMcGovern
For the record, I don't believe Leigh is planning to watch the HBO series until she finishes the books. At least, that was the plan as of a few weeks ago--probably a good call on her part, given the way the show is starting to move away from the order of events as they're revealed in the novels.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
Right now, Leigh's plan is to finish ASOS, read first two D and E, finish FFC, read third D and E and fourth if finished by then, then ADWD. I'm very strongly of the mind that Leigh and other newbies should read D and E three before ADWD. I can explain why in spoiler post if anyone is interested. EDIT - fixed D and E references.

I'm open to suggestion re where to place the new novella. There is a least one piece of it that should be helpful to understanding part of the plot in ADWD, and might be useful to read in advance but I'm not committed to it. We'll know better when we've read the story in its entirety, which should occur well before Leigh has finished FFC.
Rob Munnelly
34. RobMRobM
@32 -Agreed! There is a similar theory-killing problem with another deviation beyond what is discussed in @27, as I discussed in the Spoiler Thread.
David Goldfarb
35. David_Goldfarb
The comment about wolf names just made me realize that in some future book, Bran and his friends are going to be in big trouble and Bran will reassure them by saying, "Summer is coming."
36. jmb
Arya's chapter makes me really, really like Sandor. She has very little value as a hostage. For all his talk of selling her to Aunt Lysa or to
Brynden Tully at Riverrun, they're not looking for her or wanting her.

Sandor keeps Arya going, makes her get up every morning, finds a horse for her to ride, and keeps her safely away from the columns of horsemen. Eventually he tries to find a bolt-hole for both of them in a village -and works for food and roof over their heads.

At the very end he's telling her how he doesn't give a rat's arse about her or her brother -- but he's also giving her half of the hare he caught for dinner.
38. vard89
Ghost not adept at climbing.

Sandor has expressed no one gets to kill Gregor but him so he does want to see Gregor again.

Catelynn was a snob. How she treated Jon is understandable given the circumstances. Her alarm at Rob legitimizing Jon is well placed realistic. Her thoughts on Mya Stone show her snobbier though. It's not just Jon Snow she finds disgusting all base born children are seen as the same from her view. Just the discards of "a man's needs"
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
Yup, I cut her some slack about her feelings towards Jon, as he was a very real threat to her kids, in her own perception.

But her attitude towards Mya Stone, and the pity she had toward Brienne, who could never be a woman of worth in her eyes, pretty much burned out all the sympathy I had for her. That, and how she pawned of Sansa's education onto a Septa, leaving her woefully unprepared for court politics. I still found her a very compelling character, but I couldn't like her the way I do Arya, Sansa or Dany.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
40. AlirozTheConfused
Man, Leigh

you messed up today

You forgot the saddest paragraph in the series

what the heck

go back and recheck

and you will be getting all the tearies

it's arya and the little girl

whose life was in a little whirl

who had a soldierly toy

instead of a brotherly boy

to protect her

she cried when she tripped

and when arya ripped

her doll.

I can't believe you missed that paragraph, it's so very sad

I've waited since the beginnign for that paragraphs, so you have messed up bad.

And I know the grammar is wrong

but hey, this is a song.

SO start from the beginning and do it right this time.

Because if my favorite character is going to be missed, well, that's a crime.
41. Jmunson
I wondered if you caught that Cat being thrown into the river was a perversion of the Tully funeral rites.
Anthony Pero
42. anthonypero
I always loved Catelyn's character. But I'm someone who judges characters primarily based on the consistency of their actions within their own cultural framework. I tend to judge cultures more harshly than those within the culture. For me, Catelyn's attitudes towards Mya Stone show consistency. If she ONLY felt that way towards Jon Snow, then it would be because he affects her in particular. That is a selfish attitude. The way she feels about Mya tells us that she really doesn't like how bastards effect the culture at large. Its consistent. Now, obviously treating a bastard like, well, a bastard, is really unfair. But its consistent within the culture. So I judge the culture harshly rather than the person within it. Bastards are a massive threat to the well being of old widows in this culture.

If only she had known she didn't have worry about being an old widow herself, lol.
Eric McCabe
43. Zizoz
GarrettC @26: It's not true that there is "neither hide nor hair" of Theon in ASOS. A bit of Theon's hide showed up in Chapter 49, actually.

Also, some characters have died in the show that are still alive in the books, so I don't think we can rule out any theories on that basis.

On the Dunk & Egg stories and The Princess and the Queen: Publication order would have been appropriate, I think. On the other hand, I think it would also make sense for Leigh to read through all the published ASOIAF novels before reading the novellas -- it seems that that would be the natural thing to do for someone who's not posting a blog, after all.
Faiz Imam
44. FaizImam

But I Think Leigh's situation here is relevant.

As someone who is above average in perception and literary critisism, I think its preferable for her to have the greatest number of facts at her disposal when going into ADWD.

there are a number of situations there that would be far better understood with D and E in mind.

It would be a waste of her talents to keep the order.

Basically, since reading them before makes this blog better, she should do it.
45. GarrettC
It's not true that there is "neither hide nor hair" of Theon in ASOS. A bit of Theon's hide showed up in Chapter 49, actually.
Okay, but no hair!
Also, some characters have died in the show that are still alive in the books, so I don't think we can rule out any theories on that basis.
But any characters who affect the plot meaningfully beyond their show deaths? I'm genuinely interested, and would be happy to hear more in the spoiler thread.
Shelly wb
46. shellywb
At first I thought of these books as being brutaly realistic, but after a while I realized they were overly so to the point you felt GRRMs machinations and thus it is not so successful at realism except in small doses.

He's subverting tropes, yes, but at the expense of having become one of his own.It is still, of course, original as far as the pre-Martin fantasy genre is concerned and fascinating to read it. Post GRRM, those writers are taking to GRRM's tropes like Eddings to Tolkien.
47. EmmaPease
Actually Arya is a very valuable pawn since as far as anyone knows all her legitimate brothers are dead and her only sister is missing and will be dead if Cersei gets hold of her. Any man marrying her is making a claim to rule the North (just as Tywin had Tyrion marry Sansa to have a claim). In addition from many points of view she could in the future provide a claim on Riverrun (her Tully uncle was at the Red Wedding so either prisoner or dead, her Tully great uncle has never married).
48. A name
You act as if Jon's been named commander >.>. He's momentarily in charge. This was explicitly stated. The wall is his until the garrison returns. Aemon even said that some guy came within 12 votes of being named commander. Which implies that you don't just get the position passed down to you by blood or because some guy said you're in charge of a war effort for a short time. It seems to me that Jon is just leading the fight until some other group returns, then someone in that group will be commander.
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
Aliroz@40:When Arya tore the stuffing from the other little girls doll, it was a sad scene. Pretty much a literal casting away of the structures of childhood.
Arya is, shall we say, not in an environment conducive to the nurturing of a well grounded psyche. Hopefully, a little light will come into her world; I don't know where it would come from at this point.
50. MRHD
@40 Huh? Don't worry about this Leigh, you didn't miss anything important, and certainly didn't "mess up bad". I've read this novel three times and this guy's post is only stirring the vaguest of recollections.

@44 I definitely and wholeheartedly agree; all of D&E should be read before ADWD. The background in those novellas are critical to understanding at least two of the characters in ADWD.

As to the importance of characters who have died in the show... GRRM has recently said in his blog that some of those characters will definitely still have roles to play in the books. I'll post the link to the exact post in the spoiler thread.
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
shellywb@46:"A Game of Thrones" was published in 1996. There were pleanty of genre tropes being subverted prior to that. For example:
Glen Cook's Black Company series (1984 ...) and Dread Empire series (1979 ...) both present the grity side of fantasy worlds and wars.
Stephen Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (1977 ... 1983) present the anti-hero and a decidedly non-Tolkien world.
Martin is certainly a very good writer, and he definitely has had an effect on other writers since. He just doesn't happen to have been the first.
52. Gold for Petyr
@51. stevenhalter: I read the whole black company series, what tropes are being defied in thgat thing? Which I must also so is not very. The characters are sooooo one dimensional and the plot elements are pretty contrived as well, at least in the books of the south. Did anyone think that the girl who was rescued wasn't going to be prophisied savoir?
Tabby Alleman
53. Tabbyfl55
I wonder if the show will start weaving D&E stuff into it, maybe in the form of "before the theme music" flash backs or something.

...And I wonder if that would be good or bad.
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
Gold for Petyr@52:The major trope subversion is that of "good is good and bad is bad." Pretty much all of the characters and events are awash in a complex grayscale palette.
Another is that the tale is mainly told from the bottom up rather than the points of view of those at the top by virtue of birth.
Another is the "war is glorious" trope (not so much).
Again, nothing against GRRM. I'm liking TSoIaF just fine. GRRM just wasn't the first to turn a trope or use more grity realism in his fantasy.
I'm not going to talk about plot specifics here -- there's a whole reread thread if you want.
55. Gold for Petyr
@54. stevenhalter:

I read the Black Company reread thread occassionally. Buts its hard when I think the series is pretty terrible.

I just don't find those points compelling, the Dominator is clichedly evil, Croaker isn't a random pessant conscripted he's not on the bottom, war is glorious, as you said not really.

If you do want to explain more specifically, I'd be interested. I read the series because people said it was subtle and similar to ASOIAF and I just did not find that AT ALL. So I wonder if I missed something
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
Gold for Petyr@55: I would say that Cook's writing is often of the school where the reader must fill in the details. For example, there isn't a physical description of Croaker at all in the Books of the North.
Not every writer's style is for everyone and all.
I haven't heard it directly from GRRM, but I have heard that he enjoys Cook's writing.
57. d-mac
27. Tabbyfl55
re: Redwedding twitter link

Those are pretty good. It's been fun observing all the reactions from the HBO viewers who had not read the books. I think the funniest thing i've found on the web was this:

Question: Why can't GRRM Tweet?

Answer: Because he killed all 140 characters!
Stefan Mitev
58. Bergmaniac
Jon's whole story so far is the ultimate fantasy cliche played completely straight, of course it's very predictable for anyone who is an experienced fantasy reader.

@38, 42 - Catelyn didn't hate or even dislike Mya Stone at all. She felt a bit angry (and guilty) at first when she heard her last name because it reminded her of Jon Snow, but she treated Mya well, felt compassion for her after she told her she had a noble for lover because Cat knew this can't last. Mya even reminded Cat of her beloved Sansa IIRC.
59. Aerona Greenjoy
@57: Hahaha, good one. I wonder how many named characters he has killed.
Bill Stusser
60. billiam
While The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever was absolutely huge back in the 80s among the fantasy circles, no one outside of genre knew about it and the newer fantasy readers I've talked to have no idea who Stephen Donaldson or Thomas Covenant are.

As to The Black Company, even inside of the fantasy genre there are few people who know of or have read it. I've been reading SFF since I was a kid in the 80s and I'd never even heard of it until I picked up TMBotF and saw that it was one of SE's favorites. I've picked up the big book that has the first three Black Company books in it but since I'm still in the middle of TMBotF (getting towards the end of TtH at the present) I have yet to read it.

ASoIaF on the other hand, thanks to HBO's GoT, almost everyone has at least heard of it. Even my friends who are pretty genre savy have been totally blown away by the twists and turns of GRRM's story.

While Cat may not have hated or disliked Mya Stone, she did feel that the girl was beneathe her and would never be able to do anything worthwhile because she was baseborn.

One last thing, the Hound definitely still has his helm at this point.
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
billiam@60:The amount of influence outside of genre readers wasn't the point--just that GRRM didn't originate this form of fantasy. I'm glad you've picked up a copy of the books of the north.
GRRM is clearly a very good writer (and a nice guy from what I have heard), TSoIaF is very well read and has sold lots of copies and will influence lots of writing. All of these are good things.
Stefan Mitev
62. Bergmaniac
Cat didn't feel that Mya Stone "would never be able to do anything worthwhile because she was baseborn." She just knew the realities of their world which meant that a bastard girl marrying one of the highest nobles in the Vale was never going to happen.
Eric McCabe
63. Zizoz
59: This old thread (SPOILERS in the link, obviously) on Westeros counts 223 named character deaths in the first three books alone. Most of the dead characters are unimportant, admittedly.

It also mentions that, for comparison, 24 named characters die in the first three Wheel of Time books.
Mike DMonte
64. MickeyDee
@shellywb - at the moment I am going through a bit of background on the Wars of the Roses (I always thought it was "War of the Roses") and also the women who gave them the alternate name of The Cousin's War. If anything GRRM is Disneyfying the grit and horror of that age. OK putting a Disney take on it is a bit over the top - but I can't agree that he is overly brutal in his storytelling.
Birgit F
65. birgit
The end of the Nibelungenlied could be a model for the Red Wedding.
66. Aerona Greenjoy
@63: *Reads list. Goes cross-eyed.* Who were THEY??

*Reads later posts describing every named-character death in each of the five books. Laughs at the amusingly-described ones. Is very impressed with the posters' dedication.*
67. Aerona Greenjoy
Now that you mention it, Leigh, Jon's arc is relatively predictable as they go in this series. Once my mom and I were at a cousin's house when he tuned in to the show scene where Jon first captures Ygritte, and mom -- who'd never watched or read any of it -- said "Oh he's going to spare her life and fall in love with her." And...that eventually happened. :-P
Anthony Pero
68. anthonypero

Thats probably why I read Jon's scenes with a sense of dread, waiting for the hammer to fall.
Church Tucker
69. Church
My Little Psychopath™
I thought I knew what friendship could be
Until I lost my family...
Cory Hill
70. Cory-Lee-Hill
@62 yes but remeber fealing pity for someone getting their dreams crushed is being mean just like entrusting your child's education to a professional tutor like every other noble family does is "pawning" them off and feeling sad for a girl wwho doesn't fit the beauty standards of a looks obssesed society is not seeing them as a real woman. Showing somoen kindness accepting their service and entrusting them with your childrens safety why that's monsterous.
71. stank
what the heck? it's evening and no new post. what's the word?
72. RandomTangent
Is everything going all right? It's quite late and no new post?
73. Poetamo
Are you OK, Leigh?
74. Marwyn
The post is there, but somehow it's not posted on the website. Just change the 39 in the URL to 40 and it'll show up! :)
75. Andaco
Hi, can anybody answer me a question?

At the end of the chapter of Tyrion, the one after the Red Wedding, Tywin says "... Roose Bolton becomes Warden of the North and takes home Arta Stark".

When Tyrion asks him how could this be, Tywin answers "Perhaps Littlefinger succeded where you and Varys failed. Lord Bolton will wed the girl to his bastard son."

Okay,this chapter was when the news of the Red Wedding arrived to King's Landing, but this Arya's chapter indicates Arya was hitted by Clegane and is on the way to the Eyre (and maybe to Gregor now), and Arya has no idea of this suposed marrige to Ramsay.

I am considering that the chapters may not be strictly sequencial as Martin says on A Note On Chronology at the beggining of the book.

Maybe Clegane arranged the pact with Bolton while Arya was unconscious, but then why take her to The Mountains Of The Moon? And I am considering that a travel from the Twins to the Bloody Gate takes longer than a raven from the Twins to King's Landing.

And now, considering such dialogue belonged to a further chapter and Martin actually made a mistake for putting such information there and spoiling us that when Arya arrives to the Eyrie, Littlefinger there will sell her to Bolton, considering the phrase "Perhaps Littlefinger succeded where you and Varys failed". This involves Littlefinger will be on the Eyrie until Arya arrives, sells her, and goes to rescue Sansa to King's Landing in a short time period (or long, and rhe chronology is really fucked up).

Note: I haven't read Sansa's chapter after the night Joffrey gets killed.

This will involve Littlefinger easily sells Arya, because he doesn't see her as a doughter becouse of her black hair from Ned, and do sees Sansa this way for her resamblance to young Catelyn. Of course, all this means Littlefinger has a pact with Lysa and moves freely through the Vale and is a welcomed guest at the Eyrie.

Or such phrase could also mean Littlefinger knew all along Arya was alive, and somehow didn't tell his fellows in King's Landing and Tywin is only guessing, and the full mention of Arya here means she was seen at the Twins, but Clegane took her and escaped, and Bolton is chasing them with hopes of caching them and marring her to his son, and told King's Landing he already has her. (But how could they recognize Arya?)

I'm really confused, I'll be glad someone explains all to me or tell me I found a huge mistake on Martin's writing. Which is unprobable.
Chris Nelly
76. Aeryl
You are misreading that. There is an upcoming chapter, that we've already passed but you haven't, that hints at what's really going on.


When Jaime returns to the Red Keep, he meets a young woman leaving who claims to be Arya Stark, on her way to marry Bolton. We know she is not the real Arya Stark, who is with Sandor.

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